A New Direction with SteppedHex Engraving


by Klemens Ehrlitzer

Innovative SteppedHex technology and a new direction in sales give Zecher GmbH an extra spurt of growth

Things are going well at Zecher GmbH. Sales figures are up, and the newly developed SteppedHex engraving, which the Paderborn (Germany)-based supplier presented at last year’s Drupa trade fair, is creating more and more interest. Specialisation in the company’s core product of anilox rollers and consistent implementation of a proactive sales strategy form the basis of this current success. This is reflected in, for example, the company’s sales for the past year of 2016, which grew by 12% in the twelve months concerned. In this article, Jörg Rohde, who is Zecher’s Head of Application Technology, explains what lies behind the development of the company’s new SteppedHex technology, while Head of Sales Thomas Reinking tells us more about the context of the current success in sales.


Fig. 1: Zecher’s main plant in Paderborn (Germany) is equipped with a total of seventeen laser-engraving machines and ten further mechanical units, which between them produce twelve thousand anilox rollers every year.

The foundations of today’s success can be traced back to 1948, when Kurt Zecher originally founded the firm. Operating as what would nowadays be termed a start-up entrepreneur, he ran a small workshop specialised in hard chrome plating. Enquiries from the printing sector ignited his pioneering spirit, and by 1950 he had produced the first regularly engraved anilox roller. Since then, the firm’s development has been based wholly on anilox rollers, of which the Paderborn-based company produces approximately twelve thousand units annually. All production takes place in Paderborn, where the company employs a workforce of 170 persons.

Production defined by state-of-the-art laser technology

Ever since the Zecher Company launched its first laser-engraved anilox roller in 1989, this technology has become widely recognised as standard. Engraving with a diamond-tipped tool nevertheless remains in use for certain applications. As a result of all this, the company’s production facilities now include a total of seventeen laser-engraving machines, along with ten mechanical units.

When ceramic anilox rollers first came into use, cells tended to be aligned at an angle of 45°, as was the practice with chrome rollers. The hexagonal format, which works with an angle of 60°, has nevertheless become more common over time. One advantage of this type of engraving is that it minimises the risk of moiré patterns forming during halftone printing. There were also repeated attempts to make use of cross-hatching, particularly known in the area of coating techniques, for the printing of flexible packaging items.

Laser engraving paves the way for alternative cell geometries

As cross-hatching entails both benefits and disadvantages, there have been long-standing efforts in the sector to apply the possibilities of laser engraving to alternative cell geometries, and several relevant suppliers market corresponding products with a variety of designations.

The development of a new engraving presents an important challenge, given the multiple factors and various physical requirements that need to be taken into account. These may include:

  • ink transfer, which is normally determined by the filling and emptying characteristics of the cell,
  • the mechanical stability of the engraving, which is for example needed to guide the doctor blade,
  • the geometric arrangement of the cells, which must correspond to the various screen angles arising from reproduction,
  • the suitability of the cell’s shape for engraving onto a cylindrical object in an endless and seamless way,
  • the use of all commonly employed types of ink, such as those based on water and solvents and those designed for UV-dried inking systems,
  • along with all common printing machine configurations,
  • and compatibility with any type of printing where the tendency to use ever-finer screening and pattern details demands special requirements in terms of the ink-transfer performance of anilox rollers.

Zecher GmbH has developed, with SteppedHex, a free-standing cell geometry that fulfils all the requirements in the list. The name of the product reflects the stepped arrangement of the cells, which are organised in groups of three (see fig. 2). The “omission” of the adjoining walls of three cells lying on a given radial line creates the open engraving and typical offset of SteppedHex technology, with its German registered-design status.


Fig. 2: 3D model of SteppedHex engraving (right) with special cell geometry and typical offset arrangement, compared to Trihelical engraving (left) and Hexa 60° (centre).

SteppedHex expands the possibilities of conventional engraving

The company has invested several years of intensive work in the development of its new SteppedHex technology. This has involved cooperation both with industrial partners and selected users of the firm’s products. The latter, in their role as “beta users” put the anilox rollers through their paces over a long period of actual day-to-day operation. One of the initial test markets was the field of narrow-web UV flexo printing. It is for this reason that some of the label printers involved have now been using this anilox roller technology successfully for more than three years. The project then went on to cover the market for flexible packaging and other segments, such as pre-printed corrugated cardboard.


Fig. 3: Most anilox rollers are supplied in the form of anilox sleeves.

The lengthy test phase ensures that printers can work with SteppedHex as part of a proven existing system that has fulfilled previous requirements without problem, but which is now open to new opportunities. These include such benefit as better-quality flexo printing, often involving anilox rollers of a higher resolution. The challenge in this case is to transfer the same volume of ink, despite the finer quality of the engraving. This balancing act succeeds thanks to the open engraving of SteppedHex technology. “The increased fineness of the line resolution is compensated for by the open nature of the cells”, explains Jörg Rohde. “This permits the use, depending on line configuration, of SteppedHex anilox rollers that increase resolution by 80 to 120 – and sometimes even 180 lines per centimetre – without any of the loss of volume typical of hexagonal engravings.”

Jörg Rohde uses the example of a conventional roller with a resolution of 160 L/cm to illustrate these effects. The maximum volume of this engraving is comparable to that of a SteppedHex roller with a resolution of 240 L/cm. This increase of 80 lines in terms of screen resolution has the advantage of homogeneous ink transfer, and therefore of uniform colouring of the printed item. This improves the representation of fine detail, but still makes available the volume required for the printing of the surfaces concerned.


Fig. 4: Conventional anilox rollers remain in use in many areas of application.

Improved emptying and cleaning performance

The afore-mentioned is also supported by an open engraving structure; with fewer cell-walls, adhesion powers which usually retain a proportion of the ink in the cell, are diminished. The cell geometry, consisting of groups of three cells that each form a shape reminiscent of a bathtub, is beneficial in terms of cleaning performance. This aspect is of increasing importance, given that most modern printing machines are equipped with automatic cleaning equipment.

The fine resolution of SteppedHex engraving lets it deliver yet another benefit: in the shape of its high basic stability, which ensures smooth and efficient application of the doctor blade.

SteppedHex creates a growing interest on the market

Anilox rollers have raised quality standards right across the flexo printing sector in recent years. The products offered in this respect were largely similar. The Zecher Company has managed, with the development of its new SteppedHex technology, to offer technical product advantages to users of anilox rollers. This gives its worldwide sales organisation, which includes 60 representatives, a valuable unique selling point. The product’s attractiveness is enhanced even more by the fact that the price-to-performance characteristics of this new engraving technology are comparable to those of conventional anilox rollers.

Market interest in SteppedHex is therefore correspondingly high. Ever since it was first launched at the Drupa trade fair in May 2016, the level of demand has grown in parallel with the number of items delivered. Special test rollers are being made available to manufacturers of printing machines and printing companies alike, and an OEM customer has already completed an extensive range of test prints with SteppedHex rollers. All this has shown that, among other things, the typical worries about open engraving possibly leading to the transfer of excessive quantities of ink, along with the concerns of many print works regarding inefficient drying, are unfounded.

An up-to-the-minute approach to sales based on key success factors

The development of this new engraving technology is however not the only reason for celebrating the recent successes of Zecher GmbH in terms of sales. During the past eighteen months, the company has applied targeted efficiency measures across departmental boundaries, which have optimised both its production processes as well as sales and distribution procedures.

