Flexo for Short Runs
GENflex Labeling Solutions uses both flexo and digital platforms to provide more complete solutions for its customers' short-run needs.April 2013 By Sue Busch
If the print processes offered by today's narrow-web converters were arranged like a multi-course meal, which one would be the main course? Which ones would be relegated to appetizers or desserts? Digital might be jockeying to become the industry's signature printing entrée, but it's clear that in many operations, there is still plenty of room on the table for flexo. At Atlanta-based narrow-web converter GENflex Labeling Solutions, for instance, a print process buffet of sorts is offered, in which both flexo and digital are billed as of vital importance to meeting customer needs.
It's a service arrangement that Kevin Florence, GENflex's president and chief executive officer, expects to continue over the long term—more specifically, with flexo as the meat of the company's print operations, and digital as the potatoes. Though digital has proved highly compelling for short-run, multiple-version packaging applications, recent advances in flexo press technology have made the latter process highly competitive for GENflex's frequent changeover work, with the added benefit of significantly faster throughput. "With our newest [flexo] press easily able to achieve throughput speeds roughly five times that of our newest digital press, and considering the current make-up of our work load, it is hard to imagine that digital output will exceed our flexo output for the foreseeable future," Florence states.
A process history
Flexo's firm modern-day foothold in GENflex's service offering began taking root more than 20 years ago. GENflex, a division of Atlanta's General Paper Goods Company (founded in 1932), began seeing high-growth momentum in the '80s, which prompted a 1991 move to a doubly-sized facility and, shortly thereafter, a steady succession of press technology upgrades. The company, which concentrates its converting operations on pressure-sensitive labels and wrap-around flex-pack applications, first added Mark Andy 8-color and 6-color UV flexo presses in 1995. Five years later, it purchased a Gallus multi-platform UV flexo/rotary screen press to facilitate exploration of additional market avenues. To support continuing growth, a third 6-color Mark Andy press joined the GENflex fleet in 2004.