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FLEXO Magazine : October 2012
Make every second count. It’s the ultimate in workflow acceleration, driving higher margins and slashing waste. Short run flexo now makes sense. It’s efficient. It’s profitable. Go to markandy.com/secondscount www.markandy.com Awarded for Technical Excellence the label industry. Though most experts will say that digital has its place, flexography is still the process of choice, with more than 92 percent of the North American printer market. So what about plate technology? To survive in today ’s competitive environment, staying on top of the latest in plate- making technology is a must, along with having the ability to harness the technology-to-plates process, and ultimately take them to market. “Plate technology is really a hot button topic,” explains Avrett. “ T he Kodak NX plate with microcell screening, Mac- Dermid’s flat-top dot, and other flat-top dot technologies are being developed and paired with new microcell technolo- gies like ‘Pixel Plus’ being offered by several plate material manufacturers. These are all now being implemented and constantly improved. ” Sustainability in packaging is without question here to stay. The Print Industry Market Information and Research Organization (PRIMIR) has issued environmental steward- ship recommendations for all participants in the print supply chain. This is reverberating through the industry. A recent Twitter search of “#packaging” turned up a tweet by natural personal care manufacturer, Tom’s of Maine: “Did you know you can recycle your Tom’s package through @TerraCycle?” This greatly affects the business strategies and operations of a flexographic plate maker. As Avrett says, “We now see the water-wash, soft flexo plates hitting the market, and all the things they bring. “Cleaner print, no ink buildup in the floor or screened areas of the plate, and environmentally friendly are all pluses. So, as a trade shop, we have to investigate, test, and ultimately bring to the market these technologies that fit our customers needs, and make sense from a business perspective.” SERVICE & SOCIAL PLATFORMS Service, especially in highly competitive times, is an area where, when technologies can even the playing field, a com- pany can separate itself from the competition. Shorter lead times and quick response to customers’ needs are “givens” in today ’s prepress world. This year alone, the company ’s investments have all been with the purpose of delivering a better product, faster. 3D proofing is an effective way to save customers time and costs. The Kongsberg XN cutting table trims plates faster and with a much higher quality result. A 50-square-foot Mimaki digital flatbed printer will allow for quick turnaround sample making on customer-preferred substrates and can accommodate low runs. Dixie has completely revamped its website to include help- ful video demonstrating its new technology for its customers; and will dedicate areas for project case studies and educa- tional blogs on the site. Already active with social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Dixie will use these to grow its network in the flexographic industry and to post rel- evant and educational content for flexo industry users. Serving the customers’ needs as they dictate continues to be important, as Avrett describes: “We are seeing more and more of our customer base develop and purchase in-house graphic equipment. A few of our print customers have either gone in-house or made significant investments in digital tech- nology over the past two years. We have to partner with these companies to help them in areas where we have new technol- ogy that they cannot offer or in an overflow capacity. ” n About the Author: Matt Williams is the vice president of busi- ness development for Dixie Graphics. The firm, located in Nashville, TN, has been serving the needs of printers as a prepress provider since the arrival of flexographic printing in 1951. A longtime and active member of FTA, Dixie Graph- ics forged its name in flexo as a manufacturer of the highest quality printing plates, graphics and color management expertise, and excellence in craftsmanship and service. 82 FLEXO october 2012 www.flexography.org custom prototype making of a beverage cup. Photo credit: Dixie Graphics