Forum 2018 took place May 6-9—in Indianapolis, IN. Much like the annual race for which the city is known, fans (in this case, package printers, suppliers, premedia personnel and all manner of flexographer) flocked from all corners of the map. The four days of technical and educational sessions, from the starting pistol Sunday afternoon to the final lap on Wednesday morning, delivered on the event’s pledge to synchronize processes, people and potential.
Early arrivals to Forum 2018 were treated to a highly focused panel discussion in “Purchasing Printing/Converting Equipment: Flexo’s New Market Scenario.” Emphasis was placed on continually advancing technology, hybridization, automation, and marrying existing and new talent to an ever-evolving production environment. The Flexo Quality Consortium (FQC) session, “Cultivating Our Future Through Research,” officially kicked off the event and featured a look at promising initiatives, student research presentations, the Phoenix Challenge and international standards impacting flexographers. “Culture Eats Strategy: Strategic and Cultural Alignment” examined different types of company culture, how culture impacts day-to-day operations as well as long-term strategic plans, and how a company implements a culture throughout each level of its organizational structure.
It’s no secret flexography has come a long way since its inception, but far from standing still, flexo is continuing to evolve and is doing so at a faster pace than at any point in its history. “New Capabilities: Look at Flexo Now!” took a closer look at what the print process is capable of in 2018, spotlighted some of the latest technologies powering its growth and offered a glimpse at what continued innovation will enable in the future. What can expanded gamut do today? That was the driving question behind “Expanded Gamut: Where Are We Now?” which offered a look at its history, recent growth, and new technologies will continue to push the process’ capabilities and further its adoption. And there are a number of elements to consider when it comes to packaging design. How is one design chosen over another, and how can flexographers meet their clients’ expectations? “Taming Consumer Behavior Through Packaging Design,” included a panel of industry experts that discussed why brand owners make certain choices, the value of customer research and the role of flexographers in the whole process.
Demonstrating Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST) in use on a real-world packaging job has been the guiding idea behind some of FTA’s most memorable individual presentations and even entire conferences. “FIRST in Motion – Wide Web Project” took the beloved approach and moved it to new territory, following the soup-to-nuts of a wide web, flexible packaging job. “Press Approval Match Game” detailed the typical complications that lead to miscommunication and how to deal with them, exploring avenues to avoid pitfalls and eliminate creative intent on press, establishing mutual expectations between the brand owner and printer on deliverables, and defining objective measurement and reporting while utilizing instrumentation to ease the approval process. And press technologies are continuing to advance. For the direct print market, this means expectations are rising and printers must understand how those technologies can improve business. “Advanced Corrugated Technologies: A Business Case” offered a look at some of the latest press technologies for corrugated printers.
Forum 2018’s final session, “Troubleshooting Survival Guide,” provided a comprehensive look at six common and persistent problems faced by flexographers—dirty print, slurred print, poor solids, matching color, high dot gain and chatter/banding/bouncing—with solutions for both immediate and long-term fixes.
FTA Emerging Leaders Golf Outing
FTA Awards Banquet
- The 2018 FTA Excellence in Flexography Awards Competition recognized 114 prints. In a nod to judges’ intense scrutiny, that number marked the first decrease in five years
- A fixture at every FTA event, a tireless volunteer, a relentless learner and patient teacher, an industry stalwart, and just about the nicest guy anyone knows, Lon Robinson joined the FTA Hall of Fame
- A true emerging leader, for his impressive body of work in a short amount of time, Jason Cagle was the recipient of the 2018 FTA President’s Award
- Hamillroad Software, for its Bellissima DMS screening software, and Eaglewood Technologies, for the Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System, each was awarded a 2018 FTA Technical Innovation Award
- Heritage Envelopes, for its PackMail envelope solution, took home the 2018 FTA Sustainability Excellence Award
- Katherine Treadaway, from Clemson University, received the first-place prize in the 2018 FFTA Rossini North America Flexographic Research Scholarship Competition; Emma Linnea Landgren, from California Polytechnic State University, received the second-place prize
- California Polytechnic State University was named the winner of the 2018 Phoenix Challenge College Competition