Kodak may have decided that it should cash in on its flexo plates business, but this is no fire sale of unloved assets: the Flexcel technology is recognised as up there with the best plates for flexo printing.
In ten years since the launch of the Flexcel NX, the plate has helped transform flexo print production. And to mark the anniversary, the inaugural Global Flexo Innovation Awards will celebrate the achievement with an approach that extends beyond print quality. It is looking for examples of game changing flexo print since 2008 up to the present. Closing date is 31 December with an awards presentation early next year.
Pier Luigi Sassanelli is chairman of the judging panel. He explains: “In my opinion, these are the first awards to look beyond the package, as it were, and evaluate how it impacts on the entire value chain.
“This is why we are judging submissions against four distinct criteria: how they use creative design — for shelf impact, for example, or to create an innovative user experience; whether they represent conversion to flexo from other processes — gravure, offset or digital; how efficient the production workflow is; and the strength of their sustainability credentials.”
Sassanelli has credentials that stretch back 30 years, well before Flexcel NX was conceived, and his career has involved development of Cyrel, before becoming one of the leading consultants for flexo worldwide. Event though this will have covered most aspects of flexible packaging and other applications, he has strong expectations.
“We hope to discover what the genuine innovations are, the ones with real strategic substance. And the answers will also tell us more than who the winners are: they will give the flexo industry as a whole unrivalled insights into what is happening now, and what might happen in the future. Taking everything into account, I think it’s a revolutionary approach.”
That depends too on the names invited on the judging panel. Nine will participate, representing South America, US, Australia and Europe and equally diverse brands and applications. Sassanelli will chair, bringing his 30 years' expertise to the table, as well as a passion for the technology and its future.
“Flexo print production today is unrecognisable from the flexo of yesterday. Because flexo quality is on a par with gravure and digital, decisions about which process to use are based on economic grounds. As a result, there is one major trend that I expect the awards to confirm, and that is flexo’s encroachment into the territory of both digital — because short runs are economic now — and gravure — because plates such as Flexcel NX are more robust.
“And as excellent as flexo printing now is, there’s still room for improvement. The next few years will see major advances coming out of work being done by companies like Kodak, and it’s an exciting prospect.”
For Kodak, a by product will be raising the profile of the division which has been put on the block, though the idea to celebrate the users of the Flexcel technology was firmed up well before the corporate announcement. Flexographic division president and Kodak vice president Chris Payne says: "The Global Flexo Innovation Awards are designed to honour companies who, through their commitment to excellence using Flexcel NX plates, have played a significant part in the spectacular rise of flexo printing over the last ten years.
“At the same time, the awards are a celebration of the journey we are on; they clearly demonstrate the Flexcel NX technology’s potential to help users gaining additional business opportunities by further improving efficiency, quality and sustainability to continue to fuel the industry transformation and raise the flexo standards.”
Story 1 of 2