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FLEXO Magazine : September 2009
www.flexography.org SEPTEMBER 2009 FLEXO 37 PLANTS & PROCESSES materials since 1970, Tursso Companies has two produc- tion facilities in addition to its St. Paul, MN headquarters. Products provide solutions for industries with unique printing challenges, including pharmaceutical, medical device, health and beauty, chemical and many others. The company is ISO 9001:2000 certified and cGMP (certi- fied good manufacturing practices) compliant for phar- maceutical. It has owned a digital press since June 2008. • Sue Hebert, prepress manager, Dion Label Printing: Founded in 1969, Dion Label Printing specializes in printing pressure-sensitive labels, tags and tickets for multiple industries. With 40 years of industry experience, more than 60 employees, and environmentally friendly manufacturing practices, the company has become a leader in the northeast with eight flexographic presses and two digital HP Indigos. The company previously produced only high-quality flexographic labels, until the introduction of its digital press in April 2005. The digital investment became so successful, that the firm soon pur- chased another. Dion's most recent innovations include the addition of a servo-driven MPS 16in. hybrid press, the first of its kind to be introduced in the U.S. • George Home, technical supervisor art department, Andrew Fillmore, digital production coordinator and Shaun Ashworth, COO, Associated Labels: Associated Labels is a premium label printing and packaging company located in Vancouver, Canada. The company has grown to more than 50,000 sq.ft., with 24 hour-a-day pressruns reaching into the millions. The company pro- vides labels, flexible packaging, packaging equipment, and digital printing for clients in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food, personal care and household cleaning product industries. It installed its digital press in October 2008. In fairness, this is far from a scientific sampling. We spoke with three printers, and all use an EskoArtwork front end and an HP Indigo printer. They all own a wide range of flexo presses. However, directionally, the answers are surprising. WHY DIGITAL? The reason companies invested in digital was no surprise. It was based on finding a more economical process for shorter runs with shorter lead times. For example, Rankin said, "Digital was always a potential solu- tion for us---we were looking at it for years. The demands of our customers played a very strong part in our decision to invest. We looked for shorter lead times and shorter runs. When we finally decided we could eco- nomically justify it, we took the plunge." Fillmore said there was a very pragmatic reason. "For some short run work---for ex- ample, 200 labels---the setup time to plate a 10-color label and put it on the press could take an hour and 20 minutes, while the printrun may take five minutes. Then, you spend another hour and 15 minutes to clean up. That doesn't include the cost of probably 2,000ft. of stock you've wasted." Hebert agreed: "We recognized that we needed a shorter setup time and the ability to provide short runs for prototypes, test markets and multiple item/low volume requests. In addition to plating and set-up savings, proofing and the overall cus- tomer experience are enhanced. Label designs have become more demanding as customers use very sophisticated graphic software packages and outside design services. They often assume the label will match the print colors from 'their ' desktop printer or monitor. With digital printing, we can print a few dif- ferent versions on one proof, they choose which one they like, and it doesn't cost them extra time or money. Customers can enjoy both sophisticated labels and attractive pricing." WHAT WAS IMPORTANT? All printers searched for a short-run system that could print as many spot colors as possible and provide a coated product that was economically friendly. The surprise was that the two printers who had installed their presses recently also considered technical support as a very important prerequisite. Ashworth expressed it best. "When a new flexo press is installed, it's drop and run. We know what to expect. If you're going to buy a digital press, you should know it's basically like installing a big computer. The vendor has to send support and, while in the end things work great, there are growing pains." "While the implementation was painful at first, we learned a lot." remembered Hebert. "We quickly discovered the need for a less fragmented prepress workflow and efficient, reliable color management in order to fully integrate our production environ- ments. We wanted to preserve process control by keeping prepress in the graphics department rather than the original HP model that pushed many of these tasks onto the press operators. There was a lot of experimentation between our existing pre- press elements (Nexus and HP Indigo solutions) and the expand- ed, more comprehensive system offerred by EskoArtwork. Our primary goals were to to improve production and prepress effi- With digital, the press is the proofer. Photo courtesy Dion Label.