FORUM 2021 Session Chairs Offer Perspectives on Day-to-Day Dialogue

Sustainability, automation, functionality, cost control… Speed, safety, standardization, specifications, skills development, supply chain dynamics, targets, process control, color consistency… Standard operating procedures, print excellence, troubleshooting, training, communication and collaboration—what an agenda!

FORUM 2021 logo horizontal

It’s all there—everything printers need to become better, smarter, more proficient. FTA’s FORUM 2021, with a central theme, “Prosper Through Efficiency,” will not disappoint. Divided into nine sessions, technical presentations will delve into how, where, when and why printers can capitalize on all available tools to drive quality to new heights, trim waste to record low levels, speed packaging to market and deliver predictable, consistent results—the first time and every time.

Seventeen session leaders and more than 30 presenters will engage the audience as they look forward, present actionable insights, identify pivot points, relay real-world experiences, stress data collection and interpretation, examine intelligent interfaces and a host of other parameters.

The team effort, involving a compelling cast of characters, is slated to span four days—May 2-5—in Kansas City, MO. As always, technical sessions will be supplemented by numerous networking opportunities, most notably, an Awards Banquet and FTA’s signature exhibition—INFOFLEX 2021—where hundreds of supplier partners will be showcasing game changing technologies designed to support, motivate and assist in execution of all that is said.

Briefings, presented here, are organized by the session schedule, to mirror the progression of FORUM 2021 itself.

The Great Plate Debate 2021

Session Chair: Paul Lancelle, Miraclon

Fall Conference 2010 brought us the original “Digital Plate Debate,” where representatives from each of the major plate manufacturers faced off in a roundtable setting to explain and demonstrate the benefits of their offerings from a technical perspective. The main issue debated at the time was “digital flat top dot—good or bad?”

Like most other technical applications, as flexographic plate manufacturers, we’ve all come a long way in the past 10 years. Today, topics such as surface patterning applications, “in the plate” solutions and varying durometer options have taken the lead in the majority of our technical discussions, as have the expanded focus on overall sustainability and added automation functionality in the plate making process.

The impact of the printing plate itself on total cost of manufacturing and adding expanded efficiencies in the flexographic print reproduction process has taken on an ever-increasing emphasis when considering the overall best solution for an operation.

It’s a whole new ball game and it’s time to revisit the various options and solutions available on the market today. A cast of technical specialists will provide detailed descriptions of the various printing plate applications available today, as well as the overall benefits provided to the industry by continuing advances in plate making technology.

Representing each of the five major plate manufacturers, the panel will consist of:

Each of the respective speakers will be provided with the opportunity to address his product’s approach to resolving three key issues relevant to the industry today. Each speaker will also provide a “forward looking” perspective on what lies ahead in flexographic plate making technology. A generous amount of time will be allocated to panel members fielding questions from audience members.

The Great Plate Debate should be of interest to FORUM attendees representing all print market segments. Presenters will be detailing the benefits of their respective products from both a general and market segment-specific perspective. Expected primary takeaways for the audience will be a general overview of the plate making manufacturer’s vision for the industry, as well as a more thorough understanding from a technical perspective of each of the individual plate manufacturer’s particular product features.

Making the Grade: How Print Quality Scoring Helps Printers

Session Chairs: Dan Uress, MeasureColor; Kirk Birchler, Berry Global


What’s stopping you from adopting print quality scoring (PQS)? We know from previous surveys that many of you are familiar with it, and even consider it to be a driver of print excellence. However, many print companies choose to wait until a customer requires it to adopt PQS into the workflow. We know quality managers want to learn more about PQS to better understand their production, but is a fear of the unknown holding your company back?

With this session, we aim to provide solid evidence of how PQS helps one printer—Berry Global. Our presentation will focus on three real-world examples where PQS helped identify a challenge and provided data to remedy it. Not only does PQS solve problems, it also strengthens relationships and develops a more skilled workforce. As you will hear from the printer’s perspective, PQS is not something to fear, but embrace as a tool to help drive quality to new heights.

