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FLEXO Magazine : January 2011
INDUSTRY INDICATORS Modern-Day Demographics What’s Printed Flexo & What Drives the Business? By Robert Moran Editor’s Note: Flexographic Technical Association/Foun- dation of FTA and FTA’s Training Education and Services Team (TEST); with the support and commitment of an extensive, highly experienced cadre of expert volunteers, is engaged in a far-reaching and comprehensive update of one of its flagship textbooks: Flexography: Principles & Practices. Release of the 6th Edition is set for 2011. More than 50 people, split into 12 teams are diligently pre- paring the text and all accompanying worksheets. FLEXO and Sustainable FLEXO, along with the Association’s Inside the FTA Newsletter will present regular updates on work- in-progress. Teams/topics entail: Design, Ink, Substrates, Process Control/Quality, Process Color, Mounting and Proof- ing, Environmental Health and Safety, Prepress, Plates/ Platemaking, Presses and Press Equipment, Barcodes, and Industry Size, Scope and Historical Perspective. Big business, demanding and globally recognized clientele, bold graphics and performance-based practices—from statistical process control to Lean Manufacturing and green or eco-friendly printing—these are the forces that define modern-day flexography. Once consid- ered the crudest, rawest analog print form; it has evolved into a scientific art that today stands as the print process of choice across major packaging mediums—corrugated boxes and preprinted linerboard; stand-up pouches and other flexible packages; shrink sleeves, labels, tags; folding cartons; enve- lopes; right down to towel, tissue and napkins. It even delves into the world of newspapers and publications, as well as the domain of printed circuitry. Billions and billions—actually hundreds of billions—of dollars in trade attest to its reach, reputation and success. Flexographic printing and in-line converting involve a wide- reaching range of materials; from large and small presses to plates, plate processors, tapes, inks, computer software; and the all-important substrate to be printed on, whether film, foil, paper, laminate, metallized or other specialty matter. Talent is at a premium industrywide. Skills enhancement is a key in- gredient in most in-plant continuous improvement programs. Cost-effectiveness is critical. Waste-reduction strategies and quality control measures that guarantee consistent, repeatable print results, from one run to the next, remain paramount concerns. Talk frequently turns to benchmarking, optimization, fingerprinting, documentation, collaboration; and of course, frequent and open communications between packaged goods manufacturers, graphic designers, prepress trade shop technicians, printers/converters and even end- consumers—the shopper, his or herself. Packaging lifecycles, from cradle-to-grave, or, given the influence of sustainability—reuse and recycling, etc.—s ome more aptly say cradle-to-cradle, remain a focal point of con- cern at the onset of every campaign—the actual planning for the launch of an entirely new product or the rebranding of ex- isting offerings. It’s at this all-important moment of conception that every element in the packaging development or supply chain is carefully construed and plotted out. DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE Flexography remains “a key growth engine” for both the graphic communications industry and its packaging sector. NPES, the Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and www.flexography.org JANUARY 2011 FLEXO 9
Sustainable Winter 2011