Briefly about the flexography in Poland
Political changes in the 90"s have initiated a new economic orientation in Poland towards „market economy". This situation has considerably increased a supply of products and then created enormous opportunities for a production of packaging materials. Consequently a rising demand for packaging in the printing industry has influenced, among others, a rapid growth of the flexographic industry in Poland.
Facing a competition in struggle for new customers, manufacturers and trading companies started by attaching more and more importance not only to a quality of products but also to the "external image" of packaging. Therefore, flexography, with its capabilities of printing on various substrates or profitability in short runs, has gained its popularity.
From such simple products as bags for manual packing, shopping bags or wrappings for sweets printed on paper, polyethylene films, cellophane with a line artwork of maximum 4 colour, a production assortment has expanded to a great variety of products including flexible packaging, labels, folding carton, disposables, corrugated post-print, stationery. Screen jobs up to 8 colours of high quality printed on almost every substrate are no longer a rarity. A screen and process artworks printed by leading print shops match "western requirements" for print quality.
Initially main supplies of printing presses to the Polish market originated in Italy, Taiwan, GDR and West Germany. Second-hand machinery was in preponderance. However the situation has changed during the last decade. In a race for clients printers initiated investments into more technically sophisticated printing presses and peripheral equipment to offer the improved quality and new products. Polish engineers, technicians, managers visited international fairs and exhibitions in search for technical solutions and innovations; learned modern flexography, established new contacts with suppliers.
With new machinery, investments expanded to a surrounding of a printing press. Printing houses invested into own prepress rooms, dispensing systems, video mounting systems, web monitoring systems, sleeves, ceramic anilox rollers, chambered doctor-blade systems. Private investors established firms to manufacture printing plates. Modern prepress trade shops are able to to deliver digital printing plates with extremly sophisticated motifs and a number of print shops mount these plates even on "gearless" CIC-printing presses to overprint packagings for pet foods, non-food, coffee and cigarettes. A screen count of 48 l/cm in wide-web as well as 60 l/cm for narrow-web have become an "industrial standard".
Internet has simplified and accelarated a production workflow. Designers, customers, studios, trade shops, print shops use desktops and internet platform in sending artworks and repros.
Customers require timeliness of deliveries and low prices - an intensive competition for the market share has forced a visible growth of a quality - it is not a matter of choice but a requirement. A number of print shops had initiated auditing procedures and obtained ISO certificates.
A proper and a further development of flexo requires however not only a financial support, but also, what is very important, an updated technological knowledge, high level of know-how and skill - all very important factors, which make getting above mentioned development possible. Education and training in flexography embrace all levels - from owners and managers to press operators. Trading sector also invests in education of their emplyees. Wide spectrum of people attends, for example, flexo seminars (with an audience exceeding 100 persons) which are open to all members of the Polish flexographic community. Seminars have been organized for 5 years by PLFTA Polish Flexogaphic Technical Association - organization which associates flexographic companies in Poland. PLFTA - being a non-profit organization - integrates and creates an active forum for the Polish flexographic milieu, strives to rise the level of flexographic knowledge. Association provides consultations on a flexo production start-up and run, offers translations and verifications of texts concerning flexo, in-house trainings; executes expertises, participates at branch fairs, assists in finding trade partners, cooperates with national FTAs. The Association is a publisher of the first in Poland "Handbook of flexography".
PLFTA cooperates with national flexographic technical associations in Germany, England and the USA. We are even members of these organizations.
Flexography is still the most dynamically developing printing process but for some printers remains not fully explored. Likewise, it requires access to educational materials in the Polish language (textbooks, manuals, flex-simulators, magazines), trainings in vocational centers - these are still weak points in this sector of industry. Establishment in Poland of professional flexo center equipped with a printing press and prepress facilities has a bright future.