Through a partnership with Hewlett Packard (HP) and Esko, Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department has installed new equipment that will give students hands-on experience integrating the technologies of digital printing and commercial printing and packaging.
HP donated a variable data Indigo ws4000 series web press valued at $188,000 and Esko donated a Kongsberg iCut variable data diecutting system worth $179,000.
The web press and diecutting technology will be used by graphic communication students in advanced digital printing classes and by professionals attending industry seminars and workshops conducted by the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly.
The workflow resulting from these two systems allows printing runs of one or multiple images and moves them to the iCut for variable diecutting of individual or multiple images. The iCut is based on Kongsberg technology, combined with iCut software tools designed for short-run production work, in sheet and roll form.
Cal Poly Graphic Communication Professor Malcolm Keif and Department Head Harvey Levenson led the effort to bring this digital web press and diecutting workflow together. “The Esko team has been very supportive of our program,” Keif says. “They are involved in educating our students, working on industry outreach, collaborating on research, and hiring our graduates. Esko epitomizes our industry/education partnership.”
Levenson, who coordinated the HP partnership, says, “Since HP acquired Indigo in 2001, we’ve been working together to educate students and companies in how to market, sell and integrate digital printing technology into commercial printing and packaging. The ws4000 series press compliments our Indigo sheet-fed press and expands our capabilities to teach a workflow representing present and future opportunities for the graphic communication industry.
Capturing, printing and die-cutting digital images – static or variable – in a closed-loop workflow represents a direction that will keep the commercial printing and packaging industries viable in the years ahead.”
In other news, five Cal Poly students from the Graphic Communication Department tested their problem solving and label and packaging skills in this year’s Phoenix Challenge College Competition. Color Resolutions International (CRI) stepped in to help them address their first challenge – the funding to get there. CRI donated $1,000 to help five Cal Poly flexography students make the trip to San Antonio to attend the FFTA Forum and INFO*FLEX Exhibition, March 17 - 20, where they competed in the 5th annual college competition.
Students squared off in the problem-based contest, applying various resources and seeking the most effective business solution. In this year’s competition, the Phoenix Challenge Collegiate Food Corporation requested proposals for custom branding of narrow-web, flexo-printed labels and/or packaging to be used for snack food items to be sold in collegiate school convenience stores. The students – playing the role of narrow-web flexo converters – proposed labels and packaging options for products typically found in campus convenience stores. Competing students had to develop a minimum of two and a maximum of four label and/or packaging items and were limited to four stations with only spot colors.
“The FFTA Forum and Phoenix Challenge College Competition are perfect outlets to develop the skills of the emerging talent pool entering the industry,” says George Sickinger, CEO of Color Resolutions. “CRI is proud to sponsor this endeavor and hope that we can continue to help these and other students as they transition into professional careers.”
This year’s Cal Poly team – which took home the top prize – consisted of Chris Hernandez, Kendra Jaqua, Audrey Van Camp, Eli McNutt, and Kaela SooHoo.
“We’d like to thank CRI for their commitment to helping students explore the exciting opportunities available within the flexographic printing industry,” said Malcolm Keif, professor of graphic communication at Cal Poly. “Especially in a down economy, it’s nice to know there are still companies that value and support educating our youth. CRI has done great things for the university, its students and the industry as a whole.”