The Excellence Awards Results Are In
One of the great things about the printing and packaging industries is that there are plenty of opportunities for printers and converters to receive well-deserved accolades and awards for the great work they produce. But, the packagePRINTING Excellence Awards, now in its 31st year, offers something a little different.
Instead of focusing on just one packaging segment or printing process, the Excellence Awards offer categories for the entire industry to take part in, spanning the gamut from labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging and corrugated. And as the quality gap has narrowed among the various types of conventional printing and digital printing, the Excellence Awards brings all methods of printing together to compete in their own categories and against each other to be named Best of Show.
It’s a tall task for our judging panel to weigh the merits of the nearly 200 entries that were sent to packagePRINTING headquarters in Philadelphia for this year’s competition. But with five expert judges with expertise spanning all aspects of the industry, a consensus was reached in naming winning entries in 32 categories and in Best of Show.
As technologies and consumer and brand demands evolve, the crop of entries sent to the Excellence Awards changes drastically from year to year. According to Mark Mazur, one of this year’s judges and a member of the Flexographic Technical Association’s Flexo Hall of Fame, there were two areas in particular where the print quality showed significant improvement.
“What really stands out to me is the increase in digital print and the quality of that digital print,” he says. “It’s at the point that it’s really hard to tell the good digital from the good offset. It’s really gotten that good. The wide web flexible packaging work was all excellent. I’m always impressed with the work the wide web flexible packagers do.”
The improvements in wide web flexo were evident in the Best of Show voting, in which the judges unanimously agreed that a frozen fruit pouch submitted by ProAmpac was worthy of the top honor. The pouch, printed on a 10-color, 52˝ Windmoeller and Hoelscher press, was particularly impressive to the judging panel because its vibrant colors and high-quality print were achieved on a substrate that is known to be challenging to print on.
“This entry was deservedly awarded first place and Best of Show as it was printed exceptionally well on a very difficult substrate,” Bill Enright, senior application engineer for Mark Andy, said. “It featured very clean printing with very tight registration. The very nice use of screening gave the blueberries, strawberries and cherries depicted a vivid, almost 3D, lifelike appearance.”
In addition to showcasing advancements in printing, the Excellence Awards also serve as a glimpse into the growing market segments that package printers are finding opportunities in.
In particular, Heather Buchholz, marketing program manager for Sun Chemical, pointed out that it was interesting to see the amount of entries representing the cannabis industry, now that it has been legalized to various degrees in some states. Additionally, she pointed out that while craft beer has been a hot market segment for a few years, it was interesting to see the large number of entries for spirits from the craft distillery industry.
“The sheer number of distilleries, craft distillery entries and certainly craft beer, supported the trends of the marketplace,” she said.
While many craft brewers and distillers may not have the same resources as their major brand counterparts, the quality of printing throughout this market segment was evident in the competition. Second place in Best of Show was awarded to a craft beer bottle, in which the label was screen printed directly onto the bottle by Monvera Glass Décor of Richmond, Calif. Meanwhile, a whisky label for Kavi Reserve, an Amherstburg, Ontario-based craft distiller, printed by ASL Print FX, received third place in Best of Show.
Michael Eichler, director of print technology for KBA North America, explained that the glass bottle from Monvera was particularly impressive as the direct printing covered almost the entirety of the bottle.
“The printing wraps seamlessly around the entire bottle from the smaller neck area down to the bottom,” he said. “The delicate design with fine white and gold patterns was done to the exact shape of the bottle and the printing was executed with excellent solid coverage in both white and gold and without any distortion in all the different areas of the bottle.”
Meanwhile, he explained that the Kavi Reserve whisky label from ASL Print FX combined superior printing, embellishments, registration and diecutting to make it stand out.
“This label contains fine delicate patterns which were all printed clean and in excellent quality,” he said. “Further enhancements with coating, gold foil and embossing are in excellent register with the printed artwork, and the final diecut is in perfect position and finishes this label up well.”
As technologies continue to improve and brands and consumers dictate the direction of package design, only time will tell what the 32nd annual packagePRINTING Excellence Awards will have in store next year.
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