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FLEXO Magazine : July 2010
Prepress Providers Roundtable FLEXO Asks: What message would you convey to designers in listing top priorities for improving flexo’s performance and bettering its reputation? Finally, can you provide an example of a designer/prepress provider collaboration that you would label a true success story? Mark Coffman, Sales Manager, Dixie Graphics, Snell- ville, GA: Let’s work together! We all want the same thing, a satisfied customer with a very nice looking finished product. Get involved with the flexo industry by attending FFTA’s Fall Conferences and Annual Forum. Volunteer to be a judge for the Excellence in Flexography Awards. It’s a great way to see just what our industry can do. I am happy to say that I could share several examples on how working together as a team, including the consumer product company and printer, would constitute success sto- ries. However, I cannot do that in this format. Please be sure that whenever you are able to get all parties working together toward the same goal, and the communication is constant and consistent between all, you will have you own success stories to share. Ryan Dufour, GM, 360 Imaging Inc., Gardner, MA: We convey to designers that our top priority is to ensure the best possible print to the end user. Their cooperation in using FIRST principles is the best way for designers and prepress providers to meet that goal together. True success stories are achieved for us when we have the opportunity to speak to the designer and provide comments and guidance for the final file. Every time that we can have that conversation early in the process, the better the end result has been, with significant savings found. Chris McClain, Head of Press Fingerprint Team, PRP Flexo, Indianapolis, IN: I would encourage designers to take a fresh look at flexo, to stay abreast of new technologies and to utilize the most recent versions of software available. His- torically, flexo has been referred to as the “ugly step-sister” of printing options, but there have been major advances in proofing software (allowing the end user to approve files that accurately reflect what will be printed), and technologies such as Digital ExSpect®, which has proven to eliminate fluting and reduce dot gain, producing a printed product without significant compromise to the original file. These improve- ments have paved the way to allow items that were previously printed litho or gravure to be printed flexo, offering greater flexibility in producing packaging, inventory control and most of all, MAJOR cost savings. We recently participated in a project for Sunny Delight® who’s goal was to convert from preprint to direct print. Work- ing closely with the designer, printer and customer, we were able to produce a direct printed corrugated package that is as, if not more, visually impactful than its preprint predeces- sor, giving the customer the ability to more adequately control lead times as well as benefit from significant cost reductions. Bob Dauses, Business Development Manager, Mark/ Trece, Inc., Greensboro, NC: Flexo’s performance is defi- nitely improving each and every year. Reviewing the FTA Excellence in Flexography Awards clearly supports that. The technology is there for flexo to not only compete with offset and gravure but in some cases exceed other processes. The biggest issue is still that flexo is different and requires a dif- ferent approach. Most designers are not trained for flexo and change is very difficult. I think the top priority is education. Referring to the FTA Awards, those results are not possible without some collaboration between creative and production. Karen Leet, Graphics & MarCom Manager, CSW Inc., Ludlow, MA: Designers in any field should learn as much as they can about the production process for which they are designing, whether it is home construction, car manufactur- ing, or printing. The more they learn about flexo’s capabilities, the more they will be able to take advantage of them, and the better their designs will be. Also, the more educated they are about our processes, the more they will push us to innovate and improve them further. CSW has several onsite graphic coordinators placed at converters and consumer product companies to facilitate better communication between all parties, and we provide training to the design groups at these sites. For several ac- counts, we consistently collaborate with CPCs, designers, and converters early in the project development cycle to help engineer the graphics or the structural design more effi- ciently. In all of these cases, the files come in with much more print-ready graphics, and the end customer is usually very happy with the smoother, shorter approvals workflow as well as the printed results. Pat O’Connor, Production Manager, Southern Graphic Systems, Philadelphia, PA: In many cases, the design phase begins weeks or months before the prepress and print suppli- Technologies & Techniques PRPflexo, at the client’s request, recently converted the design for a sunny Delight package from preprint to postprint. shown are the original and the enhanced designs. Art courtesy PRPflexo. • Top priority: Ensure best possible print to end-user. • Afford customers the ability to control lead times and realize major cost savings. • Final design must be reflective of what the printer can deliver on press. ers are chosen and engaged in the process. As a result, there may be significant delays that result from an inability to execute effectively what has been designed and approved leading to unanticipated costs and delays that are a source of great frustration to the client. The easiest way to avoid these issues is collaboration as early as possible in the process so that the final design is reflective of what the printer can deliver on press. The best results of our process are realized when a project runs from design creation, through line extension, to prepress production with minimal handoffs. When the first SKU is prepress approved before it is extended to as many as 50 or more items, the time and cost savings are substantial. Greg Platt, President, GMF Flexo Prepress Inc., Missis- sauga, ON, Canada: To better the flexo process we all need to embrace new technology. Taking the process to a higher level is not easy but the rewards are certainly there. Many printers are stuck in the dark ages using old gear presses with high volume low line screen anilox rolls. Gone are the days of print- ing “This Side Up” for flexo, it’s a process capable of so much more. As an example, using the 5:1 guideline a printer that only has 400-line anilox rolls, mathematically will begin to experi- ence dirty print if they go over an 80-line screen job. We work with many printers to conduct what are called banded anilox trials to help them outfit their presses with an opti- mal configuration to print high line screens. This involves trialing different cushion backings to reduce highlight gains and trialing different cell pattern technology in the plates to reduce or elimi- Attention Printers Your Customers Can Save Money! GMF_ad.indd 1 06/07/10 11:26 AM 34 FLeXO july 2010 www.flexography.org FLXO_July10_v2.indd 34 7/16/10 9:36 AM
Sustainable Summer 2010