FiberMark Announces the Acquisition of Crocker Technical Papers

FiberMark (, a global leader in manufacturing innovative paperboards, fiber-based specialty covering materials and print media for world-leading brands, and niche products for industrial and technical specialty applications is pleased to announce that it has acquired the assets of Crocker Technical Papers, based in Fitchburg, MA.


Founded in 1972, Crocker provides custom engineered multi-layered papers and boards, uniquely designed and tailored to meet specific customer-specified performance criteria.  Its products can be found in items that protect priceless heirlooms and historical artifacts as well as being critical components of items that assist in reliable delivery of electrical energy to homes and industry.   


Crocker will become a part of FiberMark’s technical specialties and performance boards business in which FiberMark will adopt the Crocker brand name. FiberMark will continue to serve the industrial markets with electrical insulation specialties, archival quality paper and boards, photographic packaging, specialty coating base and other industrial specialties. Larry Gelsomini, the President and CEO of Crocker Technical Papers, will join FiberMark as General Manager of the Fitchburg plant. 


“The Crocker Technical mill is a terrific addition to the FiberMark family.” said Anthony MacLaurin, CEO at FiberMark. “Crocker dramatically broadens our capabilities and product offerings enabling us to deliver added value to our customers. The Crocker acquisition will grow the FiberMark family of brands and is a key part of FiberMark’s overall growth strategy.”


“Crocker Technical enjoys a select, diverse and imaginative set of customers who continue to entrust us with their requirements. FiberMark’s technical skills, and global marketing and sale’s channels, bodes well for the growth of Crocker’s technical products and its customers.” said Larry Gelsomini, the President of Crocker. 


The deal is expected to close in August. 




FiberMark is a world-class, fully integrated manufacturer and global marketer, crafting its fiber-based specialty materials in the U.S. and Europe. The company creates innovative solutions for world-leading brands, offering distinctive covering materials that express the brands, inspire designs and create lasting impressions. With an extensive range of visual and tactile options and performance characteristics, FiberMark materials provide an endless array of design possibilities for applications in the performance boards, covering solutions, luxury packaging, technical/industrial, durable print media and graphic design markets. FiberMark is Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) – certified (FSC-C020981). The company’s premium and innovative covering products, print media and specialty boards made from sustainable materials are enhanced with a variety of colors, finishes, and embossing techniques that create visual depth and invite touch.



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CROWN Aerosol Packaging North America, a business unit of Crown Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CCK) (Crown) (, is strengthening its customer’s brands by combining the company’s graphic design expertise with advanced lithographic printing capabilities. Facilities such as Crown’s Midwest Graphics Lithography Center in Aurora, Illinois not only offer consultation on visual development and implementation, together with a wide range of technologies designed to enhance the look and feel of the final package, but also give customers the opportunity to work directly with in-house technicians to optimize graphics and explore options to streamline package development.

Crown first works closely with customers to turn imagery and initial designs into print-ready versions, providing both file preparation and press plate production services. Brands can choose from a broad portfolio of visual enhancement technologies including 6-color and 4-color printing, different base coats with white or metallic finishes, and a selection of UV inks in any color, conventional and gloss and matte varnish finishes.

Crown also works with brands to meet specific color requests or customize existing palettes. In-house ink technicians are available to work with brands to identify and develop new colors to distinguish products on store shelves by mixing inks together to create different shades and color variations. This ability to customize and adjust colors onsite also helps overcome the challenge of matching virtual mock-ups with the final design printed on aerosol packaging. Once a color selection has been made, Crown collaborates with the brand’s graphics team to provide a series of design solutions until both parties are satisfied with the finished product.

“We invite customers to visit our facilities during the first development runs so that they can see for themselves how the final package will look and feel. This leads to a quicker turn-around time, allowing our customers to provide feedback on the spot and our team to make any needed adjustments to the design to make sure it’s perfect,” stated Andy Bolton, President, CROWN Aerosol Packaging North America. “Ultimately, this process gives brands the flexibility they are looking for to control the final printed product, while still being able to take advantage of the added value that Crown’s expertise and experience affords.”

