Narrow-web flexographic printing for cosmetics folding cartons? Even just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable to most cosmetics companies. However Amway Corp. Ada MI believed that state-of-the-art flexo printing and UV curing had come very close to the quality of offset printing. So Amway bought a narrow-web flexo press from Arpeco Eng. Ltd. (Mississauga Ontario Canada) to print cosmetics folding cartons in-house rather than continuing to rely on outside vendors. The press was part of a $17 million expansion of Amway's captive printing operation. The 10-station narrow-web press running since mid-1996 has slashed carton ordering times from 12 to just two weeks. And though Amway wouldn't disclose annual cost savings figures gained by decorating in-house return on investment for the press was said to be just 12 months. The cartons printed on the press hold containers of premium-quality skin cremes makeups and perfumes that sell for anywhere from $4 to $48. The products do not appear in retail stores; rather they're sold worldwide through a network of beauty consultants. The reduced lead time permits Amway's cosmetics division to order folding cartons every four weeks versus every 20 weeks as was previously required with outside vendors. That reduces excess carton inventory and eliminates the potential of waste due to inaccurate forecasting of product demand. "Rather than the cosmetics group having to forecast several months ahead our shop can turn on a dime" says narrow web team member Tom Plett. "In six hours we can produce cartons for them if necessary."