by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
FLEXO Magazine : August 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES ucts. That line of thought has proven to deliver little payback. The physics are against it. With each inch of web width the mechanical variables increase and the diffi culties achieving top performance multiply. These variables can of course be overcome and a press delivering excellent performance at very wide webs is readily available. The best manufacturers build superb 10-color presses to 90in. and eight-color preprint presses with print widths to 108in. But adding web width increases the price and there is no value in having expensive, unused width. UNDERSTAND YOUR PROCESS Flexo, unlike any other printing process, is both a kiss impression print process and an out of balance print process. These two fundamentals of fl exography are diametrically opposed to one another. Flexo printing is like taping a welcome mat to a tire and then requiring the car to ride extremely smoothly at high speeds. It won’t happen without a lot of special engineering. And a fl exo press will not work if it is constructed with only the same rigidity as rotogravure or offset lithographic presses. Therefore, when analyzing fl exo equipment, a fundamental consideration in all areas of the machine needs to be in the rigidity and strength of the press. A manufacturer that lowers the cost of his equipment by reducing the rigidity of the press is sacrifi cing performance and print quality. Be careful in your equipment analysis. Because fl exo is a kiss impression process, this dictates that the equipment must be extremely precise as well, and, as screens get fi ner and graphic demands increase, the ability to set and hold precise impression is critical. For example, some presses provide temperature controlled press frames. If the CI is held at a constant temperature, but the print units are all mounted to the frame, changes in frame temperature affect impression settings. Some customers fi nd important value in temperature controlled frames. One such printer had found older presses performed differently in the cooler night than during the heat of the day—an annoying problem! The difference seemed small but it was enough to make a difference in quality and in the amount of setup time. Going with a new, heavier built, temperature controlled frame press ended up saving money. EXPERIENCE COUNTS Most press manufacturer reps have seen more presses working in more places than most printers. When considering a new press, a printer should keep in mind that the press builder likely has a much broader range of experience. Most printers, understandably, believe that the way they do things is the “normal” way. The fact is that every printer more or less works differently from other printers, all “normal” or the “right way” of course. Chances are the press manufacturer’s representative has been in many printing plants, observed many presses at work, sometimes on products the same or similar to those the current customer is looking to run with a new press. An ethical press representative will not pass on another customer’s trade secrets, but the design he suggests will be based on the sum of his knowledge, the considerable knowledge of how both his and his competition’s equipment is performing for other customers. This breadth of actual in-the-pressroom experience is itself a good reason to put aside preconceptions and give careful consideration to what 88 FLEXO AUGUST the manufacturer proposes. With a clear defi nition of what the printer wishes to accomplish, the press manufacturer will be able to come up with unique solutions to address its needs, and do it in a way that can provide the customer with a distinct competitive advantage. THE KNOW AND UNKNOWN Only the manufacturer knows his company’s latest technical developments, including those that may not yet be in the public information stream. This is a good reason to include a major press manufacturer with a record of introducing industry-changing technical advances, like gearless presses and graphic position systems. There is value in being fi rst to market, value for the press builder and value for the printer who is able to gain advantage by applying the latest technology. A printer rarely knows what cutting edge technology is about to be released. So it pays to have only leading press manufacturers on the printer’s short list. VALUE OVER PRICE The fi rst thing a shrewd press shopper realizes is that in spite of apparent similarities derived from the information that fi ts nicely on a spread sheet, press manufacturers are very different from each other and so is their equipment. The spreadsheet may show several manufacturers offer exactly the same features, web widths, ink type, substrate options and changeover process the printer is looking for with the only difference being price. The temptation may be to then make a selection on price alone. However, the fact is every press builder is different and each press builder gets to those spreadsheet numbers that lend themselves so conveniently to comparison, with technology, performance and after purchase support that are substantially different from anyone else’s. Therefore, a printer approaching the fl exo press market needs to think in terms of value more than of price. Often the most apparently expensive press is able to more quickly deliver a return on investment. A press manufacturer can provide the evidence of value and show clearly and specifi cally how “value” takes on a more important meaning than “price.” For example, one printer who, after installing two modern, automated presses was able to retire and sell four older presses and achieve the higher output with less labor than required by the retired four. With the resulting savings, the printer said he is getting the new press “for free.” The value comes from high-speed capabilities and more automated performance—both derived from unique, patent protected technologies—making the initial price, higher than some seemingly similar presses, less important. Finally, this statement sums it all up: Here’s what we need and where we want to be. What do you offer that will get me there? That statement will be music to the press manufacturer’s ears and ensure you receive the very best they have to offer for your consideration. ■ ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kurt Flathmann is product manager, North America, Fischer & Krecke and Kochsiek products. 2009 www.flexography.org