Thanks Uncle Sam! A New Windfall for Flexographic Printers

Posted by Mark Portelli

Jan 21, 2018 12:58:00 PM

Uncle Sam often leaves businesses on the hook when it comes to government regulations.  But a new decision by the Food and Drug Administration may be good news for printers.

On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced they're updating the requirements for food nutrition labels.  Of course, this means a lot of new labels will have to be printed.  But why was this decision made?

Put simply, the FDA hopes that the new label design will help people to control their eating habits — and potentially reduce the epidemic of obesity in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that all states have an adult obesity rate of more than 20 percent.

According to the FDA:

“The current label is more than 20 years old.  In order to make sure consumers have access to more recent and accurate nutrition information about the foods they are eating, it’s time to make changes to the Nutrition Facts label.  The changes announced today are based on updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.”

The deadline for the changes is January 1, 2021.

While this update will undoubtedly cause a headache for food packagers, it’s an incredible windfall for the label industry — and that’s great news for flexographic printers.

What exactly is being changed on the nutritional labels?

Significant typography updates are required by the new design.  Serving size information and calories per serving are being made more prominent with larger, bolder type.

In the totals section, daily values have changed (based on new scientific information).  The nutrients section at the bottom now requires that actual amounts are stated.

You may also notice that it’s no longer required to include Vitamins A and C — this is because American diets are generally no longer deficient in them.

A line on total added sugars is also now included, and calories from fat (which used to be at the top) is now gone.  Lastly, the new label moves the bottom Daily Values footnote and changes its text slightly.

The infographics below show it all in action; the old on the left versus the new on the right:

What do flexographic printers need to do to prepare?

Flexo Magazine recommends that printers get ahead of the changes now.  Printing industry veteran Catherine Haynes states:

“As a prepress provider, though, you can help establish your relevance as the CPC’s supplier if you have check points built into your process to ensure you are following the latest rules and employ the current formats.  Ultimately, it is beneficial for all parties (CPC, designer, prepress provider and printer) to work together on the nutrition label update, as non-compliance can lead to stiff penalties and costly disruptions to supply chains when not followed correctly.”

Haynes recommends the usage of software solutions such as preflight tools and “dynamic tools for elements like bar codes and nutritional information.”  These tools make it easier to comply with the new regulations.

Preflight tools check elements such as fonts, line weights, minimum/maximum dot, etc., while dynamic generators use software intelligence to remove the manual work from building nutritional tables.

How to choose the right software solution to aid compliance

When choosing software to aid in compliance, Haynes advises printers to consider that:

  • Tools reside within Adobe Illustrator
  • Art is built on a non-destructive art layer
  • Content is locked so it is protected from accidental, non-deliberate changes
  • Changes are instantly mirrored within the art file via dynamic links
  • Elements can be linked to XML data provided by the brand owner/manager
  • A window can be opened allowing the prepress supplier to link other key individuals and decision makers as the package/label is being created

Taking advantage of the growth

The label update represents the potential for a lot of business growth, so it’s important that flexographic printers are ready. And while the software tools previously discussed will be helpful, there is an additional consideration for printers.


Or more specifically, consistent quality.

It’s incredibly important that the bigger, bolder fonts and large amounts of information featured on the new labels remain consistent.  But manual adjustments during a run are opportunities for disaster.

So how do printers reliably avoid problems such as bleeding, smearing, improper color, or uneven print?

Ink management…

Consistent print quality requires effective ink management, but ink management can be a difficult process.  There are many different elements to be held in careful balance, including viscosity, pH, temperature, and evaporation.  Fortunately, printers can simplify this delicate balancing act through ink control automation.

Read More

Topics: Printing, flexographic printing, ink management, government regulation

Ceresana Automotive Coating Market Study

Posted by Mike Bonner

Jan 18, 2018 3:06:38 PM

red car door.jpg

Ceresana, the German market research company, just released its Market Study of Automotive Coatings for 2018.  According to Ceresana, “The report examines demand and revenues of 7 world regions and 16 countries from 2008 to 2024.”  It focuses on electrodepostion coating and the primer/surfacer, basecoat, and clearcoat layers.

