The ceremony, which takes place alongside AFTA’s technical forum, is the biggest night of the year for the flexo industry and attracts the cream of the flexo industry from both sides of the Tasman.
And the success of the event, which was staged at Auckland’s Hilton Hotel, has encouraged the organisation to include Auckland as one of the regular venues for the annual ceremony, alongside major Australian cities like Melbourne and Sydney.
AFTA Secretariat Tony Dalleore said that the decision to stage the event in New Zealand for the first time had strong support throughout the organisation.
“We wanted to show that even though the name is Australian Flexographic Technical Association, New Zealand is an important part of that. We are all one association and that definitely encompasses New Zealand.”
In spite of the considerably smaller population base, the Auckland event attracted around 170 people to the two day technical forum sessions and around 230 people to the awards dinner. These numbers are on a par with what AFTA would expect were a conference held in NSW, Dalleore says. “We consider it a highly successful forum.”
Together with the technical forum and the awards, AFTA held its AGM in Auckland, electing a new council in the process. Two new converters were elected to the council: Paul Deane of Detmold Packaging in Victoria and Joe Crolla of Aperio Group in NSW. Two new suppliers were also elected: Peter Henderson of Esko-Graphics and Anthony Brown of Victorian Connection.
In keeping with the trans-Tasman theme of the conference, one of the major items of business for the new council was to review the name of AFTA to better reflect the strong New Zealand involvement. According to Dalleore, a decision will be taken on this issue before the next AGM.
The highlight of the event was the awards ceremony which saw a rare Hall of Fame Award presented. Rather than being presented every as the other awards are, the Hall of Fame award is only given when somebody is deemed to have accumulated a career’s worth of achievements worthy of the title. This year saw the award presented to a New Zealander for the first time ever, with Ian Piper of Aperio taking the prestigious title.
The other major awards presented were the Chairman’s Award, which went to MacDermid, and the Apprentice Award which went to Finewrap.
As the secretariat of AFTA, Dalleore, along with exiting chairman Shaun Pearce, expressed his sincere gratitude to the New Zealand subcommittee and delegates for heavily supporting the inaugural offshore conference.
Due to the success of the show, the council has started a five year plan which will see the show rotated between Melbourne, Sydney and now Auckland, on a regular basis.
Along with the strong numbers at the forum and awards, the feedback from attendees at the Auckland event was positive.
“The speakers were all well-accepted, particularly the converter from the United States, Rick Hocking, who was one of our keynote speakers,” Dalleore says.
Hocking has more than a quarter century of experience behind him in the flexo industry, including six years on the United States FTA, two of those as chairman. In his position as plant manager of Banner Packaging, he oversees manufacturing, engineering and maintenance for a company with more than 500 employees.
“He was able to present a wide range of information from a United States’ point of view,” Dalleore says. “And it was the type of information that is not always easily shared. He gave attendees considerable insight into processes and operations in the United States.”
The other keynote speaker embodied the trans-Tasman nature of AFTA. Sir Richard Hadlee, scourge of Australian cricketers during his playing days when he led New Zealand’s bowling attack, presented a sportsman’s viewpoint of Australia-New Zealand relations.
Judging panel report
Robert R James, Chairperson AFTA Awards
The judges, during their deliberations, indicated that there had been a significant improvement in the overall quality of entries, with excellent print to print cylinder repeat consistency, especially in the wide web category.
The judges, however, concluded that approximately 20 per cent of entries submitted were of medium quality. It was felt that a number of those entries had been submitted for judging without first examining their overall print quality. Which once again raises the issue of “attention to detail” of an entry. If a print customer is critical of consistent quality, then a minor defect will most certainly be identified by the judging teams.
The judges identified a number of prominent flexographic print defects. These included mottle, gear marks, blade lines, picking, misregister, excess impression and a variety of minor blemishes resultant from poor press settings.
Once again, magenta was considered the most offending colour printed.
Generally, halftone reproductions were well executed, but screened text in multiple colours proved difficult to maintain in register.
Some entries cleverly incorporated stipples beneath solid panels to enhance print density.
Many entries exhibited excellent designs suitable for flexographic printing. On the other hand, a few entries proved difficult to reproduce due to inappropriate design elements.
