And the winners are…
Garnering a lot of attention on the show floor were the winners of the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) 2018 Technical Innovation Award – Hamillroad Software and Eaglewood Technologies. The award recognizes and celebrates great achievements that have contributed to the growth of the flexographic industry and have the potential to power flexography’s future.
Hamillroad was honored with the prestigious award for its Bellissima Digitally Modulated Screening (DMS) technology. The award-winning Bellissima DMS produces high-quality prints equivalent to 350-450 lpi with what is said to be unrivaled image reproduction and boasts no color shifts on misregistration. By utilizing fixed palette inks, the screening delivers smooth flat tints and moiré free prints with no visible rosettes. Vignettes fade smoothly to nothing enabled by printed highlight dots as low as 1.0% and shadow dots up to 99.5%.
“This award provides the strongest public affirmation, by a panel of peers, experts in the industry, that they agree that what we have is a major technical innovation for flexo printing which will cause a significant transformation in what is possible,” commented Andy Cave, CEO, Hamillroad Software. “The only thing that could, or will ever beat winning such an award, would be to have many happy customers who just as emphatically say that Bellissima has transformed their business.”
FTA Director of Education Joe Tuccitto said: “I think that the Bellissima technology is absolutely amazing. It is really going to revolutionize the flexographic industry moving forward.”
Working optimally at 4,000 dpi, the patented screening includes features such as 100% solid surface patterning options and solid object protection. Printing press issues including bounce, barring and slur are all reduced significantly, and in some cases, eliminated. Bellissima DMS also delivers on ink savings, which can be augmented by GCR based software, improves the efficiency of the press room, and utilizes existing printing press equipment.
Danielle Kinsella, marketing director at Hamillroad Software, added: “The team at Hamillroad is extremely proud of this achievement and extremely grateful to have been recognized by the FTA for our technical contribution to flexo. Having launched Bellissima at Labelexpo in September 2017, we couldn’t have imagined the level of interest and excitement surrounding our product, let alone receive such a prestigious award.”
Eaglewood Technologies’ Sitexco Roll Cleaning System also won the FTA 2018 Technical Innovation Award. The Sitexco Roll Cleaning System is touted as the most intelligent, environmentally-safe and effective way of maintaining anilox inventory. Advanced laser technology, combined with cutting-edge software, allows the user to easily clean ink and coating chemistries of all types.
“Eaglewood Technologies is well aware that constant innovation is essential to compete in the flexographic industry. Our core focus is to provide the best sustainable solution for anilox roll maintenance. Whether it was dry ice, steam, plastic media, chemicals – we’ve tested it all. We know lasers are replacing liquid cleaning solutions in industries all around the world. Why not flexo," said Eaglewood’s Peter Mulheran.
Four years ago, Eaglewood began testing lasers and discovered TEG Technologies, based in Girona, Spain. “TEG had already built a proven, safe cleaning technology, but it had significant room for improvement,” he explained. “With our market knowledge and TEG’s engineering capabilities, the Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System was achieved.”
Baldwin Vision Systems, a new business segment of Baldwin Technology Company Inc., demonstrated its color management and defect detection technology. In late 2017, both QuadTech and PC Industries were acquired by Baldwin Technology Company Inc. Commenting on this was Karl Fritchen, president of BALDWIN Vision Systems, He said, “Being part of a larger organization means more diverse technical capabilities under one company umbrella. As a new print technology powerhouse, we can offer higher volume and a wider variety of options that fit our customers’ processes and budgets. Our product offerings are now stronger and more complete, and by being available to more markets, through more offices, agents, and service operations, we have already won new business with our combined portfolio.”
Among the products featured at the Baldwin booth was ColorTrack, a color management software for flexo and gravure packaging applications, and a highly adaptive “color expert in a box” solution for packaging printers. With a variety of options for hand-held and inline spectral measurement configurations, the software facilitates fast, accurate press-side correction of ink formulations. Without any hardware modifications to the press, ColorTrack automates the process of delivering absolute consistency from press-to-press, shift-to-shift and plant-to-plant. The software can also enable press operators to make color corrections without ink reformulation, by suggesting process adjustments such as ink strength or anilox changes.
