Flexo for Short Runs

Kevin Florence, president and CEO (seated), and Jeffrey Florence, executive VP, have positioned GENflex to handle short runs and frequent changeovers by incorporating both flexo and digital technology.

GENflex installed a 17˝ Performance Series P7 flexo press from Mark Andy in 2012.

GENflex Labeling Solutions uses both flexo and digital platforms to provide more complete solutions for its customers' short-run needs.

With an established 10˝ to 13˝ flexo printing capability to serve its customer base—which includes food and food processing, health and beauty, and electrical product companies—GENflex’s press investment focus turned to digital technologies in 2007. By 2010, the converter had installed two 13˝ HP Indigo presses. Florence praises digital technology’s “eye-popping” 0.5 percent dot output, and its ability to lower GENflex’s “minimum order threshold,” or minimum standard fixed costs, for high-end graphic applications.

Sorting out short runs

When a short-run job comes in the door, it isn’t automatically or exclusively slated for digital production. In some cases, digital technology’s parameters simply go beyond the cost and quality scope of a job. “Back in 2007 [when GENflex first implemented digital press technology], people already had a notion that [digital] was too expensive, and we didn’t always need all that resolution,” Florence relates, adding, “We realized, to our dismay, that digital didn’t fit every application.”

The availability of both flexo and digital processes, states Florence, allows GENflex to build better and more complete solutions for its customers across either platform. “Once we completed fingerprinting these platforms,” he clarifies, “transition between them became transparent to our clients.” After output data from both processes was collected and loaded into the company’s Esko prepress software for comparison, adjustments were made so that a consistent dot size percentage resulted from each process. “We believe having both platforms affords us flexibility to respond to whatever the circumstance requires,” Florence sums up.

Flexo can conceivably be the first choice for printing shorter-run jobs; Florence focuses on total cost rather than total run size to make the best process determination. “In flexo, the footprint of the label can determine the extent of the tooling needed, which may include specific print cylinders as well as the cutting die. This may require consideration as to whether the job is likely to repeat and how often,” he explains. Florence also notes that a brand “spot” color can be critical for some customers, and may be better managed on a flexo press than with a CMYK build or custom digital ink.

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