Under the current situation of the hottest flexibl

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Current situation of flexible packaging market in North America (Part 2)

flexographic printing and gravure printing many packaging printers in North America are fond of flexographic printing, and they believe that flexographic printing is the most ideal way of packaging printing. However, not every application is like this. The executive director of the American packaging and label gravure Association believes that the quality of flexographic printing is easy to approach that of gravure printing for short printing. However, if it is a long printing, flexographic printing will lead to serious point increase, which means that the printing quality will decline. Intaglio printing is a relatively mature printing method, which is an ideal choice for long plate printing in terms of printing quality

but in the past ten years, there has been an undeniable trend that more and more short editions are seizing the market of long editions. The number of short version is small, and the printing has been completed before the quality of flexo decreases, so there will be no unacceptable point increase. Coupled with the short preparation time of flexo, it is more suitable for packaging and printing. According to the statistics of American flexible packaging Association, 79% of flexible packaging printing in North America is flexographic printing

in the past decade, flexographic printing has developed from a printing process called "rotating stamp" by many people to a printing method that can match the quality of gravure printing. There are two main driving forces driving the rapid growth of flexographic printing. The first is the cost. The high production cost of gravure cylinder gives flexographic printing a foothold and promotes the continuous development of flexographic printing. The second driving force is the rapid replacement of live parts, that is, the shorter preparation time and conversion time when replacing live parts

printers and their customers are under pressure to reduce costs. Everyone is weighing whether the high cost of gravure printing is worth it. Many printers believe that the quality of flexographic printing is completely sufficient. When ordinary consumers choose goods on the shelf, they simply can't see the difference between flexographic printing and gravure printing, and consumers don't care whether the packaging adopts gravure printing. The high quality of gravure printing does not mean that it can occupy the market

the main reasons that hinder the development of gravure printing are long preparation time and expensive plate cylinder. Printers also began to consider solving these two problems. The engraving cost of the plate cylinder has been greatly reduced. Another innovation is the fast moving parts replacement ability of the flexible packaging gravure press. Due to the combination of sleeve technology, now the replacement can be completed by only one person, and there is no need to relieve the tension of the drum material. These are the latest technologies used for the effectiveness and sustainability of the gravure press

Another major problem of gravure printing is that printers are unwilling to invest a lot. Suppose there are 500 gravure printing machines in the United States, of which 300 have been in use for 25 years or more. These gravure printing machines were originally designed to print paper and paperboard, but now many machines are transforming to print film. Printers only want to renovate old equipment, but they don't want to invest in new equipment. If you calculate the waste caused by this kind of old gravure printing machine and the manpower spent on renovation, you will realize that these gravure printing machines are not competitive in the flexible packaging market

shortage of skilled workers

in terms of printing alone, the shortage of skilled workers has the greatest impact on flexible packaging processors. In Germany, a large number of printing apprentices graduate every year and will engage in printing for life. However, in the United States, there is no such system with DN as the unit, which also causes the lack of a large number of skilled workers in the United States every year. This reality also urges printing machine manufacturers to pay special attention to the operability of equipment when designing new equipment. The production manager of windmoeller hoescher flexographic printing machine believes that in order to deal with the problem of lack of skilled operators, the industry is now more considering how to make the automation of flexographic printing machine higher and how to make the operation of inexperienced technicians easier

due to the shortage of skilled technicians, the design of printing machines now considers not only the needs of customers, but also the simplicity of operation. Aquafex is designing "smart" printing machines to help printers maintain a competitive advantage in the expanding global market. In the near future, the printing machine will be able to realize self-monitoring and adjustment, and the operator, like an aircraft pilot, will only solve some unconventional printing problems

challenges and opportunities

even though flexographic printing has an absolute advantage in the flexible packaging market in North America, other printing methods still have room for development, and a single printing method cannot occupy the whole flexible packaging market

take RFID tags as an example. If we plan to use RFID tags on the packaging of expanding the economic and trade stage between China and the least developed countries in the future, we may need some gravure technology to participate. PFID tags have been used on pallets and containers. With the development of RFID technology, the decline of RFID tag cost in the next five years will promote its application in a single product. However, gravure printing is the best choice for the long printing of RFID chips with high speed and stable printing quality. If we want to ensure the reading rate of RFD chip, the printing quality cannot be reduced to any extent in the whole printing process. Sooner or later, RFID tags will be applied to product packaging by printing. The new conductive ink developed by Sun Chemical and fulint ink companies shows us the application of PFD labels in the future. Therefore, it is very necessary to prepare a gravure machine or at least one gravure unit. In addition, flexographic printing machine manufacturers such as Nilpeter and Mark Andy are combining gravure printing and flexographic printing. This combined printing machine will make the printing of RFID tags more efficient and economical

it is a trend to add printing units on the basis of existing equipment, and narrow width flexographic printing has always been in the leading position in this regard. The combination of various printing methods can give printers more choices and a wider range of business. Because it is impossible to predict what customers' future requirements will be, printers need to make a variety of preparations. If we want to ensure high printing quality and low price as possible, we need a good combination of printing equipment, stronger adaptability and high-speed and stable printing. FTA supports the development of flexographic printing technology towards a higher degree of automation, which is closely related to the development of packaging printing. The following are the main challenges faced by today's flexographic printing Market:

① equipment investment to enter the market

② profitability

③ flexible pricing according to energy consumption changes

④ shorter delivery cycle

⑤ recruitment of skilled technicians

⑥ achieve or exceed the printing quality of offset and gravure printing

in addition to the challenges, printers and processors participating in the FTA survey clearly pointed out that there are a lot of opportunities in the growing and improving flexible packaging market, such as product diversity, the growing shrink packaging market and the broad demand market in Latin America

information source: Printing Technology

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