“Esko launched HD Flexo in 2009 and was the first supplier in the packaging industry to give flexo a quality stamp by a certification," comments Jan Buchweitz, senior product manager Digital Flexo at Esko. “Since then, that number has continued to grow rapidly as the technology has been adopted eagerly by our customers. In 2013, we started to apply a similar certification process for Esko Full HD Flexo users, and the first series of Full HD Flexo certificates are currently issued.”
In order to become certified, customers submit multiple production print samples produced using Esko HD Flexo or Esko Full HD Flexo. Engineers in Esko´s Flexo R&D center then check the quality of the submissions according to published quality parameters. Once certification is granted, customers receive a certificate plus a set of promotional tools that allow them to use the Esko Certification logo. Esko HD Flexo and Esko Full HD Flexo Certifications are valid for two years, after which time recipients must recertify to ensure that the quality standard is protected. The certification program is free of charge for anyone applying. The certificate signifies their dedication to producing the highest possible quality. The list of certified companies is available on Esko's website: www.esko.com/en/Products/Overview/hd-flexo/Certified.
One such company is Southern Africa’s Golden Era Group, the second largest printing and packaging group in the region. Managing Director Raj Chhita explains: “Flexographic printing has improved greatly over the last few years. The quality and productivity we can now achieve is comparable to gravure and litho. HD Flexo Certification highlights for our customers a consistency that helps us confidently win new work.”
Another example is Colognia Press, a printer of self-adhesive labels, tags, tickets and packaging materials for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, household and electronic industries located in the Czech Republic. “HD Flexo allows us to print to a very high quality,” comments CEO Jaroslav Vendl, “and the HD Flexo Certification gives us the official seal of approval for the quality standards Colognia Press has achieved.”
Partner and vendor certification
Certification opportunity is also extended to flexo printers or converters as well as industry vendors. For example, a trade shop that produces flexo plates can apply for certification. Many trade shops who have been certified have also worked with their converters to certify them as well. “We chose to go digital with the Esko CDI and HD Flexo,” says Benny Ho Wei Min, executive director of Eye Graphic Sdn. Bhd., a Malaysian flexo trade shop. “Our clients are looking for more flexibility from plate makers and are pushing for faster turn-around times. Digital flexo enables us to offer this. Being HD Flexo Certified definitely strengthens our competitiveness and confirms our commitment to providing the highest level of quality to our customers.”
Vendors that supply support materials and tools such as tape, aniloxes, etc., to the flexo industry can also pursue certification, since their supplies and materials are instrumental in achieving HD Flexo quality.
Bringing value to the industry
“In fact our customers are eager to get certified and inspire us for this program. There are multiple levels of value in achieving HD Flexo or Full HD Flexo Certification,” Buchweitz explains. “HD Flexo Certification gives converters a stamp of quality assurance from a recognized industry leader that helps them cement relationships with brand owners. Clearly, there is also value in the process for Esko as we work to extend the range of companies that are certified and to protect a quality standard that has come to define the best in flexographic printing.” Buchweitz concludes stating that while applicants must be Esko customers, there is significant value in this process to the flexo industry as a whole, since it raises the level of quality across a broad spectrum of providers and thus expands the market potential for flexo in general.
For more information about Esko's HD Flexo or Full HD Flexo Certification program, visit www.Esko.com/en/esko/becoming-certified.