Thomas Reinking, who has been in charge of Sales and Marketing at the Paderborn-based company since May 2015, describes these changes in detail: “Customer requirements were previously focused on technical advice. Before the purchase of an anilox roller, a printing company normally had to consider which specifications would be suitable for a particular application. Zecher has been able, as a company wholly specialised in anilox rollers, to use its expertise and long experience in the field to create a strong market position. There has meanwhile also been a fundamental shift in the nature of the flexo printing sector, which now demands a new, customised approach to sales.”

Many flexo printing companies have over time developed a profound knowledge of everything to do with printing technology, which often renders superfluous any advice that might be available on the specifications of the anilox rollers that they require. Purchasing decisions are nowadays seldom based on such technical parameters as line resolution, pick-up volume or cell geometry, but tend rather to depend on investment budgets. Thomas Reinking continues: “It therefore follows, in the context of this newly aligned approach to sales, that today’s decision-makers occupy commercial posts in the companies of our main target group.” This point applies in particular in the case of OEM customers. The new approach likewise offers several advantages. On one hand, concentrating on a single channel of distribution means that quotations can be issued considerably faster; and on the other, the Sales team is able to react more quickly to customer demands, as increased proximity to customers is associated with earlier involvement in investment and decision-making processes.

Implementation of all the above measures has already had a considerable impact on business development. In the previous four quarters of 2016, for example, Zecher GmbH has reported a 12% growth in orders compared to the twelve-month period before. This in turn creates significant scope for future investments. New hirings and staff-qualification measures in the area of human resources, coupled with further progress in the field of production technology, promise to secure this success in the long term.

Communications between Application Technology and the printer

The estimated 90% of orders that are now handled directly via the sales organisation likewise translates into a considerable advantage for the department of Application Technology. “The streamlining of our sales procedures has permanently taken the pressure off our specialists in the field of application technology”, explains Thomas Reinking. “They only have to go into action nowadays if customer requirements exceed the expertise of our colleagues in Sales; a scenario that applies in just one out of ten cases.”

This means that the valuable resources of the Application Technology team can be significantly better-targeted, which in turn translates into a jump in the quality of advice regarding their field of expertise.

A helpful pyramid guide in a jungle of specifications

This new approach means that the Sales team must be able, to a certain extent, to provide technical advice and support – a truly demanding task, given the wide variety of uses that anilox rollers can be put to. This is made easier by the “specifications pyramid” that the Zecher Company first made public at the 2012 Drupa trade fair. This tool developed by the company in-house has since become a proven and coherent way of matching an individual application to the right kind of engraving.


Fig. 5: The “specifications pyramid”, which Zecher first presented at the 2012 Drupa trade fair, provides a line-resolution comparison between SteppedHex (right) and conventional engraving (left).

This new SteppedHex technology is a star addition to the catalogue of Zecher GmbH. While previous products were normally anilox rollers designed for specific purposes, SteppedHex is an alternative concept that breaks the bounds of individual applications. What this means in practice is that users can cover all their needs with a single system, should they wish to do so. As SteppedHex is not restricted to individual fields of application, it can be used to deliver benefits to printers dedicated to high-quality halftone work, those dealing with line-halftone combinations and even those producing white blanks.

Zecher GmbH has managed to convert its SteppedHex technology and new sales concept into the foundation stone of healthy growth, and is now set to break into new markets. One example is North and South America, where the company spent the autumn of 2016 acquiring new partners for its distribution network.


Fig. 6: Laser machines used for the engraving of ceramic anilox rollers at Zecher’s plant in Paderborn.

To learn more about Zecher, visit www.zecher.com

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Ten Things to Know About Flexo End Seals


Flexo End Seals1. When installing your seals, make sure the face of the seal fits squarely against the chamber with no gaps or distortion.

2. The condition of the anilox roll can also play a role in chamber leaks. If the roll lacks a dead band, ink will build up there and contribute to end seal failure. Chips on the ends of the anilox rolls can also create ink buildup and compromise the integrity of the end seals.

3. Make sure to use an end seal material that is compatible with the type of ink or coating being used, the length of the run, and the press speed. Today there are a number of end seal material options for all types of inks that can offer very long life. However, these solutions are often more expensive so you need to match the material specific to your criteria.

WandH-chamber-end-seals-800x585-300x2194. There a number of new end seal coatings and multiple material combinations (two part and three part) on the market today. Most of these are designed to increase end seal life. When combined with today’s longer lasting blade options they can significantly reduce the need to shut down the press just to change seals or blades.

5. It is important to know that not all felts are created equal. Higher quality felts (F1, F3) will offer longer life and higher vibration absorption. Lower quality felt seals will usually have more thickness variations. It is important the felt seals are properly lubricated. The right amount of a food grade lubrication can extend the life of the seal by reducing the friction as well as, the possibility of ink build-up. Food-grade petrolatum is more effective than oils, as oil flows away (down) from the top of the seal as it is heated. Conversely, petrolatum stays cooler at the base of the seal and “wicks” toward the top of the seal as friction heat is generated.

6. Foam end seals are still a very popular and cost effective solution. Some new foams, especially those with coatings, have proven to last as long as many felt seals. Longer life makes them more cost effective.

DuraSeal-800x500-300x1887. Flexo end seal materials are available with different durometers or compression ratios. This is important as the doctor blade needs to have some upward pressure from the end seal to ensure an adequate seal is made between the shoulder of the end seal and the underside of the blade. It is important that the seal is sized properly and does not apply too much upward pressure that it causes the blade to “flare” (the end is lifted upwards beyond a degree or two from anilox parallel). Too much flare on the blade will require excessive pressure to ensure even blade pressure to the anilox and will cause uneven wear.

8. Good seal design for a proper fit is critical to minimize chamber leaking from gaps. This is especially true on older presses where alterations may have been made or vendors for end seals have changed and you are working with “copies of copies”. This is the most critical in the radius of the seal. If you are considering looking at new end seal options it is important to also supply the diameter of the anilox roll to make sure that the end seal radius is correct.

9. Doctor blades that are too short or too long can be another source of leaks. When changing a doctor blade, it’s important to make sure that the new blade is the right size for the chamber and installed correctly. Typically the blade should come to about halfway across the tops of the end seals when placed in the chamber. If the blade does not reach the seals, then the seals can actually prevent contact between the doctor blade and the anilox roll. If the blade extends beyond the outer edge of the end seal, it may create a small opening between the underside of the blade and the end seal which creates a path for ink to flow out of the chamber. If it’s too long, the blade may also become wavy and not lay flush with the roll, causing uneven metering and leaking.

10. Many new chambers come with special molded rubber seals. These can be very effective but also very expensive. Sometimes more traditional seals can be substituted with good success.

All Printing Resources makes and sells a wide variety of end seals for all types of presses and coaters. Click here to Learn more about APR’s Flexo End Seals.

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Beyond Best Practices: How to Win in a Dynamic Market

best practices

by Michael Leeds, SVP Client Engagement, Americas, SGK

Market leaders and innovators have been talking about “next practices” for at least 10 years, but it can be difficult for many in their audience to know what steps to take or how to identify the results of successful next-practice campaigns. That’s because next practices, when they prove to be successful, are quickly and unconsciously redefined as best practices. What was once a deliberate exploration beyond the status quo (a next practice) becomes a recognized benchmark of the current state (a best practice). The “next” next practice, by definition, is hard to imagine.

