“The Forum and INFO*FLEX brands have evolved into one cohesive, multi-dimensional event that seems to perfectly fit the educational, networking and business commerce needs within the FTA membership,” said FTA President Mark Cisternino. He added, “Its continued growth and expansion of coverage mirror the incredible degree of market dynamics that are currently being experienced within the package printing & converting industry.”
INFO*FLEX featured 236 companies that occupied 295 booths, ranging from press manufacturers and converting equipment providers to prepress software developers. The show floor boasted 41 new exhibiting companies for 2016 and five press manufacturers, including from traditional flexo, hybrid and digital. FTA says 80% of the 2016 INFO*FLEX exhibitors cater to the narrow web and tag & label marketplace.
AB Graphic International displayed its Omega Series of rewinders and the Digicon Series 3, which it touts as “the next generation of digital finishing.” The Digicon Series 3 includes a comprehensive range of options designed to add value to labels and packaging. The automated features are also intended to reduce setup times and maximize productivity. The system features a maximum web width of 13.8" and a full rotary maximum speed of 492 fpm. The Omega Series is designed for inspection, slitting and numbering. The Omega 150 utilizes fleyeVision for label inspection, including bi-directional 100% inspection. The company also promoted the FAST Track die, a semi rotary diecutting technology. It can run at speeds of up 150 m/m in semi-rotary mode with a repeat range of 250-508mm.
All Printing Resources (APR) highlighted its partnership with Colordyne Technologies. APR is a provider of Colordyne’s newest digital offering, the 3600 Series Retrofit. The new product can be attached to a flexo press allowing it to run either digitally or flexographically. The 3600 Series Retrofit is designed to provide a digital option to customers with an existing flexo press at a fraction of the cost. Equipped with Memjet technology, the 3600 Series Retrofit can run at speeds of 275 fpm (102 m/m) at 1600 x 1375 dpi. It also features “waterfall” technology, which prints millions of 1.2 picoliter droplets through each CMYK printhead. “We see a big market for the Retrofit because many people already have a press and have capital equipment already paid for,” said Richard Black, director of digital solutions at APR. “More importantly, they have the finishing, so it’s hard for them to go out make a big investment and then have to reproduce all this finishing that they already have. That’s where it made a really interesting collaboration with Colordyne.”
Durst showcased the Tau 330E. This product is a standalone UV inkjet label press, which was designed as a cost-effective option for small and medium size companies. It can be configured for print widths of 200mm and 330mm in both CMYK and CMYK + W. The Tau 330E can run up to speeds of 157 fpm, and the user has the option of standard resolution of 720 x 360 dpi and the HD print resolution of 720 x 1260 dpi. The press can also be configured with Durst Imaging Engine, a prepress option meant to simplify industrial digital printing.
Gallus focused on its digital capabilities at INFO*FLEX. The DCS 340 is an inline digital label printing system that features inkjet heads. The combination of digital printing with inline finishing options allows users to varnish, embellish and further process labels inline from roll to finished diecut label in a single production operation. The digital inkjet press features a native resolution of 1200 dpi and print speeds up to 50 m/m. The droplet size of 2 pl allows for maximum flexibility in substrate use, as well as additional priming or varnishing. It is useful for cost-effective shorter production runs with variable data and versioning.
GMG showcased its OpenColor 2.0, where users have the ability to visualize packaging in their prepress software. Instead of relying on a costly trial and error process, OpenColor calculates the behavior of overprinting spot colors, enabling accurate proof simulation. Regardless of density change or substrate, the software can predict condition changes without needing to experiment with multiple prints. According to the company, the centralized storage of color data in GMG OpenColor and the color stability of GMG ColorProof ensure accurate results and repeatable quality. The system also features easy installation and operation, as well as support of external color databases.
Graymills, in conjunction with the DiTrolio Flexographic Institute, displayed the DiTrolio Anilox Cart on the exhibition floor. The sturdy and mobile cart has been designed for organization and protection of pressroom products. Its 25 drawers feature internal holders to fit most anilox roll sizes and a required two-handed manual lift to avoid accidental opening or dropping of contents. The cart also includes locakable casters to roll across the floor, providing a safe work station. A rubber top surface offers protection for delicate parts while preparing for use, and optional blade holders on each side make them easily accessible.
At its booth, Harper Corporation of America showcased the latest technologies for its anilox products. XLT-XVR “Xtreme Laser Technology” includes enhanced cell profile technology, with excellent surface characteristics and cell cavities. The engravings deliver high quality and predictability, and the product comes with Harper’s 100% performance guarantee. Harper also discussed Laserkote anilox rolls, which feature HIVE (High Imaging Volume Engravings) Technology. Laserkote provides a laser-hard finish for precision applications, even in rigorous coating and laminating processes. The company recommends using the 30 Hex, 60 Hex and 45 Quad engravings for the best results.
