Esko, Packaging & Commercial Print

Industry Leaders Embrace HD Flexo

Esko is enjoying 'exponential' growth in the number of HD Flexo Certified customers, partners and vendors as industry leaders increasingly recognize the impact this innovative process can have on the success of their businesses.

"Customers are finding HD Flexo certification makes a big difference," says Jan Buchweitz, Senior Product Manager Digital Flexo at Esko. "They want trusted solutions. They want to know that certified components will all work perfectly together, whether they are printing machines, ink or tape. They also want advice from providers that clearly understand exactly how HD Flexo delivers an improved print performance and how individual providers can best leverage this capability within their operations."

HD Flexo certification process

The introduction of HD Flexo into the daily production environment is much smoother when trade shops and printers are using HD Flexo certified components. For vendors, partners and customers wishing to take advantage of the certification program, a rigorous process requires that different print samples from five different commercial jobs be printed consistently. Once certified, renewals at regular intervals are encouraged to ensure that print quality is maintained and in line with market developments. Vendors also need to certify each product individually, but once the initial certification has been obtained, subsequent applications are faster and easier. By the end of 2011, Esko could welcome 95 HD Flexo Certified customers, 60 HD Flexo Certified partners and 10 HD Flexo Certified vendors. Many more companies are currently undergoing the application process.

"The achievement of higher quality requires compliance with specific standards," comments Buchweitz, "and it is only if you follow these that you get the consistency and predictability that delivers the right print every time. This standardization across vendors, partners and customers ensures a new horizon in flexo quality. The process requires a great deal of commitment from both suppliers and Esko, resulting in some very rewarding long-term relationships. It also enables all parties to benefit from offering this leading-edge print solution."

Even companies that were initially reticent to gain certification because they wanted to remain impartial are now embracing the process, adds Buchweitz: "They are seeing the positive impact HD Flexo certification can have on their business. We started with certification of trade houses, which initially had difficulty getting equipment that matched the required standard. Now trade houses are encouraging their partners to get certified, and this has prompted exponential growth, spanning all sectors from flexible packaging and labels to folding cartons and corrugated."

Certification delivers vendor benefits

"When we launched the HD Flexo certification program, we began with customers but soon realized that suppliers were keen to gain certification as well," explains Buchweitz. "They found it to be a terrific way for them to demonstrate that their systems were capable of producing consistent and reliable high quality results. This in turn enabled them to have more meaningful conversations with their customers."

The nine HD Flexo Certified vendors are:

Press vendors:

* Edale: manufacturer of specialist web printing and converting machinery in flexographic, digital and commercial security printing as well as specialty converting.

* Gallus Labels: specialist in the provision of a comprehensive portfolio of machines and service for label and folding carton printers.

* Mark Andy: manufacturer of narrow web printing equipment.

* Omet: manufacturer of narrow-web flexographic printing presses for labels, folding cartons and flexible packaging.

Ink Suppliers:

* Siegwerk: independent ink manufacturer.

Anilox Suppliers:

* Apex: manufacturer of anilox rolls.

* Harper: manufacturer of laser engraved anilox rolls.

* Zecher: manufacturer of anilox solutions.

Tape Suppliers:

* Lohmann: double-sided adhesive tape manufacturer.

* Tesa: double-sided adhesive tape manufacturer.

Customers embrace HD Flexo certification quality label Among the customers that have seen HD Flexo transform their business is RAKO Etiketten and Stefan Behrens, head of pre-print, says: "Being HD Flexo certified strengthens our market presence and distinguishes us from the competition. The certification is a great marketing asset - it gives our customers and prospects even more confidence, and will help us win business."

St-Luc, a self-adhesive labels print specialist, was the first printing company in Benelux to be HD Flexo certified, while Ampac took their graphics to the next level. Joe Lydic, Ampac's art director, explains: "HD Flexo has done a great thing for the process image - we see a lot of positive attributes happening with solids and ink density. It also gives you more ink saturation. That alone is a big plus."

"Prior to HD Flexo, selling flexo shrink sleeves against rotogravure was a harder sell - the quality didn't quite match on the more intricate designs," adds Sean Keeney, president and CEO, Walle Corporation - the first to invest in HD Flexo and the first North American label printer to achieve HD Flexo certification. "Then we saw a huge impact in drop shadows, so we don't have any challenges getting to fine zero and 1% dots. Our customers are also realizing the benefits - winning awards for their package reproduction."

Buchweitz concludes: "We are delighted that such a wide range of companies have embraced HD Flexo certification and are so committed to using it. The adoption rate is clear validation that the process works and that HD Flexo has important commercial benefits. HD Flexo Certified companies are able to differentiate their solutions from their competition."

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