The truth is, many of today’s best-practice-led innovations and processes could have been described as next practices when they were first proposed. Consider a few examples:

  • A PROTOTYPE OF THE FIRST SMARTPHONE, designed by IBM, made its public debut in 1992. The Simon Personal Communicator went on sale in 1994 but was pulled from the market six months later having sold only 50,000 units.[i] Fifteen years after that prototype, Apple introduced the iPhone, now considered the best-practice example of what a smartphone should be.
  • CARRIAGES FOR HIRE PREDATE THE AUTOMOBILE, but for more than a century, hailing a taxi was only possible on the street or through a dispatcher. Then, Uber saw an opportunity to provide a better ride-hailing experience using mobile technology, leaving traditional cab companies scrambling to compete with a next practice that is quickly becoming a best practice.
  • FOR THE RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES, Kellogg departed from the traditional, highly polished TV-led campaign and instead launched with a campaign driven primarily by social media and PR. CGO Clive Sirkin remarked, “the reach and earned media was unprecedented and we’re on track to have the most effective Olympic sponsorship that we’ve ever had.”[ii] Expect to see many brands incorporating this social-led marketing into their own campaigns, transforming a next practice into a best practice.

Next practices require a new vision and a leap of faith. If they succeed — and once we understand the cause-and-effect relationships underlying their success — they become best practices. But in a world of rapid, often unpredictable social and market transformations, brands can’t always afford to wait until a competitor has blazed the path.

While established best practices will always have a place, we all need to engage in next-practice thinking and planning in order to keep pushing our brands — even the most traditional and established brands — forward in a dynamic marketplace. The risks of next-practice marketing are high, but they can be controlled. The risks of sticking only with yesterday’s best practices and getting left behind are unacceptable.

Best and next practices can and should coexist, but the two must be managed in different ways, which can be distilled into three paradigms.


Best practices are inherently conservative, looking back in an attempt to re-create past successes. They follow well-established paths to help avoid potential issues and deliver relatively predictable results. But they are subject to diminishing returns as cultures, markets and technologies change.

Next practices acknowledge ongoing change, generating innovation and transformation by looking for new opportunities, identifying emerging needs and moving quickly to stake out a unique new position. The emphasis is on exploring new territories in real time to achieve a potentially profitable future state that best-practices management may be blind to.

Edwin Land, inventor of instant photography, said the camera should “go beyond amusement and record-making to become a continuous partner of most human beings.”[iii] For decades, Polaroid’s best practices focused on continuous improvement in chemicals and films. But now Instagram has fulfilled Land’s vision with a next-practices model that marries ubiquitous digital photography with social media, attracting more than half a billion users.


Best practices manage change from the top down — instructing teams in their roles and goals, providing a rationale based on known past successes, and delivering performance metrics to gauge future success by comparison. This tends to channel teams into familiar pathways.

Adoption engineering reverses the familiar change-management model. Instead of mandating change, teams are given the autonomy, tools and support they need to collaborate and change organically. Adoption of change is motivated by innate social impulses, and the team is freed to respond to dynamic market and technology developments with unfettered agility and creativity.

Through Project Aristotle, Google has studied hundreds of its teams to learn how they function together socially. The most successful teams provide individuals with a sense of psychological safety, dependability, structure, personal meaning and group impact.[iv] Google is also famous for allowing engineers to spend much of their workday pursuing whatever project interests them.[v] Is it any coincidence that the company is known, above all, for its total commitment to next practices?


Traditional budgeting and planning revisits brand strategy on a yearly basis, fine-tunes the strategic direction for the coming year, and establishes goals and budgets accordingly. This long horizon is still an appropriate way to handle projects — such as a new product launch or package redesign — that require an extended development time, with results that will take months to evaluate.

But in the new worlds of digital marketing, social media, branded content and whatever may come next, the horizon is much shorter. You may be getting feedback within hours or even instantly. You need the ability to change direction on the fly. To update the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again — but do it right now!” As more of your marketing focus moves to these new channels, where everyday change is the norm, you need to do more budgeting and planning on a rolling basis.

The pathway to purchase used to be linear: See an ad on TV or in a magazine, then drive to the store. Now there are thousands of pathways, and they’re always evolving. Procter & Gamble is one company that has been adept at opening these pathways, and marketers often turn to P&G to learn best practices. But remember, best practices begin as next practices, and a closer look reveals a company that’s always ready to take a calculated risk by trying something new — then trying again. Right now.

Identify your business need. Employ situational analysis. Create and empower collaborative cross-functional teams. Be vigilant to the marketplace reception and agile in your response.

In other words, free your people to imagine the future. What’s next for your brand?

Michael_LeedsAbout the Author:

Michael Leeds, Senior Vice President Client Engagement, Americas, with SGK, has been deploying brands and brand processes for more than 25 years. He evaluates brand programs through KPIs, which provide insights into the effectiveness and efficiency of the program’s tools, workflows, and resources. For company information, visit www.sgkinc.com.

[i] Ira Sager, “Before iPhone and Android Came Simon, the First Smartphone,” Bloomberg, June 29, 2012. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-06-29/before-iphone-and-android-came-simon-the-first-smartphone


[ii] “Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference,” Bloomberg Transcript, September 7, 2016. http://investor.kelloggs.com/~/media/Files/K/Kellogg-IR/reports-and-presentations/2016/barclays-2016-global-consumer-staples-conference-transcript.pdf


[iii] Andrea Nagy Smith, “What Was Polaroid Thinking,” Yale Insights, November 2009. http://nexus.som.yale.edu/qn/content/what-was-polaroid-thinking


[iv] Leigh Buchanan, “The Most Productive Teams at Google Have These 5 Dynamics,” Inc., April 12, 2016. http://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/most-productive-teams-at-google.html


[v] Laura He, “Google’s Secrets of Innovation: Empowering Its Employees,” Forbes, March 29, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurahe/2013/03/29/googles-secrets-of-innovation-empowering-its-employees


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The Corrugated Climate – Where the Industry Is Innovating


By Nick Harvey, Apex International

At the mercy of changing consumer preferences, brand owner demands, industry trends and a whole litany of other factors, the corrugated packaging market has morphed and evolved quite a bit over the past decade. And as outlined in a new Smithers Pira report, The Future of Global Corrugated Packaging to 2021, things show no sign of standing still.

Being in the anilox and glue roll business, and having supported the corrugated industry for the last three decades, Apex stays on the cusp of what’s new and exciting. Here are some of the innovations we’re noticing and paying attention to.

Board Production

The paper reels used in the manufacture of corrugated board exist in a dry state. During production, moisture is added by the application of starch glue. That moisture needs to be removed, because the finished product needs to also be dry.

But while it may seem like a simple thing to get the glue on the paper, both the doctor roll and glue roll can heavily influence the manufacturing process. If the doctor roll has score lines—which can be created by anything from over impression, to adjusting the dams for accommodating different board widths, to cleaning with the wrong materials—extra and unnecessary glue will be picked up and transferred. If the glue roll has corrosion or chrome flaking, it will apply the glue unevenly. These problems will result in increased starch consumption, an uneven board, and washboarding and warping effects.

