The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) presented Esko with its Technical Innovation Award in the category of Prepress Graphics during the FTA Annual Forum, which began on April 27 in Baltimore, MD.

Equinox is Esko software for the implementation of extended gamut – or fixed inkset – printing. “Esko has always been committed to advancing the effectiveness of flexography and packaging graphics. Our development of Equinox was really an investment in flexography. It’s great to see the specific recognition this unique technology is receiving as recipient of the 2014 FTA Technical Innovation Award,” stated Tony Wiley, President, Esko North America.

Equinox Expanded Color Gamut (ECG) Technology is Esko’s patented technology for converting packaging graphics from CMYK and spot colour to seven-colour process. Esko describes Equinox as the only commercial product in the world to make use of 7-colour profile technology. By quantifying only subsets of four-colour combinations, Esko explains Equinox 7-colour profiles contain hundreds of times the amount of colour data as a 7-colour ICC colour profile. These profiles are used to convert industry standard ink books into tint build books for a specific flexo press.

Equinox also leverages Esko’s HD and Full HD Flexo platemaking, which is able to extend the gamut by producing plates that can print dots from 0-100%. “While we have been touting the economic and visual advantages of Esko Equinox for a few years now, it’s been in the past year or so that we’ve seen the accelerated growth we’ve long anticipated,” stated Mark Samworth, Esko Senior Color Specialist. “It has to do with the proliferation of brand extensions resulting in shorter runs – as well as the continuing economic interest in reducing print and inventory costs.”

Flex Essentials Inc. becomes a new Canadian sales agent for Flexotecnica, an Italian manufacturer primarily of CI flexography presses that was purchased by KBA Group in mid-2013.

The German press maker then established KBA-Flexotecnica, with KBA North America overseeing distribution channels of the technology for Canada and the United States.

Flex Essentials, led by Jim Waslowski, is an established distributer for a range of companies involved with equipment and supplies for the flexographic market. Waslowski, according to a statement from KBA North America, plans to focus on increasing Flexotecnica’s market share in paperboard and flexible packaging.

“With the acquisition of Flexotecnica, our parent company announced its intent to enter this key growing print market for flexible packaging,” stated Mark Hischar, President and CEO of KBA North America. “We have been tasked to expand KBA’s strong market position in the folding carton market into another growing packaging segment.”
Waslowski formed Flex Essentials 11 years ago. He previously spent nearly 20 years in the plastics industry at Brampton Engineering, where he primarily focused on machine design before moving into the sales arena, ultimately becoming Vice President of Sales for the company.

Flint Group has announced a new addition to its flexographic printing plate line. The nyloflex ACE UP Digital photopolymer plate is a high durometer plate designed for use with water-based inks in corrugated preprint and aseptic packaging printing applications.

According to Flint, the nyloflex ACE UP Digital has better printing quality through improved ink transfer, especially on paper and rough substrates.  The plate also has a long run life and stability in printing, increasing its efficiency. The low surface tack ensures a reduced attraction of paper dust and dirt, enhancing productivity and durability of the plate. It also allows stacking of the clichés without interleaves, thus further improving the storage properties.

The nyloflex ACE UP Digital is expected to be available in the marketplace before the end of the month.

Sun Chemical has introduced a new water-based dispenser program aimed at flexographic narrow-web printing operations, which builds upon the company’s preexisting dispenser program for commercial printers.

The new program is designed to allow flexo printers to make process, blending bases and spot colour inks from the same dispenser. Looking at narrow web tag and label printers (NWTL), Sun Chemical states this new dispenser program holds the potential to reduce expenses in ink volume and ink costs by up to 25 percent. Sun Chemical explains how colour concentrates and technology extenders can be dispensed to make inks for more than one application, providing flexibility to control colour density and compensate for various anilox configurations.

NWTL printers that participate in the program receive a dispensing unit with 0.5 gram accuracy of all process, spot and blending base colours. The dispensing unit is provided to printers at no cost based on what Sun Chemical describes as a minimum annual purchase of its products.

