The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA )Forum and Info*Flex kicked off Saturday, May 1, at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, USA, with educational activities and sessions followed by an awards presentation on Sunday night.
Saturday’s highlights were a FIRST Press Operator Level 1 training and certification program. The course was made free to attendees who had booked their sleeping rooms at the Paris Hotel. Also on Saturday was software tutorial session led by Steve Smiley of Vertis, who spoke on the subject of G7 calibration methodology and software systems. April Clarke of Adobe Systems talked about using Creative Suite 4 software updates packaging. Catherine Haynes, All Printing Resources, rounded out the session discussing workflow efficiency and file accuracy. Haynes outlined techniques needed to develop an optimal workflow plan with customers.
Sunday morning’s Flexo 101 session saw 340 people turn out to hear chairperson Jay Sperry of Clemson University lead a discussion on understanding key flexo components and how they interact within the workflow. Clemson’s Rory Marsoun talked about the not-so-simple task of printing specific colors on specific substrates. Allen Marquadt, Kimberly-Clark, then introduced the basics of process control and was followed by a presentation about “selling flexo” delivered by Mark Mazur, DuPont Packaging Graphics, and Mark Samworth of EskoArtwork.
Sunday afternoon included a session titled “Prepress: Streamlining the Digital Packaging Process.” Chaired by Michael Butler of Southern Graphic System, it focused on e-Lean efficency and the digital infrastructure, and included a case study from Margie Dehim of The Sara Lee Corporation. She talked about the company’s packaging workflow activities and how lead times have been cut 40 percent. Dehim also spoke about how an efficient workflow eliminates waste and reduces costs.
Rounding out Sunday’s sessions was “Emerging Trends and New Technologies.” Here, John Anderson of Kodak chaired a series of presentations on the latest in special effects and other new, value-adding technologies. Tim Cain of Breit Technologies presented Cast and Cure, the company’s proprietary special effects finishing process. Kurt Flathmann of Bobst Group introduced SmartGPS, a technology that eliminates a major portion of startup. The system uses RFID chips embedded in the plate and anilox sleeve.
The SmartCPS system also earned the Bobst Group the 2010 Technical Innovation Award, which was presented at the FTA Annual Awards Banquet held Sunday evening. Also at the banquest, Joe Tuccitto, FTA/FFTA education director, announced the launch of the Howard Vreeland Sr. Virtual Campus. The campus, made possible through an investment by Anderson & Vreeland, is designed solely for educators to access FTA’s TEST (Technical Education Services Team) authored courses.
In his opening statement at the Banquet, Tuccitto said, “Over the past few years, TEST has worked diligently in the development of the TEST Virtual Campus. Today it provides countless industry professionals with ongoing professional development opportunities via the Internet. While this has proved an invaluable delivery mechanism for the industry as a whole, the new campus will address the needs specific to the world of academia.”
Monday morning featured two sessions. FIRST From the Front Lines provided a detailed guide on how to effectively use FIRST 4.0 (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances). This was an “open book session,” and attendees were encouraged to bring their copies of FIRST, as the program referenced specific sections in order to help users win the “war on the flexo front lines.” A session on substrates followed, chaired by David Rosenberg of the Solo Cup Company. Here, the discussion focused on cost savings, productivity, and overall process improvement.