The solution is to use rolls that are not only free of scoring and corrosion/chrome flaking concerns, but also actively better the process by improving total indicated runout (TIR)—specifically ceramic doctor rolls and welded, stainless steel glue rolls. A glue set with rolls made from these materials promotes faster speeds, reduced glue consumption, easier cleanup, job repeatability and longer roll life.

corrugated packaging climate


Consistent and equal glue transfer is important when discussing board production and also relevant when examining corrugated industry trends:

  • The market for E-flutes and micro-flutes, which is growing fast
  • A demand for a reduction in starch costs, energy usage and board consumption
  • The increasing use of thinner and weaker paper
  • The proliferation of short-run orders

The need for an efficient glue set really comes into focus here. The surge in E-flutes and micro-flutes means more flutes per sheet, more starch consumption, more moisture in the board and a need for either slower speeds or a higher drying capacity. Better control of the glue application process is essential to deliver the best and most cost-effective results.

Simply put, board quality is the foundation for corrugated excellence, and that is regardless of which printing process is applied.

Digital & 4-Color Flexo

Pre-print and post-print corrugated’s benefits are already well known—they are established processes, they enable long runs at high speeds and their quality is accepted by the industry—but they are not without their disadvantages—changeover times can be slow, there is excess waste and short-run costs are high.

One of the storylines to come out of drupa 2016 was press manufacturers answering the call for corrugated packaging printed digitally. As we’ve seen in the narrow web market, digital printing has its own benefits. Changeover time is minimal and there is little to no waste, making short runs one of its strengths. That plays into CPCs’ hands, as they look for cost-effective ways to produce small jobs for retailers’ private brands, keep reduced inventories, cater to consumers’ desire for personalized and customized packaging, and go from concept to shelf as quickly as possible.

That’s not to say digital has no drawbacks; in reality, there are quite a few. Being a new print process, it requires a large investment—monetary and manpower—along with a different workflow and path through a plant. It has fixed parameters and no flexibility, meaning value-added coatings are not an option. There are inherent limitations in its Pantone capabilities. Specific to corrugated, the high-quality paper that is necessary is more expensive. And speed is a fraction of what’s possible with flexography.

So, we have discussed the pros and cons of pre-printed, post-printed and digitally printed corrugated, but there is a fourth option: 4-color corrugated. As its name implies, 4-color corrugated builds colors using the familiar cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink set. Think of it as a simplified, user-friendly version of expanded gamut printing.

Why choose 4-color over digital? Because it is based on flexography—an established process—there is no upfront investment or drastic workflow modifications to make. And it enables one of the crucial benefits of flexographically vs. digitally printed boxes: The ability to apply a range of coatings and special effects, like glossed or textured lacquers, inline.

It’s at this point some printers might raise one of four objections:

  • “My customer won’t accept 4-color!” Digital is already 4-color, so if they accept that, they will accept this
  • “My customer has a strict brand color!” Because we are only talking about four colors, there is still room for one or more spot colors in the press’ other units
  • “We have trapping issues!” Trapping issues can be caused by the use of an anti-foam agent, so the solution here is to use an anilox that enables you to remove that additive
  • “We have registration issues!” Aside from printing on better board, fading out the edges can trick the human eye and allow for some movement of register

The fact is, on a six- or seven-unit press, a corrugated job run with 4-color flexo can achieve 100 percent of the Pantone book. With four decks occupied by cyan, magenta, yellow and black, and the final unit used for a lacquer, there is room for one or two spot colors—Coca-Cola red, Pampers green, Cadbury purple, etc.

But what about variation in board quality from batch to batch? With digital printing, a primer needs to be applied first. That’s not the case with 4-color flexo. Regardless of whether the board quality is good, just average or even poor, no primer is required.

On the plate front, there are many brands, types and variations to choose from. What is essential is the plate hold a high-resolution; its screen must be a minumum 175 lpi. At that number, we are on the cusp of where the human eye can discern individual dots; past that point, the eye only sees a solid color. As the plate’s lpi drops below that minimum, halftone dots become more visible and optical ink coverage appears grainy and flat.

The Anilox’s Role

When considering what a great anilox needs to bring to the table, three things should come to mind:

  • Predictable and consistent ink release. This is essential for color simulation printing
  • Reducing or outright eliminating ink aeration. As mentioned previously, this enables the removal of any anti-foam additive in the formulation, which helps in eliminating trapping issues
  • Color simulation predictability with replacement rolls. This ensures the design remains valid for color month after month, year after year

Genetic transfer technology, or GTT, is the hallmark of Apex’s aniloxes. It uses a patented, open slalom geometry. Whether we are talking about cell structures like 30-degree, 60-degree or elongated hexagonal, or open structures like trihelical, channellox or positive engraving, there is no comparison. This is not a sales pitch and that is not hyperbole—it is based on science.

There are two key areas of benefit we can qualify with science: Applied forces within the ink transfer, and aeration.

Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Rotation gave us an understanding of how acceleration and rotation cause angular changes. If we visualize how ink transfer plays out with different cell shapes, in both conventional and long cells, some uplift occurs. With GTT, because there is no back wall, uplift is kept to a minimum.

Looking at ink aeration, recall it is possible to compress air, but not liquid. When there is positive pressure within the doctor blade chamber, which is caused by the speed of the anilox rotating, it can lead to a micro-bubble effect and an uneven ink layer. Oftentimes the solution is to add an anti-foam, but this can create trapping issues. Because GTT’s design encourages a smooth transfer of ink, there is no bubbling effect and no need for an anti-foam agent. That leaves an even surface to make contact with the plate.

Can It Be Done?

To recap, in order to utilize 4-color corrugated, we need good registration or creative gripping, predictable and consistent ink transfer, accurate color simulation predictability and a high plate resolution of 175 lpi or more, and reduced ink aeration to enable little or no anti-foam additive use.

Is this all feasible? Can a printer achieve all of these goals? Consider that in 1969—nearly 50 years ago—the U.S. successfully put a man on the moon. Then consider that was done using less technology than what is inside the smartphone sitting in your pocket or on your desk. There is no reason—apart from a lack of focus, failure of innovative thinking or inability of industry technologies to work together that we cannot print 4-color consistently.

About the Author

Nick Harvey-1Nick Harvey is the technical director at Apex. Apex International is the world’s largest anilox and metering roll manufacturer. Based in The Netherlands, it has production facilities on four continents, with 120 sales professionals around the world servicing 8,000 customers.

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Looking for increased productivity on press?

x-rite-pantone logo

by Mark Gundlach, Solutions Architect, X-rite

**This article originally appeared on the X-Rite Blog at http://blog.xrite.com/colorcert-productivity/

As the range of substrates, inks, and printing technologies has expanded, so has the challenge of maintaining color quality. A workflow based on digital standards is the easiest way to achieve accuracy and consistency across shifts and sites regardless of production requirements. Adding a quality control solution like ColorCert® to your workflow can boost your bottom line even more.

ColorCert provides specific modules focused on each part of the workflow, helping flexo, gravure, and offset printers remove subjectivity, analyze data, and deliver increased productivity for the packaging industry.

ColorCert is helping UK-based Ultimate Packaging create a more efficient ink kitchen, improve premedia, produce fewer proofs, enhance customer relationships, and achieve an amazing 200% improvement in quality.


What is ColorCert?