The use of gearless presses and Opaltone separation techniques were well utilised to meet customer requirements and tolerances.
Stochastic screening techniques were also evident in some entries to best facilitate vignette transitions.
For a possible variety of production reasons, a few mid web prints had been produced on wide web machines, certainly a challenge to control.
A growing number of entries also utilised sleeved photopolymer images produced in-the-round.
Many designs previously printed by gravure or lithography, have been suitably adapted to the intrinsic characteristics of flexographic printing.
It is vital that close liaison between the graphic designer, prepress, printer and customer be established and maintained during the creation and development stages of a design, as well as constructive post-production feedback to consider for future work.
This year, 86 per cent of the entries had been digitally imaged and 70 per cent of all entries were produced on presses with enclosed chamber blade systems.
First Kiwi wins Hall of Fame prize
The winner of the AFTA Hall of Fame Award this year was New Zealander Ian Piper of Aperio Group, who was the first New Zealander to win the prestigious award.
Unlike most other awards, the Hall of Fame Award is not presented each year, but only when the judging panel deems somebody to have embodied the ideals represented by the award.
Each winner of the award must be someone who has over a long period of time contributed to the flexographic industry outside the parameters of their own jobs, and who benefits the industry through growth and technical improvements.
Piper’s commitment to the industry has been all of that and more throughout his career. With a commitment to the industry for 43 years, Piper was a founder and developer of apprentice training and set up formal schooling for the flexo industry.
Some of the highlights of his career that have helped lead to the Hall of Fame Award include:
• He was part of a small group who made strong representation to the government for funding and he was the first formal teacher of flexographic printing in New Zealand and was the founding trades examiner.
• He was at the forefront of lobbying customs and government in moving away from ethanol methylated with toxic fusil oil to clean methanol ethanol we see today.
• He was a leader in the development of electronically generated separations which were at that time seen as unattainable for flexo.
• He drove the developments to set levels of acetaldehyde which if excessive can generate odours within the printed package.
• He is a pioneer in the development of anilox and in particular ceramic anilox technology and the introduction of photopolymer plates.
• He brought the industry the first pin register system for rubber plates.
• He successfully worked with Auckland University and two other like-minded people to run the International Packaging conferences in Auckland. His work with local industrial chemists on oxidation indicators and odours was later purchased by an international company.
The judging panel declared that: “He has shown us through his own ethic that we all have a role to play in growing this industry and it is up to every one of us to do our bit and go the extra mile.”
In spite of his achievements, Piper has maintained a level of humility that belies his achievements. “Without the input and collaboration of very skilled people within the industry none of this would have been achieved,” he says.
AFTA Award Winners
|Show winner: Finewrap Australia, Vic – Arnott’s Shortbread Cream Repro: Scanapak, Vic Inks: Sicpa/Flint|
|Narrow web / reverse print / film / halftone||Le Mac Enterprises, NSW||Le Mac Enterprises, NSW||–|
|Narrow web / surface print / film / halftone||Pacific Labels, NSW||Admark Visual Packaging, NSW||–|
|Narrow web / surface print / paper / halftone||Admark Visual Packaging, NSW||–||–|
|Mid web / surface print / film / halftone||Sealed Air NZ||Flexpac, NSW||Charles R Gabb, Vic|
|Mid web / reverse print / film / halftone||Finewrap Australia, Vic||Flexpac, Qld||Le Mac Enterprises, NSW|
|Wide web / surface print / paper / halftone||Detmold Packaging, SA||Charles R Gabb, Vic||Detmold Packaging, SA|
|Wide web / surface print / film / halftone||Finewrap Australia, Vic||Amcor Flexibles, Vic||Charles R Gabb, Vic; Chequer Packaging, NZ|
|Wide web / reverse print / film / halftone||FPSI, Vic||Finewrap Australia, Vic||Finewrap Australia, Vic|
|Beverage cartons and cups||Tetra Pak, NSW||Tetra Pak, NSW||Tetra Pak, NSW|
|Post print corrugated||Charta Packaging, NZ||Charta Packaging, NZ||E&E Cartons, Vic|
|Tag & Label||Hally Labels, NZ||Hally Labels, NZ||Hally Labels, NZ|