Customers are also able to choose from a wide variety of print offerings that can be customized to meet their specific needs. Utilizing a combination of designs printed on a single plate, for example, is ideal for initiatives that feature several styles of packaging that need to be distributed as a selection to individual retailers. This approach eliminates the need for contract fillers to sort by hand, saving significant amounts of time and labor as well as ensuring that retailers receive a variety of product within a specific order for a particular design.

One such example is the work Crown has done with WD-40, both for a special military collectable series and the company’s packaging series featuring hot-rod designer Chip Foose. For these promotional series, individual retailers received products with a variety of designs, allowing customers the option to select or collect a particular design.

About Crown Holdings, Inc.

Crown Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is a leading supplier of packaging products to consumer marketing companies around the world. World headquarters are located in Philadelphia, PA. For more information, visit

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IPL Announces Licensing Agreement for 1-Seal Technology

IPL, a leading producer of injected plastic packaging for the North American market announces a licensing agreement for an innovative packaging solution. Arta Plast AB of Sweden, the developers of 1-Seal technology, grants the North American licence to IPL.

1-Seal technology is a packaging solution that simplifies the production process for food processors, while responding to increasing demand from consumers for an environmentally-friendly yet premium packaging solution.

1-Seal is designed to optimize production efficiency by eliminating the need for a film seal, thus removing management of film-seal inventory, waste, and roll equipment. The 1-Seal lid is applied to the container, than sealed, creating an air-tight and water-tight seal around the container to maintain product freshness. 1-Seal lid is available with high-definition In-Mold Label (IML) decoration covering the entire surface of the lid for added graphics appeal.

From a consumers perspective, 1-Seal offers a tamper-evident packaging solution that is easy and safe to open due to a single operation needed to open the package, eliminating the need to remove a lid and film-seal. Its user-friendly, re-sealable closure system provides a secure, airtight seal, ensuring the freshness of products both at the store and at home. Additionally, the containers are heat tolerant and microwavable. Given that the lid, IML label, and container are made from polypropylene (PP), the whole packaging solution is 100% recyclable for added sustainability.

“It’s rare to have a packaging solution that is beneficial to both food processors and consumers. Removing film seal equipment and management from the production line answers a concern that many food processors have today. Additionally, consumers benefit from the safety and ease of use, while being environmentally conscious,” said Joel Sergerie, product manager at IPL.

About IPL
IPL Inc. is a leading North American producer of injection molded plastic products. Specializing in developing innovative & value –added products, the sharing of knowledge and technologies across the company plays a vital role to exceed customer expectations.
Founded in 1939, it employs about 900 people and manufactures across its three plants in Saint-Damien, Quebec, in Edmundston, New Brunswick and in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

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Fresh Story

Every product has a story to tell and the pet food produced by Lucy and Charlie Postins’ company, The Honest Kitchen, has a better one than most.

Lucy Postins CEO and founder of The Honest Kitchen, started making pet food stuffed with healthy, all-natural ingredients to solve her own dog’s health issues and began selling the pet food she created to help other owners get their furry friends healthy and keep them that way.

But at pet food trade shows when people saw the dehydrated dog and cat food, Postins says, “They thought it was cat litter.”


For years, the packaging didn’t seem to matter. Started in 2002, The Honest Kitchen had found its market of early adopters who wanted the all-natural, dehydrated food for their pets, and for almost 12 years, sales climbed by an average of 35% a year. In 2013, The Honest Kitchen had $17 million in revenue and employed 26 people. But Postins thought the package needed to work harder to tell its story.

“We wanted it to be much more intuitive to mainstream buyers who are used to kibble and canned food,” says Postins, adding there are more pets out there that need her healthy pet food.

A passionate partnership

Finding a firm that understood Postins’ passion to help with the redesign was as easy as turning to a friend, literally. Shawn Parr heads up Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design firm, and he has been Postins’ mentor and friend for years. He’s also on The Honest Kitchen’s board and is a minority stakeholder in the company.

In turn, The Honest Kitchen was one of the founding members of an unusual offshoot of Bulldog Drummond—Bulldog Drummond Venture (BDV). It’s a program designed to help small startups accelerate their growth, with BDV providing assistance to help them move ahead, whether that’s equity, planning or marketing.