Baldwin also showcased the Guardian PQV advanced 100 percent inspection system. This is a feature-rich system that provides true 100 percent print inspection for pharmaceutical, converting, label, flexo, wide, and narrow web applications. At home on any press or slitter/rewinder, the system provides power and accuracy through defect detection, OCR/OCV, bar code grading and verification, dimensional gauging and much more. The Guardian OLP PDF proofing and off-line inspection system can automatically find and highlight differences in print quality from an approved master image. The Guardian OLP can compare a one-up electronic file or scan to a multi-up electronic file or scan. This system will detect printing defects, such as missing or extra print, pre-press errors, plate defects and color variations.
DuPont Advanced Printing launched DuPont Cyrel EASY BRITE Screens and the Cyrel EASY BRITE Index during INFOFLEX. The screens are designed to optimize ink laydown in high-volume printing, typically seen when printing a white undercoat, or solid areas with spot colors. They contain a suite of screens that have shown to improve solid printing at volumes of 4.0 bcm and greater. There are five screens in total: two screens designed for customers without the HD Pixel+ imaging capability and three screens designed to take full advantage of HD Pixel+ imaging.
“We are excited to launch our new Cyrel EASY BRITE Screens. A brighter white is not just about opacity – we believe high opacity alone doesn’t make a good print. You need a combination of opacity, low mottle and low graininess to have a good white. Cyrel® EASY BRITE Screens will deliver not only high opacity, but also improved mottle and improved graininess on inks that use a high volume anilox. The EASY BRITE Index is a multidimensional measurement that combines opacity, mottle and graininess into a single number,” said Shyamal Desai, marketing manager, Americas, DuPont Advanced Printing.
Desai said the combination of Cyrel EASY Plates and the EASY BRITE Screens deliver Better overall consistency and more consistent print of large solid areas, higher print quality, uniform ink layer, elimination of trail edge void, improved appearance of final print, improved opacity, reduced graininess and reduced mottle. In addition, flexibility is another key attribute, as the technology allow printers to go to higher quality levels using their existing setups.
GMG, a developer and supplier of high-end color management software solutions, focused on GMG OpenColor 2.1 – the most recent version of the past FTA Technical Innovation award recipient – and color-accurate prototypes using the Epson SureColor S80 Series printers at its INFOFLEX booth. "GMG is providing brand owners and converters color management to assure their packaging preserves consistent and accurate color. GMG OpenColor separation profiles allow package designers and pre-press companies to simulate different color combinations and production variables without having to go on press to check the results,” explained Paulo Monteiro, VP Sales, GMG Americas.
With the increasing use of multi-color printing and different combinations of inks, substrates, screening, and other variables, packaging printing involves a lot of color fingerprints and profile tweaking. GMG OpenColor provides a proofing technology that precisely predicts the color appearance of printed inks, particularly ‘overprints’—inks printed on top of each other without requiring extensive fingerprinting. GMG OpenColor can also create multichannel profiles to separate jobs from a certain number of colors to any other number colors; for example, from RGB to seven colors. GMG OpenColor's rapid adoption by major suppliers and brands worldwide is unprecedented and a strong endorsement of this exciting technology.
While previously users would require a specific test chart to create a color profile, GMG OpenColor 2.1 enables the measurement of full-tone patches from a print control strip, or even solid patches and tint patches on the running printed sheet and to create a profile from the captured spectral data, something no other profiling tool can achieve. GMG OpenColor 2.1 also includes a detection tool for optical brighteners.
Representatives from global anilox roll supplier Harper Corporation of America were on hand to provide insight and answer questions regarding the company’s latest technology, products, and services. In addition, Sean Teufler, Technical Director at Harper, presented as part of the INFOFLEX Solutions Theater. His presentation, “Scoring Solutions,” covered the unknowns that contribute to anilox scoring and how to successfully deal with them. Anilox scoring has the potential to decrease print quality by leaving lines that obscure the print, and it is a challenge many printers within the anilox industry face.
EyeC America exhibited high-speed inspection systems for labels, flexible packaging and folding cartons. The company presented its new in-line inspection solution - EyeC Quality Link and demonstrated the high performance of its sample testing and pre-press proofing systems. With the new EyeC Quality Link printers can increase their productivity and improve quality control by using only one inspection system during the whole printing process. They no longer have to equip both the print machine and rewinder with individual inspection systems since the EyeC Quality Link uses the inspection results from the print machine for an efficient and quick removal of defective items on the rewinder. The in-line inspection system enables the printer to run the press as well as the rewinder at maximum speed, reduce overruns and guarantee the delivery of only flawless products.
