Judging for FTA’s 2018 Excellence in Flexography Awards Competition took place Jan. 28-29 at the Hyatt Regency Long Island. Thirty judges drove and flew from across the country to get up close and personal with some 500 wrappers, boxes, labels, envelopes and the like.
They evaluated each print’s degree of difficulty and level of execution.
They quarreled over attributes like consistency, image sharpness, defect detectability and ink coverage.
They debated fiercely—huddled around and crouched over a narrow web entry, standing single file and eye level with a combined corrugated print—which deserved a gold, silver or bronze award.
In selecting a Best of Show from a category’s gold-award winners, they went for the proverbial jugular, calling attention to the slightest fault in pursuit of establishing a shining example of what flexography is capable of producing.
It wasn’t until the dust had settled, the prints had been rolled up and returned to FTA’s offices, and the award count was tallied that it became apparent something unusual had happened, something not seen for nearly half a decade: The number of winners decreased. Not since the 2014 Excellence in Flexography Awards Competition has the total number of awards dropped; since that year, the final count has been on a steady rise from 102, to 104 in 2015, to 110 in 2016, to 121 last year. Making the dip even more noteworthy: The number of entries has continued to grow, meaning the percent of award winners has also made a U-turn.
The 2018 Excellence in Flexography Awards Will Be Announced In…What could explain the abrupt change? Is what passed for “great” no longer even “good?” Are judges no longer impressed with the tonal ranges and registration tolerances of yesteryear? Are printers taking the path of least resistance and avoiding pushing the (proverbial and literal) envelope?
That is a discussion for another time—specifically early May, when a full recap of this year’s Excellence in Flexography Awards and lengthy pictorial of the winners will appear online at www.flexography.org/excellence in that month’s issue of FLEXO Magazine. That issue’s publication will coincide with Forum 2018‘s Awards Banquet on Sunday, May 6, where the winners of all of FTA’s biggest honors—the Technical Innovation Award, Sustainability Excellence Award, President’s Award and Hall of Fame inductee—will be revealed.