Forum 2019: The Content, the Attractions, the Takeaways, the Opportunities
The Event’s Chair and Co-Chair Discuss What Attendees Will Learn, See and Take from Four Days in New Orleans
After 22 years, Forum & INFOFLEX are set to head back to The Big Easy at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside from May 5-8. The events will be packed with technical sessions that dissect flexography and everything it is capable of today, while arming attendees with the knowledge, technologies and trends to plot a successful roadmap to the future. In a nutshell, it’ll be “All Flexo, All of the Time.”
“As CPCs continue to push the boundaries in terms of quality, complexity of graphics and innovative packaging design, we need to be clearly focused on continuing to meet these increasing demands of the brand owners we serve,” says Forum 2019 Chair Ann Michaud of 3M. “Forum 2019 will bring the brand owner’s perspective, new technologies as well as practical sessions focused on how best to implement these tools in the daily production environment.”
Here, Michaud and Co-Chair Hank Welter of TC Transcontinental Packaging share the details of Forum 2019, including information on each session, the benefits of INFOFLEX for both exhibitors and attendees, the advantages of other events set to occur within the four days, what can be gained from the overall experience, and more.
FLEXO Magazine: With a theme like “All Flexo, All of the Time,” there’s no mistaking what the focus of Forum 2019 will be. Beyond the obvious, what else is that theme trying to communicate to attendees?
Ann Michaud: Forum 2019 focuses exclusively on flexography, highlighting impactful content showcasing the evolving needs, capabilities and continuing advancements in the flexo industry that will carry us into the future. We will explore innovative technologies and enhanced printing techniques that will stretch our imaginations of where and how we can use “All Flexo, All of the Time.”
Hank Welter: There are times when we become distracted by the things we don’t have or can’t do. These distractions can lead us to miss out on great opportunities that are right in front of us. By focusing on all flexo, we are communicating the positives and the possibilities, and showing how our customers and our members can drive flexo to be the distraction for others.
FLEXO: It’s no secret there are other print processes out there, yet flexography continues to be the most dominant. For the average package printer, “mostly flexo, most of the time” is probably how they would describe business. Is Forum 2019’s theme a nod to that continued dominance?
Michaud: Yes, the evolving advancements in both capability and quality of the flexographic printing process continue to deliver value in the packaging arena. As CPCs continue to push the boundaries in terms of quality, complexity of graphics and innovative packaging design, we need to be clearly focused on continuing to meet these increasing demands of the brand owners we serve. Forum 2019 will bring the brand owner’s perspective, new technologies as well as practical sessions focused on how best to implement these tools in the daily production environment.
Welter: Absolutely, the competition continues to look for ways to chip away at flexo’s dominance by capitalizing on “advantages” their process may hold. With each attempt, the flexo community rallies with the improved capabilities and quality Ann mentioned. Our customers recognize these improvements and continue to push us forward with ever higher expectations.
FLEXO: If we think about “all flexo” as a description of the day-to-day job functions that are specific to flexography—press setup, job changeover and, in essence, all those things press operators do during a shift—how in-line with their responsibilities is the material that’s being covered at Forum 2019?
Michaud: Press operators will find valuable information in all sessions, starting with hearing directly from brand owners to better appreciate their challenges and concerns, to seeing new technologies, to very practical information that can immediately be applied in the pressroom. An example is Monday morning’s “The Defectives” session, which will gather evidence on how common flexo print defects occur, show examples of those defects, and highlight a methodology for determining their root causes and appropriate corrective actions. The press operator will be able to immediately apply these key learnings.
Welter: On day one, operators will have the opportunity to listen to brand owners’ thoughts on their process, directly from the CPCs, in “Best Print Technology on the Planet.” This will be a great reminder of why their efforts and roles are so important to the process. It will also help engage them as they are given the opportunity to hear experts from various fields share how they can improve on their process and ensure they are focused on providing their customers with the best print possible.
FLEXO: Prepress operators need to have flexography top of mind too, as they design and create while considering the print process’ capabilities and parameters. What does Forum 2019 have that’s specific to them?
Michaud: Prepress operators, as for all attendees, will benefit from the direct dialogue that will happen onstage with brand owners, emphasizing the increasing requirements and discussing international standards that address these concerns.
In addition, Wednesday morning’s “A Screening of Screening: Investigation into Prepress & Plate Advances” will showcase leading screening technologies, demonstrating the impact of each on an image. By understanding how the screening technologies can impact the print result and how these technologies benefit the brand owner, the prepress operator will gain insight into how and where they may be able to employ these new tools.
There will be two complementary sessions that will also benefit prepress operators: Tuesday’s pair of sessions, “Gaining Control of Your Process: The Fingerprint” and “Gaining Control of Your Process: The Characterization.” They will provide a very practical overview of FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances) methodology, with current techniques, modern terminology and examples.
Welter: Prepress operators are often pulled in opposite directions as they work to ensure design intent is met while also considering operational capabilities and efficiencies. As Ann points out, there are many sessions that will help them understand the tools and techniques they have access to that can help bridge the gaps and create a balance that meets both their internal and external customers’ needs.