Innovation, Collaboration, and KODAK FLEXCEL NX Technology Drive Growth for Impression Label


In early 2022, a new name – Impression Label – appeared on the label manufacturing scene in Denver, Colorado (USA). The rebranding follows the merger of two long-established Denver label makers, Blair Labeling and Buckley Graphics, which CFO Marco De La Vega said “created a single company with more than 350 years of of combined experience, committed to providing Colorado manufacturers with truly innovative solutions in product design, printing and packaging.

In its latest major development, Impression Label has now upgraded its entire prepress setup with KODAK FLEXCEL NX Central, Miraclon’s new automated plate layout software. The investment comes after extensive beta testing of the technology, during which Impression achieved significant time, material and cost savings, including eliminating up to an hour per day of time spent manually preparing plate layouts and dramatically increasing plate utilization.

Surprising beginnings
Marco and his brother Christian, Impression’s COO, remember their entry into the self-adhesive label business vividly. “After all these years, it was like my mom called us yesterday and said she bought a label printing business,” he says with a smile. “As she had a background in biochemistry and she and our stepfather had just retired, it was a slight surprise.”

It was 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, and the brothers’ mother, Lourdes Solis, was looking for a relatively safe investment in manufacturing. Marco recalls: “With my father-in-law, Spencer Brown, they looked at about 180 companies before settling on Blair Labeling, finding that labeling was growing and seemed fairly recession-proof.”

The acquisition made the company one of the largest 100% minority and women-owned businesses in the United States and marked the beginning of a period of solid investment and growth under Lourdes’ leadership. , Spencer, Marco and Christian. Today, Impression Label offers the production, from design to delivery, of a wide range of high quality pressure sensitive primary, promotional and industrial labels including decals, tamper evident constructions, thermals, patterns, labels, hangers and cards. The company’s main markets are agriculture chemical, food and nutraceuticals.

One thing that differentiates Impression Label from similar companies is the strong culture of cooperation and collaboration that is apparent among the 33 employees. “We have a very flat structure,” Marco explains. “It’s not based on a rigid hierarchy, but on ‘How do we get there?’ approach to each job. Whatever needs to be done, we show up and do it. There are three things we aim to deliver – competitive pricing, high quality products and excellent customer service – and we like to think we’ve covered them all.

FLEXCEL NX — “The best technology for the business”
Impression Label was an early adopter of the KODAK FLEXCEL NX System, installing the technology in 2008. “We checked other HD flexo plates on the market,” says Christian, “but the FLEXCEL NX technology was clearly superior in terms of productivity and quality. . Consistency and print quality were there from the start and have been improved over time with DIGICAP NX Patterning and NX Advantage. FLEXCEL NX sheets are much more durable than those of our competitors, which is important to us, especially when we do heavy-duty jobs on a regular basis. The technology is also very user-friendly and forgiving, which Marco and I can attest to as newcomers to press operations.

Impression Label is a 100% FLEXCEL NX Plates company, says Marco. “Technology is crucial to our high quality proposition, which is important given the growing trend of customers wanting high impact labels with metallic and metallic finishes. We run reverses, flood layers and lots of white, with up to seven colors saved on it. The whites we deposit seem to have been passed through a rotary sieve. All without any problem. »

A step change in productivity with KODAK FLEXCEL NX Core Software
In addition to saving time and money, the software’s automated layout optimization contributes to users’ sustainability goals by creating less waste and using less energy and solvent. It enables the seamless integration of several advanced plate surface modeling features, designed to improve print performance, into an automated plate layout, and increases consistency and reduces errors by minimizing customer touch points . It also improves productivity by allowing multiple clients to remotely manage the plate layout process.

FLEXCEL NX core software simplifies and automates
Marco De La Vega describes the benefits that Impression Label derives from the new software: “Previously our art department spent a lot of time trying to get the best fit of the jobs on the plate. Now, with the central FLEXCEL NX software, everything is automated; it eliminates guesswork and optimizes plate layout. This allows us to get the most out of our plate spend and free up the time of our prepress managers to focus their expertise elsewhere.

Art Department Manager Kate Pooch talks about her day-to-day experience of the improvements the new software platform has brought to Impression Label. “The FLEXCEL NX Central software saves us time and material and makes the whole operation more efficient. We have two artists in the department, and they usually only knew the specific jobs they were working on. So you had to manually drag files around and try to figure out which one would make the best use of the sheet. Now we just send the files, and the software lays them out on the plate. It also tells me the percentage of the plate that is used, so I know if I can keep a plate job open in case another job comes along. She also has the numbers to prove the benefits: “I estimate we save at least an hour a day and use about 80% of each plate instead of the previous 60%.”

Kate says an added benefit of the FLEXCEL NX core software comes when the business experiences a power outage. “Previously, when the power came back, we had to figure out which plates we had already made and reload everything. You might even end up making a plate twice. Now when we restart the system, all the files are there. It’s a huge time saver.

The only customer
Looking back on the 14 years since he and Christian unexpectedly became label printers, Marco gives a lot of credit for the company’s success to the support provided by the Miraclon team. “Every vendor tells you they’re there for you, but Miraclon really is. And since we are also a supplier for them, we always aim to provide the same high quality service. If we ever have a problem, all it takes is a call to get a response. People are easy to work with and the level of support is unparalleled in my experience. With other big vendors, we think we’re just a number, but Miraclon makes us feel like their only customer.

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