Read More

Topics: coating, automotive finishing

10 Troubleshooting Tips for Gravure Printing

Posted by Saint Clair Systems

Jan 14, 2018 12:57:00 PM

We know you love your gravure printing, but let’s face it: sometimes you encounter issues, and you just don’t know how to fix them. And that’s why today we’re going to go over 10 of the most common problems people experience with gravure, and what you can do to fix them.

Read More

Topics: gravure printing

The State of Automotive Paint: Looking Toward the Future

Posted by Mike Bonner

Jan 11, 2018 3:27:43 PM

Automotive finishing is set for incredible growth.  According to a report from Research and Markets, from $8.82 billion in 2015, the global industry is projected to hit $12.54 billion by 2022!

This growth is being driven by expanding markets overseas — especially in China — as well as strict environmental regulations at home and in Europe that are expected to increase the demand for waterborne, UV cure, and powder coatings.

What does this mean for automotive finishers?

What does this mean for you as an automotive finisher?   In a word: “opportunity.”  But only if you can keep up with the higher quality standards that will invariably accompany the increase in demand.

As a market grows, customers expect more from their suppliers, so automotive painters will have to find ways to ensure that their finishes are free of blemishes, defects, and imperfections.

That’s certainly a tall order, especially considering that, even today, some of the top automotive manufacturers struggle to control issues such as orange peel (as shown in this video).

But, fortunately, it’s not impossible.

How can automotive finishers keep up with rising quality demands?

One solution can be found in paint temperature control. Saint Clair Systems has demonstrated that there is a direct and measurable correlation between paint temperature and surface finish quality.  In fact, paint temperature can be used as a tool to avoid surface imperfections on a finished part.

These conclusions were confirmed in a series of lab experiments performed in partnership with Carlisle Fluid Technologies, a global leader in surface finishing equipment with hundreds of years of experience in the industry across its brands (which include Binks and DeVilbiss, two companies started by the acknowledged inventors of paint spraying technology), and BYK-Gardner, a global leader in finish quality measurement, whose “Wavescan” is the  “Gold Standard” for measurement of orange peel.  In this Design-of-experiments, panels were sprayed at different temperatures across a range of finishing variables.

So what’s the point?

Put simply, one way to keep up with the rising demand the finishing industry will see over the next roughly four years is maintaining rigorous process control.  And this study shows the importance of paint temperature as one of those critical variables.  Automotive finishers need to identify the ideal application temperature for each of their paints, and then they need to maintain that temperature as part of their process.

This is where a comprehensive paint temperature control system is important.  You can do everything possible to control your process variables, including robotic applicators and controlled booths, but unless you’re controlling your paint temperature, you’re still going to see intermittent finish quality issues.  It’s a science all its own.  Well-designed paint temperature control systems use a variety of technologies to manage temperature at the most critical point in your process – the point of application.

This is a key way to ensure you get your slice of that $12.54-billion-dollar pie!

If you’d like more information on custom paint temperature control systems designed specifically for your application, contact Saint Clair Systems.


Read More

Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, paint temperature control, automotive finishing, future outlook

Automotive Paint Technologies on the Horizon

Posted by Mike Bonner

Jan 7, 2018 1:03:00 PM

Exciting things are coming in the near future in the field of automotive paint.  Over the next few years, automotive paint finishers will be able to offer truly stunning new paint technologies that will greatly improve both the appearance and the function of their vehicles.


What do consumers have to look forward to?

Super-reflective paint

At the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2015, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab made painting history.  They presented a new glass-based paint (made of silica and potassium silicate) which, rather than absorbing the sun’s rays like most paints do, reflects them.  This environmentally-friendly paint will keep cars cool, even in blistering summer heat.  And, it’s available now on select models.

Self-cleaning paint

How would you like to never have to wash your car again?  In 2016, Nissan announced that it had developed a super-hydrophobic self-cleaning car paint, the result of prototype experiments conducted in 2014.  Similar to Rustoleum’s “Never Wet” product, nanoscopic peaks in the surface of this paint make it difficult for water, dirt, oil, and other materials to adhere, so they simply slide off instead. As a result, the car gets less dirty than a vehicle without the paint, as demonstrated in this video.

