Home Web graphics FTA Forum, INFOFLEX tackle the future of flexography

FTA Forum, INFOFLEX tackle the future of flexography

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For over 60 years, the FTA Forum has been an integral part of the label and packaging printing industry. The pandemic put an end to the value experienced at the Forum and INFOFLEX for several years, but the events returned with resounding success in 2022. From March 13-16, attendees traveled to Fort Worth, TX, USA United, to see and learn about the latest technologies – in person – that industry leaders have to offer.

During the event, the FTA Forum hosted nine technical sessions and over 25 in-depth presentations from over 30 industry experts. Bart Wright, vice president of technical sales and service at Pacificolor, served as co-president alongside Laura Wright, CEO of CSW Inc.

Following the FTA Forum, guests attended the 40th edition of INFOFLEX, the first live exhibition in three years for the entire packaging printing industry. INFOFLEX, which started in 1982 as a small tabletop exhibition, has grown into an exhibition in its own right. Sponsored by Esko, the event brought together over 180 exhibitors for over 10 hours. New technologies and product demonstrations were there.

“Nothing beats in-person learning and networking,” Wright said. “Zoom fatigue is real, and the investment in participating in a live forum always pays off.”

The FTA Forum also featured a wide range of sponsors. From Anderson & Vreeland, Bobst, Epson and Flexo Wash to Fujifilm, Harper and PCMC.

The Forum sessions looked in depth at many of the issues affecting flexographic label printers today. In Monday’s opening session, industry experts discussed real-world production issues and explained cause, effect, and remedy in “How Do I Fix This Problem?” Catherine Haynes, Director of Digital Solutions and Training, APR, chaired the session, and the esteemed panel included PJ Fronczkiewicz from DuPont, Jason McGowan from ABX, Megan Burns from Berry Global and Kenny Tucker from the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design. and Graphics in Clemson. University.

“We’re in our fourth iteration of a troubleshooting presentation,” Haynes noted. “We decided to let people speak up and tell us about their challenges, so we went looking for videos of people working in prepress and production.

“We wanted to go beyond print defects,” she added. “There are other things going on in prepress and the press room. Our panelists spoke to industry colleagues to gather information for this session. Then we designed strategies to decide how we’re going to solve those problems and help you design an action plan moving forward.

The session covered a wide range of topics, from ink maintenance and anilox inventory management to resolving dirty prints. “Viscosity is always the first thing we start with when we have trouble on press,” McGowan said. “I always encourage my operators to manually check the viscosity so you can make sure the automation set matches what you see on the press. If you don’t know what your viscosity is, it may start to get holey and it will become lighter. The problem may be as simple as getting the ink back into the proper operating range.

Regarding dirty printing, Fronczkiewicz commented, “I’m drawn to the plate when it comes to dirty printing. There are a number of reasons, overprint, wrong anilox roll, wrong solvent mix, etc. There are more complicated reasons that are not so easy to solve. In my experience, screen builds normally tend to have this happen. Whatever the cause, this is definitely one of those topics that you should discuss with your plate supplier. They can recommend plate exposure problems or diagnose how you clean the plates. »

Despite all the press issues, Burns recommended having contingency plans in place to stay prepared. “When things go wrong, do you have a plan in place? she asked. “Make sure you have an idea, document it, and fix the problem.”

Meanwhile, the session, “Taking Your Flexography Further,” was moderated by Dan Blackburn of Kimberly-Clark and John Anderson of Miraclon. Panelists included Mark Andy’s Ted Bright, who discussed how retraction can help grow a converter’s business volume, and Fathom Optics’ Tom Baran and Matthew Hirsch, who noted how their award-winning technology has added l 3D optics to printed labels.

For shrink tubing, Bright noted that the market is expected to be worth $2 billion by 2025 at a growth rate of 5%. This application has historically been dominated by end-use markets for food and beverages, as well as household and industrial chemicals.

“There are certain attributes that are very pleasing to the eye. It’s very beautiful when you have full coverage and maximize a brand’s real estate,” Bright said. “There is no doubt about it, the shrink sleeve market is growing at a very significant rate.”

Fathom Optics, on the other hand, showed how its technology can differentiate labels and packaging on the shelf. Fathom won the 2021 FTA Technical Award and the 2021 Miraclon Global Flexo Innovation Award for its efforts.

“We offer technology that adds 3D depth and movement to 2D printed images,” Baran explained. “Fathom is the only beautification company that does not sell any materials or equipment.

“It’s about a shift in the way you design, and we think that’s really important to communicate to brands,” he added. “Everything you do can be totally personalized. You can create a custom effect and print it in perfect register, and you can use a different effect for each SKU in the production line.

As part of the event, the annual awards banquet was held on Sunday, March 13. FTA has honored a wide range of recipients, from the Sustainability Award and the FTA President’s Award to Excellence in Flexography Awards.

Raised in a flexo family, Mike Buystedt was named a 2022 Hall of Fame inductee. Following lifelong efforts spanning a 41-year career, this etiquette master is now the 60th individual to be honored to enter the FTA Flexo Hall of Fame.

In the Narrow Web category, a wide range of companies were honored with Excellence in Flexography awards. Winners included Berry Global – golf and best show recognition – and McDowell Label, Bay Tech Label, Multi-Color Corporation, Labeltronix, Label Tech and more.

For the show’s top win, Berry Global, award-winning label Jergens Body Butter Sandalwood Tube, said, “This print uses a combination of process inks and spot colors with a cold gold accent and a soft coating with a pleasant touch. Pearl foil makes a difficult substrate due to the stretching of the material. Color registration and consistency are critical to the appearance of the white band and the image. Properly balanced color is imperative for this nature-based image with a range of light and dark tones.

Meanwhile, Catherine Haynes of All Printing Resources, Kevin Borquin of Cyber ​​Graphics and Laura Wright of CSW – also co-chair of the Forum – all received the FTA President’s Award.

From a sustainability perspective, Industrias de Plasticos SA de CV (INPLASA), of Valle de Amarateca, Francisco Morazán, Honduras, has been recognized for its sustainability programs. Additionally, Gilbert, AZ-based Footprint took home honors for its sustainability innovations. Sun Chemical and TC Transcontinental Packaging received honorable mention in the sustainability category.

Finally, DuPont Cyrel Solutions won an FTA technical award for its Cyrel Lightning Plates, and Soma also received a technical award for its Soma Changeover Wizard.