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FLEXO Magazine : September 2010
Industry Indicators One of the more exciting growth ar- eas for flexography is printed electron- ics. While reportedly only accounting for $3 million in sales in 2008, the printed electronics market is forecast to grow to $89 billion by 2020. Even sharing this growth with the other print processes, there are tremendous opportunities for flexo in this area. Battling Bias As part of the research, LPC surveyed more than 75 print buyers or specifiers to learn about their purchasing prac- tices and any biases they have toward flexography. Not surprisingly, 63 percent of those respondents believe that flexog- raphy has limitations when it comes to their specific applications. Many of the limitations cited related to print quality issues, however some felt flexo lead times were longer, flexo printing plates were too costly, and there was concern around authentication of packaging using flexo versus other print processes. But, despite those concerns, more than 70 percent of those respondents also indicate that their company ’s use of flexography will increase during the next five years, often replacing materi- als printed by another print process. It is also interesting to note that print buyers expect, in the next five years, that they will be sourcing their flexo printed products from regions of the world separate from the one in which they are located. In fact, 70 percent anticipate sourcing these materials from Asia, while 60 percent expect be sourcing from Latin America. Getting back to the quality percep- tions about flexography mentioned earlier, clearly those concerns are not an issue in the tag and label sector, where an estimated 92 percent of label printers in North America use flexography on their production floor. In fact, the quality levels of flexo-printed graphics are the highest in the tag and label marketplace where the narrow to mid web presses produce six- to 10-color, 175 line-screen applications with sophisticated graphics targeted at discerning consumers. It should be noted, though, that digital presses are making a tremendous impact on the flexographic label industry as flexo printers around the globe install digital press systems alongside their conventional flexo presses. Given this development, it should be no surprise that the study predicts that as digital press systems offer faster run speeds and enhanced processing options, digital printing will undoubtedly take market share from flexo in the tag and label sector. Flexible packaging is another high- quality, high-growth area for this print process. Here, rotogravure is slowly de- clining. The report claims, “In no other flexo sector does the converted product have to perform like in the flexible pack- aging marketplace. The package must decorate, convey, contain, preserve, protect and provide optimum functional- ity.” As a result, like the tag and label market, due to customer demand, the number of colors has increased for flexo printed flexible packaging, and line screen values are trending upward with values of 133lpi or higher. These quality improvements, along with decreasing run lengths and lower costs, give flexog- raphy the upper hand over rotogravure, which once was the dominant process for flexible packaging. On a global scale, flexo dominates the flexible pack- aging sector with more than 64 percent of the market share. The report concludes, “As flexo press, ink, plate and prepress technologies continue to raise quality and print- consistency standards; run size trends and total applied cost benefits continue to position flexo as a process that will increasingly capture gravure market share in every global region.” The growth of flexography has impli- cations for every FTA member, present- ing both challenges and opportunities. Even if flexography is only part of the focus of your company ’s products or services, flexo growth may cause downward pressures on your existing conventional products. n www.flexography.org september 2010 FLEXO 13 The study “Benchmarking and Worldwide Market Trends for Flexographic Printing” is available exclusively to PRIMIR and NPES members. For more informa- tion about the study or PRIMIR membership contact Jackie Bland, Managing Director of PRIMIR at email@example.com. Membership information and a complete table of contents for this study are avail- able at www.primir.org. To learn more, call 704.588.3371 or Toll Free 800.438.3111 There are plenty of reasons to convert to the Anilox Sleeve: faster production, quicker changeovers, lower costs, lighter weight. It is easy to understand why sleeves are the preferred foundation for anilox technology. But just as important are their handling considerations. Sleeved and journaled anilox share traits of a hard yet brittle shell of ceramic that is easily damaged. Fortunately Harper can provide not only the right sleeves, but the right storage, the right cleaners, and the right plan for care and maintenance. Tr ust the experts. Harper Corporation. ANILOX ROLL DIVISION HARPERIMAGE.COM Americas • Europe • Asia ©2010 Take a peek at the future of anilox rolls. FLX_Sept2010_mech.indd 13 9/2/10 12:42 AM