12 packs that define flexo innovation

Kodak has announced winners of its Global Flexo Innovation Awards competition. Of the 200 entries submitted by over 100 companies from 26 countries, 12 packaging entries have made it to the top.

In Pictures: The innovative dozen

22 Mar 2019 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Awarded Highest Honors
Gold Award: Creative use of Graphic Design, Print Production Workflow Efficiency, and Commitment to Sustainable Print

Lorytex worked with its client Ecoflex SA, a leading pharmaceutical and food packaging supplier, to develop an expanded colour gamut (ECG) printing project. The aims were to improve efficiency, reduce delivery time and create an innovative proposal for Lorytex and Ecoflex customers. The benefits of adopting ECG have included shorter run-lengths, a 30% reduction in production time, reduced ink inventory, and exceptional visual impact. It is also important to highlight that they could continue to use their old, gearless printing press to achieve this result; so they had to pay more attention to details, especially colour registration.

Lorytex is now planning to impulse its clients to transfer many more SKUs to ECG, and projections suggest that over 50% of new packaging designs could be printed in this way.

Pentaflex - Ankur Salt 
Awarded Highest Honors
Silver Award: Conversion from other print processes and Commitment to Sustainable Print

Salt is traditionally packaged in a PET+PE structure for ease of printability and quality of gravure printing on PET. The brand owner wanted a sustainable and recyclable solution, which Pentaflex Films successfully delivered by converting the job to a 100%-recyclable PE+PE structure. The print layer is sandwiched between the two layers of PE. Usually, PE printing has some limitations when printed gravure, but the combination of Pentaflex Films' latest Bobst press and FLEXCEL NX plates provided a result that was so accurate in reproduction that it was difficult to distinguish from the existing gravure product.

Reproflex 3 Ltd and Roberts Mart (Joint Entry) - Galaxy Ripple Hot Choc - Milky Way Magic Stars Hot Choc 
Awarded Highest Honors
Gold Award:
Conversion from other print processes, Print Production Workflow Efficiency, and Commitment to Sustainable Print

The client, a global brand, did not believe that flexo could match the quality achieved by their existing gravure printers. A combination of Reproflex3’s innovative Project Blue repro/plate making and Roberts Mart’s SpectRM print process proved that flexo delivered quality and consistency that matched gravure. As a result, the client switched all the products supplied into the Project Blue/SpectRM process. As well as meeting the client’s quality and consistency requirements, it also facilitates quicker turnaround of designs, faster job changes, and savings on materials and power, which can only benefit the environment. Reproflex3 is actively converting existing and new customers to flexo, converting designs that were previously printed gravure into the patent pending Project Blue.

Z Due
Awarded Highest Honors

Gold Award: Conversion from other print processes, Print Production Workflow Efficiency, and Commitment to Sustainable Print

No less than eight of Z Due’s submissions were selected by the judges, a number that amply demonstrates the company’s enormous success in converting gravure and offset work to flexo. All eight involved flexo printing onto corrugated cardboard. They were printed in collaboration with leading companies in the Italian printing industry - Antonio Sada & Figli, International Paper Italia (Bellusco Plant), Smurfit Kappa Italia - Fustelpack (Capocolle di Bertinoro, Cesena Plant), and Toppazzini S.p.A.

An illustrative example that represents the collective entries, was previously printed offset, and multi-process production involved printing, lamination, die-cutting and gluing. Z Due’s flexo solution, developed with the client using Kodak technology, printed in most cases directly up to 5-8,000 boxes an hour, reducing delivery times and cost, while the use of fewer plates reduced consumption of inks and set-up timing. The corrugated board also costs less because of the reduction of paper's weight is possible in the flexo printing process.

Bolsapel - Doypack Havanna Monsters University 
Silver Award: Creative use of Graphic Design and Print Production Workflow Efficiency

When Bolsapel were approached by a client whose current gravure printer could not deliver a new high-quality promotional product to meet a tight deadline, the company proposed a radical solution — a shaped doypack, the first in Argentina. This involved adapting the design to the shape of the package, and reproducing images to the highest quality, all to the tightest deadline – all printed using flexo. The result was a stunning, ground-breaking product, to the same quality as gravure, but delivered faster and at less cost. The client was so impressed that they placed all orders for the product with Bolsapel.

CR Serigrafia & Esbe (Joint Entry) - Mascarpone Cuisine Royal - Mascarpone Brimi 
Gold Award:
 Conversion from other print processes, Print production Workflow Efficiency, and Commitment to Sustainable Print

CR Serigrafia has worked with a number of value chain partners to develop a ground-breaking solution for direct flexo printing on rigid conical plastic containers. Esbe (member of Piber Group), a leader in producing and printing plastic food trays, is one of these.

Esbe had previously used dry offset but its search for new technologies led it to integrate direct-to-container flexo printing into its production lines — the only such machine active in Europe. The benefits include higher print resolution, excellent image quality, faster make-ready time, greater printing speed, superior consistency, 40% reduced ink laydown, elimination of solvents for cleaning and fewer waste materials.

