Reproflex3 – branded flexo prepress partnerships – ProjectBlue & Vortex

Reproflex3 establishes flexo prepress in UAE & India

Reproflex3's ProjectBlue for high quality flexo
Reproflex3's ProjectBlue for high quality flexo Photo Miraclon

Andrew Hewitson, co-founder and business development director of UK flexo prepress house Reproflex3, talks about an approaching tipping-point when he confidently expects the flexo process to get the recognition it deserves after a decade of technological refinements and enhancements. “From a procurement perspective — and even a supply perspective — flexo is winning. When one of the really large brands switches to flexo, the world will shift. The rate at which flexo is winning converts, especially from gravure, is gaining pace.” He continues, “There’s wide acceptance that flexo can do the job, particularly when it comes to sustainability, which is brand owners’ biggest concern now.”

From its base in north-east England, Reproflex3 has done its share of spreading the flexo word, both geographically and technologically. Expanding overseas to reduce dependence on the intensely competitive UK market, the company has established successful presences in the UAE and India and partnerships with likeminded prepress specialists in the US and — most recently — Italy.

Award-winning ProjectBlue

Technologically, Reproflex3 is best known for its FTA award-winning ProjectBlue solution, launched in 2016. Based on the groundbreaking Kodak Flexcel NX platemaking system, ProjectBlue optimizes ink delivery and image consistency by linking superior color separations, differentiated screening, patented plate patterning, and specially-designed aniloxes. The combination delivers outstandingly vibrant and consistent ultra-high-definition output, produced at maximum press speeds and within a standard 4-color ink palette.

ProjectBlue also provides the technology platform for BlueEdge, the first product to result from Reproflex3’s collaboration with Z Due for corrugated flexo postprint. Available exclusively from Z Due, BlueEdge does everything ProjectBlue does but has been adapted by the two partners to meet the Italian corrugated postprint market requirements, in which Z Due has a strong presence. (Reproflex3 specializes in flexible packaging for blue-chip FMCG brands.)

Reproflex3 & Z Due – A partnership of award winners

Reproflex3 and Z Due owe their partnership directly to their participation in the Global Flexo Innovation Awards, introduced in 2018 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Kodak Flexcel NX System launch. At the Istanbul awards ceremony, both companies won Gold Awards for outstanding examples flexo-printed packaging but, just as importantly, laid the foundations of their present collaboration.

Andrew Hewitson describes both companies as “Artisans, in the best sense of the word. By this, I mean that we both have a real enthusiasm for our craft. We both take pride in developing practical solutions. In Istanbul, we weren’t alone in this because, without exception, all the winners were true artisans. That was one of the real positives we took away from the awards.”

ProjectBlue and BlueEdge are products of that artisan mindset. “We take technology and put our own stamp on it,” is how Hewitson describes Reproflex3’s business model. He adds that key to the company’s continued growth is the idea of finding “headroom — the space where we can innovate and add value. If you don’t do that, you risk becoming a commodity producer.”

Reproflex 2 & Z Due shake hands
Award winners combine for quality and specialty flexo tech, Reproflex3 and Z Due shake hands Photo Miraclon

The latest example of this philosophy in action — Votex — is currently in beta-testing and is the subject of high hopes for both Reproflex3 and Z Due. “Vortex has enormous potential because it addresses a wider market than ProjectBlue,” explains Hewitson. “By its very nature, ProjectBlue isn’t for everybody. To get the best results from ProjectBlue, the printer not only has to print at the very highest quality, with the highest consistency but also maintain the process to the highest standard. There is a market sector for this application, but not all printers are ready. However, there are many more that want to start on the path towards ProjectBlue. Vortex is for those businesses. It’s about using and adapting screening technology and a 360 advanced color certification solution to help them increase their quality, step by step. Together with our partners, we are very excited about approaching the wider market in all regions with the Vortex solution soon.”

Both Reproflex3 and Z Due are deciding what to enter in the 2020 Global Flexo Innovation Awards, which are now organized by Miraclon, the new home (since 2019) of Kodak Flexcel. The awards are notable for ‘looking beyond the package’ and evaluating the impact of submissions on the entire value chain. With high quality considered a precondition, the independent panel of judges, chaired this time by Christopher Horton, formerly senior vice-president of SGS, will be assessing entries against four categories of innovation excellence. The four award categories are creativity in graphic design, conversion from other print processes, workflow efficiency, and sustainability commitment.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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