ColorCert is modular, job-based workflow solution that enables streamlined communication across your workflow… from prepress, ink room, press room and Root Cause analysis.

ColorCert provides a unique interface focused on simplifying the feedback to the press operator. This allows them to spend less time reviewing data and more time focusing on applying corrective actions, and see the results during the run. It offers an easy way for production managers – and even brand owner clients – to track and analyze massive amounts of data.

By utilizing ColorCert ScoreCard Server, companies can discover areas of opportunity for improvement, enabling a focus on continuous improvement. If the job score is low, it’s easy to analyze the causes and gain insight into ways to optimize production by streamlining and improving processes.


The ColorCert interface is very easy to use, especially when combined with X-Rite eXact Scan, a handy and highly functional handheld spectrophotometer. When utilizing the Scanning functionality, a user can capture massive amounts of data in seconds; capturing the data that is now required for a modern process control workflow. What used to take minutes now takes seconds.

Ultimate Packaging was invited to try PantoneLIVETM and ColorCert® by Asda, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart and a key customer for Ultimate Packaging, as part of Asda’s objective to maximize supply chain efficiencies. “We were happy to do so, but at the time we didn’t really think it would make a great deal of difference to our operations,” said Vincent Whatley, X-Rite Coordinator at Ultimate Packaging. “In actual fact, it has made a big difference for us and for Asda.” Ultimate Packaging implemented ColorCert on its newest F&K flexible packaging press where 20% of the work produced is for Asda.

A provider of flexible packaging solutions to a broad array of customers, the company has six flexo presses (8 and 10 colors) in a 100,000 square foot manufacturing plant. “ColorCert gave us visibility into problems we were not aware we had, including with our ICC profiles, ink formulation and proofs.”

How does it work?

Utilizing a combination of ColorCert’s desktop software, the CC Repository (Cloud-based Color Asset Management System), and the CC ScoreCard Server (Cloud-based Reporting Server), every stakeholder in the workflow – including prepress, ink room, press room, in one site or many – can be linked. This allows proper communication of color and print expectations… streamlining communication of color standards, tolerances, and press setup information.


To properly understand print performance, Ultimate Packaging utilized 100%, 70% and 40% patches in their color bar. They were able to place these color bars within the artwork, not restricted to the outer edges of the sheet, to make better use of real estate on expensive substrate. Utilizing the eXact Scan, the press operator scans each roll of material to make sure the proper color and print performance expectations were being maintained. Once the job is completed, the data is automatically uploaded (without a secondary process) to the Asda ScoreCard Server so both Asda and Ultimate Packaging can view quality trending and have fact-based discussions about quality. This dynamic drives clarity of expectations and proactive quality improvement.

Asda can also see which instrument has been used and verify that instruments have been certified with NetProfiler, which gives them confidence in a reliable, closed-loop color measurement and management process. http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone.aspx?pg=20984

In order to provide sufficient data for full analytics, Ultimate Packaging reports on all of the work the press produces, making the information available through ColorCert Scorecard, so that Asda can see how the press is performing overall.

 color quality

What have X-Rite solutions done for Ultimate Packaging’s productivity?

  1. A more efficient ink kitchen. Ultimate Packaging partners with Sun Chemical for on-site ink formulation and dispensing. X-Rite InkFormulation Software and X-Rite color measurement instruments have been key to ensuring both that the correct inks are delivered as well as that inks are formulated accurately for each job. They also use PantoneLIVE digital color standards, integrating with InkFormulation Software and ColorCert Inkroom Tools for increased efficiency, more accurate ink formulation, and less waste on press.
  2. Improved premedia. Ultimate Packaging partners with a number of repro houses for prepress operations, and ColorCert has enabled them to reduce the amount of retouching required, improving the quality of the profiles being used. “With the data we gathered using ColorCert, we learned a great deal about repeatability, as well as hitting the scores and ICC targets through fingerprinting. It has also helped us work out how variables such as heat, viscosity and temperature were affecting our outcomes. It was a big learning curve, and as a result we have up-skilled our staff and significantly improved our performance and our communication with our repro house partners,” Whatley says
  3. More accurate production. ColorCert Scorecard has helped Ultimate Packaging easily identify areas to improve performance. This ensures that profiles are correct, plates are correct, inks are accurate, and the company’s partners better understand what is needed. The result? An improvement of 200% in Ultimate’s ColorCert score!
  4. Better customer relationships. Since implementing ColorCert, Ultimate has a better awareness of what is coming into the building and what is leaving. “Our relationship with Asda was always good, but it has really improved since we implemented PantoneLIVE and ColorCert.” Whatley states. “Having the ColorCert Scorecard in place has given performance visibility to all authorized parties in the supply chain. This helps with communication, putting everyone at ease, knowing that product delivered will be consistent and of highest possible quality.”

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about the practical application of ColorCert in a digital packaging workflow, download the full Ultimate Packaging case study http://www.xrite.com/documents/literature/en/L7-591_Ultimate_Packaging_CS_en.pdf

About the Author:

Mark Gundlach is an X-Rite Solution Architect. He has over 24 years of experience working in photography, design, and print environments. He worked for seven years as a commercial photographer, and was one of the first to adopt and use digital photography and color management in a commercial studio. Mark was an early advocate of a fully digital workflow process. Later he used his experience as a system integrator to install and train users on color management, prepress production, pressroom process control, and digital workflow best practices. Mark is a certified IDEAlliance G7TM Expert, Apple Color Management Pro and Color Management Trainer, and has helped hundreds of companies take control of their workflows over his 17 years of professional training.

PANTONE®, PantoneLIVE and other Pantone trademarks are the property of Pantone LLC. All other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Pantone is a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, Incorporated. Licensed under Sun Chemical Corporation. Sun Chemical’s patented technology enables the communication of a consistent, digital description of the desired appearance of a product. – [U.S. Patent Nos. 7,034,960; 7,202,976; 7,268,918; 7,417,764 and their foreign equivalents].

© Pantone LLC, 2016. All rights reserved.

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The Secret to Better Corrugated Board with Less Starch

Apex International Blog

Consumers in the corrugated industry are demanding a decrease in starch consumption.  And not just for the cost savings either.  Instead, it is the thinner, weaker paper – with weights as low as 80 grams – that are used for gluing board. This type of paper requires the application of less starch, as little starch as possible in fact.

Add the fact that both water and heat are enemies of paper; applying too much water, has a negative effect on the smooth application of starch requiring more or longer drying, with all negative consequences for the quality of the paper. Another trend seen in the industry nowadays, is the fast-growing market for E-flutes and Micro-flutes. The flutes per linear meter for E-flute board are 295 (90 in inches), requiring a consistent application of a low dose of starch onto the board! Both Tappi and Fefco publish informative production information with regards to industry trends and developments.


The application of the level of starch is influenced by two factors:

  1. The gap between glue and doctor roll;
  2. The screen/profile on the glue roll

The gap between glue and doctor roll applies for approximately 60% of the glue application and this parameter can only be controlled by using the tightest tolerance in the manufacturing process of both the glue and the doctor roll. This is mainly determined by the materials that are used to manufacture the glue set, and its durability and reliability on the long term. Best results are reported when using a stainless steel glue roll in combination with a ceramic doctor roll. Of course, both have to be according to OEM specifications, even after one or two times reconditioning. In this case, special attention has to be given to the diameter build up of both rolls, preferably with durable materials such as steel or stainless steel.

