2019 FTA Excellence in Flexography Awards
Thirty judges, 11 committee members and a handful of FTA staff were present for the judging of the 2019 FTA Excellence in Flexography Awards. They saw hundreds of pieces of flexographically printed packaging: from labels to boxes; line, screen and process; the OK and the great, all kinds of substrate.
Judges were divided into two groups, each focused on a specific set of criteria when evaluating a print: degree of difficulty and level of execution:
First, the degree of difficulty group judges the overall complexity of each print, grading attributes on a scale from one to 10. Those attributes are substrate printability/ink compatibility, registration tolerances, plate-printing complexity/fineness of print, screen (lpi or stochastic spot size), tonal range (on screen and process jobs) and defect detectability.
Second, the level of execution group judges how well each print’s various elements were printed, also grading on a scale from one to 10. Those elements are image sharpness, ink coverage, registration, dot/screen/vignette (again, on screen and process jobs) and consistency.
After each print has been evaluated by the degree of difficulty judges and then the level of execution judges, the points are totaled and all the category’s entries are sorted from highest to lowest cumulative score. All the category judges then convene together to debate each print’s worthiness of a gold, silver or bronze award—if any. Finally, when the debate is over, the gold award winners are collected and, from them, a Best of Show is chosen.
Overheard at the 2019 FTA Excellence in Flexography Awards Judging
What does judging the Excellence in Flexography Awards sound like? At times, you could mistake it for a library. When a group of degree of difficulty or level of execution judges is “in the zone,” their heads so close to a print they would smear ink on their noses if it hadn’t already dried or cured, the click of a camera shutter or snap of a soda can opening can be deafening.
At other times, it resembles a cantankerous courtroom or family dinner, where industry experts’ assert their opinions and then defend them with vigor. Debates over registration, impression, complexity, sharpness, ink coverage, consistency and other criteria arise and subside. Judges scrutinize every detail of every print, once when assigning it a score and again when deciding whether to give it an award, and they often do so audibly.
The 2019 FTA Excellence in Flexography Awards, by the Numbers
See the Winners of the 2019 FTA Excellence in Flexography Awards
There is a very broad range of obstacles facing any printer entering a print sample into the wide web category.
Too wide for narrow web, too narrow for wide web—the mid web category is a mix of substrates, sizes and segments.
For the printers who run work in the combined corrugated category, their biggest challenge is with their substrate of choice.
When it comes to web widths and repeat lengths, it doesn’t get any bigger than the preprinted linerboard category.
Judges of the envelope category looked for excellent printing in the face of adversarial substrates and registration-hostile speeds.