The first example we will explore during the session is assessment of print targets. This process requires collaboration from all to understand what the brand is after, as well as the expectation’s compatibility with the process’ capabilities.

Next, we will dive into standardization and agreement on nomenclature. Making sure everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to identifying and classifying issues is critical. Finally, we will discuss the training opportunities that will drive continuity in your operations. When employees buy into the process, it benefits the business and develops a stronger workforce.

Representing Berry Global will be Print Director Ron Henderson. He has been in print for the past 35 years, working in and overseeing all aspects of the production process across multiple different print technologies. His knowledge of PQS spans back 12 years when he was first developing a program at Phototype. For the past seven years, he has brought that expertise to Berry Global, working between his colleagues, the premedia agency, and print buyers to ensure the best product possible has been delivered.

Robb Frimming is print services director at SGK Inc, where he leads a team of print service specialists. He is in his 23rd year of service with the company and brings a broad industry background of 35 years’ experience, having held positions that include operations management, color management and technical print services. Robb has been dedicated to print quality management since 1998, having helped CPCs, retailers and quick service restaurant clients implement and manage print quality programs.

Implementing PQS requires a great team effort between the printer, premedia provider and brand. It has paid off for Berry Global. Employees are more knowledgeable and valuable to the company. Their eagerness to embrace PQS demonstrates it is a forward-looking company.

It’s now up to you! You know what print quality scoring is; you know that it can be a valuable tool. After you hear how it has made Berry Global a better printer by examining three real situations it faced and the solutions found to meet print quality requirements, even if you don’t have a print buyer pushing you to deliver PQS, that time is likely coming soon. This is a team effort, and not a methodology that will be installed overnight. But by taking small steps together, with an openness to understanding the results and act upon them, you should realize better quality, less waste and fewer color complaints.

Showcasing Emerging Products

Session Chairs: John Rastetter, Pamarco; Rick Guebert, GMG Color


With FORUM’s theme of “Prosper Through Efficiency,” this session brings multiple technologies into perspective, particularly their impact on enhancing the efficiency of converters. Regardless of your substrate, if you print film, foil or paper, narrow web or wide web, these technologies will enhance your business and increase profit and your client’s overall satisfaction.

Paul Zeinert, midwest sales manager at Lohmann, will be discussing developments in plate mounting tapes. With shorter runs and the need to meet ever-increasing brand owner graphic requirements, understanding how to maximize the output of your pressroom has never been more important. Foam and adhesive technology advances and its response in the printing nip can make all the difference in print fidelity, bounce and line speed.

Consumers, brand owners, converters and suppliers are focused on the environmental impact of their decisions and have become factors in all initiatives launched. Paul will address both subjects and how the latest technology will help on your newest press investment, as well as your older equipment.

Continuing the theme of pressroom efficiency, Peter Mulheran, VP and general manager of Eaglewood Technologies, will present advances in laser cleaning technology. Although laser cleaning has been available for several years, like software and computer chips this technology is ever-advancing at a significant rate. Peter will be talking about the advancements that add safety to both the operator and the anilox roll, and the vast improvements in process speed and tools to manage cleaning. Some of this discussion will surround communication links between system and operator to maximize operator efficiency and anilox inventory control reporting. As our industry focuses on meeting customer demands on hitting color, it becomes ever more important to ensure the anilox caries the necessary volume. This reporting process allows an interface with management to make intelligent decisions on re-engrave before issues arise on press.

Jessica Harrell of Anderson & Vreeland will be providing information on software advances that ensure color consistency across process platforms. Brand owners expect their image to be represented consistently across varying substrates and achieve acceptable results on flexography as well as digital and other processes.

We hope to see you all for a great educational experience and open discussions to enhance your profitability through the reduction in downtime and improved quality output.