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New state-of-the-art flexo laboratory to broadcast globally from Asia/Pacific region

Coming October 5th 2021, Apex International hosts a virtual Grand Opening of its FlexoKITE knowledge center in Nashik, India featuring guest speakers from leading flexo industry brands. Fully-equipped with the most current equipment from Bobst Label, ESKO, DuPont, Flint Group, and other FlexoKITE collaborators, this Asia/Pacific-region Knowledge Center is the sister site to FlexoKITE’s inaugural European Knowledge Center based at leading anilox manufacturer Apex International’s headquarters in Hapert, the Netherlands. These Knowledge Centers serve as proving grounds for the FlexoKITE webinar series, which has enlightened more than 2,000 attendees globally about critical flexo topics since its late 2020 inception.

Flexo @ New Heights FlexoKITE’s Asia/Pacific grand opening lets flexographers peek behind the popular problem-solving webinar series into the workshop of process improvement. While the webinar series is the public face of FlexoKITE, its two Knowledge Centers are brimming with the latest in flexo technology to explore, test, and verify best flexo practices, new and old.

By examining flexo from two viewpoints — getting today’s job done correctly AND building toward the future — FlexoKITE helps converters solve and fine-tune current quality challenges while illuminating a path toward exploration, optimization, and innovation.

“These webinars bring to flexo one part Swiss Army Knife and one part crystal ball,” explains Nick Harvey, Technical Director of Apex International. “Imagine having a tool to handle any glitch that comes along and the ability to peer into your future flexo. FlexoKITE offers both by tackling real-world print challenges with an eye on building better workflows with existing and new technologies.”

Much more than merely a backdrop for virtual conferences, FlexoKITE’s Asia/Pacific facility boasts a newly-installed 7-station Bobst M5 label press along with software and platemaking equipment from ESKO and DuPont, thus enabling a design-to-delivery workflow that matches the production cycle of printers and converters. Troubleshooting, testing, and problem-solving for real-world flexo printing obstacles give FlexoKITE attendees a scientific understanding of a given problem, detailed pathways to resolution, actual printed samples, and the ability to ask targeted questions — and receive detailed answers from presenters.

“By launching FlexoKITE in a webinar format backed up by two modern flexo labs on separate continents, FlexoKITE collaborators serve the widest possible audience — the local market and the global industry,” notes Nick Harvey. “Our joint mission is to challenge conventional flexo workflow wisdom which often leads to wasteful, costly, and unsustainable workarounds for problems we can solve together through innovation, technology, and exploration.”

On the Menu The agenda for the complimentary October 5 Grand Opening welcomes virtual attendees with a birds-eye view of FlexoKITE, real-time and real-world problem-solving, and the keys to FlexoKITE online resources. The key takeaways:

  • Exploration of the FlexoKITE center technology offerings in Nashik;
  • “Ask Us Anything” Q&A session with tech gurus from ESKO, Bobst Label, Flint Ink, Apex, TESA tape, DuPont, Max Specialty Films, and others;
  • Unlimited Access to the FlexoKITE Webinar Resource Library;
  • Anilox Volume Demystified: Will print density change after an engraved anilox roll is surface-polished to 0.3cm3/m2? Watch the live-print demo and learn.

Who’s Who Collaboration is key in solving complex flexographic challenges and improving processes. There are literally millions of possible variables involved in printing a flexo job. That’s why FlexoKITE takes a holistic approach and involves all relevant manufacturers whose products impact a target problem. On the equipment side, FlexoKITE has gathered these collaborators to offer their expertise for the Grand Opening:

  • Bobst / label press;
  • DuPont / plates;
  • Apex International / anilox;
  • Flint Ink / inks;
  • ESKO screen / software.

On the consumables and supplies side, these industry leaders bring their unique production know-how to FlexoKITE:

  • Avery Dennison / label substrate;
  • MAX / specialty films;
  • Tesa / mounting tape;
  • SwedCut / doctor blades;
  • ESON / flexible dies;
  • Numex Blocks / trade shop;
  • BM Printist / distributor.

Delivering the Goods — with Something for Everyone As FlexoKITE ramped up its webinar series in 2021, attendees requested the possibility of live print testing with real files. With software, platemaking, and press available on-site, FlexoKITE collaborators are spinning up workflows to enable attendees to submit challenging designs for screening, plate, and print. Samples of print runs, or plates, can be shipped to printers or attendee locations. In this way, the topics discussed during the webinar series are brought into real-life to solve real problems.

The same goes for the webinars themselves: when attendees were polled, top concerns were opaque white ink printing, water-based ink foaming, press optimization, and maximizing quality on lower-end corrugated printing. FlexoKITE accepted these challenges, gathered expert partners to problem-solve, and presented useful findings in the webinar series.

Regardless of specific flexo market sector, the lessons revealed by FlexoKITE exploration translate across press, ink, and substrate boundaries. For example, test results of various anilox engravings with water-based inks tracked with lacquer application for offset coatings and pointed to reduction in ink or lacquer consumption.

Fixing the Cause, not merely the Symptom Whether the next technical leap forward in packaging printing is truly revolutionary or merely an incremental evolution, the task for printers now is to maximize existing resources to achieve target quality and to minimize waste — including time and money. FlexoKITE’s scientific methodology involving technical partners from divergent disciplines provides “Crime Scene Investigation”-like focus to pick apart flex variables, thereby discovering real process improvements.

“With a growing list of FlexoKITE collaborators, the usual nagging flexo pitfalls are now challenges ripe for resolution by FlexoKITE,” observes Harvey. “The phrase ‘We’ve always done it this way’ has reached its expiration date for flexo in these times when technology and innovation can pave a better path to a leaner, more sustainable production and growth,” he adds.

“Enough String” With FlexoKITE’s two facilities now operational, true advances in workflow and standard procedures are now within reach of flexographers without sacrificing valuable press time for experimentation. As FlexoKITE collaborators work together to blaze new trails toward greater efficiency, interested printers can introduce process innovation into their own flexo operations based on lessons learned from FlexoKITE.

“The ‘KITE’ in FlexoKITE is actually an acronym for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology, and Exploration,” explains Harvey. “Our goal with FlexoKITE is to give flexographers enough experiential string to fly their flexo as high as they choose to.”

Those who wish to attend the virtual Grand Opening on October 5 may click on this link to reserve their free slot.