Student Aaron Pitt (Computype) from Flexographic Tech’s 12-week Press Operator Course produced the award-winning card.
The winning holiday card was printed on both sides of 8pt tag (supplied by Avery Dennison). The black text on the inside of the card was printed in station one and the web was flipped using the turn bar. The student then printed a four-color process image, a spot green, a high gloss spot varnish and a tactile pearlescent varnish over the snowflakes. (The card shows the 4 graduating classes from 2017.)
What really sets the card apart is the tactile pearlescent vanish (supplied by Flint Group). The tactile varnish was run using a 105 CPI, 28 BCM anilox roll. With this much ink film thickness, the student had to run slow (95fmp) with max UV lamp settings in order to cure properly. The card was printed on our Mark Andy 2200 13 inch press. The student used extra-wide (half inch) bearer bars on the plate to help reduce the plate bounce inherent with our 22 year old press. Tight registration on the images with fine detail of logos made registration challenging. High resolution plates (Kodak supplied NX plates) required excellent kiss impression settings to allow for great-looking highlight dots and crisp images.
To ensure the best print quality the students optimized and fingerprinted the press, determined the best anilox rolls, plate screening technology and mounting tape to be used for the different colors. The optimization process allowed the tactile varnish to really pop off the front of the card and provided the touch sensation we were looking for.
Flexo Tech instructor Shawn Oetjen notes, “This is the second year in a row that Flexo Tech has taken top honors in the prestigious print competition. Although Flexo Tech is a newer addition to flexographic education, students are learning award-winning print fundamentals.”
Flexographic Tech’s role in training press operators is vital to the future success of the flexographic printing markets. The demand for the trained operators increases daily, as more people retire and fewer people enter the industry. Oetjen notes, “Every week I get more and more calls from printers looking for flexographic press operators. Some of these individuals are in a real panic and as the lack of operators is negatively impacting their business. Sadly, this problem is only going to get worse over the next decade if we do not train new operators.” According to JP Morgan Chase, There are currently 5.6 million unfilled jobs in America and that number is predicted to skyrocket to a staggering 16 million in 2024.