Guns vs. Bells: Going In-Depth

    Posted by Mike Bonner

    Mar 4, 2018 1:02:00 PM

    Editor’s Note: Our VP of Engineering & Technology Mike Bonner recently spoke at the 2018 Waterborne Symposium held in New Orleans, LA. His presentation went in-depth on the differences in atomization between spray guns and bell atomizers, shedding light on how paint finishers can further improve their applications.

    For those not in attendance, he’s prepared his insights here for our blog as a series of posts. To view future posts in the series, check the Guns vs. Bells blog series page over the following weeks on Thursdays and Sundays.  The presentation was recorded and will be also available on our YouTube channel in the not-too-distant future.  Stay tuned for that announcement!

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    Topics: Viscosity, paint and coating, Guns vs Bells Series

    The Sustainable Future: How Flexographic Printers Can Go Green

    Posted by Mark Portelli

    Mar 1, 2018 3:03:00 PM

    From recycling, to solar roofs, to electric cars, environmental sustainability has become a trend that means big business.

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    Topics: sustainability, flexographic printing

    Has Digital Killed the Flexography Star? Digital Printing vs. Flexographic Printing

    Posted by Mark Portelli

    Feb 25, 2018 12:56:00 PM

    It’s no secret that the packaging and label printing industries have recently been paying more attention to digital printing.

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    Topics: flexographic printing, digital printing

    4 Flexographic Printing Issues and What to Do to Solve Them

    Posted by Mark Portelli

    Feb 22, 2018 4:33:39 PM

    When it comes to flexographic printing, maintaining consistent quality is paramount to the success of your operation — and profitability.

    Yet riding that thin line of consistency is easier said than done, as any number of issues can crop up in your process.

    However, every issue has a solution.

    Here are four common problems that can occur with your ink, including known causes and how you can potentially correct each one.

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    Topics: flexographic printing, ink management

    5 Things That Really Great Printers Do

    Posted by Mark Portelli

    Feb 11, 2018 1:11:00 PM

    Norcross has been in the viscosity control business for over 80 years. During that time we have seen “best practices” in the industry come and go. Some have become the standard and some have been displaced by new practices or technologies.

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    Topics: Viscosity

    10 Signs You Are Having Viscosity Related Problems

    Posted by Mark Portelli

    Feb 8, 2018 3:06:00 PM

    Even in the best circumstances, (new gearless high speed presses, highly trained and attentive pressmen, atmospherically controlled environments, great ink suppliers, etc.), you can still have print issues.

    Many of those issues may be related to ineffective viscosity measurement and control. 

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    Topics: Viscosity

    5 Common Misconceptions About Zahn Cups

    Posted by Saint Clair Systems

    Feb 4, 2018 1:00:00 PM

    To determine the viscosity of a liquid, a Zahn cup is dipped and completely filled with the liquid to be measured. After lifting the cup out of the liquid, the user measures the time it takes for the liquid streaming from the opening in the bottom of the cup to begin “breaking up.” This is the corresponding "efflux time." 

    (Quick note:  Efflux is defined as “the flowing out of a particular substance or particle.” Cups of this nature may be more recognizable by names like Zahn Cup, Shell Cup, or Ford Cup. For purposes of this blog, I am using the Zahn cup to refer to all efflux cups). As I am fond of saying, it's not rocket science it's fluid science, (which requires a degree of education).

    Sounds simple right?

    It is!

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    Topics: Viscosity, Zahn cups

    New Growth Demands Higher Quality for Corrugated Packaging and Printing

    Posted by Mark Portelli

    Feb 1, 2018 12:57:00 PM

    Since 1871, corrugated has been a staple of the packaging industry — and the larger U.S. economy. In fact, the global market for corrugated box packaging is forecasted to hit $307.9 billion in 2025, growing at 4.6 percent each year until then.

    For printers, this represents the potential for a lot of new business. But every opportunity comes with challenges.

    So, what do printers need to know to take full advantage of this expanding market?

    Demand for higher quality packaging

    For corrugated printers, the key trend is rising demand for higher quality packaging. According to Technavio, “a developed and mature U.S. market” is driving demand for premium consumer products — and thus also higher quality packaging. Technavio explains:

    “Premium packaging is a basic indication of the high quality of the product inside. Vendors use expensive ingredients, technologies, colors, and other raw materials to develop premium packs. Many consumers also buy these products as gifts, thereby driving the demand for premium packaging in the market.”

    Small corrugated boxes with high quality printed designs are also often used in retail stores near, around, and in checkout lanes, says Technavio:

    “Retail giants such as Walmart are using this form of packaging in the premium brand segment to improve marketing activities. These boxes are placed at the point of sale to attract consumers.”

    This begs the question: how can corrugated printers prepare to provide these more premium designs?

    It’s all about consistency…

    Meeting the demand for higher quality packaging is no simple task. Even the smallest printing imperfections can lead to rejections — and a reduction in profitability.

