Advantage Flexo? Carton Converters Convene at FFTA

RONKONKOMA, NY, USA—"Process controls are moving flexography ahead of offset at folding carton converting plants nationwide, according to an eight-member expert panel, many of whom practice the craft," reports the Foundation of the Flexographic Technical Assn. (FFTA). According to the FFTA, this eight-member panel plans to present their case at the association's upcoming Annual Forum, "Capitol Ideas for People, Process, & Profits," slated for May 5–8, 2002 in Washington, DC.

FFTA says the flexo-vs.-offset message to be delivered will be short and succinct: "Make flexo for folding carton work for you and make money doing it!" According to the FFTA, justification will be provided for the following findings:

  • Conversion from offset to flexography reduces manpower costs;
  • Recurring capital equipment investment expenditures are lower for flexography than offset;
  • Cash-flow enhancements are afforded by flexo's increased reliance on just-in-time inventories;
  • E-business continues to enhance productivity in the flexo printing trade; and
  • Quality is on the rise, and consistency is maintained. The average person discerns no difference between a flexo-printed package and its offset counterpart.

FFTA's folding carton session co-chairs, Paul Lancelle, Green Bay Engraving, Inc, and Rick Rosenberger, Sweethart Cup, Co., will steer a group of six speakers through the three-and-a-half-hour presentation, "A Coalition of Scientific and Technological Advances," which is slated for Tuesday, May 5, from 8 to 11 am. Details about the session follow.

  • Color Control for Packaging: Dr. Bruce Myers will kick off the session. "I'm reviewing the variables involved with the physical and colorimetric standards," says the Kean University professor. "It's interesting because there's a lot of ambiguity in the field about proper application of color imagery. Companies that purchase packaging don't fully understand the variables involved in the process."

    Rosenberger, who calls Myers an "excellent presenter," says he's someone who teaches color, studies color, understands color consistency, and understands the devices people use to manage their color as well as the pitfalls people fall into while trying to address their color capabilities.

    Lancelle adds, "Dr. Myers has a nice presentation, covering the gamut from basic color theory all the way to the instruments and controls that can be used as it relates to flexo printing."

  • ICC Color Profiling:"We are very excited to share the press trial data that validates how powerful color management is for today's printers," says David Brewer, Harper Corp. of America, about on his presentation. "We have verified flexo can match offset quality at FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances) densities and match both printing processes to the contract proof."

    People like to hear about real-life experiences, according to Lancelle. Brewer's presentation will revolve around a project involving ICC color profiling (in matching the print to the target proof) he actually implemented.

    Along to share the results with Brewer will be Pete Rivard, prepress instructor, Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis, MN. "The anilox roll is the key to color management in flexography," says Rivard. "And this reality can, when understood and embraced by the industry, move flexography ahead of offset printing in terms of process control and dependable quality printing."

  • Offset to Flexo...Boom or Bust?:Wes Harrington, Mark Andy, Inc., will discuss the economics involved in making the transition from offset to flexo. "People are starting to become aware of flexo's lower cost per unit advantage over offset," says Harrington. He plans to focus his presentation on WIP (work in progress); decreasing manpower; reducing capital investments; and the possibility of decreasing finished goods inventory, which he says all relates to cashflow.
  • Going Gearless with Retrofits: Gearless has been tagged as one of the newest trends in press technology. Jim Hulman of Bosch Rexroth will talk about why it's an excellent idea to convert an existing press to gearless technology, which he says improves accuracy and decreases makeready times on presses. "It reduces the amount of waste and provides you with more productivity. It also gives you a better quality product at the cost of a retrofit without having to buy a new machine. We can take an existing mechanical press, remove the mechanical drivetrain, and apply shaftless-drive technology to make it more efficient and competitive in today's marketplace."
  • E-Business—Where's the Value?: The last session of the folding carton discussion will feature Dave Edmondson of Concord Business Systems. He will explain exactly how e-business can be implemented to increase efficiencies and productivity in the flexographic industry.

According to the FFTA, the "Folding Carton Update" is just one element of the extensive four-day FFTA forum program. A complete agenda is available at

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