FFTA Campaigns for Flexo

With our nation's capitol as a backdrop, the Foundation of the Flexographic Technical Assn. (FFTA) presented a patriotic theme at its 44th annual forum — Capitol Ideas for People, Process and Profit — held May 5-6 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

In an opening session resembling a political convention, more than 1,000 registered attendees, sporting red, white, and blue hats and pins, sang the national anthem, and FTA/FFTA president Mark Cisternino entered the stage to the strains of “Hail to the Chief.” PFFC also was in attendance.

FTA chairman of the board Rick Hocking, Banner Packaging, presented a slate of candidates for election to the board of directors, including David Bankson, Label Technology; Bryan Emmerson, Poly Cello; Raymond A. Gray, Cypress Multigraphics; and Nancy Wallwork, Williamson Printing Materials. Hocking and Robert Lauzon, Glopak, were elected to a second term.

Listen to the Customer
In a forum first, the FTA held a summit with 16 product and senior managers from a dozen leading consumer product companies (CPC). The results of “The Voice of the Customer” summit were presented by forum chairman David Haradon, The Haradon Group, and Ken Lowden, DuPont Imaging Technologies.

Key packaging trends were identified, including shipping cases being used as point-of-purchase displays and the reduction of suppliers to streamline workflow. Summit members said some of the most important trends that will impact the future are just-in-time packaging workflows; more complex package designs with realistic images; retailers becoming more involved and regional specialization; the use of graphics across multiple substrates and innovative structures that make graphics more challenging; and digital workflows that will drive cost and time savings.

The CPC managers expressed what they saw as the core advantages of flexography, as well as their frustration with the lack of standards; proofs and press runs that don't match; run-to-run inconsistency; and the time lost between art approval and press runs.

So what do these important customers want? They requested a totally digital workflow; design software specifically developed for packaging; designers trained to understand the flexo process; proofs that accurately predict printing; and printers that use the FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances) standards.

Awards and Acknowledgements
Fred Shapiro, who has been involved in the printing and packaging industries since 1957, was inducted into the FTA Hall of Fame. An industrial engineer turned environmental consultant, Shapiro was recognized as a good-will ambassador for flexo who has a strong set of personal ethics and a volunteer spirit. His trip to Taiwan for CMM Asia prevented him from attending this year's forum.

Results of the association's Excellence in Flexography Awards competition were announced at the banquet; with 32 gold medals, 42 silver medals, and 35 bronze medals, as well as 12 non-denominational awards being presented.

Best of show recognition went to LSK Label Co. for Kendall Jackson Collage Cabernet Sauvignon; Banner Packaging for Superman Boys' Briefs (Fruit of the Loom); Printpack Inc. for Bugs Bunny and friends Fruit Snack; Lewisburg Container for Hoover Steam Vacuum; and SCI for Marsan Food Teriyaki Chicken Bowl.

Arpeco Engineering, Mississauga, Ont., Canada, won the Technical Innovation Award for its injector system, a cutting and creasing device custom made for folding carton applications.

See the July issue of PFFC for our awards coverage.

Product Introductions
Nearly 200 companies exhibited products and/or services at the co-located Info*Flex Exhibition, and several new products were introduced at the show.

Sun Chemical unveiled WetFlex EC, a printing process that utilizes UniQure inks, a line of wet-trapping ultraviolet and electron beam inks for flexo. The company reports the process eliminates the need for interstation curing while printing multicolor jobs on a non-absorbent substrate.

Dynaloy, Indianapolis, IN, announced it has formulated a coating and cleaning system for anilox rolls that reduces downtime. The DynaFlex Coating, applied prior to inking the rolls, is reported to decrease ink-residue buildup.

Quality Engineering Assoc., Burlington, MA, unveiled the Flexo IAS image analysis system said to provide objective image quality analysis from proof to print, using one instrument. System design uses CCD image capturing and advanced image processing and analysis software in a hand-held unit.

Eckart America, Painesville, OH, introduced Ultrastar FX-1803 and FX-1805, solvent-based metallic inks for flexible packaging and pressure-sensitive labels. The inks are said to deliver optical effects never before possible with metallic inks.

Practical Advice
Technical presentations were offered in concurrent sessions covering the tag and label, flexible packaging, corrugated/preprint, folding cartons, and towel and napkin segments. Other sessions covered prepress, platemaking, and FIRST specifications.

In the Flexographic Quality Consortium session, Bancroft Bag's graphics manager, Ruth Buckley (aka The Bag Lady), offered tips to help the small, independent converter save money: Understand and maximize the equipment you have and build jobs that work for you; purchase equipment that will provide the best value; encourage workers to share knowledge; and wait for software bugs to be worked out before upgrading systems.

Mark Your Calendar
FFTA will hold its next forum at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT, May 4-7, 2003. For more information contact Carol Meyers, meetings manager, FFTA, 900 Marconi Ave., Ronkonkoma, NY 11779; 631/737-6020; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit FFTA at flexography.org.

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