Kurz highlighted its cold foiling and hot stamping capabilities at its INFO*FLEX booth. DistoRun is a cold foil module for the processing of single images and multiple decorations. The section between two images can effectively be used for foil usage. Developed with modern servo technology, DistoRun is placed on the rail system of the printing machine, and a separate rotary encoder records the printed substrate’s track speed. A print mark reader is part of the module and fitted to the press.
Matt Fyffe, vice president and general manager of Meech International, was on hand to explain the benefits of the company’s Hyperion range of ionizing bars for static control. Meech recently launched the 959IPS ionizing air curtain, which is designed to provide effective static neutralization and dust removal in a wide range of industrial applications across the plastics and packaging industries. The product is a hybrid solution that comprises a Hyperion 924IPS anti-static bar mounted on a Meech energy saving air curtain. The combination of the two technologies results in a high-speed laminar sheet of ionized air. According to Fyffe, the 959IPS ionizing air curtain is an energy efficient solution and cuts compressed air demand by up to 70%, which helps reduce running costs.
Laser diecutting specialist Spartanics discussed the company’s latest installations at INFO*FLEX. Mike Bacon, vice president of sales and marketing, said that Spartanics is pleased with the number of partnerships they have formed over the past year. The E-Cut Semi-Rotary Converting System is a semi-rotary diecutting machine intended for simplification. The digital finishing solution comes at a low initial investment and is intended to handle complex applications while limiting the operator’s responsibilities. The company also offers the ability to customize systems to meet individual needs. –Greg Hrinya
INFO*FLEX housed an all-new 14 topic Solutions Theater, which delivered a range of subject matter, from modern color workflows to high speed inks, to flat top dots, to lamination and slitter/rewinder productivity. It featured presentations from industry leaders in the label and narrow web space, including Domino and Sun Chemical. Both companies explored the newest trends in labels such as digital printing and more sustainable inks.
Jeremy Teachman, field marketing manager – Energy Cured, at Sun Chemical, delivered a presentation entitled “Water-Based Technologies: Market Trends and Pushing the Boundaries.” The company’s booth also highlighted its Flexo Troubleshooting Guide and Sun Support Online. Both offerings are designed to interact with customers and make the troubleshooting process as seamless as possible. Teachman also noted that more customers are demanding products that promote a healthy environmental impact, with considerations like safe food packaging and recyclability.
Domino discussed how digital printing can co-exist with flexography. Matthew Condon, digital print product manager at Domino Printing Sciences, said that 51% of converters say that run sizes are decreasing, while 43% of converters admit that they will purchase a digital press. That number has increased by 20% since 2012.
According to Condon, digital printing ensures that the right job is run on the right press, specifically in regard to short runs and on-demand printing. There are also changes in labeling and packaging that are better served with digital, like serialization, bar coding and security. Inline digital can also be used on flexo equipment. –Greg Hrinya
Awards & Accolades
The FTA 2016 Excellence in Flexography Awards saw fierce competition and some of the best print jobs in the competition’s 56-year history. Winners were unveiled before an audience of hundreds at FTA’s Annual Awards Banquet at the Omni Fort Worth.
Medal recipients delivered vividly sharp images, tight registration, consistent repeats, proof-to-print matching, attention to detail and stellar overall execution. All told, 110 medals and awards were endowed, consisting of 38 Gold, 36 Silver, 34 Bronze and six Best of Show. Taking home one of the Best of Show honors in the 2016 Excellence in Flexography Awards was McDowell Label, for its Performix Ion Multi-Phase Pre-Workout Dietary Supplement Label.
The 2016 and 54th inductee into FTA’s Flexo Hall of Fame is Mark Cisternino, the organization’s long tenured president and one of the staunchest supporters of flexographic printing that can be found. Paul Lancelle, who entered the Hall of Fame in 2015, expressed a warm welcome to the newest member. He said, “Mark’s tenure of service and commitment to this association is both commendable and astonishing. He has steered this ship through some very rough waters at times, consistently maintaining and demonstrating the highest degree of integrity and professionalism along the way.
During the banquet, FTA named three winners of its 2016 Technical Innovation Awards. In the Prepress Graphics category, the 2016 Technical Innovation Award went to Flint Group for its nyloflex FTF Digital Plate Technology. This new flexo plate technology provides flat top dots by simply processing like any standard round top digital plate. No additional investment, equipment, processing steps or consumable items are required. Additionally, a special, textured plate surface eliminates the need for time consuming surface screening. The optimized texture of the plate provides even ink laydown and increases solid ink density at any imaging resolution, even standard resolutions of 2400 or 2540 dpi.
Also in the Prepress Graphics category, a 2016 Technical Innovation Award was bestowed to MacDermid Graphics Solutions for its LUX ITP 60 Technology, which builds on its previously award-winning LUX Lamination technology through providing the convenience of flat top dots right out of the box. The third and final 2016 Technical Innovation Award, for the Heavy Metal category, went to PAD Peripheral Advanced Design Flexomaid for its Aeromaid Technology. The Aeromaid system is said to clean all types of anilox and gravure cylinders with remarkable efficiency, unparalleled accuracy and unrivalled repeatability, regardless of line screen or cell dimensions.