FTA Forum Opens with Celebration of Flexographic Achievements
The North American flexographic printing industry came together to celebrate its achievements over the past year during the annual awards banquet hosted by the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA). The banquet, part of the FTA’s Forum conference and INFOFLEX exhibition, was held Sunday night at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.
During the banquet, the FTA revealed its Excellence in Flexography Award winners, the Technical Innovation Award recipients, the President’s Award, the Sustainability Excellence Award, and the association’s most prestigious honor -- the latest inductee to the FTA Hall of Fame.
To reveal the newest FTA Hall of Famer, FTA President Mark Cisternino invited all of the FTA Hall of Famers in attendance to the stage to congratulate their newest colleague. Once on stage, 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Mark Samworth provided an in-depth introduction of 2018 inductee Lon Robinson's professional accomplishments and contributions to the FTA and Tension Corp. Robinson’s achievements with the FTA include service on the board of directors, receiving the President’s Award in 2012, chairing the FIRST Committee, and co-chairing the 2015 Fall Conference.
The evening’s other honorees included Jason Cagle of MacDermid Graphics Solutions, who received the President’s Award, and Heritage Envelope, which won the Sustainability Excellence Award. Two Technical Innovation Awards were presented, one going to Hamillroad Software in the prepress graphics category for its Bellissima Digitally Modulated Screening, and the other to Eaglewood Technologies in the prepress - pressroom category for the Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System.
The association’s Excellence in Flexography awards were also revealed, with the Best of Show awards going to:
- Wide Web Category: Transcontinental Robbie
- Mid Web Category: Industrias de Plásticos
- Narrow Web Category: Multi Color Corp.
- Combined Corrugated Category: Visual Communication Tech on Behalf of Proactive Packaging and Display
- Preprinted Linerboard Category: WestRock Company of Canada
- Envelope Category: Mac Papers Envelope Converters
Forum Covers Array of Essential Flexo Info
Beginning on Sunday and continuing through Wednesday, the Forum has provided a variety of educational sessions essential to the flexographic printing industry and to package printing in general.
Sunday’s sessions included a look at the importance of corporate culture in the printing industry, and how culture can be best be aligned with a company’s strategy. Dr. Cynthia Sims, an assistant professor for the master’s program in human resources development at Clemson University opened the session with a deep dive into the importance of culture serving as an essential building block for a company’s strategy. Sims explained that even if a company has a strong strategy in place, if it doesn’t have a strong culture to match, it will be difficult to achieve success.
“If you have a strategy that’s insulated from what’s happening on the front lines, you’re not going to get the results you want,” she said.
Following Sims’s presentation, Rachel Acevedo and Phil Ryan of Flexo Concepts detailed their company’s concept of viewing culture along a spectrum. They explained that this spectrum includes leadership, employees, vendors and the audience. Internally, they explained that leadership sets the stage for culture and employees act on it. Meanwhile, externally, vendors also need to buy into a company’s culture to ensure the best results throughout the supply chain. Finally, a company’s audience should also buy into a company’s culture to ensure they are a right match and continue to seek that company out.
Monday’s sessions included a look at some of the latest technological advancements in flexo, specifically the rise of hybrid printing platforms, along with the latest in automation. Michael Weyermann, east coast regional sales manager for MPS, explained that digital printing’s advantages, combined with the advancements flexo has made in image quality, improved changeovers, and more, have made the two technologies an excellent pair for a hybrid process.
Michael Reinhardt, North American flexo press product manager for Windmoeller & Hoelscher provided an overview of the importance of automation in the flexographic process as short runs, more changeovers and stricter print quality requirements have emerged.
“The goal is getting everything produced more quickly with less downtime and more uptime on the machine,” he said.
Following an update on expanded gamut from Kevin Bourquin of Cyber Graphics and John Hite of Bryce Corp., Monday’s Forum sessions concluded with a panel discussion on the packaging design process, which detailed the many design steps a package goes through before it reaches the printer.
While much of the design work and collaboration occurs between the brand owner and a designer or agency, one of the key themes of the panel was the importance of welcoming designers into a printing plant. By allowing them to better understand the printing process, it can help the entire supply chain create a design that will be a success in a specific printer’s environment.
“When you get comfortable with [printing], you begin to understand the limitations of it,” Jason Edelen, creative director of We Are Alexander, said. “When you really understand that, it allows you to leverage the processes rather than making concessions in your design because of printability.”