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FLEXO Magazine : November 2008
etc. We are going into this looking for the optimal mix. Still, there won’t be one formula for everyone. Someone printing board stock won’t have the same issues as someone printing on film. Right now we are primarily focusing on the flexible pack- aging industry.” John Paine, C-P Flexible Packaging, the WWLC council leader, asked if the product was of a medium or harder du- rometer. Bower answered, “There are two components. The compressible bridge mandrel is offered in a hard, medium and soft cushion layer. The plate mate- rial is what we call a modified Flint Ace material, which typically runs at a 62 scale. The DuPont plate material is about the same durometer. In addition, we are running a separate project evaluating the compressibility of traditional sticky-back versus a compressible sleeve, and are working on an article for FLEXO based on the results.” Paine also asked if a guide will be made available to help printers find the right product for them, which Bower confirmed would be the case. Paine then asked if Flint has tested line screens around 150. WWLC member Nate Friedl, Kendall Packaging Corp., Jefferson, WI, attested from experience that ITR plates can print up to 175lpi. “The burden is on us as a sleeve sup- plier to make a quality product that we can get to the customer quickly; that can be imaged, washed out, and on press at an economical price to the printer,” confessed Bower. “This shouldn’t be a niche product. It should be something that is applied to all of flexo. We are working internally to be able to produce ITR sleeves at a much higher volume, and we are well on our way.” Friedl concurred that the issue, for his firm, is price. “From a quality and repeat- ability standpoint, our testing has shown that it is going to be the future of flexo wide web,” he said. “But to buy the differ- ent offerings—the bridge mandrels and plate durometers—it is cost prohibitive.” Hilliard asked who was responsible for making the bridge sleeves. He noted that if you run a sleeve press that uses repeat building sleeves, you are looking at buying a bridge sleeve for every repeat size. “Right now we make the compressible bridges,” answered Bower. “AKL/Stork has a unique bridge system for its ITR blank product. As far as the cost, it depends on the size of the bridge you are running. Right now, we are not retrofitting other sleeve suppliers’ bridges, or other sleeve suppliers’ products with compressible layers. I don’t know that we won’t revisit that in the future, but that has come up in conversation. From an economical stand- point, there are ongoing savings from not using stickyback tape, and the compressible bridge mandrels are a one-shot invest- ment. We are working on building a cost analysis spreadsheet that we can use to sit down with a customer and plug in num- bers specific to your business and see if it makes sense.” Friedl claimed he gets longer life from ITR plates because there is no mounting and demounting. Bower proclaimed that this is not uncommon. Both Friedl and Hilliard insisted that best way to make the investment in ITR seemed to be to plan it as part of a press purchase. Paine observed that flexographers are once again under pressure again from rotogravure printers. “With the cost of cylinders coming down in price, we don’t have that advantage any- more,” he said. ? FTA’s Wide Web Leadership Council seeks to aide the Association by identifying strate- gic goals and specific objectives that will help wide-web FTA printer members improve their business and the flexographic printing industry as a whole. For more information or to join the Council, e-mail John Paine, coun- cil leader (jpaine@cpconverters. com) or Christian R. Bonawandt, FTA staff liaison (cbonawandt@ flexography.org).