The Phoenix Challenge is an organization that supports the future of flexography and students pursuing careers in the label and packaging industry. The Phoenix Challenge Foundation began in 1998 when the Applied Technology Center (ATC), in Rock Hill, SC became the first Flexo in High School Program (FIHS) to have both Mark Andy and Comco presses in their lab. The new technology created a desire to have an international competition, which led to the ATC and other FIHS programs to create the Phoenix Challenge Foundation. The organization is focused on flexographic printing and caters to students in high school, as well as those enrolled in Print Science programs at the collegiate level.
Ten teams from universities all around North America compete each year by showcasing client project simulations, where the groups work together to develop packaging and label applications support of the client’s packaging objectives. From ideation to print, the students manage the entirety of the project. Projects are examined by top industry professionals, and the winning team receives accolades and is awarded scholarships.
The Phoenix Challenge is an organization that hits home for Justin Green, digital sales manager, Mark Andy. Green was the first PCF High School Challenge winner in 1998, and the competition sparked his interest and desire to pursue a career in print. Green, along with Mary Sullivan, regional sales manager and FTA Board member, led the welcome session for the students visiting Mark Andy. Speaking to the importance of the Phoenix Challenge Competition, Green notes, “Events like the Phoenix Challenge are a great way to network with industry professionals and develop relationships that will be vital as you enter the industry and throughout your career."
Attendees watched a live demonstration of the Performance Series P7, run by Alfredo Lopez, print technician, while Sullivan highlighted the key values of the press. The P7 press offers direct servo drive improvements, a more ergonomic design, fully automated job register, and speeds up to 1,000 fpm. The press is also now equipped with new converting options to help print providers enter new markets. An inline solventless lamination system, which produces food-safe output directly off the press in a single pass, gives narrow-web converters a more productive solution to add flexible packaging jobs to their book of business. Student’s were made aware of the advantages of the solventless lamination process, which consist of a shorter curing time, no issues with pot-life, and guaranteed food-safe final products. The press was also equipped with Digital Plus Screen, which is an efficient digital alternative to rotary screen printing.
Directly following the demonstration, the students were split into groups to see the inner-workings of Mark Andy’s manufacturing facilities. All presses sold are built and shipped out of our headquarters, which adopts Lean Manufacturing principles and an efficient build process.
The Phoenix Challenge Foundation has been supporting flexo in education for the sole purpose of guiding the best and brightest youth toward a rewarding career in our industry. Mark Andy is proud to be a part of this movement, motivating young adults to see the rewards of working in a trade-focused market. Sullivan summarized the success of the visit, providing, “It is important that Mark Andy support and recognize the ever-growing need for talent across the entire industry. Being able to welcome the Phoenix Challenge students and faculty to our plant and participate in the completion itself is both rewarding and awe inspiring. It is really fun to see our future workforce in action.”
About the author: Missy Null is a Marketing Specialist at Mark Andy’s global headquarters in Saint Louis, MO. She studied marketing and business administration at the University of Missouri with interests in brand development, digital marketing, and packaging design.