DuPont 2022 Calendar: Flexography will pave the road ahead

DuPont has released its 2022 calendar bringing attention to sea creatures in their habitat, implying our responsibility towards preserving marine life. The company has incorporated a combination of flexo screening technologies to print these images on the calendar.

DuPont Cyrel Solutions tells PrintWeek all about it

28 Feb 2022 | By Mansi Gupta

PrintWeek Team (PW): Kudos on the calendar. How many copies have you printed, and what is the messaging? 
We printed around 2,100 copies. From a technical perspective, it showcases the capability of flexo to an offset dominated segment such as mono carton printing. Multiple embellishments on each page are printed in a single pass with flexo, unlike other print forms where each page would have gone through various stations to print different effects.

The calendar intended to depict the beauty of marine life and the importance of conserving it. We started creating an annual calendar in flexo a few years back and have seen many calendars printed in flexo this year. DuPont flexo calendar has paved the way to explore flexographic printing on board and mono carton applications.

PW: You mention the cover is 100% flexo. What is the LPI, and what kind of pre-press work was done on the files? Any other tech specs you can share? 
The calendar cover is printed in flexo. We have used a combination of the Esko Equinox, Esko Flexo tools and Bellissima DMS screening, with ECG printing (extended colour gamut) for the images. Bellissima DMS screening technology is independent of dot shape, screen angle and screening frequency (LPI). 

PW: What are the new trends in flexo that we saw in 2021? Inks with an environmental focus and alternative ink colour printing options? 
There is an increased interest in water-based ink usage and growth in the use of specific substrates.

PW: We spoke to some converters in Daman- Silvassa. Their feedback: Compared to earlier times, procuring a gravure cylinder is not as tedious as a fortnight waiting period. Plus, the cylinder cost has been reduced. In such a scenario, why should a converter invest in flexo? 
Cylinders or plates are not the only factors while considering an investment in print technology. There are multiple considerations including the print substrate, ink/solvent, productivity, wastages, buyer preference among many others. Print ready eight colour flexible packaging job plates for a standard size can be prepared in about 90 mins using the Cyrel FAST thermal workflow once the pre-press is approved. Image carrier speeds remain a distinct advantage with flexo as compared to gravure.

PW: We have seen a development in the technology employed in pre-press, plates and the press. Are we lagging in terms of operator skill sets in India? Simple things like process control; web inspection systems, plate doing best practice; process colour and proofing techniques? If yes, how do we bridge the knowledge gap? 
With increased flexo usage in India, the pool of skilled workforce has been steadily growing. All the leading technologies and SOPs are used to varying degrees. The steady increase in packaging industry awards received by Indian convertors at international events is a testimony. Centres like the Avery Dennison India Knowledge Center, Apex FlexoKite, and the Nilpeter demo centre have helped generate interest and understanding of the flexo process over the years.

PW: Flexo cannot match gravure’s quality; it can only come close, say the brands. How do you convince them to accept flexo? How do you plan to make the Indian brands aware of the merits of flexo? 
In isolation, ‘Quality’ is an ambiguous term. There are advantages of every technology. We have been advocating the benefits of flexo printing. Efforts such as the calendar printing with flexo have targeted brands and converters to deliver this message. With increased knowledge and skill base, flexo pre-press, platemaking, printing and the technology advances from every contributor to the flexo ecosystem, there has been a rapid growth in the print performance. The results are there to see.

PW: What are the challenges in offset to flexo conversion jobs in India? What is the proportion of brands that demand this conversion? 
With the rapid technological advancements in flexo, there are minimal challenges in offset to flexo conversion to match print results. The demand or choice of print technology is usually convertor or packaging process line driven. Label printing is an example of such a transition.

PW: While sustainability is a top priority these days, what are brands and MNCs looking at from the converters? Does switching to single-family plastic laminates favour flexo printing? How does DuPont technology add value? 
Sustainability being the focus, there are multiple changes under consideration, like monofilm structures, paper, water-based inks etc. Flexo is well suited to meet these changes with its versatility and capabilities. DuPont has been innovating and launching new photopolymer plates optimised to work with new substrates and inks.

These plates are available on both the solvent and the Cyrel FAST thermal platform. The Cyrel FAST 3000TD thermal, solventless processor launched during virtual Drupa, 2021 was designed to help customers scale up using a more sustainable plate making workflow. 

PW: Any sustainable packaging projects (with your plates) that made you proud? If yes, please share. 
Paper based packaging has been evolving, along with the use of water-based inks. Many jobs stand out. We want to mention a convertor targeting short runs at low volume flexible packaging without picking a specific job. They have created a niche, delivering exceptional print results consistently with quick turnaround times using the Cyrel FAST thermal workflow.