The 2012 FTA Forum and INFO*FLEX celebrated its 30th year in San Antonio, TX, USA, March 18-21. This year, the annual event, presented by the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), was themed “Flexo: Brand of Choice,” and featured an agenda that not only showcased the flexographic print process’ evolution and emerging technologies, but also how flexo stacks up against its printing process rivals.
Following the opening keynote and welcome from Forum Chair Randy Butler of Printpack Inc., the opening session commenced with “FOG’D 2012: Reality Flexo.” Here, representatives from some of the world’s leading brands – Diageo, Kimberly-Clark and Tyson Foods – shared their thoughts, experiences and company philosophies on the various printing processes at their disposal.
Diageo’s Kevin Chop stated that in the spirits market, it comes down to five main drivers: cost of goods, quality and process controls, printing and converting capabilities, design and application equipment. Al Marquardt, packaging production manager for Kimberly-Clark, emphasized that it’s “you the experts that select the print process,” adding that with flexo, they’ll look for FIRST certified printers. Location of the print supplier is also a key driver for K-C, Marquardt said, adding, “We rely on our partnerships with our printers to have them select the best process based on substrate and location.”
Following the brand owner insights, the session then switched over to the printers and converters, featuring presentations from American Packaging, Label-Pak, Flexoprint, G3 and Worcester Envelope.
At the 2001 Forum in Nashville, TN, the first FOG event took place where flexo print samples were examined side by side with the same samples produced via offset and gravure. FOG stands for Flexo, Offset, Gravure, and in 2001, flexo proved to be able to stand toe-to-toe with its rivals.
This year, the FTA Forum reprised the concept but added a “D” to FOG, representing Digital printing. Session attendees were handed an enveloped containing various print samples, and the converters responsible for the jobs detailed their experiences with brand owners. The flexo samples once again often proved to be the preferred choice, with a key reason being the advantages in UV flexo and HD flexo technology.
James Stone, business development manager for G3 Enterprises, a California-based wine label and packaging specialist, discussed offset versus flexo, and emphasized the competitive advantages flexo provides over its printing rival. He said, “Offset is a multiple step, sheet-to-sheet, cost and time-consuming process. Flexo is a single pass, roll-to-finished label, cost and time effective process.”