Ahead of its February packaging conference in Brussels, the European flexo association, FTA Europe, introduced its ‘Flexo Best Practice Toolbox 1.0’, a digital reference guide developed to help users ‘achieve predictable results from a flexographic printing system.’

The project is a core area of the association’s activities, the broader purpose of which is to advance the interests of the flexo industry across Europe and the EU institutions in Brussels. This month project manager Wim Buyle, discussed how the Toolbox came to be created and where it is headed next.

‘As FTA Europe was formed with the aim of bringing together all the national technical flexo associations across Europe, we had the idea to also bring together all the available technical knowledge about flexographic printing technology.’ Mr Buyle explained. ‘Personally, I have been working in the flexo printing industry since 1991. I visit flexo printers every day and I have never seen a book near a printing machine. Talking to printers and operators, I could feel the need for a ‘best practice’ book which would help them set up the press correctly every time.’

The guide, which is available in ebook form, was created after a large working group of experts, including suppliers and users, pulled together an overview of all the available content about flexo printing technology. A smaller group then created the book itself. The finished product incorporates videos, diagrams and animation and, due to its format, can be easily updated and will exist as a ‘live document.’

Mr Buyle hopes that the digital format will help convince younger generations to enter the industry: ‘Bringing print and digital together is one of the ways in which we can demonstrate how the industry is modernising and evolving – which we hope will be a convincing factor to work for us for those studying in fields relevant for our sector. Making the book digital was, therefore, essential.’

FTA Europe hopes the guide, which is set to be translated into French and Italian in the near future, will allow printers to ‘Achieve a predictable result on the press much faster – and this will deliver cost and time savings through improved efficiency. The result of this is higher productivity as well as better environmental performance due to less waste. Not getting it right in the first instance means repeating processes, and using more company resources. This document, therefore, is really a must have for every daily user of flexo printing technology.’