Folding cartons are the main thrust of Flower City’s business. They represent a number of challenges, such as grain directions, scores and cutting rules. Different substrates call for various dies. Polystyrene, a popular substrate for the printer’s clientele, has the tendency to stretch and shrink due to heat sensitivity.
“Keep in mind that the normal offset press has 6,000 pounds psi,” Oliveri says. “The fanout is not consistent when you’re printing substrates of a plastic nature. Whether you’re doing it conventionally or UV, the inks are also very demanding. You need to pay attention to your load temperature.”
Oliveri is an ardent fan of the folding carton market, which he feels has stood up well during the economic downturn, even showing growth. One of the most difficult things to accomplish, he points out, is taking market share away from another firm.
“It’s really tough to get an incumbent (supplier) out,” he notes.
What is the degree of difficulty for package printing? That’s open to interpretation. Some have described the learning curve as steep, while others term it relatively simple, as printing goes.
“Quite often, it tends to be a little dirtier,” notes Dave Kornbau, vice president of operations for York, PA-based Strine Printing, one of the most prominent packaging printers on the East Coast. “If you’re a commercial printer, the transition’s not that difficult, in my opinion.”
Strine has flourished in large-format work, which opened the gate for point-of-purchase and folding carton work. An added advantage for the company, according to Kornbau, is sheeting its own materials. The company also brought die making in-house. A point of differentiation for Strine is its status as a single-source provider.
Know Your Substrates
Plastics can be a tough market, Kornbau cautions. “Most companies have been going away from plastics out of sheer price considerations,” he says.