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FLEXO Magazine : May 2008
FTA TODAY -- -------0 r -- -------- ---- ----------0 -----r------- .. -- -- ------, then in the 1990s, by necessity, printers turned attention to working out the business end of new competitive processes. This new quality capability had to be met with advance- ments in equipment and systems. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the computerization and mechanics of presses began to change, offering platform presses with offset, digital, screen and gravure complemented flexo and offered busi- ness choices for production. Early in this decade, the world changed as the towers fell and the economy slowed. Nevertheless press manufacturers continued to develop gearless sleeve presses and efficiency became the new focus, with quick change and computer analysis of the smallest detail in processing orders. UV inks and chill rolls also became a larger issue with improved inks and UV systems. JACKSON: Establishment of the Flexo Quality Consortium (FQC) was a true highlight of the 1980s. Other significant milestones in FTA's history saw more partnering with educa- tional institutions, which continues to benefit the organiza- tion and its members to this day. From an industry perspec- tive, it was in the 1980s that wide-web process started to drive the corrugated market segment. FIRST -Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances, was FTA's most significant and performance-ori- ented concept of thel990s. From the testing and research to the issuance and later update of the workbook, to the stag- ing of conferences and road shows, FIRST and all it stood for, permeated the atmosphere. The continued pursuit of standards and controls that will improve the quality of our output should always remain at the forefront of the indus- try's strategic goals and objectives. As such, it must always be a top priority of FTA. In modern times, the first decade of the 21st century, process control deservedly leads our charge! What rank among the most notable changes in the indus- try during your career? NARD: The reverse angle doctor blade, ceramic anilox roll and photopolymer plates were all noteworthy at the time of their development and introduction. They continue to play an important role in turning out quality consistent print jobs today. SHIELDS: Every decade had its notable changes (the creation of FLEXO magazine was one big step to building FTA's leadership), and each one built on the former ones, - the next notable change. It's f effort by a lot of dedicated what it is SO years after its BART: The transition of flexography from a strictly con- verting process to a printing process. . . notable as it is, it's something most new, young people in our industry will never understand. SHREVE: There have been so many changes over the years in this industry that it certainly cannot be called stag- nant. Three of the most notable have been the increase in usage and acceptance of photopolymer plates, the large number of presses using sleeve technology, and adoption of servo drive technology, which is now being used extensively on printing presses. HARPER: FTA has historically focused considerable effort on encouraging more companies and individuals to contrib- ute their time, effort, equipment and dollars to flexographic education. The initiative must continue and it should be directed at both a high school and college level in order to assure that the best and the brightest talent is trained and attracted to flexo. SHAPIRO: Sophisticated technology and greater efforts at developing a more educated workforce are highly signifi- cant; as is the impact of environmental regulations on man- agement and operation of plants. MCGEE: The evolution of the flexo process from that of a "rubber stamp" process to that of a high-quality print pro- cess, with few limitations on where we can take the process in the future, is a big and most remarkable move. RIDDELL: The list is considerable: reverse-angle doctor blades, laser-engraved ceramic anilox rolls, photopolymer plates, water-based inks, UV inks, computer graphics, direct- to-plate technology, automatic registration, servo drives, gearless servo driven sleeve presses and platform presses. Those products stand out in my mind as having helped to greatly improve flexographic print quality. JACKSON: Technologically speaking, I'd have to point to the development of laser-engraved anilox rolls, chambered doctor blades and calibrated prepress workflows. On a more personal note, I'm encouraged by the continued growth in a flexographer's confidence in his or her ability to exceed oth- ers' expectations. Flexographers today can push limits and do things that people thought they would never do. MAY 2008 www.flexography.org FLEXO