Fotolito Veneta & Imball Center (Joint Entry) - Rafael Caffe Expresso Arabica Entry 
Silver Award: Conversion from other print processes and Creative use of Graphic Design

An apparently straightforward printing project presented Imball Center and its prepress partner Fotolito Veneta with several technical difficulties. It had previously been printed gravure, so the flexo product had to have the same colour coverage on the bottom, with negative text open and legible. The material is 12-micron PET coupled with 8-micron aluminium and 100-micron PE, so during the pre-printing phase, it was necessary to provide for colour modification in the coupling phase and operate chromatically accordingly. The result matched gravure, and in addition, there was a 40% cost-saving and a time-to-market of fewer than 37 days compared to 59 before.

Imageworx - The Art of Magic stamp 
Silver Award: Conversion from other print processes and Creative use of Graphic Design - Emmediciottp Frau 

Imageworx has competed with gravure, letterpress and offset for years on high-end print quality. 3D optics also referred to as lenticular printing, is traditionally an offset process. The Art of Magic stamp was printed 16 months after Imageworx started R&D on 3D and optical illusion prepress, and was the first ”live” order using the new technology. The client had wanted to release an animated stamp for some time but was never able to produce a quality product. After the first press proof at Imageworx, it was approved for production, becoming the first US postal stamp ever printed using flexo.

Award: Conversion from other print processes, Creative use of Graphic Design and Print Production Workflow Efficiency

IsmaColor is a prepress and printing company that works actively with brands to help them transition to eye-catching packaging printed alternatively on more sustainable substrates while reducing overall cost and time to market at higher or comparable quality.

In this case, to meet the client’s brief for added shelf impact, IsmaColor employed an iridescent cold foil film which changes colour depending on the angle from which it is viewed, thus attracting consumers’ attention. The sample was produced in a single pass, from reel to die-cutting, adding productivity and reduced cost to a high-impact result.

Plastilene - Metallic packaging for sandwiches/Packaging for pet food 
Gold Award:
Conversion from other print processes, Print Production Workflow Efficiency, and Commitment to Sustainable Print

Plastilene’s competition is gravure printers and the company exploits all aspects of technology to convert clients to the flexo process. Stochastic and hybrid screens and advanced surface patterning techniques are applied at 175 lpi screen rulings for quality, stability, superior reproduction, image definition and smooth vignettes with smooth degrades that reach 0 without any cut edges. The company manufactures its own inks and employs sophisticated colour management to control dot gain and densities, resulting in colour consistency on long runs.

Pulse Media - Marston’s Classic Ales 
Silver Award:  Conversion from other print processes and Print Production Workflow Efficiency

For this application, the brief from the brand was to match what was previously printed as a litho laminate case via flexo. On the print date, the brand signed off on the first print pull, leading to another benefit for the printer in faster make ready. The print quality not only matched the litho standard, it significantly exceeded. Consistency throughout the run was also improved, and the conversation led to improvements in speed to market and costs for the brand.

Steurs Graphic Solutions & Helios Packaging (Joint Entry) - Prinsen Stevia 
Gold Award:  Conversion from other print processes, Creative use of Graphic Design and Print Production Workflow Efficiency

Steurs and Helios began working together in 2016 when Helios focused on converting customers’ packaging from gravure to flexo. Prinsen agreed to the conversion so long as the design did not change and quality would be the same. In practice, this meant: seamless degradation to 0%; identical colour brightness and image sharpness; no detail loss in images; no edge void on barcodes; no flexo edges; sharp small text; improved white opacity. In the event, flexo outperformed gravure on most elements, and Prinsen is profiting from the advantages of flexo and enjoying more appealing packaging of its products.

The independent judging panel for the Global Flexo Innovation Awards comprised experts in the packaging value chain from design to print production and sustainability. The members were:

  1. Pier Luigi Sassanelli: Empowerims Consulting, Lead judge
  2. Jean-Paul Duquet: director sustainability, Flexible Packaging Europe
  3. Christopher Horton: senior vice-president (retired), SGS International
  4. Sebastian Longo: president and managing director of Fotograbados Longo 
  5. Ken McGuire: research fellow, Procter & Gamble
  6. Philippe Roulet: former head of packaging materials and training, and leader of the Worldwide Flexible Packaging Network, Nestlé
  7. Roslyn Russell: product manager, Kimberly-Clark

With high quality considered a precondition, the panel judged entries against four categories of innovation excellence: creativity in graphic design; conversion from other print processes; workflow efficiency; and commitment to sustainability. Awards were divided into three classes: Silver (excellence in two categories), Gold (three categories) and Platinum (all four categories). Collectively, the entries represent game-changing packaging print production processes that embody that transformation of flexo. 

The panel gave seven Gold Awards and five Silver Awards, with four companies awarded the distinction of highest honors based on a numerical scoring system. No Platinum Awards were given on this occasion, clearly laying down the challenge and setting the goal for future events. Europe, North and South America, and South Asia provided the 12 winners. Italy produced a particularly strong showing, with three Gold Awards and one Silver Award. Winners will receive their awards at a special Kodak celebration event in May.