Enter Megan Pilla, chief content officer at Bulldog Drummond. She says this long-term relationship and intertwining of business and passion made it easy for her firm to step in and understand Postins’ value, culture and mission—to help as many animals as possible through healthy food—and sort out how best to do that.

The result, says Pilla, is The Honest Kitchen had a partner, someone who understood its product and mission.

“We really do care about the end results,” says Pilla.

Consumers’ true concerns

For Pilla, starting with consumer research meant taking a step back and finding out what consumers really wanted to know about pet food.

She already knew Postins had a great story to tell about helping with pet health issues via dehydrated, food made from great ingredients, in short, she says, proper food for pets. That’s also the story Postins wanted to tell on the package with a focus on why and how the product is healthy, what dehydration is and how that process and the ingredients make it different than kibble.

To find out what consumers really want to know, Pilla tapped Alternate Routes. Bulldog Drummond has partnered with them for years and the firm has done research for other trendy firms such as the frozen desert company, Pinkberry. Turns out when it comes to pet food, consumers want to know two things: what’s in it and what do they have to do to feed it to their pet.

The box talks
One success of the previous packaging, retained in the new redesign, is the fiber box with an interior bag, much like breakfast cereal. It tells consumers this is not kibble. Unfortunately, the former box sported photographs of the ingredients and lots of text and explanations about what’s in it and how healthy the ingredients are.

The boxes were also emblazoned with clever names such as Force, Prowl, Preference and Love, identifying the kind of food in the box, whether it included grain, no grain, chicken, turkey or beef. The bad news is the cute names didn’t work. “Consumers,” Postins admits, “had to look hard and long at the shelf wondering, ‘So, for my Yorkshire Terrier, which should I get?’”

As for the photographs, Pilla says it is almost impossible to make a photograph of raw chicken look good. The front also sported a see-through window showing the product, which does look a bit like cat litter. It’s easy to see that someone could miss the text instructions, “Just add water …”

Drawing a solution
Back to the consumers. They want to know what’s in it and what they have to do. Pilla and Postins wanted to play up the freshness and wholesomeness of the ingredients, and photographs didn’t work.

Once again, the solution was at its fingertips.

For some time, Postins had been following the antics and art of illustrator Natalya Zahn, who wrote and illustrated a blog about her dog Oscar. The designer had started the blog, oscaratemy, two years ago as a place to experiment with a new form of illustrations, ink drawings with color. “It was a creative sandbox for myself,” says Zahn. The blog is filled with amazing illustrations of her dog Oscar and natural pet food recipes. When Bulldog Drummond called, Zahn says she couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Zahn and The Honest Kitchen had connected earlier when Zahn had first started her blog and started networking with others who were interested in feeding healthy fare to their pets. “I connected with as many people as possible in the dog and design world,” she says.

Turns out The Honest Kitchen was as smitten with her work as she was with its mission and product.

Zahn’s illustrations focus on rendering the natural world artfully yet accurately. So she draws Oscar, food and other things in the natural world with color, playfulness and clarity, using ink drawings, watercolor and Adobe Photoshop. “That’s my sweet spot, combining digital technique with handmade art,” says Zahn. “I use the computer to marry layers of traditional media to create a more dynamic image.”

Once Zahn was on the project, she received a long list of ingredients from eggs to cabbages to roast chicken as well as a box of photographs of dogs and cats, the pets of The Honest Kitchen employees. Nine of those honorary employees of The Honest Kitchen are included on the new packaging. (Oscar, Zahn’s dog, however, does not appear on the packages.)

Zahn updated the two primary, large watercolor-like silhouettes of the cat and dog to make them more accurate and lifelike, while the silhouettes in the logo were unchanged.

She also did the graphics for the packaging, including the pet bowl on the front with the big drop of water over it conveying in a bright, blue way to mix the product with water, while the see-through window was moved to the side of the package.