2nd parameter determining almost 40% of the volume of starch/glue that in the end is transferred onto the Corrugated board, is the screen of the glue set.

Theory behind finer screen counts

Gluing of board can very well be compared to the printing of board. In theory, a finer line count or finer pattern, results in a more detailed print result. The exact same happens with the application of glue: a more even layer of glue is applied onto the board.

Corrugated Board

However, in all honesty, it is also necessary to mention that the finer the line count, in most cases, also the shorter the lifetime of the glue rolls is. In the recent past, very good results were achieved with screen counts of 50 l/cm (130 lpi). Beautiful even layers of glue were applied onto the board, but the minute the glue roll came into contact with the corrugator roll, very easily damage occurred to the fine walls of the cells, creating all sorts of issues like score lines.

Together with leading companies in the corrugated industry, glue set manufacturers discovered a compromise that is currently often used while producing board, in the situation of Single-facers as well as Double Backers.  A standard engraving of 10 l/cm with volumes of 120 cm3/m2, with an angle of 45° (25 lpi, vol. 78 bcm) and the screen of 15 l/cm with a volume of 60 cm3/m2, also with an angle of 45° (40 lpi, vol. 39 bcm) both deliver very consistent and satisfying results in the application of glue.

Corrugated Board flute2 flute3 flute4


Optimal starch consumption and reduced volumes are only possible with a reduced gap and the absolute tightest tolerances on the doctor roll and glue roll.  Furthermore, the application of glue is determined by the screen count, as well as the screen pattern. It may be worth asking your glue- and metering roll manufacturer for the latest developments in this particular field of surface engravings, in order to realize significant cost savings thanks to improved board quality, reduction in paper waste, less starch consumption and less energy consumption (for drying).

Download the Corrugated Solutions Guide

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Key Steps in a Color-Managed Workflow

x-rite-pantone logo

By Ray Cheydleur

Color-Managed WorkflowIf you’re a commercial printer who wants to improve color quality and consistency, this blog is for you.

Ray Cheydleur is a printing industry veteran of more than 20 years, a standards guru, and our Portfolio Manager for Printing and Imaging Products. Passionate and very knowledgeable about color, he has a talent for helping printers improve their color quality and consistency.

Today he’s sharing five critical steps in a color-managed workflow to help you create an efficient printing operation, a repeatable final product, and satisfied brand owners.

1.  Clear communication and specification.

One of the obvious links in a successful color workflow is clear communication, and a potential key to reducing inefficiencies is digital color specification. Choosing named colors or measuring real-world colors and bringing them into the design provides a solid foundation for the rest of the workflow and delivers a print-ready file that includes spectral color definitions. Even if the color is specified in Paris, printed to the numbers in California, and approved in New York, the digital version of Pantone 360 will always be the same when you use digital specifications across the entire workflow.

2.  Measure raw materials.

Since final products are only as consistent as their raw materials, working with a variety of sources can be a challenge. Prior to production, all incoming materials, including ink and substrates, must be measured to ensure expected results. It’s much easier to make recipe adjustments at the beginning of the process than to try to reformulate after color is wrong on the press.


3.  Calibrate and profile.

Proofing devices must be calibrated and profiled prior to creating proofs. Presses must be calibrated and either aligned with industry specifications or profiled, and printed output needs to be measured and monitored.
Each time there is a change in supplies or process, you need to either recreate your profiles or correct the situation that created the change. For digital presses, sometimes calibrating the device is enough to keep the profile valid. If you have just performed maintenance or if the media or machine setup has changed, you may need to build a new profile. For analog presses, using a new ink or substrate or starting a new printing condition such as compliance with G7 or FOGRA may require a new profile. But if you meet your standard aims, the ICC profile should remain valid.


IntelliTrax2 is an automated, non-contact scanning system that makes it easy for busy pressrooms to measure color bars and press sheets without the risk of human error, ideal for high-end, high-speed commercial printing and converting operations.

4.  Visually evaluate under controlled lighting.

A light booth provides standardized lighting for proof to print match and can also simulate every lighting condition printed materials or packaging may encounter, from store to office to home. When a finished good is comprised of several materials, such as stand-up pouches, overwraps, and corrugated POP displays, a light booth can also ensure that the harmony among components remains constant under all lighting conditions. A light booth should be used to verify color alignment and to ensure products do not exhibit physical defects.


The Judge QC light booth offers UV illumination that allows for accurate visual evaluation of OBA-enhanced materials.

5.  Stay current with standards.

Staying Current with Standards in Print and Packaging 2Standards can help you set clear expectations for clients, solve problems in your workflow, and improve productivity. They can also bring an independent perspective to production. Our Staying Current With Standards In Print And Packaging blog provides insight about what’s new in the world of graphic arts standards so you can take advantage of them in your print and packaging workflow.

It doesn’t end there

Even if you have all the right tools in place, you still need to monitor each step or you’ll spend way too much time trying to fix color issues rather than addressing the root causes of those issues. Make sure you manage the goals you are aiming for – all of them, not just some of them. Especially in an analog shop, it is common to analyze ink density and tone value, but you also need colorimetry and tolerance values as well or you aren’t managing the whole story and may drift out of specification without knowing it.

Whether want to tweak your process for the best outcome or you’re not sure where to begin, our Color Experts are happy to help. Get in touch for custom assistance.

More about Ray

RayC-portrait-LE-2-249x300In addition to his role as Portfolio Manager for Printing and Imaging Products at X-Rite Pantone, Cheydleur is also Chairman of the U.S. Committee for Graphic Arts Technical Standards (CGATS), Chairman of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO TC130 for Graphic Arts Standards, and Vice Chair of the International Color Consortium for Color Management (ICC).

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How to Care for Your Anilox Sleeves, Part 1


by Katie Graham, Pamarco

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some different ways to protect and maintain your anilox sleeves. We want to help you protect your investment and ensure you get the longest life possible out of your sleeves. Here are some of the best ways to do that.


It is very important to keep the insides (bores) and ends of the sleeves clean and free of dried ink. Contamination on the inside bore will impede the ability to install and remove the sleeve from the mandrel. Dried ink in the bore causes operators or assistants to forcibly remove the sleeve, which can lead to damage to the sleeve or anilox roll surface. Do not chip the ink off the ends with metal tools; always try to dissolve and wipe clean.

Keep the mandrel free of any dried ink or contaminants. Clean it with a rag with solvent or other component-friendly cleaners to ensure a clean smooth surface for the sleeve to slide onto. Check for any burrs, nicks or dings in the mandrel that will prevent smooth installation. Make a special point to check the air holes in the mandrel. A majority of sleeve/mandrel seizures are caused by clogged air holes.

Check the sleeve mounting air system (gauges and hoses) to ensure proper working order. Make sure the air pressure is set to the OEM specification (PSI/bars). Should you have any questions, contact the press OEM and peruse the operating manual for guidelines and settings.

Sleeve Mounting and Removal

It is important to install (slide) the sleeves on the mandrels carefully and smoothly. Avoid rocking the sleeves (up and down, back and forth) during the mounting process. This can damage the foam expansion layer, which will affect future proper fit, circularity and Total Indicated Runout (TIR) issues.


anilox sleeves Installing the sleeves, making sure not to slam the sleeve into the backstop on the mandrel. This can cause damage seen below (ceramic chipping on the roll edge). Chipped ends can create ink slinging and accelerate end-seal wear. Chipped ceramic on the ends, over time, may lead to further ceramic separation on the sleeve surface.


