A converter's POV: Hybrid and the future of flexo.

Author:McConnon, Dave
 
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Deciding which press to use for a label project used to involve making trade-offs. You could have the short make-ready times and easy customizability of digital, or you could have the power of a flexographic press to create high-end decorative details.

Some jobs naturally made sense for one technology or the other, but many cried out for the best features of both.

That's what's so exciting about the growth of hybrid technology, which combines both digital and flexographic units into a single press. With hybrid, it's possible to manage multiple SKUs and custom artwork in a digital unit while still using flexo presses to add high-end decorative effects like rotary screens and cold foils.

In other words, hybrid presses make it easier than ever to create work that would have been prohibitively expensive or time consuming with digital or flexo alone. If you think about it in terms of evolution, hybrid presses have a serious competitive advantage, and they're only going to become a more important part of the industry.

With hybrid, projects that might have taken hours of make-ready to complete on a flexographic press can be completed in a fraction of the time. Suddenly, jobs that might have seemed possible only on a flexo or digital press fit naturally onto a hybrid press. Put one in place, and you'll find you're moving more jobs to the press than you originally planned. I've seen the shift first hand, and I've seen the benefits of hybrid for a wide range of jobs--most significantly the kind of short-run, high-end label work that is becoming a focus for area brands.

The...

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