    This means that corrugated printers need to be on high alert and watch out for issues such as:

    • Improper or inconsistent color
    • Dot bridging or feathering
    • Bleeding
    • Fisheyes
    • Halos

    Manual adjustments to correct such issues are costly — and they create the opportunity for even more problems. This can leave corrugated printers between a rock and a hard place.

    But there’s good news.

    Ink control automation eliminates the need for manual adjustments. With automation, printers no longer need to worry about the careful balance of viscosity, pH, temperature, and evaporation. Ink control handles it all, making worry over ink management a thing of the past!

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    Topics: Printing, flexographic printing, corrugated printing, ink management

    Lab Data Quantifies Significant Cost Savings for Automotive Paint Finishers

    Posted by Mike Bonner

    Jan 28, 2018 1:02:00 PM

    Saint Clair Systems rings out 2017 by offering automotive paint finishers detailed, objective data on the impact of paint temperature on their paint finish quality.

    In a series of controlled laboratory experiments, Saint Clair Systems teamed with Carlisle Fluid Technologies and BYK-Gardner to test the relationship between paint temperature and finish quality. The resulting data demonstrates that the two are intrinsically linked, quantifying the incredible quality improvements and cost savings that temperature control can provide for automotive paint finishers.

    This comprehensive study is a first for the paint finishing industry.

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    Topics: Temperature control, Industrial finishing, paint temperature control, automotive finishing

    Why Color Quality and Consistency is Critical for Brands

    Posted by Mark Portelli

    Jan 25, 2018 3:03:00 PM

    Imagine that you walk into McDonald’s, pick up your “super-size” Coke, and notice something isn’t right.  As you look closer, you realize the “golden arches” aren’t so golden — they’re more of a green-ish color.

    Would you be uneasy?

    Later in the day, you grab a Coke from the vending machine in your office.  But, when you pull it from the vending tray, instead of the familiar, bold “Coke Red,” the can is more of a pinkish color.

    Would you drink it?

    So, on the way home, you stop by the grocery store to buy a case of Coke, but when you get to the shelf, the cardboard packages range from pinkish red to maroon.  Would you question the store’s stock rotation practices and start checking dates on the packages?  Or would you just grab one that was the correct shade of red?

    Or would you just buy Pepsi instead?

    Of course, these are hypothetical situations.  But they demonstrate the importance of color to a brand.  Coca-Cola red, like McDonald’s golden yellow, is instantly recognizable.  McDonald’s and The Coca-Cola Company understand this, and take great care in protecting their brand images to keep them consistent.

    But what if they didn’t?

    What if every McDonald’s cup had a slightly different shade of yellow?  What if every Coca-Cola package varied in its shade of red?  Aside from adding confusion to the buying process — something no company ever wants to do — this could damage the consumer’s perception of the company.  Damage a company’s image enough, and it will invariably hurt their profitability.

    In short, color is important when it comes to the recognition of a brand, and printers must pay special attention to maintaining color quality and consistency in high-volume, repetitive products like beverage cups, cans, shelf packaging, displays, advertisements, etc.


    Because businesses like McDonald’s and The Coca-Cola Company reject products every day that are even slightly inconsistent with their brand colors.

    But why is color so important to products and packaging?

    Here are some interesting statistics on the issue of color and brand, reported by Jill Morton of Colorcom:

    • When purchasing products, 92.6 percent of people say that they put the most importance on visual factors.
    • Color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
    • Color can boost comprehension by 73 percent.

    It seems that human beings are physiologically and psychologically wired to pay attention to color!

    And that’s no accident.  There are biological reasons for recognizing color — seeing color helps living creatures differentiate between different objects, and determine whether those objects represent predator, mate, or food!

    According to a WIRED magazine article based on a study published in the journal Science, while most monkeys and apes only have two-color vision, thus seeing their environment as “greyish and slightly red-hued,” early human ancestors “regained three-color vision because spotting fresh fruit and immature leaves led to a more nutritious diet.”

    In other words, humans see and recognize color because it aids our survival.  And while you certainly don’t need McDonald’s fast food or a can of Coke to survive, it makes sense that their packaging colors would take advantage of something so fundamentally important to the human brain.

    The bottom line…

    The moral of the story is that printers must take great care to keep color consistent for product packaging.  That requires careful ink management — lest the end product feature McDonald’s “green-ish arches” or “Coca-Cola pink” (just toss them in the scrap bin — they’re not going anywhere!)

    Proper ink management can be a difficult process.  Evaporation can vary viscosity and pH.  So can adding stabilizers and defoamers.  Changes in temperature can affect viscosity, but it also affects the evaporation rate.  Trying to compensate by making manual adjustments in the middle of a run is fraught with opportunities for disaster — all of which end up in the scrap bin.

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    Topics: Printing, flexographic printing, ink management, color management

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