With the help of the EyeC Proofiler 400 DT, printers, pharmacists and brand owners quickly and safely check samples of all types of print products. In only 30 seconds, the inspection system performs a comprehensive sample test of a combo job in DIN A3 format against several signed-off PDF files. The solution inspects graphics and texts in all languages as well as colors, 1-D and 2-D codes or Braille in just one inspection cycle. The pre-press proofing software EyeC Proofiler Graphic checks print-ready PDFs against the approved artwork in just a few seconds and pinpoints all potential differences with great precision. The EyeC Proofiler Graphic can be integrated into workflow systems such as Esko Automation Engine for further automated pre-press inspection.
MacDermid Graphics Solutions, a developer of flat-top-dot (FTD) technology and capped digital technology, introduced LUX In-the-Plate (ITP) Epic at INFOFLEX 2018. ITP Epic is the newest addition to the award-winning technology that provides all the benefits of LUX lamination, but with the convenience of flat-top dots right out of the box. ITP Epic offers a micro-rough surface for excellent ink transfer for challenging flexographic printing applications or complex ink requirements. The enhanced cap layer, specifically developed for the ITP chemistry, ensures the sheet photopolymer renders the best printing outcomes with the most forgiving operation window.
“The flexo market cast their vote with a resounding request for MacDermid to combine its market leading capped plate technology with ITP. LUX ITP Epic provides our customers the ability to increase productivity while improving consistency. MacDermid is excited and proud to maintain our position as an innovation leader by presenting to our customers LUX ITP Epic," said Patrick Mullaney, vice president – Americas. This photopolymer plate has clean print technology, is UV LED compatible and can be processed either in conventional solvents or in MacDermid’s Lava thermal platemaking system.
CRON, a global manufacturer of CTP devices, promoted its HDI Flexo CTP product line. “The flexible packaging market is growing rapidly, and INFOFLEX is the perfect opportunity to showcase the difference the right CTP system can make,” said Marshall Hogenson, vice president, Flexo Business Unit. “The HDI Flexo series was designed specifically for this segment, ensuring that not only will flexible packaging manufacturers get the highest possible quality prints, they will do it with systems designed to take their unique needs into consideration. We are excited to show off exactly what this product can do at the show.”
The new CRON HDI flexo imager features the latest in state-of-the-art technology, including SMFO (Semi-conductor Multiple Fiber Array and Optical Imaging), which allows for excellent imaging at resolutions up to 9600 dpi. HDI’s magnetic levitation optics drive virtually eliminates vibration and friction, delivering worry free, consistent and nearly maintenance free operation. CRON offers a 2-year warranty on all parts, and ongoing maintenance costs remain low, Hogenson said, adding that the CRON HDI price tag is up to 40% less than other suppliers. "Over time, the HDI offers up to 60% lower total cost of ownership giving companies the latest technology with affordable investment. The HDI series is available in three sizes — the 600 (20 x 25) and 920 (25 x 30) are suitable for smaller format and label work, with the larger 1600 (42 x 60) is suitable for general packaging work. Four optics packages are available with productivity up to 50 square feet per hour."
The Flint Group booth included everything from printing plates, image setters, sleeves and inks. Flint Group experts were on hand to discuss the latest developments in prepress to press-side solutions. The Flexographic Division presented the nyloflex XVH digital plate – a new, versatile, hard durometer plate with an inherently flat top surface that is perfect for narrow web print applications on all types of printing substrates and wide web film printing when surface screening is employed. Meanwhile, rotec Eco Bridge, an adapter for use on flexographic printing presses and plate-mounting equipment, will be highlighted, as well. This special adapter with a breathable metal ring creates an air pillow around the entire circumference of the adapter to allow for easy and fast mounting of sleeves. The design uses 90% less volume of compressed air, resulting in significant noise reduction and cost savings.
The Flint Group Narrow Web Division highlighted EkoCure XS, a UV LED flexo ink system for shrink sleeves with improved adhesion for the fastest printing speeds. EkoCure XS ink is a next-generation LED technology developed by Flint Group Narrow Web, addressing key needs determined by many converters specializing in the shrink sleeve market. EkoCure XS ink combines the latest ink chemistry that provides an excellent cure and sufficient flexibility, allowing better adhesion, especially after post shrink processing is completed. The division also showed Hydrokett ZEN ink with excellent press stability and enhanced print quality, which will improve profitability of any converter due to very low maintenance and outstanding color strength.