Text reinforcements
The illustrations of the ingredients create a culinary/artisanal feel that reflects how involved Postins was in developing each recipe for The Honest Kitchen. That handcrafted feel led Pilla to search for fonts to reinforce that style. They agreed custom handcrafted fonts weren’t viable long-term, and finally agreed on tall, thin fonts, Shetchetik and Walden for the headlines, and for the rest of the text, YWFT Absent Grotesque, YWFT Signature and Myriad.

The names of each product such as Verve or Grace came down in size and descriptions such as “All Natural Cage Free Turkey,” were upsized.

Color communicates
Consumer research told them while consumers didn’t connect with the various names, they did connect the color families of the products that Fluffly or Fido preferred. The color connections were kept and while some shades were changed slightly to work with the ingredients, the tints still tell the story of the ingredients. For example, turkey’s key color is blue, chicken is green citron and beef packaging highlights reds and browns.

The redesign features one major color change. Now the laminated full-box label is printed on white paper instead of brown Kraft paper though the box manufacturer stayed the same. This change makes all the visuals pop and adds one more fast recognition element. A cream background tells consumers the food contains grains while a full-white background declares the pet food is grain free.

Now that’s a story to tell.

Front Panel: June/July 2014 Issue

Illustration Now! 5

The latest in the Illustration Now! Series—Illustration Now! Vol.5—features 150 illustrators from more than 30 countries, including illustration duo Craig&Karl, reportage artist Sue Coe, Agata Nowicka, James McMullan and Syrian artist Youssef Abdelké. It includes a mix of illustration styles and personal work as well as high-profile projects for clients such as Nike, The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Google and Time magazine.

Illustration Now! Vol.5 is offered by Taschen ( and edited by Julius Wiedemann. The Brazilian-born author studied graphic design and marketing, and was an art editor for digital and design magazines in Tokyo. His many Taschen digital and media titles include Illustration Now!, Advertising Now, Logo Design and Brand Identity Now! 


Show Report
Luxe on the Shore

Luxe Pack New York continues to break its own attendance record this year. The event attracted 3,311 visitors to Pier 92 situated in Midtown West on the Hudson River in New York. This is a 14% increase compared to 2013.

For its 12th edition, the show debuted an area for creative promotional items for beauty and beverage brands, called Luxe Promo. Airopack took home the first Luxe Pack in Green award presented in New York. The Innovation Forum showcased the newest products and technologies from exhibitors and 10 seminars drew standing-room-only crowds.

Among the seminars at Luxe Pack was a group presentation and panel discussion by Package Design. The session called, “Artful Draw: Illustrations’ Role in Helping Liquor Brands Connect with Consumers on Shelf,” was moderated by Package Design’s editor-in-chief Linda Casey with four expert panelists: Amy Calhoun Robb, Diageo, global innovation director—Smirnoff GBT; Joan Nicosia, adjunct associate professor, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York; Ivan Bell, group managing director at Stranger & Stranger; and Ron Wong, president, executive creative director at Spring Design Partners Inc.

For the second year in a row, Nicosia kicked off the session with a comprehensive, engaging and fun presentation that wowed the audience as well as fellow panelists. Her focus was on how liquor brands, from craft beers to wine and spirits, are using illustrations to get people talking and create “buzz,” especially among younger consumers. Nicosia examined how imaginative illustrations are being used to express a brand’s personality, and how this liquor package design trend started in the craft brew market.

She showed a great variety of design applications, from the use of “monsters” in package design, citing examples such as Ballistic Brewing to wrestlers—even wine that uses illustration and the transparent packaging to engage with humor.

Calhoun Robb brought some of her favorite projects from her work at Diageo, including a bottle encased in cement that’s hand decorated with graffiti art. She also brought some more commercially feasible applications with printed boxes that can be customized using twist-and-turn panels.

Bell explored how illustration can be used for narrative storytelling that enables the brand identity to be expressed quickly to shoppers and evoke emotion. Intricate illustrations can also be a quality cue, indicating the level of craft used in the package design and product manufacturing.

Wong added that the illustration can be a great tool to develop iconic caricatures for brands, such as Skinny Girl, and visual vocabulary for brands such as Hellstrøm Aquavit. He noted that well crafted type can be a form of illustration, as was done with the Empiric Gin, which also happened to be cover story for the Package Design issue that was distributed at Luxe Pack New York 2014.

