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Every sample tells a story

07/10/20

Sebastian Longo’s first taste of flexo was as an infant, running between the machines of his grandfather’s print shop. Now president of the company, and a judge of the Global Flexo Innovation Awards, he shares what makes the awards so special – and why he’s keen to hear the story behind the sample…

I’ve been involved in awards for the eFTA, Flexotech in UK and the FTA in the States. They’re all searching for the best print quality. With Miraclon it’s different. It’s about innovation. Of course, the print quality is important, but so is what you did to make it possible. Maybe you used fewer colours, or used a fixed color palette. Or you used different screen technologies. This is a better way to celebrate print.

I was born into flexo. My grandfather started the business 82 years ago. He lived above the shop, and when I was three years old I would visit my father at work, running between the machines. As a teenager, I’d spend half the day at school, half at the trade shop. My father said I could work there, on one condition: I had to go to college first. I did, and I’ve been here ever since.

Sharing production stories

Last year, when Miraclon offered the opportunity to be one of the judges, it was the perfect chance to see all the work being done with the latest technology, and to learn how to improve things. One major benefit of the awards is you get to meet people doing this from all over the world.

“It’s interesting to see how the different parts of the value chain see the same sample, read the same brief and assign importance to such different things.”

The judging was a good, collaborative process. We had one group of branding experts, and another focused on the pre-press or technical side, and we all came together for some great discussions. I was surprised by some of the things I saw. There was, for example, a huge quantity of high quality corrugated boards. But really it was the storytelling that impressed me most. Uruguay’s Lorytex supported its samples with all the facts and figures on savings and efficiency rates. They showed us how, by using ECG and FLEXCEL NX plates, it helped the converter use an old machine to improve quality and productivity.

Stiff competition

It was very hard to choose between the samples. It’s interesting to see how the different parts of the value chain see the same sample, read the same brief and assign importance to such different things. There were a couple samples we were particularly impressed about from the prepress perspective. We felt it was the absolute best that flexo could produce. But the brand experts did not see the holistic business benefit, so these applications could not make it to top 12 winners.

Reproflex 3’s work with Milky Way was different. It was very a beautiful packaging, made with four colors, something I never thought I’d see, and they’d used NX technology to solve a very real customer problem, of moving across from gravure. I’m still amazed with what they achieved.

Where's the challenge

My advice to entrants is to be different, to get out of the box. Don’t just send nice samples. Send something that’s a game changer, something different. The print quality should be the main thing, of course, but where’s the challenge? Perhaps you’re using a material that’s very hard to print and you’re getting a very nice quality. Or you’re replacing polyethylene with a material that’s better for the environment and still getting quality results.

So send a comparison sample. Be like Lorytex and share the facts and figures behind your work. Tell us why you’re doing it. Show what this sample means for your business, for your customer, for the brand, and for real life. That’s the spirit of the Global Flexo Innovation Awards. It’s not just print quality. It’s everything.

Don’t be a commodity. Be something really important. Make the difference.

Sebastian Longo is President of Fotograbados Longo, a flexo specialist based in Argentina founded 80 years ago. Fotograbados Longo’s activities include packaging premedia, flexo prepress, color management and proofing, and HD Flexo Pixel+ plate production. As well as 30 years’ experience in these areas, Sebastian is completing the FIRST Implementation Specialist Certification course. Sebastian is a judge for the 2020/21 Global Flexo Innovation Awards.