Dunwoody team takes first (twice!) in flexo competition

A team of Design and Graphic Technology students brought home two first place trophies from this year’s Phoenix Challenge last week. The students won first place in the Excellence in Design and Excellence in Execution categories at the Challenge, which promotes education in flexographic printing, a process that accomodates printing on a wide range of flexible materials.

“We are very proud of the team for bringing back two first place trophies. The effort put forth by our competition this year was amazing and our winning margin was slim,” Graphics and Printing Technologies Instructor Shawn Oetjen said. “The students put in countless hours on this project including weekends and many late nights, and we’re proud not only that won, but that they took advantage of all of the networking opportunities the conference and competition provided.”

The Phoenix Challenge is supported, in part, by flexography industry legends Ron and Katherine Harper, whose support of Dunwoody led the College to name its printing and graphic technology facilty the Harper Center for Graphics Technology in 2008.

The product challenge for this year’s teams involved re-branding or re-packaging of a campus coffee shop product in order give it a competitive advantage. After surveying students on their coffee shop buying habits and consumer preferences, Dunwoody’s team — Matt Grotz, David Mitchell, Josiah Mitchell, Trevor Olson and Cait Peschken — settled on repackaging a tea product. Their solution, dubbed Center of Gravatea, was to create a re-fillable tea pouch and two static clings that would be used for both marketing the product and the shop’s customer rewards program. The team did market research (including surveys) during the planning of the design, testing everything from the overall concept to the name and the design of the end products.

Because of their unique approach, the team had to come up with several clever solutions to the design and printing of the products. For example, because it was meant to be refillable with 5-6 tea bags, the team wanted the package to be extra-resistant to wear and tear. In addition to choosing a durable substrate (matte weld litho), they decided to print it at a 21 degree angle so that none the folds for the package were along the natural tear line for the substrate. Color management also brought some challenges, and the team meticulously documented the processes they used to create a consistent product that used the right color profiles — everything from prepping and cleaning the press to calibrating the plates used to deliver the ink.

The Phoenix Challenge was held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with the Flexographic Technical Association Forum.