At the next Luxe Pack show to be held October 27-29, 2014, at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, Package Design will be showcasing the concepts developed for our annual Makeover Challenge. To get a preview of those package designs, check out the August 2014 issue where we will unveil the four concepts being developed for Kelley Quan New York.  


Viktorija Gnatoka, global packaging analyst at Mintel, explores the trend of biobased packaging as an eco alternative. Below, she shares some of her favorite biobased packaging from around the world.

Product: Lärabar Alt
Company: Small Planet Foods
Country: USA

I consider Alt to be a standout among [the] big number of the various snack, cereal and energy bars. Its biobased packaging fits well with the product message of natural.

Larabar originally was launched in 2003 and was made by the entrepreneur Lara Merriken in her kitchen. The idea was to make a healthy snack bar with ingredients that will be easy and simple to pronounce. This fits perfectly with the simplicity and minimalism trends that we are seeing across various categories.

To further support its premium and natural product positioning, Larabar improved its packaging. Today, bars retail in a recyclable 26.5-oz.master carton, containing 15 x 1.77-oz. bars and bearing Terracycle and 100% wind energy logos.

 The carton is also USDA-certified to be 31% biobased. The USDA BioPreferred program is part of the U.S. Farm Bill and is an accreditation for products with biobased content, i.e. ingredients that come from renewable ecological resources. The USDA Certified Biobased product label lists the percentage of biobased content in each product. The film wrapper of a single bar is made from a non-GMO, plant based material from a proprietary supplier. In this case, packaging helps to reinforce the message of simplicity and purity that Larabar brand stands for.


Product: Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion
Company: P&G
Countries: Western European

P&G introduced one of the first plant-based bottles in the hair care category. The high-density polyethylene bottle replaces petroleum-based plastic with plastic derived from sugarcane—a natural and renewable resource.

According to P&G, sugarcane-derived plastic consumes more than 70% less fossil fuels and releases far fewer greenhouse gases per ton than traditional petroleum-based plastic. The package supports P&G initiatives of being a green company. However, communication on pack is vital to ensure correct packaging recycling.


Product: Cascadian Farm Organic
Company: Small Planet Foods
Country: USA

Cascadian Farm Organic Graham Crunch Cereal, a USDA organic-certified product retails in a recyclable 9.6-oz. pack featuring the USDA Certified-Biobased Product logo. The manufacturer continues the journey towards sustainability to protect the earth and its resources by using 100% recycled paperboard for the outside carton. The packaging’s inner bag is made of up to 57% plant-based material.

The box’s front panel has a call out in the upper right corner that explains what plant-based material means and why it is important. Such approach makes more sense for the consumers so they can relate to the impact they are making by purchasing this exact box of cereal.

Indeed, Mintel U.S. Food Packaging Report shows that 40% of U.S. consumers are interested in packaging that is labeled as environmentally friendly and 54% would like to be able to see packaging that can be reused for other purposes.


Product: Ecover Ecological Limescale Remover
Company: Ecover
Country: South Africa

To solve the plastic packaging problem, Ecover uses an innovative plastic called PlantPlastic in most of their home-cleaning products packaging. PlantPlastic is made from sugarcane and recycled plastic. Product packaging has a sticker on the front of the pack indicating that its 100% plant based. On the back of the pack, Ecover clearly differentiates ecological product attributes and packaging attributes by using different fonts and colors. Product-related information comes in blue on the white background, and the opposite for the packaging information. This helps to emphasize the information on the pack and show the different product attributes.  

Keepin’ It Real

Like many consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies selling online as well as in stores, the Coca-Cola Company employs prototyping tools to assist with design and marketing strategies. The beverage firm’s fledgling eCommerce team, formed in 2013, has “used prototyping to create images for our products that are sold online,” reports Jennifer Brevick, eCommerce director. Of course, marketing packaged goods online is a different animal than on shelf.

 “eCommerce does not have the touch and feel or the context of brick and mortar (B&M),” Brevick adds. “By touch and feel, I mean that the shopper cannot pick up the product, turn it around and see the messaging on the package or the nutritional panel as easily.

