Digitalization at Grauel GmbH – digital cliché processing

Digitalization at Grauel GmbH – digital cliché processing all started at the Golden Circle model. Many of us are familiar with Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model, that helps us with questioning the essence in doing business. Three years ago, we used Sinek’s model to redefine our passion and reasons of being in business in the first place.

And as expected Digitalization at Grauel GmbH – digital cliché processing was challenging for us all. It’s not that simple to honestly answer these splitting questions of “Why-How-What”. Many discussions where ignited and each of them brought us closer to the core. We learned that regardless the final outcome, the Q&A process itself bonds our team and, in the end, gives logical direction in business planning. Once the Why-How-What can easily be answered by all team members, decisions can be taken easily. Decelerate to accelerate.

Investing in new Technology
Once we defined our Why, ‘to move the world happily forward by providing ground-breaking high-tech solutions’, we wrote down How we want to do business. One of the key (How) elements is “state of the art capabilities on all core processes”, which directly starts to drive our investment strategy. For B. Grauel GmbH, a brand of AAE and specialist in printing consumables and auxiliaries, these 9 words started a revolution. We started outsourcing common part manufacturing and invested into state-of-the-art equipment, starting with an automatic ink mixing machine, a print proofer, an analytical balancer, safety data sheet software and new ERP software. All these improvements contributed to increased process control, always-up -to-date documentation and efficiency. Our latest investment, a dual source laser application, which we took into production last month (may 2020), supports the digital transformation era we find ourselves in. Please join us in the details of our latest digitalization step…


Digitalization at Grauel GmbH – digital cliché processing
Until recently clichés (print plates) at B. Grauel GmbH were manufactured in four steps:

  1. Design and release of the graphics file
  2. Manufacturing of the film
  3. Lithographic manufacturing of the plate
  4. Registering of the plate

Although we looked into the technical possibilities of digital film manufacturing before, up until now the technology to manufacture printing plates at the desired graphic resolution was not possible. Simultaneously we were faced with a decreasing availability of film printers in the market, and the costs & risks of keeping this technology alive for our ‘typical Grauel applications (medical devices)’ are expected to increase in the years to come. After severe market research, extensive testing and sample printing, we decided to invest in a dual head laser application which enables us to directly laser the artwork pattern on the nyloprint base material. This way we are able to skip the time-consuming film manufacturing process together with the yield loss impact of dust particles between film and plate. We can upload the graphics file directly to the laser application, which enables us to ship out a high quality plate within a single day!

For the lithographic laser process step, we operate a 60W CO2, air cooled laser, operation at the typical wave length of 10.640 nm. The CO2-output head is mounted on a stage in the XY plane with a max. working area of 610*305 nm. On the same XY stage a fiber laser (1064 nm wavelength) is mounted, that can seamlessly and precisely cut the cliché plate registration holes in the back plate, eliminating another step in the conventional manufacturing process.

A nice side effect of the technology innovation at B. Grauel GmbH is the fact that we can now use the fibre laser application for alternative services as well.


It enables us to directly cut all special geometries in printing blankets, manufacture customized doctor blades and to offer mechanical part engraving as an additional service to our customers.

This taught us that innovation doesn’t only lead to process optimization but as a side effect, propels business; we now offer part engraving as a separate service to our customers and we can manufacture printing blankets and printing plates for non-Grauel related printers. This way we are in better shape to service today’s highly customized printing consumables & niche markets for auxiliaries.


Follow Grauel, a brand of AAE on LinkedIn for frequent uploads on state-of-the-art Printing and Assembly automation.


‘Digitalization at B. Grauel GmbH – digital cliché processing’
by Ruud Schenning – Manager New Business at AAE b.v.







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