This year’s Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) Excellence in Flexography awards were handed out at Info*Flex in San Diego. “Level of Execution” and “Degree of Difficulty” were the two overarching categories judges were looking at, and from 517 entries, 102 awards were given out: 35 gold, 34 silver, and 33 bronze.
Difficulty was judged by sub-categories including tonal range, plate/print complexity, and substrate printability/ink compatibility. Execution looked at ink sharpness, registration, and image sharpness, amongst other qualities.
The challenges of flexo were met head-on, as competitors used their technical know-how and creativity to solve some tricky problems. Here’s a look at some of the problems and solutions that some of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners came up with.
1. Autumn Lakes Duck A L’Orange Wrapper—Sunshine Plastics Corp.
Challenge: Keeping vignettes on logos clean
Solution: Lowered top portion to 175lpi; kept ink chemistry balanced; used correct sticky back tape
2. Door Country Luminous Vodka Label—MPI Label Systems
Challenge: Managing 3 web tensions to hold registration
Solution: First: used 2.0 clear BOPP for 4-color process image, followed by metalized BOPP lamination. Second: 4-color process printed with opaque white, and 2.0 BOPP used to laminate
3. Drano Max Gel Ultra Box—Great Northern Corp.
Challenge: Keeping solids clean
Solution: Screens on red and black decreased to 63lpi
3. Skotidakis Greek Yogurt Box—RockTenn Preprint Canada Inc.
Challenge: 5-colour design and several stand-alone images
Solution: 4 colors printed line and processed images blend at 120lpi
1. Robert Mondavi Private Reserve Chardonnay Label—G3 Enterprises
Challenge: Bottle meant a pressure-sensitive production method
Solution: In-line process, using two embosses, rotary screen, hot stamp, and die cut
2. Boost 24-Count Box—Rock Tenn Merchandising Displays
Challenge: Screen values across unstable regular holdout bleach
Solution: Employed Bobst 200 with sheet cleaner and dryers and used water-based inks, run at 2500sph, coated and die cut inline.
3. John Frieda Everlasting Blond Sachet—Label Technology, Inc.
Challenge: Photo with very large tonal range and fine details on bottle images made process and registration difficult
Solution: HD Flexo was used in 4-color process areas, and Microcel plate cell patterning was used for solids
1. Mirassou Pinot Noir Label—G3 Enterprises
Challenge: Texture embosses cause web to vertically shrink
Solution: Uncoated stock without primer, two embosses, rotary screen, hot stamp and die cut
2. Heinz Dip & Squeeze Dispenser Case—International Paper Co.
Challenge: Art originally intended for litho
Solution: Red divided into two colors to hold screen open
The FTA is now taking applications for next year’s awards until January 10, 2014, so you’ve got six months to enter your best projects. Good luck.
And if you need help taking your flexo printing to Gold-level, get in touch with our experts at Anderson & Vreeland and we’ll talk about how you can be an FTA Excellence in Flexography contender in 2014.