 “By context, I am referring to the search-driven nature of eCom,” she continues. “In a B&M store, you walk down an aisle of beverages and you see the one you want amid other competitive products and messaging from brands and retailers. In eCom, you can go to a product detail page directly from search and mix all of that contextual information.”

 Coca-Cola partners with visual communications firm Coloredge on putting the brand’s best foot forward in its online retailing efforts. Mike Spielman, vice president of national accounts, details a process often used to market consumer packaged goods online. With Coloredge’s in-house 360 photography, “we can take a comp (comprehensive layout) sample and do a 360-degree capture. Using CGI (computer-generated imagery) graphics, we also can virtually capture, say, the wire frame of a package: Ink never touches paper or film.”

 Coke’s Brevick reports also working with major online retailers, such as, to improve package designs and branding/marketing campaigns. “We work very closely with Amazon to optimize our online offering in package design, imagery and marketing,” she says. “We have tried to leverage both their learnings and ours to give an appropriate and very shoppable offering to our consumers.”

For a recent launch, General Mills used Haney’s Applied Imagination process, which uses ideation sessions for real-time exploration and evaluation of designs that can be manufactured for a streamlined path to market that’s based on all disciplines working collaboratively toward the feasible. These ideation sessions are held at Haney’s Packaging Resource Center.

 At its ideation session for Pillsbury Pancake Batter Mix, General Mills’ internal Brand Expansion team experienced firsthand a range of options for bottle shapes; explored and developed ideas for package design; investigated different materials, colors and inks; and learned about the range of technologies that could be used. During the full-day creative working session, the teams also shared project background, consumer target information and previous consumer research before generating package ideas.

 Within five months of that ideation session, General Mills had 1,000 bottles of its Pillsbury Pancake Batter Mix on shelf in a limited test market at six HyVee stores throughout Omaha, NE. “The fact that a typical path to market for a new product takes 12 to 18 months and we were on-shelf in five months is remarkable,” says Jeremy Johnson, technical project lead at General Mills. “It showed us what can be done when all of the disciplines involved are working together, side by side, from start to finish.” 

For more information, visit:   
• Coloredge, 
• Haney,

Two Esko Innovations to Receive Prestigious Printing Industries of America 2014 InterTech Technology Awards

Esko announces that Esko Full HD Flexo platemaking system and Esko Equinox, Esko´s solution for the implementation of extended gamut – or fixed inkset – printing, are both recipients of 2014 Printing Industries of America InterTech Technology Awards. Since 1978 the InterTech Technology Awards, sponsored by Printing Industries of America, have honored the development of technologies predicted to have a major impact on the graphic arts and related industries. More than 80% of technologies that receive an award experience continued commercial success in the marketplace. 

These are the sixth and seventh InterTech awards Esko solutions have received over the past ten years. Other recipients include Esko WebCenter (2006), Esko DeskPack 3-dX (2007), Esko Neo (2008), Esko Studio Toolkit for Shrink Sleeves (2011) and i-cut Suite (2012). 


“We are very honored to receive two awards from Printing Industries of America this year. Esko has a legacy of listening to our customers and using our ingenuity to develop products – very often new product concepts or categories – that offer our customers tremendous added value,” explains Carsten Knudsen, Esko president and CEO. “Esko’s insistence in investing a much higher portion [0][0]of our budget than the industry average into R&D every year helps to support our continuous innovation helps to fuel these products that result in competitive advantages for our customers.”

Esko Full HD Flexo: superior flexo printing plates
Esko Full HD Flexo is a platemaking system for superior flexo printing for all packaging applications. It utilizes a patented, fully digitally controlled platemaking system combining high-resolution 4000ppi imaging with a unique inline UV main exposure unit. An LED-array delivers UV power density strong enough to fully control the plate polymerization process during main exposure. For the first time, flexo plates are imaged, exposed and delivered directly to the plate processor, without need for light table exposure. 


With Full HD Flexo, flexo platemaking has become a true “Computer to Plate” process: no lamination, no films, and no extra steps with light tables. No special consumables are needed, and it is not proprietary: it works with all popular digital flexo plates and sleeves. Everything is done in the CDI imager. Plates are ready for processing after unloading. Full HD Flexo has had a positive impact on efficiency and cost. Press changeovers are faster and downtimes are reduced. Substrate selection is less critical. 


