The theme of Fall Conference 2017 was “The Gateway to Technology.” Elaborating on that theme in a FLEXO Magazine Q&A which preceded the event, its chair, Rory Marsoun, explained, “As we began planning for Fall Conference, we agreed we wanted to pack the schedule with strong technical content and we wanted to highlight some of the new technologies that are starting to take hold in our industry.”
Fall Conference 2017 took place Oct. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch and after a three-day itinerary which included informative sessions, educational presentations and valuable networking, the event lived up to that theme.
Day one of Fall Conference 2017 kicked off with a look at the biggest innovations the flexographic industry has seen. 3M‘s Gerry Vogler focused on the innovations which have molded and shaped flexography’s trajectory, and FTA Flexo Hall of Fame Member Mark Mazur examined innovation through the eyes of Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST).
FIRST remained the focus of Fall Conference 2017 in Monday’s second session, where Mazur led some of the document’s most prominent contributors—Al Bowers, RR Donnelley; Arleen Neustein, New Excelsior; Jeff Randazzo, Controlled Displacement Technologies, LLC; Eric Ferguson, Datalase Ltd. and Lon Robinson, Tension Corp.—on a journey through its history of creating customer confidence and evolution alongside the industry.
The day ended with a celebration of FIRST‘s 20th anniversary—complete with a cake—and the launch of its newest iteration—FIRST 6.0. The end of the day’s sessions also signaled the opening of the Fall Conference Tabletop Exhibit, where 66 exhibitors were waiting to speak with attendees about their printing problems, offer solutions and exchange business cards.
If day one of Fall Conference 2017 had a focus on the past, day two was firmly fixated on the present and future. Tuesday opened with presentations from each of the 2017 Technical Innovation Award-winning companies—Flint Group, for its EkoCure ANCORA Ink; Mark Andy, Inc., for its Digital Series Hybrid Press and Esko, for its XPS Crystal 5080—expanding on their forward-thinking technologies and their contributions to flexography as a whole.
Then, it was time to show what those Technical Innovation Award winners are capable of. To do that, the October issue of FLEXO Magazine was unveiled, its cover form printed using all three technologies. Billed as the 2017 FLEXO Magazine Cover Project, the issue contained a lengthy recap of the individuals involved, the steps taken and obstacles overcome in its printing. The remainder of Tuesday was devoted to examining the steps taken in the cover project to ensure a successful printrun. Esko‘s Mark Samworth gave an overview of the project before ceding the stage to speakers who dove into each crucial step:
- Calibrating the Processes: Mark Samworth, Esko; Jason Cagle, MacDermid Graphics Solutions; Nat Davis, Mark Andy, Inc.
- Fingerprinting the Processes: Steve Smiley, SmileyColor & Associates
- Characterizing the Processes: Catherine Haynes, All Printing Resources, Inc.
- Controlling the Processes for Production: PJ Fronczkiewicz, Flint Group
- Analyzing the Results: Mark Samworth, Esko
With 66 companies to speak with, the Tabletop Exhibit was opened at various times both throughout the day and at the close of Tuesday’s final session, giving attendees ample opportunity to talk shop and learn about the newest products and services being offered.
The final day of Fall Conference 2017 started with a presentation from Mark Mazur titled “Specifying Hue Angles to Establish CMYK Starting Points.” Mazur started out by explaining FIRST target densities have existed since its Premiere Edition and still are the most sought-after reference. He went on to explain why target density values are not necessarily what printers should be focusing on; they should be looking at hue angels if the want to better their process printing capabilities as specified by ISO 15339.
He was followed by discussions of continuous improvement in action, from Berry Global‘s Joe Riccardella, and measurement device technology, from John Seymour of John the Math Guy LLC. Joe dissected the results and ROI of a continuous improvement project performed at his company and shed some light on how to make such a project run even better the next time around. John offered a humorous look at how measurement devices are changing specific to SCTV and how these updates determine data.
Closing out Fall Conference 2017 was an “Ask the Experts” panel, where any and every flexography-related question could be posed to a panel, which included Rory Marsoun of Esko, FTA Flexo Hall of Fame Member Jean Jackson, Jim Kulhanek of DuPont Advanced Printing, Carl Cecil of Flint Group and Paul Lancelle of Kodak.
Gary Hilliard Memorial Golf Tournament
This year’s Gary Hilliard Memorial Golf Tournament took place Oct. 8—the day before Fall Conference 2017 began—at Gateway National Golf Links. Golfers hit the links for 18 holes, made new acquaintances and caught up with old friends, and paid tribute to one of FTA’s most devoted volunteers and supporters.
Mark Andy, Inc. Facility Tour
After wrapping up Wednesday, Fall Conference 2017 attendees had the opportunity to tour the facilities of Mark Andy, Inc. Conferees were transported to the company’s nearby Chesterfield, MO headquarters, shown around and provided a box lunch.