FTA Forum to Address What's Trending in Flexo
The theme for the 2017 Forum, hosted by the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) may be “Trending Now,” but at the conclusion of the four-day event in Phoenix, flexographic printers will be better equipped to tackle the issues impacting them both today and in the future.
According to Paul Teachout, VP of sales and marketing for Nilpeter, and the chairman of the 2017 FTA Forum, the goal in developing this year’s conference program was to create a comprehensive lineup of topics that are both top of mind in converters’ day-to-day operations and will have an impact on their future.
“Disruptive technologies still play a big role and we continue to see disruptive technologies and new innovations that are going to change the way we address our workforce challenges and the regulations we need to comply to,” Teachout says. “We’re excited about a lot of things we’re seeing that are changing and that’s why we phrased the Forum ‘Trending Now.’”
Teachout explains that some of the major topics that will be addressed include the positive growth forecasted for flexography, the next generation entering the workforce and opportunities in the flexible packaging and corrugated segments.
A first at this year’s Forum, Teachout explains that there will be a separate session specifically targeted to corrugated converters that will be in attendance. This session will take place on Tuesday, May 2, during the concurrent INFO*FLEX exhibition.
“Corrugated is a very unique market just due to the substrate, but it’s ideally suited for the flexographic process,” Teachout says. “There have been some major advancements in anilox technology and in the overall process of being able to produce award-winning work off corrugated machines. At this year’s Forum, we’re going to have an actual converter talk about case studies on how he’s gone through that journey to improve his corrugated process to meet brand owners’ requirements and today’s quality requirements — and not only meet those requirements, but exceed them to produce award-winning flexographic work on corrugated material.”
Forum will also address a daunting issue throughout the printing industry — attracting a younger workforce to the field. Teachout explains that the latest flexo technology has made it more attractive to this generation, which enjoys working with high-tech equipment. As packaging becomes more innovative, along with the machinery that produces it, Teachout says the flexo industry is positioned well to bring young operators on board.
“I think a lot of the sessions that we have created evolved around disruptive technologies that are more intuitive, interactive and offer faster, better and easier solutions,” he says. “These innovations play right into the hands of engaging with a younger generation who expects clean hand technologies. This engagement will allow converters to meet workforce challenges now and in the future. Forum is the ideal place to learn about these new opportunities.”
On Saturday, April 29, the day before the Forum officially opens, some of the future players in the flexo industry will have an opportunity to be in the spotlight. In addition to the FTA Emerging Leaders Golf Outing, the 10th annual Phoenix Challenge College Competition will feature teams from colleges and universities throughout North America presenting their solutions to a flexo-related prompt that allows them to demonstrate their ability to work through the entire flexo process.
Teachout explains that the Phoenix Challenge provides a prime opportunity for those who are established in the industry to meet and interact with talented students who are seeking to get their foot in the door toward a career in flexography.
“It allows us to engage with that younger generation better,” Teachout says. “That’s our workforce of tomorrow and the generation of today needs to engage with them.”
Just a short walk from the Sheraton Grand Phoenix, the Forum venue, the INFO*FLEX exhibition will take place May 1-2 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Teachout says that INFO*FLEX is the perfect complement to the Forum, as attendees can take the knowledge they gain in educational sessions and then meet with suppliers in a personal environment.
“You basically have the whole North American industry under one roof where all of your questions and answers can be satisfied, but in a smaller venue setting so it’s more personal,” he says. “I’ve always really enjoyed the networking opportunities at INFO*FLEX. It’s continued to grow every year.”