Self-healing paint

Never having to wash your car again is one thing, but what if you didn’t have to worry about scratches?  Nissan has also experimented with a self-healing paint that repairs scratches in its surface – much as your skin does – only faster!  It’s formulated using a material called chitosan, derived from the chitin in the shells of crabs and lobsters.  When the surface gets scratched, the chitosan in the paint, activated by the sun, stitches together the damage via synthetic chains created in conjunction with other compounds in the paint, healing itself in less than an hour!  This technology is still being perfected, so you’ll have to stay on the lookout for run-away shopping carts in the parking lot for a while longer.

Heat-sensitive color-changing paint

Heat-sensitive color-changing paint, or thermochromic paint, changes color as a function of temperature. Below the threshold temperature, the paint appears as one solid color, but when it surpasses that temperature, it turns transparent, showing whatever colors or images have been painted underneath. This can result in some very interesting effects, as demonstrated in this video.  Like self-healing and self-cleaning technologies, thermochromic paints are not yet available on the mass market.

How will these new paints affect automotive finishers?

While exciting, these new technologies will further complicate the automotive finishing process.  This will make process control even more critical than it is today to ensure the desired results.

Saint Clair Systems has tested the relationship between paint temperature and finish quality in the field, and in the lab, and the resulting data shows that paint temperature is a significant factor when it comes to consistent and repeatable surface finish quality.  So if you’re a finisher contemplating one of these new technologies, or just looking to improve your results with your current technology, contact us to discuss how adding paint temperature to your list of controlled variables can create better outcomes.

If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to paint temperature control, or you’d like advice regarding your particular application, contact Saint Clair Systems directly.

Read More

Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, paint temperature control, automotive paint finishing, future technologies

The Journey of Spray Painting: From Invention to a Modern Automotive Finishing Process

Posted by Mike Bonner

Jan 4, 2018 2:56:00 PM

It’s probably a safe bet to assume that you’ve picked up a can of spray paint and used it to quickly and efficiently complete some type of home painting project. Most everyone is familiar with the process of spray painting. But on a grand historical scale, it’s still a relatively new invention.

Prior to the late 19th century, all paint — whether residential, commercial, or industrial — was applied painstakingly by hand using a brush. Painting projects that take only hours or days today could take days or weeks back then, making the painting process incredibly time-consuming and expensive.

Fortunately, as we approached the 20th century, all that changed, and we have two men to thank for it: Joseph Binks and Dr. Allen DeVilbiss.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Joseph Binks was a maintenance supervisor at Marshall Field’s Chicago department store in 1887.  Tasked with maintaining the whitewashing on the basement walls of the store, Binks eventually found himself frustrated with the length of time it took to complete the task.

Marshall Field’s had thousands of feet of walls spanning multiple floors, all of which required painting — by hand with a brush — and after weeks of work, Binks’ crew had only finished one of those floors.

Realizing this was an unsustainable situation, he decided to do something about it.

He cobbled together a hand pump, a nozzle with a wand, and a container for the pressurized paint, creating what many call the world’s first paint-spray device.

Despite drastically reducing the amount of man hours it took to paint Marshall Field’s basement walls, Binks’ invention didn’t truly start to take off until the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago.  The event had a large number of exhibit buildings that required painting, and as opening day approached, the vast majority of them remained untouched.

Using his device, Joseph Binks was able to complete all of the painting before visitors arrived to see the exposition — literally and figuratively saving the day.  From there, Binks was able to successfully transition his invention into a profitable venture.

Around the same time, Dr. Allen DeVilbiss was having problems treating patients with sore throats.  He found that any medicine he gave his patients wasn’t properly covering the affected area, because, when swallowed, it went straight past where it needed to be.

So, like Binks, Dr. DeVilbiss decided to do something about it. He retreated to his workshop, and after some time, emerged with the world’s first atomizer. It was composed of a squeezable rubber bulb, a small tube, and a metal jar (if that sounds like an old-fashioned perfume sprayer that you may have seen in museums, it’s because, thanks to his son, DeVilbiss’ invention also branched off into the world of perfume).