“In the narrow web market, printers are looking for versatility – the ability to make process, spot and blending bases all on the same dispenser,” stated Brian Breidigan, VP, Product Manager Commercial, North American Inks, Sun Chemical. “Our water-based dispenser program does that and more. The dispenser brings a small footprint to the pressroom, and customers can participate in the program at no risk or additional cost for upkeep."

Screen announced it is set at the beginning of October to start selling its Truepress Jet L350UV inkjet-based label system in North America. Screen projects that the global label printing industry is to grow from approximately US$31.5 billion in 2012 to nearly US$40 billion by 2016.

The Truepress Jet L350UV reaches a top printing speed of 164 feet per minute. It will have the ability to connect inline to post-processing devices (an option scheduled for release in spring 2014), such die-cutting and varnish application.

In the spring of 2014, Screen also plans to release an option for security label printing with an ability to output special codes required for Advanced Track & Trace’s SEAL VECTOR authentication technology. This security label product will also provide support for the dot codes used in counterfeiting prevention and distribution management systems.

Screen USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kyoto, Japan-based Dainippon Screen Mfg. Co. Ltd., which also owns key inkjet players like Inca Digital. Dainippon Screen first developed the Truepress Jet L350UV in 2012. 

St-Hubert, Quebec-based Profecta Labels has purchased a Nilpeter FB-3300 13-inch UV flexo press. Founded in 1992, the company has grown to become one of Quebec’s larger label producers, serving Canada and the United States.

“The purchase of the Nilpeter FB-3300 will bridge the print quality gap between the Indigo and flexo printing processes enabling Profecta to offer existing and new clients new products," said Sylvain Linguin, Product Manager at Profecta Labels.

The Nilpeter FB-3300 has a maximum web speed of 750 linear feet per minute. Profecta’s press has a register control system designed to handle complex images and designs using process colours or PMS with white and foil effects. 

“Thanks to the high running speeds and fast change-overs, we expect to reduce our production costs while offering top-quality printing to our customers,” said Profecta’s owner Pierre Robege.

In April of 2012, during the Profecta’s 20th year in operation, the company installed an HP Indigo WS6600 web-fed press.

UK-based FFEI has announced a new modular narrow-web UV inkjet press, to be shown at PRINT 13 in Chicago next month and at Labelexpo in Brussels a few weeks later. The machine is aimed at the narrow-web converter and label printing markets.

Graphium is a system that supports up to six digital stations and six flexo stations, as well as the capability to integrate optional finishing stations inline. The system uses Xaar 1001 printheads and runs at up to 164  linear feet per minute on a web up to 16-inches wide.

“We are on a mission to transform the digital labels, packaging and specialty print market, and Graphium represents a major step towards achieving this goal,” comments Andy Cook, FFEI Managing Director. “Graphium represents a new generation of digital inkjet press aimed at the narrow web market – low capital investment, high quality print, unparalleled productivity and the most versatile range of applications. Bring all of these factors together and you have a ‘cost-in-use’ that defines Graphium as the most productive, high opacity digital white press on the market.”

The company says the imaging quality of the Graphium is equal to that of flexo and has the adhesion, durability and light fastness of screen printing. The system’s Uvijet Graphium UV cured inks are developed by Fujifilm Specialty Ink Systems.

“Graphium takes its name from a genus of vibrantly coloured swallowtail butterflies.” Cook explains. “During their life they represent a truly stunning transformation – one we feel is echoed by Graphium’s ability to convert digital files into high quality labels and specialty print.” 

FFEI was established in 1997 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujifilm as Fujifilm Electronic Imaging, producing a variety of prepress equipment.  The division’s management bought out the operation in the autumn of 2006, renaming the company FFEI. The two companies have maintained a close relationship since.

Color Ad Packaging of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has made a large-scale production investment with Windmoeller & Hoelscher, including placing orders for a Heliostar gravure press, a Miraflex flexographic press, and three Triumph bag machines.

Focusing on the confectionery, snack food and beverage markets, Color Ad Packaging describes itself as North America’s largest producer of pre-formed bags, as well as a major supplier of pouches and roll stock.

"The decision to work with W&H [Windmoeller & Hoelscher] as the primary supplier for our new equipment came at the conclusion of an exhaustive 6-month process,” said Chip Batten, President and CEO, of Color Ad. "By providing our staff with state-of-the-art machinery, we enhance their ability to produce the absolute best print and flexible packaging products for our customers.”