Furthermore, Flint Group Narrow Web showcased the benefits of LED curing low migration EkoCure Ancora ink, the winner of the FTA Innovation Award in 2017. Experts provided full insights of how LED low migration ink can change the short-run flexible packaging market. The Digital Solutions Division discussed ThermoFlexX digital imagers, which are CTP systems available with 20, 30, 48, 60 and 80" models to serve every sector of the flexo market. ThermoFlexX 48, 60 and 80 models now feature fully automatic plate loading and unloading for efficiency, ease of use and minimal operator intervention, reducing the risk of plate damage.
Maintaining its focus on new solutions for streamlining print production, JM Heaford, a supplier of mounting and proofing solutions for the tag and label, flexible packaging, corrugated and gravure markets, focused on automation opportunities. A Heaford AutoMounter showed features and technologies developed to deliver consistent, high-speed accuracy at the push of a button. This year’s INFOFLEX was also the first public event for Heaford following the appointment of new representation in the USA. US Flexo Solutions is now responsible for sales of all Heaford flexographic mounters and proofers in the USA, with ongoing support from the dedicated Heaford installation, service and parts teams, including JM Heaford’s US-based installation and service engineer.
Now installed across five continents, Heaford AutoMounters are commonly achieving return-on-investment in less than a year, the company says. The booth at INFOFLEX featured plate mounting demonstrations illustrating the key characteristics of the technology for delivering a quick return. These include ease-of-use, quick setup, and high-speed precision. In standard widths up to 1800 mm and a repeat range up to 1350mm, the AutoMounter configuration features an innovative approach to the conventional. With a cantilever mandrel mounted above motorised cameras and patented printing plate manipulators, developed to give plates stability due to their unique curved design, the design gives the operator unparalleled access while also keeping the footprint to a minimum by eliminating the need for complicated front and rear table systems. Set-up is straightforward and quickly adjustable via on-screen icons allowing multiple positions to be set and stored, with the ability to store and recall over 100,000 jobs.
The operator is required only to roughly position the plate on the manipulators so that targets/register marks are visible, and then press the foot pedal. At this point, the AutoMounter takes over entirely. Using dual axis, independent, closed-loop controls, the printing plates are accurately positioned and adjusted according to print repeat, plate thickness, and tape thickness. Each plate is mounted with a positional accuracy of +/- five microns in less than one minute.
According to Gregg Gayle, founder of US Flexo Solutions, the speed and hands-free accuracy of the Heaford AutoMounter are key to providing immediate productivity benefits that lead to superfast return on investment: “Heaford has the winning formula because the automation is paired with registration that is fast, reliable and repeatable. The plate is mounted perfectly first time, every time. It means that the press is never waiting for remounting of plates as mismounted plates are a thing of the past – as are all the costs, waste and lost time associated with them.
“But perhaps even more significant is the fact that literally anyone can operate the AutoMounter with the same results, providing a consistent, repeatable process,” concluded Gayle. “Essentially, with the AutoMounter, Heaford have succeeded in de-skilling the plate mounting process, freeing up skilled prepress personnel to be more usefully engaged elsewhere. Our first US users are delighted with the competitive edge they have gained through these efficiencies – so much so they plan on ensuring it remains a well-kept secret!”
During INFOFLEX 2018, Sun Chemical highlighted a new ink with excellent smear resistance and its portfolio of eco-friendly inks, while showing how its full line of coatings, inks and adhesives can produce packaging that pops off the shelf and enhances pressroom efficiency.
“For 200 years, Sun Chemical has stayed ahead of the curve to provide innovative technology and solutions that meet the needs of our customers and the ever-changing industries we serve,” said Tony Renzi, Vice President of Packaging, North American Inks, Sun Chemical. “During INFOFLEX, our customers saw that we’re no different as we showcase solutions that meet the latest demands in eco-friendly packaging, high-speed and high-quality printing, unique brand owner requirements, functional packaging and aesthetics, and tighter regulations on food packaging.”
