They had already tried at the beginning of 2020 but the pandemic blew everything up. The success of the 3-day event held at the end of February – organised by Z DUE, Tamburini, I&C Gama and Reproflex3 at the Ferrari museum under the title “The future of flexo”- more than repaid the expectation.

A successful combination of updating conference, networking meeting and entertainment opportunity in a highly emotional setting, “The future of flexo” took place on 21, 22, 23 February with the aim of offering over 400 guests reports on the state of the art of flexo printing for packaging, success stories and round table discussions between manufacturers and converters. Each day focused on an important application segment: flexible packaging, corrugated and folding carton, labels, tissue.

On the first day, the focus on flexible packaging saw Marco Mingozzi (GM Z Due) and Andrea Sandrolini (PM Z Due), Andrew Hewitson and Trevor Lowes (the two CEOs of Reproflex3) on stage to present the latest results of the technology developed together to produce flexo prepress systems. Based on a proprietary algorithm applied to Kodak’s Flexcel NXC or NXH plates, it enables high quality prints with a standardised process, and optimal ink transfer on the different substrates and type of graphics to be printed. Articulated in the ProjectBlue, BlueEdge and Vortex variants, it essentially determines a non-random arrangement of dots on the screen allowing for improved colour overlaps and extending the gamut reproducible with simple four-colour process. One of the main consequences is the possibility to reproduce native files in CMYK without resorting to spot colour or Pantone and, therefore, also a saving on the number of colours in the machine and the ink used, with a high fidelity of the colour proof and an increase in the quality of the work.

A new sleeve for flexible and corrugated

The Maranello conference was also an opportunity to present the recent partnership between Z Due and Tamburini, which has launched a new brand of sleeves that can be used in both flexible and corrugated packaging. The agreement between the two flexo services represents the beginning of an increasingly close collaboration, providing the market with a wide range of products and solutions for all flexo printing markets (given Tamburini’s activity in tissue).

Big data and process optimisation

The I&C Gama team was tasked with bringing clarity and substance to the crucial topic of Big Data management and Machine Learning, in this case with a focus on cost control of inks and fluids used in printing and converting processes. Updates by Sante Conselvan and Dario Cavalcoli, owner and sales manager of I&C Gama respectively, were echoed in the case histories of the Portuguese representative SisTrade. Speeches by Paulo Souto and Natacha Santos illustrated the solutions developed by the software house specifically for printers and converters active in the flexible and corrugated cardboard market. As pointed out in the report by Andrea Novi, area manager Emilia Romagna of Golden Group (soft loans financing services), this software also facilitates the tax recovery of BlueEdge or Vortex printing systems used on ‘dated’ machines or in any case not included in the Industry 4.0 circuit.

Round Tables: sustainability at the centre

Over the three days of the conference, specific moments were reserved for converters, with speeches by Alberto Palaveri, Sacchital’s Sales Director and President of Giflex, and Aldo Franco, Eurolabel’s General Manager, as well as dedicated round tables. In the spotlight was the theme of sustainability in the light of recent new EU draft Regulation on packaging and packaging waste, but also the result of a survey conducted last year by Eurolabel among a diverse panel of operators and consumers, where – surprise! – the Plastic Free theme was in the last place among the topics to be addressed.

There was also two round table discussion among the flexo presses and solvent recovery plants manufacturers – Aldo Peretti of Uteco, Daniele Cerizzi of W&H, Andrea Dalla Valle of Koenig & Bauer, Emilio Alliegro of Bobst, Enrico Gandolfi of Lombardi Converting Machinery and Andrea Formigoni of Dec Impianti, with the final contribution of Eleonora Emili, Packaging Purchasing Manager Grissin Bon – who were united by their commitment to automation, machine learning and technology hybridisation.

A focus on the tissue market was in turn the subject of in-depth case histories by Paolo Lazzareschi, R&D manager at Gambini, and Danilo Gatti, printing business manager at large manufacturer A.Celli.

King Corrugated Cardboard

Confirming the growing importance of this application sector, the third and final day of the conference was entirely dedicated to corrugated cardboard. The crucial topics were developed with the contribution of Michele Lancellotti, CEO Imbal Carton, the presentation of the Z DUE proposals by Umberto Cantone (sales) and Giorgio Cattani (R&D), the round table with the converters that featured Eno Tordini, owner of the TS box factory; Marco Vecchi, SIFA technical department manager; and Maria Eugenia Sada purchasing manager of the Sada group. The Sada group’s case history presented by Gerardo Budetti, R&D manager, was also highly appreciated.

In the final technical panel, Giorgio Cattani and Umberto Cantone for Z DUE, Carlo Tarello (sales manager of Bobst) and Michele Pinelli (project manager of Koenig & Bauer Celmacch) engaged in a direct discussion with the audience. Pinelli also explained the reasons behind Celmacch’s decision to adopt Vortex technology for testing its printing presses.

And then the Ferrari

The location of the conference at the Ferrari Museum, needless to say, contributed significantly to the success of the event, at least on an emotional level. The Museum brings to life a formidable piece of Italian economic and social history and also offered guests the opportunity to ‘play’ at the tyre change and driving simulator: both very much appreciated.

Finally, the exclusive dinner in the Ferrari trophy room among the last World Champion single-seaters gave the one hundred VIP guests an evening tour of the museum, entertainment and surprises set up by Marco Mingozzi in the role of Future of Flexo coordinator. With a ‘tail’ of glory in the award that Sante Conselvan bestowed on Aldo Peretti, CEO of Uteco, for his 20-year commitment to the flexo industry.