Some of what we learn is trivial and could even be considered useless. Meanwhile, there are tidbits we hear that are downright serious, information regarding politics, science and the state of the world we live in – things that will affect our children and future generations.
Education is everything, and it’s everywhere.
In putting together this issue, I learned that the flexo industry has some serious education issues, which may in fact be detrimental to the health and future of the flexo industry as a whole. I knew finding qualified press operators was a challenge but wasn’t aware of the severity of it. Within this issue’s “Future of Flexo” story, I’m delighted to bring you insight from press operator/instructor Shawn Oetjen, someone truly on the front lines education-wise. He’s on a mission to keep flexography both relevant and prominent in the face of trying to grow the process in an ever-increasing digital world – the world of iPads, Instagram and digital label presses. The school Oetjen teaches at is Flexo Tech, started as a necessity in the Minnesota area by AWT Labels & Packaging and Computype, fellow label converters with the shared challenge of finding properly educated and experienced flexo press operators. That’s enough of a teaser, go ahead and read all about the program in this issue.
In light of flexo vs. digital and the education situation, this month’s Narrow Web Profile is on Liberty Marking Systems, a label manufacturer in Cincinnati that has enjoyed steady growth without yet making the digital leap. However, as Greg Hrinya learned when visiting the company, it is just a matter of time. I think they may get a lot of calls from digital press vendors after certain salespeople read their story.
I don’t envy a label manufacturer having to get educated on digital in preparation of their first (digital) press purchase. They’ll have to sift through what is now a true plethora of digital press options, as machines are perpetually being updated, newcomers are entering the fray and current players are trying to change the game. And it is not “one size fits all.” That was actually one of the takeaways from a recent webinar we produced that featured three unique Mark Andy digital press installations. We got some great feedback from our audience, so if you haven’t viewed it yet, do so. It’s available on the L&NW website.
Just as this issue goes to press, Xeikon, a company with more than 400 dry toner-based label press installations, announced its new Panther technology, which is what drives the PX3000, the brand new UV inkjet press that will be launched at the Flint Group/Xeikon booth at Labelexpo Europe later this year.
The game keeps changing, as do those playing it. If you don’t get educated on this rapidly changing environment, you just may lose out on opportunities. I’ll conclude with this iconic quote from the fictional Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
Steve Katz, Editor