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FLEXO Magazine : February 2013
CMYK. And, this will allow Flexo Print to consider multi-color process printing, with the economic advantages of reduced makereadies, less waste, and the associated lower costs. A key part of Flexo Print’s strategy is to match the print pro- cesses to customer needs. Print quality appears comparable, so Flexo Print has determined that the three print technologies it owns are fairly equivalent. Here, the decision is primarily based on job run length. On average, the company considers 4,500 linear meters the breakeven point between digital and flexo, and 10,000 linear meters a maximum point where flexo is still more cost efficient than offset. At Flexo Print, while offset plates are less expensive, the overall fixed costs of flexo are less for a few reasons. Flexo Print’s offset presses are larger and more expensive than flexo. The offset press setups take longer, although Flexo Print is experimenting with new servos and printing sleeves for both flexo and offset, which may reduce the cost to setup both print systems. Because the offset presses are larger and wider, web length is greater and, thus, there is greater waste—along with greater costs for die cutting and tooling. On the other hand, offset ink yields easily compensate for the additional cost of the inks. The less expensive variable costs catch up around 10,000 linear meters. During Labelexpo, Flexo Print did some trials with flat dot technology and, by the end of the year, had agreed to install a flat top dot system. Flexo Print also believes that the ink trans- fer and dot stability offered by the plates provide better solids. Perhaps even more significant than high definition was Flexo Print’s trials with a new color management system, which was part of the company ’s 2012 initiatives. Once the plate imag- ing system was in place, the firm experimented with extended gamut printing. The challenge is not the technically attractive savings in production and ink costs; but instead, it is the pro- cess of convincing customers of its advantages. Flexo Print is making some headway, gaining acceptance for extended gamut printing particularly in some other regions of the world. However, larger brand owners tend to build very tight procedures and, while progress has been made and some have bought the idea, it will still be some time before it is accepted globally. This will require eliminat- ing certain colors and effects, such as metallic inks. G3 ENTERPRISES: PS Labels <1% Dots G3 Enterprises was founded by the third generation of the Gallo Family with the vision of expanding services and increas- ing productivity to better serve the wine and spirits industry. To the company, label branding is of extreme importance. As James Stone, technical business development man- ager says, “Second to the wine itself, the quality of the label is the single most important element in the value chain.” Not surprisingly, G3 Enterprises prints only wine labels. The company operates both flexo and offset presses. G3 is a full-service facility, offering labels, closures, logistics, mobile bottling, real estate and minerals. Wineries can apply labels with either cold glue or pres- sure sensitive adhesives. At G3, cold glue labels are typically printed on an offset press, while pressure sensitive labels are printed flexo. Pressure sensitive labels do not require extend- ed changeovers to a labeler. However, with cold glue labels, glue pads specific to the shape of the label are required to apply a label onto a bottle. This can require a $50,000 - $100,000 investment from a winery. In addition, the changeover requires substantial downtime. While the cold glue process is more expensive upfront, it is cost-efficient with large volume brands. However, with wine brands changing much faster, pressure sensitive labels have become more common. When G3 decided to get into pressure sensitive labels, it went with flexography. At the time, most pressure sensitive wine labels were printed on an offset web press. However with G3’s experience, it was able to demonstrate to customers that flexo would match the same print quality as offset—100 percent of G3’s current flexo labels were offset at one time. 66 FLEXO february 2013 www.flexography.org G3