Full HD Flexo also offers consistency, because Inline UV technology maintains consistent, digitally controlled UV light output throughout the entire plate, while lamps in a bank exposure frame continuously age and need frequent replacement every few hundred hours. Bank exposure frames also deliver different UV output over the entire frame area. “The judges noted that the inline UV technology is more controllable,” notes Mark Bohan, vice president, Technology and Research, Printing Industries of America.


“The judges also considered Full HD Flexo plate imaging a much more flexible process, with the ability to digitally control the generation of a dot shape, combining highlight capabilities of round dots with the solid ink lay down and print stability of ‘flat top’ flexo plates – which the judges agreed is not a trivial process. HD Flexo plates can produce images with complete, 0-100% dot coverage delivering a wider color gamut. It was also significant that the technology is upgradeable, already has a sizeable installed base, and is not plate specific,” adds Bohan. “The very strong customer letters demonstrated that HD Flexo is allowing flexo to challenge gravure and offset.” This is occurring among a wide array of flexible packaging, labels and corrugated printers worldwide.


Esko Equinox: Proving the viability of extended gamut printing
“While people tried to promote extended gamut printing in the past, it had been dedicated to offset, where printers might not have ample press units to take advantage of the technology. However, flexo presses have seven, eight or more units already – and it is significant for companies that are working to match brand colors,” states Bohan. “While this technology is used with other print methods, it was developed specifically for flexo. The industry is ready to embrace this technology. It beats managing specially-mixed inks.”


Equinox Expanded Color Gamut (ECG) Technology is Esko’s patented technology for converting packaging graphics from CMYK and spot color to seven-color process. It is applied in the prepress department when preparing jobs for press. Converting entire files results in extremely close matches to spot colors, improved pictorial images, and the ability to print more colors than available ink stations on the press, resulting in improved image quality and brand impact. The major benefit, however, is realized in the pressroom as jobs print more economically and more consistently. The ability to create an infinite number of colors from 7 process colors promotes “gang” press runs – and the economic savings can surpass a million dollars per press per year. Customers using Equinox ECG technology report that they use 7-color process profitably in a production environment for flexible packaging as well as labels. This has enabled many of the world’s largest consumer product companies to convert entire product lines to expanded gamut.


“The judges liked the smart filters, the math and color algorithms associated with Esko Equinox,” says Bohan. By quantifying only subsets of four-color combinations, Equinox 7-color profiles contain hundreds of times the amount of color data as a 7-color ICC color profile. These profiles are used to convert industry standard ink books into tint build books for a specific flexo press. Equinox also benefits from Esko HD and Full HD Flexo platemaking, which is able to extend the gamut by producing plates that can print dots from 0-100% while delivering consistent and reliable printing results from job to job.


Esko Equinox is a major achievement because it moves flexographic printing a giant step closer to being the economical manufacturing process that the major CPCs of the world are demanding. “The fact that the judges had a lengthy discussion about a specific PowerPoint presentation shows both the interest and dedication. Everyone got involved with all the materials,” observes Bohan. “They also noted that all the Equinox print sample images were cleaner than 4-color images. But the benefit that was not lost with the judges was the economic advantages of extended gamut printing.” What is significant is that, while Full HD Flexo and Equinox are strong products successfully used separately, both offer a unique synergy when used together: the exceptional quality and reliable printing offered by Full HD Flexo, and the economics delivered by extended gamut printing that is significantly assured with Full HD Flexo plates. 


“Esko takes our role in the industry very seriously. We spend a good deal of time understanding the direction of the industry – and try to help to drive it – before we strategize products that truly are innovative but also have merit in the industry. It takes a lot of work to create a viable vision that drives the development of products like Full HD Flexo and Equinox. However, while we are flattered that these products have received acclaim this year, it is even more gratifying that many converters throughout the world are using Full HD Flexo plates and Equinox to produce exceptional packaging that offers a very powerful economic incentive,” concludes Knudsen. 

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