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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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!

Read More

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!

Read More

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

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.

Read More

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

Read More

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

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: flexographic printing, 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, Paint Temperature Control Series, automotive painting, paint temperature control, future outlook, automotive finishing

Saint Clair Systems Blog

We post our thoughts on temperature control, technology, viscosity and industry regularly. Subscribe to get updates on our business and our philosophy.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts