Considering where flexo is today, it is amazing that the industry has come so far. Decades ago, flexo was looked at as an inferior, inexpensive cousin of offset and gravure. That has changed dramatically. The quality of flexo printing has improvedimmeasurably, which has translated into much greater sales.According to statistics compiled by the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers, flexo packaging inks controlled an estimated 64 percent of the printing ink industry in 2001, and has become a more than $1 billion ink industry in the U.S.
Much of the success of the flexo printing industry has been attributed to the efforts and cooperation of its suppliers. Much like the energy-cured industry that has fueled the growth of UV flexo, the flexographic industry has long seen ink companies, equipment and anilox manufacturers and converters working together to develop new products. The ability to create just-in-time products and shorter production runs greatly favors flexo.
Ink companies are continuing their part in developing new products to meet the needs of their customers. Whether they are new UV products for the narrow web market or inks for innovative new packaging applications, ink companies are working to create new solutions. In the future, flexo printers will continue to make gains in new markets such as folding cartons and packaging films, and these converters will be looking to their ink suppliers to help provide solutions.
In “The Flexo Report,” beginning on page 22, ink industry leaders discuss their thoughts on what is new in flexo, and where it is heading. One of the keys that is stressed by these leaders is the importance of understanding the needs of converters and packaging buyers. Ink companies that work together with their customers and, in turn, their customers’ customers, are most likely to succeed in this growing marketplace.