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Converters explore narrow web science: Chicago conference takes a look at new printing and converting technologies.

More than 250 narrow web converters and suppliers converged on the Hyatt Regency Chicago in September for the 2003 TLMI/FTA Technical Conference. The two-day event marks the first time that the Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute and the Flexographic Technical Association joined forces for a major educational program for members.

The event explored a wealth of topics, from substrates to presses, from dies to UV, from lenticular printing to digital printing. The meeting chairman was Bruce Riddell, of Spectrum Label Corp., Hayward, CA.

Leading off the event was a pair of presentations focusing on technical training. Nick Van Alstine, president of Macaran Printed Products, told of his company's creation of a program to "evaluate the overall skills of our press operators, to develop and execute an on-site training program (including hands-on and classroom training, and self-study), and to create a troubleshooting guide for the press operators. Macaran created a program that evaluates all of the company's needs and skills, and crafted a certification program. Participants made use of the FTA's FlexSys Simulator, a computer program that replicates press conditions and problems that the instructor can create.

"Training Options and Certification Programs" was addressed by Tim Reece, manager of training and diagnostic services for All Printing Resources. He addressed the many options available today, including classroom sessions, collaborative software, "webinars" (on-line seminars), and web based courses. He also gave insight into the certification program sponsored by the National Council for Skill Standards. Reece himself is certified by the group as an expert flexo press operator.

Steven Leibin, of Matik North America, presented a comparison of inline vs. central impression (CI) presses. He included discussion of gearless press designs, sleeve systems and tension control, and offered detailed points on how to compare the two types of presses.

Mark Andy's Denny McGee delved into film presses and related technologies. He spoke about issues involved in transport of film webs and management of temperature, a critical issue in film printing and converting. Laminating was also covered, including film/film and lamination of unsupported films using UV or water based curing.

Terry Trexler, product manager for Gallus Inc., explored the use of servo drives in press technology today, a growing field. Highlighting the advantages of servos, which eliminate gears and shafts, Trexler said that servo technology guarantees proper positioning along the web, eliminates line shaft wrap-up and gearbox-induced errors, and requires no maintenance or calibration. Servos can be used in web tensioning, tooling, plate positioning, dies, and re-registration and pre-registration, he said.

Combination printing was the focus of a talk by Dilip Shah, technical service manager for Nilpeter. Combining print technologies, he said, allows for increased benefits in the resulting label, but requires n high degree of operator skill, long makereadies for complex labels, and speeds that are governed by the slowest process in the combination.

Lean Manufacturing was discussed by Chris Faust, director of business development for Aquaflex. The business philosophy focuses on removing waste from manufacturing operations, both in labor and in materials.

Curing of inks and coatings was the topic explored by three speakers. Rick Sanders of Energy Sciences explained electron beam (EB) curing; Erich Midlik of Prime UV Systems spoke of UV lamp power and monitoring; and Glenn Webster of Sun Chemical Inks examined the differences between EB and UV inks and curing technologies.

Four experts addressed aspects of foil decoration. Conventional hot stamping was the theme of a presentation by Peter Kuschnitzky of I.KELA Company. Malcolm Keif of Cal Poly State University updated the audience on cold foil transfer technology; Steve Lee of RotoMetrics offered details on hot stamping using flexible die systems; and Eckart America's Oliver Crowhurst spoke of developments in silver-impregnated inks.

The second day of the conference included discussions about flexible packaging, with presentations by Kevin Frydryk of ExxonMobil Chemical Films, and by Leighton Derr of Applied Extrusion Technologies. They were followed by a panel on shrink sleeve markets, featuring Gary Gates of Gates Packaging, Roger Brown of Packaging Suppliers, and Wally Nard of Novaflex.

Lenticular printing, which offers dramatic optical effects to the viewer, was the subject of two presentations. The market and substrate overview was delivered by Bill Karszes of Pitman Company, and the complex nature of the lenticular prepress process was explained by Robert Smithson, of Trinity Graphics USA.

The growing market for radio frequency identification technology (RFID) was the subject of a talk by John Yundt of Acheson Colloids. Dan Rosen, of BASF Printing Systems, explained direct-to-plate technologies through the use of industry case studies.

The business and manufacturing philosophy known as Six Sigma was presented in detail by Michael Schneider of Avery Dennison. Hexachrome (six-color process) and Opaltone (seven-color process) were explained, respectively, by Michael Jahn of Pantone and Matthew Bernasconi of Opaltone. Joe Tuccitto of Dunwoody College of Technology spoke on fingerprinting, profiling and the FTA FIRST flexo specifications.

Ron Irwin, of REI, presented a new software system that tracks in real time the use of stock running through a printing press, waste and all. Mike Buystedt of Akzo Nobel Inks presented several ideas on ink and pressroom improvements, and Steve Slater of X-Rite spoke about instrument-based color control.
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Title Annotation:TLMI/FTA Technical Conference
Publication:Label & Narrow Web
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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