Flexo Quick to Learn Advantages of CTP
When it comes to packaging, commercial printers could take a page from flexo's book.
EXTRA! COMPUTER-TO-PLATE goes mainstream! Granted, it's not much of a headliner these days. The basic principles of computer-to-plate (CTP) are well-established in both the offset and the flexographic worlds, both technologies having come to market about a decade ago. Since then, however, their adoption curves have differed sharply.
Offset CTP took off primarily in the commercial side of the business, where concerns about its viability and the expense associated with its adoption were quickly overcome. The same has not been the case in the flexographic market—until recently.
According to Mark Vanover, director of marketing for Esko-Graphics, newer trends and technologies are increasing the importance and influence of digital flexo applications, notably, the consistency and repeatability it brings to flexographic platemaking. At the same time, package printing is being widely touted as an up-and-coming profit center for commercial printers whose bread-and-butter is typically 4-color process printing. Certainly, most major manufacturers are marketing plates and platesetting equipment suitable for both the commercial and flexographic markets.
This month, packagePRINTING spoke with Vanover to get a handle on digital flexo and the growing trend among commercial printers to enter into the package-printing market.
pP: Is computer-to-plate a mainstream technology in the flexographic world?
Vanover: From an overall perspective, CTP is certainly mainstream in the offset world. It's not new technology. In flexography, CTP has been around just as long, but probably has no more than 15 percent market penetration.
pP: What are the reasons for this?
Vanover: There are a multitude of reasons. There is some short-run folding carton that's flexo, but it's a very small part of the market. Corrugators don't really need the capabilities of digital plates. However, that is changing, due to the requirements of retailers like Wal-Mart, Costco, and Target. From a graphics perspective, big-box retailing requires that the shipment packaging also serve as the primary packaging. While there's a lot of preprint, there's also a lot of direct printing, and that's where digital can help.