For evidence of just how big a shake-up the 2018 Excellence in Flexography Awards are, look no further than the combined corrugated category. Every year, the six judges responsible for taking loupes to TV boxes, soap boxes and cartons meant for every and any alcohol you can think of position themselves in the northwest corner of the Hyatt Regency Long Island Ballroom D. They spend about as much time sitting down as they do standing; they maneuver around the large samples, crouching and leaning, doing literal circles around the prints. They deliberate. They give out three gold awards, three silver awards and three bronze awards.
The Combined Corrugated Winners in the 2018 Excellence in Flexography AwardsMaster Packaging Inc, Rick Pomerenka of Printron, Ed Trainor of International Paper, Jason Rhyne of Southern Graphic Systems (SGS), Doug Weiss of Kodak and Brad Gasque of DuPont Advanced Printing—only found eight prints worthy of an award.
“The caliber of entries has risen with tightness of registration,” say Great Northern Corp’s Geoff Roznak and WestRock CP LLC’s Tim Esselman, the awards committee members who oversee both combined corrugated and preprinted linerboard categories. “We have seen less traps being used and shadows covering inconsistent registration. Machine capabilities are tightening.”
That rise in quality makes prints with imperfections stand out that much more, and specifically in the combined corrugated category, judges saw a lot they didn’t like: “Great ink coverage on black, while others could be improved.” “Can see some dirty printing dots in bottle label.” “Gray screen on bottom flaps was inconsistent from board to board.” “Dots look great, but side-to-side impression was slightly off.” “Magenta ink trap over yellow is not laying down well.”
Combined Corrugated Judges
Combined Corrugated Awards, 2014-2018
“We still have to remember, day in and day out, the machines still need to be productive no matter how well they print or how well we separate files,” the committee members say. “We cannot exclude the plants that are very good printers but don’t have the ability to use a multi-color machine. It is not the machine that makes great print, it is how well we maintain and develop processes that push the limit of the machine.”
The BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse Carton, submitted by Visual Communication Tech on behalf of Proactive Packaging & Display, was the cream of the crop, taking the Best of Show title in the category. “Beautiful execution of process print over white ink on kraft,” said judges. “Most printers would be scared to print this job!”