Plate Trends in Corrugated

Jean asks:

Ralph –
Can you comment on the trends you are seeing in corrugated market (pre-print, post-print and brown box) plate technology and needs? (ie: sizes, digital, flat plate vs liquid, etc.) What are the drivers of the trends?

As future product marketing manager I am always looking for opportunity to investigate market segments’ needs and identify whether or not we have technology that will meet those needs, or if we can innovate and develop technology that will be effective and make a difference to our customers.

I have been researching the corrugated market and identified what I believe are a couple of areas of opportunity:
a) pre-print linerboard using flexographic technology (to grow from the offset market) – high print quality, primarily web based, CI presses, coated paper substrates;
b) post-print corrugated (to minimize excess production steps, yet achieve greater print quality and density than is available today) E flute;
c) cost effective full plate solution to address any deficiencies in the cost competitive liquid market, potentially offering customers more options with respect to print quality (registration, cost reduction in mounting, etc.).

So, I ‘asked Ralph’ whether or not he had a good feel for trends in the independent corrugated print market on consumable needs, press sizes, etc. He has offered you all up to help provide comments! Thank you in advance!

Specifically, can you reply with your thoughts on the following statements/questions?

For pre-print liner production:
– Plate thickness would primarily be .067″ and digitally imaged (LAMS) flat plate technology.
– Most common size would be 50 x 80″ (based on current CDI imagers and processing equipment)
– Is this big enough?

For post-print production:
– What is standard plate thickness today (on E flute? Is this the most common for high end post print?)?
– Can presses (Bobst, Cuir) handle .067″ plates? What would be the challenges?
– What is the largest plate size needed? How is this achieve (full size plate from trade shop)? Is there a need to be over 50″ x 80″ size for a digitally imaged plate? Does anyone still use analog plates in this market? What are their maximum size?
– What is the price point for this solution (please describe).

For cost effective solution:
– What is the most common plate thickness used for multi-color work? (on Flexo Folder Gluer or die cutter)?
– What plate attributes would be ideal for this production work? (ie: transfer more ink, thinner, lighter, etc.)
– Today this work is primarily analog, do you see this moving toward a digital (LAMS) solution? (due to scarcity of film, imagesetters, etc.)
– What is the price point for this solution ($ per sq. in. – plate material only).

And finally, is there a “wish list” for a plate solution for any/all of your work? Please be as specific as possible, and if you are willing to talk directly about your needs, please include your contact information!

Thank you in advance for trying to help me understand the market’s needs.

The associates I spoke to at the AICC National Fall Meeting would be glad to share their observations and insights to your question regarding the future of digital printing.

You can start by contacting the following folks…

George Cusdin at Flexographic Printing Services
Molly Mercer at Litho Press
Lisa Chaille at Litho Press
Jack Fulton at Printron

To everyone, please feel free to share your thoughts and comments here.

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