Ink Sling Guards

Keep the ink sling guards clean and free of ink. Do not allow the sling guards to fill with ink and rub on the ceramic or sleeve end.
Check the screws that hold the sling guards in place on press. If the sleeve guard is loose and is allowed to touch, rub or drag the sleeve surface, it will definitely cause damage to the ceramic and eventually cause damage to the sleeve.

Corrosion Prevention

Anilox roll sleeves are susceptible to corrosion if safe cleaners are not used cleaning steps are not properly followed. Chemicals that are caustic or have a high pH can corrode the aluminum cladding and end rings causing the ceramic to blister. The pH of chemicals should never be below 5.5 or higher than 11.8. When using any chemical to clean an anilox roll, make sure the surface is properly rinsed and the chemical neutralized. The final step in the process is to wipe the roll surface with alcohol or acetate to flash off any residual chemical or water. Never cover and store a wet sleeve or roll; they must be dry. Should you have any questions, consult your anilox roll supplier.

These are just a few ways to protect and maintain your sleeve. Here are the rest of our top tips for anilox sleeve care and maintenance.

10 Tips for Anilox Sleeve Care & Maintenance:

    • 1. Component Cleanliness:

•Keep the insides (bores) and ends of sleeves clean. No dried ink!
•Keep press mandrels clean and in good condition.
•Keep the sleeve mounting air system (gauges and hose) in good working order, and set to OEM specifications (PSI/bars).

    • 2. Sleeve Mounting:

•Slide sleeves on mandrels carefully. Avoid rocking the sleeves up and down during mounting. Rocking can damage the expansion layer (affecting proper fit and circularity), and create TIR issues.
•BE GENTLE! Impacting the backstop can chip the sleeve’s ceramic. (Chipped ends create slinging and accelerate end seal wear, which leads to ceramic separation.)

    • 3. Ink Sling Guards:

•Do not allow sling guards to touch or rub sleeves.
•Keep sling guards clean and free of dried ink to prevent grinding and damage to the ends.

    • 4. Corrosion Prevention:

•Caustic cleaning chemicals and/or high pH inks can corrode a sleeve’s aluminum cladding and/or end rings, causing ceramic blistering. The pH of chemical cleaners should never be below 5.5 or above 11.8.
•Consult your anilox supplier prior to using any cleaning or flushing chemicals.

    • 5. Composite Component:

•Do not allow aqueous chemicals or cleaners to contact the composite. This can lead to delamination of the sleeve.
•Use caution and protective end caps when cleaning sleeves in chemical bath tanks.

    • 6. Post-Cleaning Practices:

•Always dry the anilox surface and ceramic ends thoroughly.
•Remove any residual chemicals or water with an alcohol wipe.
•When using compressed air to dry the engraving, ensure it is oil-free.

    • 7. Handling Precautions:

•Sleeve ceramic is the same as roll ceramic; it is not impact-resistant and chips easily.
•Use caution when cleaning ends; avoid cleaning with sharp tools.
•Sleeves tend to be easily mishandled and damaged because they are lightweight: HANDLE CAREFULLY!

    • 8. Sleeve Storage:

•Sleeves are best stored vertically in a rack.
•Do not stand sleeves up on uneven or hard floors; use rubber or cushioned floor mats.

    • 9. Storage Precautions:

•When storing sleeves horizontally, the diameter of the support stem is important: The stem diameter should be slightly smaller than the mandrel.
• This will prevent stress overload on the internal expansion foam (bladder).

  • 10. Protect your Investment:

•When sleeves are not in the press, use protective covers to avoid damage.
•Do not use a protective cover on a wet anilox sleeve.

By following the maintenance points in this article, you will be assured of productive, long lasting use of your anilox sleeves. If you have any questions about your press environment and how it affects your anilox care, seek help to determine the improvements you need to make by scheduling press-area audit with your anilox supplier.

About Katie Graham

Katie-Graham-Pamarco-Head-Shots-2016_08-3-150x150Katie Graham is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Pamarco and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining Pamarco, she received a BA in Communications and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from Georgia State University. She is certified in Social Media Marketing and serves as a mentor to marketing students at her Alma Mater.

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Chief Growth Officer: The SGK Perspective On A Critical Development

Chief Growth Officer

Michael Leeds, SVP, Client Engagement Americas, SGK

Some of the biggest consumer companies now have a Chief Growth Officer (CGO) reporting to the CEO on the organization chart. These people have a daunting remit: represent the customer, energize innovation, enable positive disruption, look long-term and create a plan to get an entire company on board. Not easy. Many of these companies are only a few years into the CGO era. But trends are becoming clear, and they are instructive—for companies with, or considering, a Chief Growth Officer to initiate and deliver organic and inorganic growth by leveraging the resources of their entire organization. So we recently talked to Michael Leeds, SGK’s Senior Vice President of Client Engagement Americas, about how to get the most out of this emerging need. At SGK, he has watched and worked with companies that have embraced the CGO role for several years now.

In a nutshell, why a CGO?

The tactics used to drive growth, especially in slow-growth product categories, no longer work for a variety of reasons. Companies are balancing innovation, disruption, managing costs and return on investment. They’re asking, “How do we connect with consumers in a more meaningful way, in real-time?” That’s why some companies see part of the CGO role as the voice of the consumer and a gateway to growth. Companies are asking, “How do we do this with fewer resources?” Especially now, with the emergence of zero-based budgeting, there’s a need to optimize resources and eliminate redundancy. Then look at the impact of technology—of social, digital, and the need to connect to consumers on their own terms. This is not new, but there simply hasn’t been a role created that says, “Let me look across the organization and bring these disparate segments together, segments that haven’t worked together traditionally.” Integration, focus and flexibility will drive a higher return on investment.

Does this kind of rethinking tend to work?

The thinking is solid and the execution will determine its success. The need to manage complex and complicated business transformation requires a broad perspective with optimized functional alignment and allocation of resources. Think about the term “integrated marketing”—a Google Trends search shows a decline over the past 10 years, but the core idea remains valid. The route of the journey has changed, but the goals remain the same.

From your point of view, what background or temperament makes the best CGOs?

Relationship oriented with a marketing foundation. A recent Russell Reynolds Associates report noted that all the CGOs it studied had been business unit heads and “marketers who then held significant P&L responsibilities.” It’s clear that CGOs need to have the authority to influence functions that span Marketing, Sales, Innovation, Insights and R&D. And there will be conflicting agendas. So the CGO has to have the CEO’s blessing, skills and the experience to be able to broker consensus inside the organization.

What are you seeing CGOs do that’s innovative?

They have combined innovation, marketing operations and digital into a fluid ecosystem and aligned data to drive complex, previously siloed functions. This makes perfect sense, but it’s a heavy lift in an organization that is out of alignment on goals, strategies and tactics. But CGOs are fixing that.

Why couldn’t a pre-existing officer do this?

The CGO, given the longer-term view and scope of influence of this role, can balance interest across the organization. For example, sales is customer-centric, but often short-term focused. They are focused on providing the retailer what they and their customers want. Marketers are consumer-centric. They have a different set of priorities and are thinking about millennials and baby boomers and how they live their life today and tomorrow. The CGO—being function-, brand-, and channel-agnostic—balances these sometimes-competing areas of focus.

