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Printing with the Environment in Mind

Posted by: Flaire Print Communications

The folowing  case study was originally published by AGFA Graphic  Systems in 2005.

Raising  the Printing Bar

Company: Flaire  Print Communications
Type: Commercial Printer
Size: 17 employees
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

Minnesota Printer Supplies Quality  with a Conscience

Every  morning when they head to work, Mark and Mike Kuzma think  of the two most important things they must do during  the course of the day: one, they try to make their company  better; and two, they try to stay ahead of the competition.  The Kuzma brothers head up Flaire Print Communications – Mark’s  the president and Mike’s vice president of production – a  mid-size commercial printer with 15 employees, based  in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company specialises in  business stationery and collateral marketing materials,  along with digital printing.

For  some, the idea of being an earth-friendly printer is  an exercise in futility – one cannot be friendly  to the earth if one’s job is to produce reams of print for as many clients as possible. The Kuzma brothers,  however, have found a way to provide high quality print  for their clients, but in a way that helps keep the earth – and  their consciences – clean.

Keeping  it Clean

The  Kuzmas and Flaire Print Communications strive to be as  friendly to the environment as possible. In addition  to being members of traditional printing industry organizations,  Flaire is a member of the Printing Industry of Minnesota’s  (PIM) “Great Printers Environmental Initiative,” which requires area printers to go beyond the minimum environment  compliance regulations. The company also uses soy inks  and participates in “Clean Air Minnesota,” which  is a partnership of local businesses, environmental groups,  and others to help reduce air pollution. The company  proudly explains its membership and participation in  each of these environmental initiatives on its web site  (

When  it came time to move from a film-based workflow to CtP,  the Kuzmas set out to find the best and most appropriate  CtP system for their business. With a passion as strong  for the environment as they have for printing, they realised  that Agfa’s :Acento with :Azura chemistry-free  plates and :Sublima XM screening was the best option  for the company. :ApogeeX, Agfa’s advanced digital  workflow solution, guides the process.

It  should come as little surprise that Flaire was the first  in Minnesota to use the :Azura system. For the Kuzmas,  the elimination of developer gave them another reason  for their clients and potential clients, who also have  an appreciation for the environment, to choose Flaire  over the competition.

“We  are trying to get all the print buyers to consider us,  not only for our exceptional quality and service, but  because of our care and concern for our environment.  We are always trying to better ourselves and the elimination of developer was critical to our decision to go with  Agfa’s CtP system,” Mark Kuzma said.

Going  Chemistry-Free

:Azura  is a grained and anodised aluminium thermal plate that  uses patented ThermoFuse technology to physically bond  images to the plate without any chemical processing.  A clean-out step follows the non-ablative imaging process  to enhance contrast. The result is highly stable and predictable thermal imaging, without any com-promises  on press. :Azura plates offer high quality (2-98% dots  on plate) imaging for printers using 2-, 4- and 8-up  formats.

:Azura  and its ThermoFuse technology allow printers to eliminate  water and developer from the CtP process. As a result,  the :Azura system can be environmentally sensitive and  quite beneficial to a printer’s bottom line. For example, with :Azura, a typical 4-up printer would only  use a small container of gum per month, versus traditional  CtP systems that use thousands of gallons of water, devel-oper  and finisher. This could save printers thousands of dollars  each year.

Printing  with earthly concerns is a relatively new phenomenon,  according to Paul Gutkowski, who serves as PIM’s  safety and environmental services director. For now,  while the trend is first starting to gain steam, print  buyers still first look for quality in their printing  products. When it comes to choosing one printer from  an-other, with all else being equal, most print buyers  would choose the one who showed concern for the environment.

“Flaire  Print Communications has been leading the way when it  comes to fulfilling the requirements of our program,” Gutkowski  said. “Systems such as Agfa’s :Azura create  less pollution in the environment and help to create a safer working environment for a printer’s employees.”

Quality  Counts

When  Flaire sales representatives talk to print buyers about  their prepress operation, they now have an entire package  to sell. With :Azura, Flaire offers high quality printing  with fast turnaround times. Helping the environment is  a bonus.

"Our  pressman tells me that the :Azura plate is the best he’s  ever worked with," Mark said. “We are always  trying to go a step beyond to stay competitive. Our new  Agfa CtP system has us at a whole new level and we aggressively  sell those differences to our customers.”

Flaire’s  CtP quality has gained significant recognition among  its customers and the community. The company recently  won a Gold Award from the Central Minnesota Craftsmen  Club of the Central Minnesota Print Professional Association  for a piece that was printed with :Sublima on a :Galileo.  Mark expects awards to be rolling in from his work using  the :Acento with :Azura and :Sublima, as well.

“Sublima  is absolutely great. I personally see the difference,” Mark  said.

At  the end of the day, the Kuzma brothers can leave the  office knowing they have performed excellent service  for their customers and done their part to make the world  a better place.