FORUM 2020 Session Chairs Dive Deeper into Planned Proceedings

FORUM 2020 logo

Drivers… Speakers… Messages… Take Homes—These are critical components of each of the nine technical sessions constituting FTA’s FORUM 2020. The event, set for April 19-22 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus in Columbus, OH, is built around a central theme—Color, Brands, Technology: The Complete Package. Over the course of four days:

  • Benchmarks and data points will speak to process improvement efforts
  • Marriage of innovation and technology will serve to fuel operational efficiencies
  • Differentiation through processes, practices and performance indicators will garner attention
  • Consistency, repeatability and predictability will stand as coveted benefits resulting from strategies that will be deployed in avoiding the ever-present color conundrum
  • Aesthetics and functionality, coming together in harmony, will strengthen brand image, build business and generate repeat orders
  • Troubleshooting tactics will enter and emerge from the virtual realm and energize those that share the experience

Upward of 40 different speakers will share their insights and experiences as they address everything from press optimization to productivity, connectivity, brand integrity, simple economics, standards, globalization, sustainability, artificial intelligence and automated solutions. Some will be printers, others print buyers. Still others will hail from the ranks of prepress professionals, students, educators and original equipment manufacturers. Collectively, these are the people committed to moving flexo forward. FORUM 2020 is their platform and launch pad.

Few subjects familiar to flexographic printers will go untouched as session chairs—and the presenters they have selected—talk to innovations in capital equipment, consumables and their contribution to quality print production, plate making, ink laydown, print fault defects, corrective endeavors, control, measurement, targets and timelines.

FORUM 2020 Chair Hank Welter, TC Transcontinental Packaging, and Co-Chair Ellen Farrell, DuPont Advanced Printing—with an able assist from Kim Madigan, Smyth Companies—will host and oversee the proceedings. Just as they did the planning and development of the agenda, so too have they gone on record and promised:

  • Realistic ideas will be put forth
  • Actionable research will be presented
  • Value will be defined, then maximized

While the chairs spoke directly with FLEXO Magazine, taking time to run through the program and address how each session reinforces the central theme, this month the magazine elected to follow up with actual session chairs—18 individuals, assembled into nine teams—and asked each of them to dive deeper into the planned proceedings.

Their briefings, organized by session date and time, to mirror the progression of FORUM itself, follow.

Evaluation, Optimization, Control: The Complete Plate Making Package

Sunday, April 19, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Session Chairs: Malcolm Keif, California Polytechnic State University & Jason Cagle, MacDermid Graphics Solutions


Our topic is centered around the flexo printing plate and key aspects associated with quality plate production from beginning to end. As process control is one of the most important topics for our customers, plates are often overlooked with attention given mainly to process control on press. Customers may feel they don’t know enough about basic plate troubleshooting to really dive into the total manufacturing process.

This session is designed to focus on what to look for in the plate troubleshooting process and also address what you should do when converting from one plate technology to a new one. With technology constantly changing, customers frequently get intimidated by the conversion procedure and how it impacts their workflow process.

Our lineup has a mix of suppliers, printers and trade shops, which gives a good breadth of knowledge. Each individual was hand-selected based on his or her skills in their respective roles. These folks are leading thinkers in the plate field, with a strong balance of practical expertise. The roster of presenters:

Expect these individuals to take a dive into setting up a new plate material in your process, troubleshooting prepress and press-side issues, and also address what would need to go down when converting to a new technology.

“Lack of process control in plate making can sabotage the best efforts in printing.”

The complete package can’t be “complete” without a systematic approach to producing flexo plates. In today’s world, technology changes, as well as a lack of process control in plate making, can sabotage the best efforts in printing. We’ll focus on procedures for optimizing and controlling the plate making process, as well as evaluating new plate making technologies when transitioning legacy files.

By the end of our two-hour session, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand key fundamentals and best practices when setting up or changing plate making variables (new material, exposure, processing, etc.) in the plateroom and on the press
  • Apply best practices in maintaining plate systems for consistent, repeatable outcomes on press
  • Understand important measurements to monitor and respond to deviation
  • Identify common plate problems and how to prevent them
  • Understand procedures for evaluating new plate technologies
  • Implement best practices for converting legacy files to new plate/prepress (screening) technology

Print Quality Scoring: Friend or Foe?

Sunday, April 19, 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Session Chairs: Dan Uress, Colorware USA Inc & Kevin Dittman, Graphic Packaging International


Print quality scoring is something that many printers and brands are looking at to better understand and control the quality of what they produce and purchase across multiple vendors and methods. These systems represent a drastic change from the traditional pass/fail methods that have been used to simply maintain a manufacturing tolerance.

This change comes with numerous challenges, new measurements and new opportunities to have a formidable foe in the print battle. Understanding how a new print quality scoring system can be adopted and utilized to its fullest potential—beyond a customer requirement, or scoring metric—is a crucial part of being successful, and finding a true friend and partner in your system.

Our session will explore this topic with a panel of print producing experts, offering viewpoints from the brand, prepress and printer perspectives.

  • Jasmine Hietpas of HAVI and Michael John of 3M will team up to jointly discuss “Print Quality Scoring: The Benefits, Challenges and a Catalyst for Improvement.” Their comments will focus on using print quality data from the brand’s perspective. Personal experience will be relayed as both detail exactly how their implementations have improved their overall print quality throughout their supply chain. This presentation will constitute a solid look at the scoring system, what roadblocks may be encountered and the many advantages that can be achieved
  • Since many printers also work with premedia partners, Paul Biernat of brandkey graphics and Marc Levine of GMG will be presenting on “Building Solid Foundations for Measurable Success.” The tandem will address bridging the gap between printers and brand. Their interactive discussion should demonstrate how a partner in the middle can help both the printer and brand better understand data and work toward the most meaningful improvements. The goal of this conversation is to provide brands and their partners with key insights and considerations for setting up a print quality program that aligns with both the brand’s business objectives and their supply chain capability
  • Representing the printer’s perspective, Jeff Hall of Graphic Packaging International will detail how his company utilizes print quality scoring across individual plants and the enterprise as a whole. His presentation, titled, “Print Quality Scoring: Driving Operational Excellence,” will provide printers key insights. Hall will speak to what it means to adopt a print quality scoring model as a means to gauge the health of your workflow, enable proactive process improvement, and add visibility to quality across your organization. The objective is to illustrate exactly how to achieve operational goals and meet customer expectations

This panel was specifically assembled, as the participants are actively involved in the print quality scoring process. Session attendees will be hearing from experts and leaders with firsthand experience and the ability to directly address lessons learned using the various systems.

“Used collectively in a collaborative effort, benefits of print quality scoring can improve product quality, while tightening printer and brand relationships.”

Like anything, until it is better understood, print quality scoring can appear concerning, without a good understanding of how the data will be used. But, used collectively and in a collaborative effort, benefits of print quality scoring can improve product quality while tightening printer and brand relationships.

Our primary goal is to educate attendees and raise their awareness to the issue, so they are better prepared to discuss it when the inevitable time comes. While we cannot tell attendees how to implement print quality scoring—as each usage might be slightly different—they should leave with an understanding of how it works and commentary from several perspectives about the benefits and challenges it brings.

Given the knowledge gained from our session, attendees should be able to return to their companies ready to discuss print quality scoring internally and externally. Perhaps most importantly, they will go home knowing where to start to evaluate their own print quality, beyond the traditional metrics of passing or failure.