How are boards and shareholder groups taking all this? Companies envision this role as having a 3-to-5-year mandate, and that’s a long time in shareholder terms.

When you see companies hit their earnings number but miss their revenue number, investors can pummel them; cost cutting the way to earnings has a limited shelf-life. Pretty soon the infrastructure to produce and market what a company makes dissipates, as do the resources and commitment to innovate. The CGO role is incremental cost, but their mandate speaks directly to something boards and shareholders should appreciate: how to make the most of your infrastructure and how to smartly answer the question, “What will consumers and customers need?”

The true cost of staying status quo is unacceptable. So you need someone with the skills, the charisma and the vision. This person has to place longer-term bets on initiatives that might not see returns for a year or more, because these take time to nurture, cultivate and evolve. As for three-to-five years—the majority of CGO hires are since 2014, so even the three-year window isn’t closed yet. Time will tell.

There’s been discussion about whether the CGO is a role that’s here to stay or whether it’s a “point-in-time” role. Why would it be the latter? Isn’t the challenge permanent?

The need for speed, agility, governance, consumer and customer centricity and sharing next- and best- practices will likely be a constant. Today’s CGO will set the course for future roles and those roles may evolve and have different titles. But now it’s the right role at the right time. I think the key function of the CGO, that will always have to exist regardless of the title, is having the support, permission, vision and skills to look well ahead, craft a plan and sell it in throughout the company. It’s the human part.

How does SGK prefer to interact with CGOs?

We provide stimuli, services and solutions for a broad range of activities that support initiatives that a CGO may be undertaking. We’re well aware that there is a top line and a bottom line, and like a CGO, look to create more with less. Content studios are a great example—why not capture video assets to feed social media at the same time the still imagery is created? Structurally, there are times when business models need to deliver greater innovation, agility, visibility and transparency across departments, influence across supply chain components for process efficiencies, here we can partner with CGOs to provide scalable resources and critical thinking.

SGK understands the value and benefit of an integrated workflow. For example, packaging art for both physical printing and e-content in one process. There is no value in keeping these two streams separate.

CPGs are increasingly turning to a new function that of the CGO, to create alignment on a corporate scale. Their great challenge is to decode the competing agendas of different functions and balance short-term and long-term goals. Successful CGOs are finding ways of leveraging different functions to bring a new agility to companies with a long history of doing things separately. We are finding that CGOs and SGK share common goals.

About the Author:

Michael_LeedsMichael Leeds, Senior Vice President Americas, with SGK, has been deploying brands and brand processes for more than 25 years. He evaluates brand programs through KPIs, which provide insights into the effectiveness and efficiency of the program’s tools, workflows, and resources. For company information, visit www.sgkinc.com and http://www.schawk.com/brand-production/packaging-e-content.


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Choosing the Right Spectrophotometer for Metallic Packaging

by Paula Rosales, Marketing Manager, Print and Packaging

**This article originally appeared on the X-Rite Blog at http://blog.xrite.com/choosing-spectro-for-print-and-packaging/

Reflective surfaces and metallic inks are very popular for printing and packaging applications. Consumers love the look; but for printers, these substrates and inks are expensive and make color control a challenge.

Reflective surfaces and metallic inks

What measurement options are available for controlling these very marketable print and packaging applications? Which type of spectrophotometers can help printers and converters meet brand owner expectations and maintain the highest possible quality output when it comes to metallic and foils?


Sphere vs. 0/45°… What’s the difference?

There are two primary types of spectrophotometers used in the printing and packaging industries today – the traditional 0/45° (aka 45°/0°), and spherical (aka diffuse/8°).

With a 0/45° spectrophotometer, the first number refers to the angle of illumination and the second to the viewing angle. The light source shines at 45 degrees from the surface of the sample being measured, and the detector receives reflected light at 0 degrees, perpendicular to the object’s surface.

X-Rite eXact spectrophotometer

The X-Rite eXact is our most popular 0/45° spectrophotometer, enabling printers and packaging converters to truly understand, control, manage and communicate color across the entire color supply chain.

 difference in measurement geometry

These diagrams show the difference in measurement geometry between 0/45° and sphere spectrophotometers.

A sphere spectrophotometer, on the other hand, illuminates the object diffusely from all directions, and the detector receives the reflected light at an 8° angle from the object’s surface. Spherical in shape, these instruments are lined with a highly reflective, very low gloss, white matte surface. As the light beam strikes the surface of the sphere, more than 99% of the light is reflected and scattered randomly in all directions.

The Ci64 spectrophotometer

The Ci64, our most precise handheld sphere spectrophotometer, is available in three models with simultaneous SPIN/SPEX, correlated gloss and a UV option.

When to use each

A 0/45°, like the X-Rite eXact, not only considers color, but also gloss and texture. Because they perceive color in the same way as the human eye, 0/45° spectrophotometers have been historically popular for measuring color on smooth or matte surfaces in printing and packaging operations. But with the growing use of mirror-like and reflective surfaces, they may not always be the first choice for all applications. That’s because with glossy surfaces like flexible packaging, cans or metallic labels, colors will appear darker and more saturated than the same color produced with a matte finish.

measuring a glossy surface, 

When measuring a glossy surface, a 0/45° will miss a considerable amount of the light, capturing data that indicates the sample is darker than it actually is.

With a sphere spectrophotometer, users have the choice of including (specular included or SPIN) or excluding (specular excluded or SPEX) the gloss component of an object’s surface. This is why sphere spectrophotometers are preferred for applications like shiny or mirror-like surfaces, printing over foil, and other highly glossy surfaces. Check out our SPIN vs. SPEX article to learn more.

Since the mirroring effect of a metallic substrate is reflected by the coated sphere, there is an adequate amount of light for the sensor to measure. These measurements are similar to what the human eye would see when looking at the printed image on an aluminum can, metal bottle cap or metallized package.

Many printers are using metallic inks and substrates to enhance graphics and brands. They come in a variety of types and are composed of various pigments and metals. While a 0/45° spectro may be adequate for some applications, a sphere spectro is most effective for measuring the color of these materials.

So… which instrument should you choose?

If you’re seeing an increased demand to print products with translucent inks on foil or other mirror-like surfaces, or using metallic inks, you will be challenged to ensure brand and other colors are produced accurately if you don’t have the right instrument. A sphere spectrophotometer from the Ci6x family is probably the best choice in these situations.

For jobs that don’t use metallic inks or metallic surfaces, a 0/45° like the X-Rite eXact might be best for your needs. While it is feasible to measure inks on foil or metal using a 0/45° spectrophotometer, you need to understand that technology limitations may provide measurements that show the sample as darker and more saturated than it really is.

To determine the best instruments for your applications, you must analyze job mix and customer requirements to determine if your critical measurements can be made with one type or the other, or whether it makes more sense to have both instruments available in your facility. If you’re still not sure, the Color Experts at X-Rite are available to help you determine the best solution for your workflow.

About the Author:

Paula Rosales,Marketing Manager, Print and Packaging, is responsible for marketing end-to-end packaging products and service at X-Rite. She has over 15 years of experience working in the graphics arts and print/packaging industry. Follow X-Rite on Twitter @XRitecolor

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