Flexography is packaging’s “Brand of Choice.” Fourteen hundred printers, converters and their business partners came to that consensus at Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association’s 54th Annual Forum and 30th Anniversary INFO*FLEX Exhibition. The gala event, known for networking, was staged in San Antonio, TX, March 18-21.
Attendees pointed to sessions and said they had “depth,” “relevance” and “clarity.” Mark Krueger, Bemis, explained, “These presentations make me want to investigate things further. Information being conveyed is very useful. This is what FTA’s Forum is all about. Each topic keeps the conversation going.”
And, based on brisk activity on the trade floor, networking was constant. As the crowd descended in mass on the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, its members were greeted by a bird’s-eye view of the INFO*FLEX floor. “Excellent event,” one converter was heard saying. On the supplier’s side, reports were equally promising. “Brisk traffic.” “Good crowd. Good content.” “People are here to learn what’s new and delve into how it can help them be better printers and communicate more effectively with their customers.”
“Forum and INFO*FLEX is the event where you always learn something,” explained Sharon Mabry, Flexo Transparent, Inc. “The best aspect about it is the people and contacts you either reconnect with or meet for the first time.” Jim Scherman, C-P Flexible Packaging added, “I’ve been to at least 10 Forum and INFO*FLEX events in the past, and they get better every year.”
“Forum and INFO*FLEX are the networking events,” noted Dave Straten, Advance Packaging Corp. “This is a great opportunity to meet with colleagues to discuss and reflect on what is going well in the industry and what obstacles we may run into and, most importantly, how to avoid them.”
Seven sessions (and with a pre-conference Flexo Quality Consortium Day—eight), three-to-four days, more than 45 presentations, covered the packaging printing and converting trade in its entirety; from competitive positioning to emerging trends, operational excellence, high speed runs, expanded gamut printing, standards, FQC and Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST). Perspectives rendered crossed multiple tiers—local, regional, national and global.
Discussion touched on presses, inks, substrates, plates, anilox rolls and even graphics. And when the research experiments took center stage, the focus turned to the incorporation of an expanded color gamut while implementing standardized practices, procedures and controls.
The kick-off session, “FOG’D 2012: Reality Flexo,” showcased consumer product company demands, applied them to actual commercial print production runs, laid results side-by-side and compared what is achieved on a flexographic press to the output on offset, gravure and digital machines. Eyes were opened. Observations are still pouring in. The consensus among FTA members was, of course, “Flexo is packaging’s brand of choice!”
Asked to describe Forum in a few words, attendees generally raved about their experiences. Bill Whitfield, MPI Label Systems, commented. “The sessions are always informative but the best part about the entire week is that the learning continues even after you have left a program.” Robert Parfetti, ARC International, said, “Very enlightening. Technologies discussed will make this field grow astronomically.”
Seeming to echo those views, Brian Ritter, Appalachian State University, stated, “Valuable information was shared. It will influence decision-making in coming years. Being attuned to digital advancements is being competitive.” Tom Ross, Kustom Group added, “Solid presentations. I took good notes.” Tim Esselman, Rock Tenn Merchandising and Display, said, “For data presentations, FTA kept it interesting.” Paul Lewis, Conversource, simply applauded the “Strong details that were well supported by visual demonstrations.”
Bob Mullen, Sun Chemical, chair of FTA’s 2013 Forum, set for April 28-May 1 at the Marriott Marquis & Marina and San Diego Convention Center, decreed “A home run! Tremendous group of process experts… Good input from CPCs… Masterful delivery—let’s do it again!”
Editor’s Note: Resign for INFO*FLEX 2013 is approaching 70 percent. Packaging’s, printing’s and converting’s #1 networking extravaganza will once again likely sell-out. Nearly 150 booth spaces are already taken. Prime space goes quickly. The event is set for April 29-30, 2013 at the San Diego Convention Center. Book your space—contact Jay Kaible at 631-737-6020 X 20.
About FTA/FFTA: Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), chartered in 1958, is a professional society dedicated to bringing all members of the flexographic printing community—printers, suppliers, consumer product companies, institutions, prepress houses and others--together by providing opportunities for the free exchange of technical ideas and discussion of mutual concerns. It is a proponent of maintaining and advancing quality standards and includes 1,650 member sites that represent more than 1,400 companies and 60,000 individuals. Foundation of FTA, founded in 1974, is the educational arm of FTA and is dedicated to supporting and advancing the flexographic printing industry.