PrintFlex Graphics Expands Capacity

ST LOUIS, MO—Looking for ways to further boost efficiency throughout production, FTA Member PrintFlex Graphics, which specializes in on-pack and in-pack promotions, is set to install a new Gallus Labelmaster from HEIDELBERG this summer.

The new Labelmaster is a multi-web 10-color press, equipped with three die-cutting stations and an AeroLED UV curing system. The highly specialized machine will take over production of one of the company’s older flexo presses and run alongside its existing EM 280.

According to Liz Pecha-Poelker, CEO, “This Labelmaster will be an overall upgrade for us–increased efficiency, better quality, and registration.” After the company’s operators are fully trained on the machine, day-to-day production will be much easier, thanks to the machine’s simple and intuitive operation, exceptionally short set-up times, and super-fast job changes.

Started in 1995, PrintFlex made its first commitment to Gallus with the investment of the EM 280, some five years ago. “That was a pivotal moment for us,” said Pecha-Poelker.

The latest move comes less than one year after PrintFlex installed the first Gallus One in North America, which Pecha-Poelker credited with having lowered production costs for its short runs and less complex jobs.

She indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the company’s need to expand into new markets and invest in more efficient production methods. PrintFlex began tracking the amount of existing short run work it could move to a digital press.

Equipped with a 14-unit Gallus EM 280, PrintFlex, which has historically specialized in applications like peel and reseal labels and folded promotional booklets that are applied on or inserted inside of a package, set its sights on the compact digital press. The machine, which prints CMYK+W at up to 230 ft/min (70 m/min) and achieves 85 percent white opacity at top running speed, was installed in December of 2023.

“Our EM 280 was really designed to handle complex promotional pieces,” said Pecha-Poelker,. “We’ve been able to offload short runs, even some longer run jobs onto the Gallus One, and it just makes sense.” Not only is the machine more economical for the company’s less complicated work, but it opens up capacity on flexo presses for improved throughput as well as enabling PrintFlex to expand its digital market presence. She added, “We believe the Gallus One enables us to achieve the lowest total cost of ownership for digital label production.”

Additionally, as this is the company’s first digital press, according to Pecha-Poelker, “We’re having some fun finding the sweet spot for this machine and continue to find ways to enhance our product offerings with it.” With a web width of up to 13 3/8-in (340mm), the Gallus One enables PrintFlex to print material for base wraps for the first time–offering additional in-store promotional opportunities for its customers. The company has also begun producing hybrid work–printing different layers on its digital and flexo Gallus presses for versioning purposes. 

Since PrintFlex started production on its Gallus One, customers have been impressed with the machine’s print quality. “The color and registration is great. Everyone is thrilled with the results,” said Pecha-Poelker. The Gallus One utilizes Fujifilm Samba printheads and HEIDELBERG’s Prinect Digital Front End and features 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution and a live video monitoring system to ensure quality during the pressrun. 

Thanks to user-friendly design and exceptional ease of use, PrintFlex’s Gallus One is successfully operated by a member of the company’s prepress team—Chris Collins, pictured alongside Pecha-Poelker). “He had no previous experience running a press,” said Pecha-Poelker.