From October 9-11, a group of 350 flexographers and industry insiders gathered at the Flexographic Technical Association’s (FTA) Fall Conference 2017 in downtown St. Louis, MO, directly across from the storied Arch, celebrating the “Gateway to the American West.” This year’s event, appropriately themed “the Gateway to Technology,” delivered industry-trending education and many networking opportunities.
Program Chair Rory Marsoun, Esko, oversaw a technical agenda comprising eight informative sessions which consisted of 13 presentations total, with 22 speakers taking the stage on various topics. Evening receptions and breaks between sessions allowed attendees time to visit the 66 tabletop exhibitors and strategize the next moves necessary to continue moving forward in the ever-evolving field of printing and converting.
Spanning three days, attendees witnessed technical innovation, the journey of a hybrid pressrun and the celebration of the 20-year anniversary of FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifics and Tolerances). That celebration coincided with the release of FTA’s latest publication, FIRST 6.0—the next generation in a line of world-renowned publications. Those who decided to purchase the book onsite received a commemorative, hardcover special edition. The softcover version was released online the same day for those who could not attend the show.
On Tuesday, October 10, the FTA showcased the three recipients of the 2017 Technical Innovation Awards. For more than two decades, this award has sought to recognize and celebrate the incredible achievements made by individuals and companies—large and small—that have contributed to the growth of the industry by calling attention to innovative processes and technologies. Awarded innovations are determined by a panel of industry experts.
This year Esko received the Technical Innovation Award in the Prepress Graphics category for their XPS Crystal 5080, a digitally controlled UV LED exposure unit that provides both main and back exposure for photopolymer flexo plates. The 5080 works by placing a plate onto its glass surface. The system is preprogrammed with exposure parameters for popular plates. The main and back exposures are done almost simultaneously, using patented UV LED light technology.
Along similar lines, Flint Group’s UV LED Low Migration EkoCure Ancora ink, that marries UV LED and low migration ink properties, won the FTAs Technical Innovation Award in the Prepress – Pressroom category. What set Flint’s inks apart from other entries, according to the judges, was this product’s lengthy list of support by many of the main regulatory and industry bodies.
Finally Mark Andy’s 13” (330mm) pressure sensitive label Digital Series Hybrid Press, combining strengths in flexography and UV inkjet, won the FTA’s 2017 Technical Innovation Award in the Heavy Equipment category.
Flexo & Gravure Global will have more coverage of the new FIRST 6.0 publication as well as more about the conference itself in the next issue of the magazine.