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FLEXO Magazine : June 2008
ees to take advantage of existing products that enhance sustainability, such as sample making devices, remote approval systems, and software that tracks waste. Hole also stated that "anything that affects cost also affects environmental impact." BACK TO BASICS "Optimize performance." "Maintain consistency." That was the message put out by Ann Michaud, 3M, the initial speak- er in the Flexo 101 Session, chaired by Dan Collins, Pliant Corp. Her topic: Optimizing Plate Mounting Tape Performance for Print Quality and Productivity. Suggestions rendered: "Control variables." They impact on surface energy and tape adhesion. Six others followed Michaud to the podium, then stood and echoed her call for mea- surement and control. Carl Hartz, Flint Group, spoke to the basic components of inks. He noted that improvements in graphics, combined with evolutions in packaging formats, have driven changes in resin selections, and impacted on both manufacturing and raw materials costs. Flexibility remains the name of the game, and Hartz stressed that versatility may prove the printer's differ- entiating factor. He called for partnering between printers and suppliers in meeting robust and continually changing end-use requirements. Basic theory and real pressroom expe- riences were folded into a presentation by Jean Jackson, Allison Systems, and Donnie Gramlich, Smurfit-Stone Preprint; as they reviewed the critical roles played by both the anilox and doctor blade in an effective and productive ink metering system. Jackson com- pared and contrasted the basic elements of a chambered blade system, its positioning on the print station, its interaction with the anilox and the contact angle of the blade. She did the same for reverse angle doctor blades, and then addressed the anilox, its cell-volume requirements, line screen, typical applications, etc. The point stressed: Printers must endeavor to deliver a uniform and predictable ink film for consistent results, meaning predictable color and print qual- ity. Gramlich made it clear that optimizing FTA TODAY an ink metering system pays huge dividends. He re- ported that a new concentration on and commitment to process con- trol in his plant, particularly with respect to the ink metering system and its require- ments, has re- duced downtime by one third, eliminated press side challenges, standardized processes and bolstered productivity. By specifying color in digital format, a printer, or his consumer product com- pany (CPC) customer, can communicate expectations down the supply chain and all around the world, according to Brian Ashe, X- Rite Inc. "Accurate color communica- tion starts with good specification," he told Forum 2008 attendees. "It helps to keep the integrity of the original design." He then launched into a discussion and dem- onstration of the Color eXchange Format (CxF), which he described as a system that links multiple color control instruments and software applications to deliver un- matched accuracy. Printing plates and their role in keep- ing flexographers competitive in a rap- idly changing and evolving industry, Forum's keynote speaker, Jackie Pflug, received a standing ova- tion for her motivational tale of survival and triumph. was a subject tackled by Al Bowers, RR Donnelley. He too addressed basic re- quirements, namely: durometer, gauge, thickness, length, digital and analogue www.flexography.org options, etc. Run length and its effect on a plate's lifespan were discussed, as was recent advances in print sleeves and grow- ing acceptance of in-the-round technol- ogy. One point stressed: flexo plates are demonstrating new-found ability to hold smaller and smaller dots, and that ability is seen as a definite advantage to printers and their customers. Batting clean-up in the Flexo 101 Session was Tony Donato of Harper Corporation of America. He delved into the relationship of doctor blade contact angle to vibration. Donato touched on set angle, contact angle, contact path, loading pressure and construction of blade mate- rial. He also used visual aids-cupcake tins-to demonstrate the interaction between anilox, blade and cylinder. He stressed that the relationship between a doctor blade ink metering system and the anilox is both geometrical and mechanical, meaning that it and all its variables can be carefully controlled to deliver optimal print results. MIND YOUR BUSINESS Declaring that "Eighty-four percent of all IT projects fail," Glyn Slack of Radius Solutions kicked off the Business Management Session, chaired by Dave McConnon of The Meyers Printing Companies Inc. Slack's talk wasn't all negative, though, advising printers/converters in attendance to make sure that, if they are going to invest in an ERP/MIS system, that they choose one that is mar- ket specific, adaptable and compatible with existing systems. "Be sure to make your JUNE 2008 - FLEXO