Sun Chemical booth visitors learned about SunStrato Insero 1519, a new all-purpose laminating flexographic nitrocellulose blendable ink system suitable for a wide variety of films and applications. These inks are designed to have excellent smear resistance for 100 percent solid adhesives while at the same time delivering superior lamination bonds.
Also on display was Sun Chemical’s SunUno Solimax ink system. Suitable for surface print applications on a number of the commonly used flexible packaging substrates, this multi-purpose ink system maximizes press room efficiency while simplifying the overall print production process by providing a single platform that can cover multiple end use applications and produce the shelf stand out and high-quality packaging needed for today’s competitive industry.
Available for lamination, surface and reverse applications across a wide variety of substrates, Sun Chemical’s SunStrato Flexo Pure Ultra White for multi-film, high bonds lamination applications, as well as SunSpectro Sunsharp White for surface print applications, are vibrant white inks that provide the high opacity needed for improved package appeal.
When printing flexographic printing on polyethylene film, SunSpectro Sunsharp HR water- and solvent-based inks provide moderate heat resistance of up to 350 degrees, maintain excellent gloss, and are suitable for use with conventional and high-performance printing plates. Designed for flexographic printing on polypropylene and polyethylene films at high speeds, Sun Chemical’s SunStrato Sunester laminating solvent-based family of inks offer maximum color strength, low solvent retention, excellent adhesive and extrusion bonds, clean printing and film versatility.
To meet current trends moving toward greener living, Sun Chemical highlighted its SunVisto AquaGreen water-based inks. Formulated with significantly higher levels of bio-renewable sourced resin content compared to other previous market offerings from Sun Chemical, the new water-based inks deliver the required critical performance attributes needed across a range of paper packaging applications to meet the needs brands have for truly sustainable packaging in quick service supermarkets and restaurants.
Sun Chemical’s water-based ink product portfolio addresses the growing use of water-based products for a variety of flexible packaging applications, ranging from surface print on polyethylene and polypropylene to complex lamination structures. Sun Chemical’s SunVisto water-based inks portfolio for paper and paperboard applications are PH stable with excellent coverage and mileage. The low-VOC inks meet the requirements of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) and provide consistent viscosity with excellent press stability to meet the print needs used on a wide range of substrates.
INX International Ink Co. showcased its full complement of water-based and UV Flexo inks, including the new AquaTech ION X, the newest addition to a brand of inks that offer strong performance, superior press stability at a wide range of speeds, brilliant color strength and many other advantages. ION X is a crossover FleX system that will run on paper and most film stocks, and represents another AquaTech option that boosts print, film and thermal label printing on anilox rolls up to 1500 lines per inch.
AquaTech ION C Adhesive Kill and INXhrc are other water-based products that will attract attention. ION C Adhesive Kill is a waterborne deadener that can be applied to either the relief liner or to the adhesive itself. Designed to work on a wide range of adhesives, it is a user-friendly coating with no settling issues and is easy to clean up. INXhrc made a highly successful debut at Info*Flex last year. Developed so brand owners can reduce their impact on the environment, it produces eye-catching flexographic and gravure printing on end-use packages.
The UV Flexo side of the business was also represented. In addition to a selection of Tag and Label UV Flexo inks, INX will feature a pair of Low Migration systems - INXFlex™ CLM II and INXFlex UV LM Shrink. The former is Swiss Ordinance compliant and the latter is a Shrink application for in-direct food contact. Also introduced will be the INXFlex UV LED inks, running on a wide variety of pressure sensitive label substrates and suitable for the Shrink and IML processes.
At this event two years ago, Innova solvent inks were introduced. The high performing ink system is a great choice for printers looking for improved printability and a way to reduce inventory levels. Printers have since experienced exceptional film adhesion with excellent bond, color strength and resolubility, according to INX.
Diamond and Platinum sponsors of Forum & INFOFLEX 2018 were: 3M Co, Esko and Kodak; Anderson & Vreeland Inc, Daetwyler Corp, DuPont Advanced Printing, Hamillroad Software, MacDermid Graphics Solutions, Muratec America Inc and Sun Chemical Corp. For the first time in 22 years, Forum & INFOFLEX will be returning to New Orleans, LA for next year’s events on May 5-8. Chairing the conference is Ann Michaud, 3M Co. Forum 2019 will be held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, while INFOFLEX 2019 will take place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.