(Posted on 03/12/14)

This year’s Partners’ Luncheon and Annual EFIA debate, held at the beautiful, Coombe Abbey in Coventry was deemed to be a great success!

Opening the luncheon with a reflection on the activities of the Trade Association in 2014, Neil Jones, Managing Director Bobst Group and EFIA Training Director, thanked Dr. David Galton, Director of Asahi Photoproducts Ltd UK and EFIA Former Chairman for his strategic leadership of the Association since 2009 and presented him with gifts from the EFIA Board.

Dr. Galton stepped down as Chairman at the recent AGM and his successor will be appointed at the next EFIA Board Meeting on December 4th 2014. Mr. Jones went on to introduce the topic for the 2014 debate: “What will the Flexo Industry look like by 2025?”. This topic was also the focus of the EFIA Autumn Brochure, which was also distributed to the partners at the event.

Having relaxed over a superb lunch, Waqas Qureshi, from Packaging News, Metropolis Media Group, then led the debate with great spirit. Paul Bates, new EFIA Board Director and Business Development Director of Esko, commented that digital, as a technology, will only take over from Flexo if we as an industry let it. David Galton commented that the industry needs to automate more to be efficient and to adopt an industry wide ISO standard, as well as embrace fixed colour palette printing to be operationally efficient.

Nick Smith of Parkside Flexibles Group argued the case that flexo and digital printing were complementary not replacement technologies and that personalisation and customisation of print will have its place in the future due to the marketing opportunities they hold for the big brands. Rob Hawkins of Sun Chemical also questioned whether the market will actually change that much in 10 years, “Yes, run lengths are getting shorter so digital will have its place but radical change in that length of time would be exceptional.”

David McGuiness of Kodak commented: “There is no reason to print anything totally digital today but where you can combine it with another process, you have advantage. But data is king and if you control the data, you control the job. So ignore digital at your peril but embrace it with other technologies.”

The debate leader also raised the question, whether there are barriers for flexo to gain further market share? Dean Stanford of Amcor Group, stated in response “Four colour print is now a given and this gives the option to use the other decks on the press for features such as coatings and tactile effects. Fixed palette is the only way forward. Spot colours are too resource hungry! Digital will make inroads but it won’t take enough especially in flexible packaging due to requirements for heat resistance, rub resistance and so forth.” Many of the partners of the room agreed.

John Millington of Sandon Global added, “4 colours can now print 85% of the colour spectrum required. The problem is to get companies to embrace it and move forward. We need as an industry to look backwards too and get better at what we do. There is still too much inefficiency in the industry. Flexo still has innovation potential.”

The final conclusion of the debate came from Tony Foster, DS Smith, “As an industry we should be asking what we will do, rather what is happening to us as a flexo industry!” – a great sentiment echoed by all in the room.


To find out more about The European Flexographic Industry Association or to enter the Annual Print Awards programme, please contact Debbie Waldron-Hoines on debbie@efia-academy.org

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