With his invention, he was able to effectively apply medicine to his patients’ throats. Word spread among doctors, and he soon found himself tending to a full-time manufacturing operation.

Becoming an automotive finishing process

The companies of both men survived and grew through the years, simultaneously competing and inspiring each other when it came to product design and development. It wasn’t long before the automotive industry realized the value of using a spray gun to apply paint to vehicles, and in the 1920s, automobile manufacturers became major customers of both companies.

With multiple coats each requiring days of dry time in between, painting a car could take up to a month!   The use of air spray guns allowed them to shorten the painting time to less than a week — and when combined with new paint formulations, like fast-drying solvent-based nitrocellulose, this was trimmed to hours — thus significantly reducing the greatest bottleneck in the automotive production process. 

It was a huge improvement, and many more improvements would be made over the following decades, leading to better and better finish quality.

Advancing automotive spray finish quality

Today, Binks and DeVilbiss are no longer in competition — they are now both part of the Carlisle Fluid Technologies family of companies.  And with the decades of collective painting experience that Binks and DeVilbiss provide, coupled with a state-of-the-art laboratory in Toledo, OH, Carlisle is well-positioned to investigate how to further improve automotive paint quality.

And there are always improvements to be made…

That’s why Saint Clair Systems has partnered with Carlisle Fluid Technologies in a series of lab experiments to quantify the relationship between paint temperature and surface finish quality.  The first of these tests identified the degree to which the temperature of clearcoat during application impacts the quality of the finish.

This is a huge discovery for the automotive painting industry.

The future of automotive paint finishing

Driven by intense competition and an increasingly sophisticated customer base, automotive painting is a constantly evolving process, and we’re excited to be a part of the next chapter. In our next blog, we’ll discuss some of the new automotive paint technologies coming down the pipeline.

If you’d like more information on the series of lab experiments Saint Clair Systems is performing with Carlisle Fluid Technologies and how paint temperature control can be used to improve your automotive finishing process, contact us directly.

Read More

Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, paint temperature control, automotive paint finishing

How Does Paint Temperature Affect Different Automotive Paints?

Posted by Mike Bonner

Dec 21, 2017 3:02:00 PM

In our last blog, we discussed Henry Ford’s decision to choose one color for their Model T’s — black. To support his assembly line concept, Ford required a fast-drying paint, and in 1909, the only paint available that met the needs of mass production came in only one color: black.

To contrast with today, not only are cars available in a technicolor range of shades and hues, but they also utilize different types of paint to perform different functions.

Read More

Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, paint temperature control, automotive paint finishing

The Evolution of Automotive Paint Finishing: From the Model T to Today

Posted by Mike Bonner

Dec 17, 2017 1:02:00 PM

Not long after the beginning of the 20th century, 1909 by his own account, Henry Ford made the famous statement, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

In reality, the Model T was offered in multiple colors as early as 1908, but he was experimenting with the assembly line and the resulting increase in production speed required a fast-drying paint which, at the time, was only available in black.

Read More

Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, paint temperature control

5 Types of Paint Finish Defects That May Indicate a Paint Temperature Problem

Posted by Mike Bonner

Dec 14, 2017 3:06:00 PM

Paint problems got you down?   From runs, to improper matte/gloss, to orange peel, there are a great variety of issues that can affect your paint.  And with the short lead-times and incredibly high quality your customers demand nowadays, it can be overwhelming and expensive to deal with these issues.  You need your issue fixed as quickly as possible, so you can get back to profitable production.

Read More

Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, industrial painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, paint surface finish

The Necessity of Paint Temperature Control in Robotic Paint Finishing

Posted by Mike Bonner

Dec 10, 2017 5:01:31 PM

The rise of robots has revolutionized automotive and industrial finishing operations over the last several decades.  Robots are uniquely capable of handling those high-precision, repetitive tasks of which humans quickly grow tired.  They can repeat the same path, speed, angle and distance to the part time-after-time-after-time without ever growing tired or taking a sick day.

Read More

Topics: Viscosity, automotive painting, industrial painting, Paint Temperature Control Series, robotic painting