By 2022, the global label industry is forecast to be worth £35.4 billion, and flexography as a whole over £106 billion. Although digital and hybrid machining is now an important part of this market, it is relatively small & flexographic printing machines will remain at the heart of the industry. This is partly because flexographic machines have a long service life, and the majority run lengths are still high volume for our consumer & retail markets.
With this in mind, you might be wondering whether there is need for anything new.
In reality, flexographic technology is constantly pushing forwards. Here’s a look at what’s new in the world of flexo printing.
We have come to expect automation – which refers to end-to-end processing – from hybrid machines. At Focus, we’ve seen huge leaps forwards this year in everything from preparation of the equipment, automated setting up and press adjustments to finishing. This is important, because it helps to address a worrying issue that many of our clients have mentioned: skill shortages. Increased automation means that operators are required in fewer numbers, and with less knowledge, than has previously been the case.
UV drying systems
Drying has always been a hold-up in printing, especially with unsupported substrates which are heat sensitive.
The recent development of LED UV drying technology has already started to revolutionise flexography. We spoke about this a few weeks ago when we wrote about how our recent partnership with Phoseon has brought exciting new opportunities for Focus to keep developing LED UV based solutions with our Ink Partners Nazdar & Flint group..
Expect to see a soft purple glow becoming more widely adopted across the industry as a whole.
The jury is out on whether hybrid machines – which combine digital software with flexographic units – come under the banner of flexo or digital machines. Industry reports are now starting to include hybrids in their flexography reviews, simply because it’s exactly where the Digital Ink jet & flexographic industry is heading.
The use of software enhances the automation possibilities for flexography. Simple user interfaces, greater flexibility, and increased control are just some of the reasons why hybrid flexo machines are having a major impact on productivity. Interest is high and is rising. You can expect to hear a lot more about hybrid printing technology in 2019 and beyond.
Consumers want it. Manufacturers need it. Print technology engineers such as Focus are therefore working hard to provide it.
Whether its energy saving solutions such as LED UV drying, or investment in new solutions for substrates, flexographic printing has a vital role to play in this unfolding trend. Throughout 2019, we’ll see labels and packaging becoming increasingly small and lightweight. Flexographic machines therefore need to lead this change, and you can expect lots of buzz about how innovations are driving industry-wide sustainability.
Flexographic printing evolves through subtle changes. For instance, UV units are quick to install, and can be fitted to any machine. This type of change is something that everyone can easily get involved in and does not require dramatic engineering overhauls.
At Focus, we design our flexo printing machines to last. We also build them to evolve. As the economy shifts in unexpected ways, we’re leading the way to keep our clients at the forefront of the latest trends.
One of the best ways to see what’s new for 2019 is simply to pay us a visit! Our working showroom has everything from the latest models to engineers working on ground-breaking developments. To see for yourself, simply get in touch.