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FLEXO Magazine : January 2014
it uses the machine “far more often for prototyping.” P BM also benefits from its “ability to produce textures, like simulated foil stamping and embossing, as well as the wide variety of substrates the printer can accommodate.” Geerts points out the significance of the purchase, noting that, “among all the millions of dollars of equipment we’ve purchased over the years, nothing has generated as much excitement... There’s a lot we can do to show the customer what a finished product will look like without having to manu- facture one.” K1 PACKAGING GROUP Headquartered in City of Industry, CA, K1 Packaging Group produces paperboard folding cartons, digital and flexo print- ed labels and high end graphic packaging materials for both domestic and international retail. K1 employs a staff of 90 and a variety of devices. Jimmy Tsai, K1’s sales manager, notes that UV’s ability to produce highly realistic prototypes, along with his printer’s unique embossing and spot UV capabilities, is what won the company over. “Many of our customers’ projects are printed on holo- graphic material. The fear of running a print job without first producing a sample is very high, with all that could go wrong and the costs involved if it does,” he says. Thanks to the UV printer, that fear has been eliminated, enabling K1 to create prototypes that closely resemble the finished product. WHITE GRAPHICS Employing a staff of nine at its Downers Grove, IL headquarters, White Graphics produces flexible packaging, displays, cartons, pressure sen- sitive labels, mockups and sales samples. To expand its produc- tion capabilities, the company purchased a UV printer/cutter and flatbed printer. Richard White, president of White Graphics, appreciates the durability of UV inks, especially when printing on foil bags and other flexible substrates. “ T he inks have a lot of stretch to them so they don’t crack, yet the surface passes any rub test you can imagine,” he notes. “ T he ability to create very tight comps of flexible bags with white underlay, as well as the correspond- ing corrugated and folding carton pieces, has made us a valuable partner in product development for our clients.” PUTTING “UV” IN UNIVERSITY Outside the business arena, UV technology has found an audience within the university system, where the basics of the design, printing and finishing processes are taught to aspir- ing package designers. One such university is the Sonoco Institute of Package Design and Graphics at Clemson, where each year more than 200 students are instructed in the art of packaging design. “Our students are interested in developing real packaging for real applications,” says Dr. R . Andrew Hurley, assistant professor at the Sonoco Institute. He and his students value UV printers for their ability to print on a wide range of sub- strates, such as: • Plastic bagging • Thermoformable materials • Corrugated cardboard • Multiple types of paperboard This allows them to create prototypes that are nearly identical to full production packaging. The school’s printer works “on virtually any material,” Hurley notes, “so when our students design flexo packaging, we rarely have to worry about substrates.” The Sonoco Institute’s facilities include a state of the art prototyping lab, which houses a 64 in. UV inkjet printer. “ T he results are stunning,” says Hurley. Using the printer’s CYMK plus white and clear inks, students can reverse print with a basecoat of white ink, produce full color images and finish each project with unique patterns, textures and varnishing effects using layers of clear ink. “E laborate textures and ef- fects like these would be very expensive to simulate on other equipment,” Hurley noted. In addition to students, the university serves more than 600 corporations who have worked with the Sonoco Institute’s faculty and staff to train their employees in digital design. n Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a white paper by Roland DGA Corp. The company makes a range of UV LED products, including its VersaUV LEC-330 , LEC-540 and LEJ- 640 printers and ECO-UV and ECO-UV S inks. UV inkjet printers make prototyping a less costly and time consuming endeavor. Modern day UV lamps generate significantly less heat than conventional varieties. 54 FLEXO JANUARY 2014 www.flexography.org