Working with Windmoeller & Hoelscher and its subsidiary Garant Machinenhandel, Color Ad is now making preparations to install the Miraflex CM 10 press with a 52-inch working width. The flexo press is equipped with Easy-Col colour matching system, Turboclean automatic wash-up system, and the new East-set HD for impression setting and 3D plate topography.

The Heliostar SL 10 press will be installed this fall. It features a 48-inch working width and is the first W&H gravure press in North America to be installed with automatic wash-up.

The three Triumph bag formers to be installed are described as versatile machines for the production of a variety of square-bottom bags.

At the FFTA INFO*FLEX show in San Diego this week, MacDermid has announced the latest iteration of its LUX technology. LUX In-the-Plate (ITP) will allow flexo printers to gain the benefit of LUX without the extra lamination step in the workflow.

LUX In-the-Plate (ITP) is a photopolymer plate technology developed by MacDermid Printing Solutions to create flat-topped dots without the need for special exposure equipment, processing, or a controlled atmosphere. The plate is designed to be processed using a standard digital workflow to create the unique LUX flat-topped dot. 

LUX technology was introduced in 2010 and has since generated over 100 installations around the world. It received the FTA’s Technical Innovation Award in May 2011. 

LUX ITP is currently in testing with a group of alpha testers. The company says it plans to commercialize the plate by the end of 2013.

iSys Label of Calgary launched a new version of the variable-data software, called iSys Variable Data Printing (iVDP), used to drive its APEX 1290 and EDGE 850 printers for producing short- to mid-run labels.

Compatible with iSys2Print label software programs, iVDP provides the ability to combine static and dynamic content to create varying multi-graphic labels containing variable text, images and barcodes. The company explains that iVDP layouts can be set up and configured to run variable portions in both horizontal and vertical dataset formats.

The iVDP software includes a pre-adjust colour registration app and memory management system, which, according to iSys Label, means that large jobs exceeding the capacity of the printer will run without data loss.

“With the addition of iVDP, our label printing solution is complete and comprehensive,” stated Mark Hopkins, President of iSys Label. “The innovative features embedded in this technology are many and that has allowed us to stand alone with a very unique offering. iSys Label has created digital label printers that provide all the sophistication needed in our industry and yet so simple to operate.”

The iVDP software also includes drag-and-drop imposition, text tools to write and amend text/fonts, rotation and alignment tools; basic formatting tools such as auto-size, scaling, tab stops and paragraph spacing, as well as over 400 pre-formatted barcode components (linear, 2D, RFID, QR codes), among other features.

James Downham, CEO of Toronto-based The Packaging Association (PAC), announced a new partnership with global standards owner IFS Management GmbH of Berlin, Germany. The move is specifically engineered to bring international recognition of PAC’s PACsecure food safety standard for individual packaging materials, which results in a name change to IFS PACsecure.

“While we firmly believe that PACsecure is the world’s foremost standard for primary and secondary packaging, a large proportion of the international food industry will only accept packaging that is recognized by the Paris, France-based Global Food Safety Initiative,” said Downham. “As PAC is a not-for-profit organization, it is not in a position to go it alone in achieving GFSI recognition.”

IFS Management already provides the industry with IFS Food, benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), and IFS Logistics standards. The group’s supply chain standards are represented by more than 12,000 certifications, globally.

IFS PACsecure will now be submitted for GFSI benchmarking and made available around the world. “More importantly for the Canadian food and packaging manufacturing sector, it means their products will be more readily accepted by both the domestic and international food industry,” said Downham.

Downham points out that more than 100 Canadian firms including packaging manufacturers, their customers and suppliers, helped develop food safety standards for each type of packaging material.

In turn, each standard was based on a process known as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) criteria, which is recognized by the United Nations and most of the food industry world wide.

The IFS PACsecure standard is said to cover 24 different manufacturing practices to produce specific packaging materials. PACsecure has also been accepted by the US-based Food Safety Alliance for Packaging. This organization includes companies such as General Mills, Nestlé, Kraft, ConAgra Foods, Sara Lee, and Campbell Soup among others.

