FTA Kicks Off Virtual Forum with Awards and Educational Sessions
The Flexographic Technical Association made the best of a challenging situation yesterday, as it kicked off its Virtual Forum, an online adaptation of the four-day conference that was originally set to be held this week in Columbus, Ohio. With the coronavirus pandemic eliminating the possibility of the in-person event, flexographic printing professionals gathered via Zoom instead to celebrate the association’s 2020 award winners and learn from their industry peers.
The Virtual Forum began with the annual awards ceremony, revealing the recipients of the Excellence In Flexography Awards, Sustainability Excellence Awards, Technical Innovation Awards, President’s Awards, and most prestigious of all, induction into the FTA Hall of Fame.
The Excellence in Flexography awards, which judges print quality in submissions from FTA members, resulted in 91 total winning entries and the six Best of Show winners below.
- Wide Web Category: Perfection Packaging
- Mid Web Category: Sunshine FPC
- Narrow Web Category: iTek Packz
- Combined Corrugated Category: Great Northern Corp.
- Preprinted Linerboard Category: Atlantic Packaging
- Envelope Category: Encore Group
The winning entries can all be viewed by clicking here.
The President’s Award was presented to Kim Madigan, director of corporate color management at Smyth Cos., Keith Nagle, global director of business development at Phoseon Technology, and in an FTA first, a President’s Award was presented to someone from outside the flexographic industry. Corey Arnold, president and CEO of Bars and Tone Media Production was presented the award for his many years of audiovisual production at FTA events.
Technical Innovation Awards were presented to Hybrid Software and Miraclon Corp. in the prepress-graphics category. Hybrid Software was honored for its Cloudflow Patchplanner, while Miraclon received the award for the Kodak Flexcel NX Ultra Solution featuring Ultra Clean Technology. PCMC also received a Technical Innovation Award in the prepress-pressroom category for the Meridian Elite anilox cleaner.
On the sustainability side, Hub Labels and Labelcraft Products were each honored with Sustainability Excellence Awards, while Emmerson Packaging received an honorable mention. Hub Labels was recognized for making the move to being a landfill free facility, while Labelcraft Products was honored for its Recyclable Enviroliner.
The 2020 FTA Hall of Fame inductee was also revealed, with Greg Collins receiving the honor. The FTA shared details of Collins's career, including his 26 years with C-P Flexible Packaging, and his involvement with the association, which included a highly-influential tenure as chairman. In his acceptance speech, Collins stated that serving as the chairman of the FTA had been “the pinnacle” of his career, but now with his induction into the Hall of Fame, a new pinnacle has been achieved.
“Induction into the FTA Hall of Fame is now the greatest achievement of my 38 year career,” he said.
Following the awards ceremony, sessions on preprint and postprint corrugated and press optimization were held. In the press optimization session, the audience was taken through steps and best practices spanning substrates and ink, plates and screening, and optimization training.
On the substrate side, Kirk Birchler of Berry Global explained that optimization can help printers contend with the variation of color when printing on colored substrates, as well as clear substrates. For example, he said clear substrates that are often used for items like bread bags and other food and beverage items, can have distortion in the color of the print based on what is visible in the package. If a dark item in the package is making a brand logo appear too dark, Birchler explained that being able to figure out a solution, such as laying down more white ink in the background, can help solve the problem.
Kim Madigan of Smyth Companies provided an overview of training best practices when it comes to optimization, detailing the many benefits that can result from having all staff members on the same page regarding production.
A key component of optimization, she explained, is instituting common communication throughout the facility. By having press operators on the same page with prepress employees, for example, inconsistencies can be eliminated and the various departments can gain an increased understanding of their roles in the process.
“What comes out of your team through optimization is better communication,” Madigan said. “We’re using the same language.”