At the interpack 2011 show this week in Dusseldorf, printing giant Heidelberg has announced a new UV inkjet solution called DriveLine.

Derived from the company's Linoprint operations, DriveLine will be aimed at the pharmaceutical packaging market. Folding cartons produced through offset printing can be individualized with this new UV inkjet technology, both inline and standalone.

The DriveLine F system can be integrated directly into a packaging line for the production of individualized blister pack foils, while the DriveLine B system supports multiple packaging lines simultaneously. The DriveLine C system prints on folding-carton boxes and blanks makes it possible to print extremely short runs with logos or labels in different language versions.

"UV inkjet printing is rapidly gaining importance thanks to its versatility in the choice of substrates and the fact that it can be directly integrated into packaging production lines," said Stephan Plenz, member of the Heidelberg Management Board, responsible for Equipment. "Together with our recently established partnership with Ricoh, the Linoprint portfolio represents a second stronghold in our range of digital printing solutions. Linoprint gives our customers the flexibility they need to cost-effectively manufacture high-quality small and variable lot sizes in the packaging production."

DuPont Packaging Graphics on May 16, 2011, will introduce prices increases of up to seven percent on all of its Cyrel products, worldwide. On the same day, DuPont will also introduce what it refers to as an “energy surcharge,” billed on a square foot/square metre basis, which the company is linking to its increased transportation costs.

DuPont Packaging Graphics is self-described as “the world’s leading supplier of flexographic printing systems in digital and conventional formats.” DuPont Cyrel products include photopolymer plates, processing equipment, sleeves, mounting and finishing products.

Walmart and The Packaging Association hosted the Fourth Annual Sustainable Packaging Conference at the Toronto Congress Centre under the theme of "How to Embed Sustainability into Your Organization."

This year’s one-day event featured a number of presentations, workshops, progress reports, survey results and tabletop exhibits. The conference began with Guy McGuffin, VP Supply Chain for Walmart Canada, and had two keynote speakers: Walmart Canada's new Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer, Duncan MacNaughton and the honourable John Gerretsen, Ontario Minister of the Environment.

Other notable speakers included Beth Simermeyer, President and General Manager of S.C. Johnson and Son with the addition of interactive workshops featuring sustainability professionals Kathleen McKnight from the Oxford Consulting Group and Anthony Watanabe, President and CEO of The Innovolve Group.

The event also announced the award winners of the Student Sustainable Packaging Design Competition for Windex packaging. Participating post-secondary schools included Canadore, Conestoga, Durham, Seneca, Mohawk, Humber and the University of Toronto.Third place went to Durham College's team of Denise Arcand, Courtney Schouwerwou, Sara Big Canoe, Laura Tout, Adam Maryn, and Damon Martin. Second place went to Conestoga College's Greg Muhlbock and first place went to the Mohawk College team of Kristin Hoover, Mike Virag, and Kyla Tonkin.

In closing for the event, McGuffin announced Walmart’s Sustainable Packaging Award, which went to Henkel Technologies for its Purex Complete 3 in 1 Laundry Sheets packaging.

Epson Canada states it has introduced the world’s first aqueous-based, white-ink proofing technology for packaging designers and flexographic and gravure printers. The Stylus Pro WT7900, with a estimated price of $9,769, is designed specifically for proofing print work that requires the colour white, based on Epson’s new UltraChrome HDR White Ink.

UltraChrome HDR White Ink is based on what the company refers to as Organic Hollow Resin Particle technology, which forces light to randomly scatter, producing the illusion of seeing the colour white. According to Epson, unlike traditional white-ink chemistry, UltraChrome HDR White Ink is a safer, water-based resin particle that is void of any known carcinogens.

The technology is said to provide a high white ink density and the ability for custom white colour toning, while being stable enough to proof on substrates like inkjet coated transparent and metallic films – up to 24 inches wide. While developing the technology, Epson North America focused on integrating the RIP and software of CGS, EFI, GMG, EskoArtwork and Kodak with its Stylus Pro WT7900 technology.

The Epson WT7900 was profiled at Unisource's open house events in Toronto and Montreal last week. Unisource is an authorized dealer of Epson equipment.
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