By Cassandra Balentine
The next generation of print professionals faces new challenges as well as unprecedented innovation. Many colleges and universities offer programs to prepare students for careers in the print industry, or professions that rely on print. Packaging is one area attracting new talent.
Founded in 1989 in Clemson, SC, Clemson University sits on 1,400 acres in the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains along the shores of Hartwell Lake. The company also has research facilities and economical development hubs throughout the state of SC in Anderson, Charleston, Columbia, Greenwood, and Greenville.
Overall, the University serves 18,599 undergrad students and 4,507 graduate students with a 19 to one student to faculty ratio.
The Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Science Department has more than 320 students—both undergrad and masters students. The department’s goal is to provide education on the materials, processes, and applications of the packaging industry, which Dr. Andrew Hurley, associate professor at Clemson University, points out is the third largest industry in the world. The focus areas of the program include distribution, transportation, and engineering technology, materials, food and health care packaging, and package design and graphics.
“Since 1981, Clemson has been thinking outside of the box and producing career-ready graduates who are ready to solve the problems of tomorrow,” says Hurley. “Clemson is one of just a few schools in the U.S. that offers a degree in packaging science. Our program is unique as it blends together biology, chemistry, and physics. Because of this, our graduates fill a special niche within the industry.” The research involves studying the intersection of design and human behavior. “I use biometric tools—eye tracking and facial coding—to understand how changes to packaging impact our willingness to buy, attention, and emotion,” says Hurley.
Clemson University’s Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences department utilizes a Roland LEJ-640 Hybrid UV-LED Flatbed Printer. Students from multiple classes use the machine throughout the semester for prototyping and final project presentations. “I use the VersaUV LEJ-640 for many of the prototypes I test, and instruct students on how to operate the machine in my courses,” he adds.
The LEJ-640 represents the height of print innovation by offering both flatbed and roll-fed printing in a single device. Printing CMYK, White, and Clear Coat inks on a range of substrates up to a half-inch thick, the machine is capable of producing a massive variety of large format graphics.
The device utilizes Roland’s Eco-UV inks, which adhere to a range of treated and untreated substrates and offer unmatched color gamut and image definition. They produce prints that require no degassing and can be stretched and applied around curved surfaces and edges without cracking.
The LEJ-640 also features a built-in sensor to check for proper media thickness, preventing printhead strikes and ensuring reliable printing on a range of substrates. It features an all-steel frame with rear and front folding tables, which is designed to reduce vibration and is designed for solid and stable support of industry standard 4×8-foot sheet materials weighing up to 26 lbs. The roll-to-roll mechanism easily loads and feeds extra-large media rolls that weigh up to 88 lbs. In high-speed mode, the LEJ-640 delivers a maximum print speed of 133 square feet per hour, producing 1,400×1,440 dpi prints.
“It’s an incredible workhorse—around 100 new hands touch the machine each year. Can you imagine the abuse this thing has taken over the years and still performs?” he exclaims.
In addition to the hardware, Roland’s VersaWorks 6 RIP software is included. Utilizing the latest HARLEQUIN dual-core engine for faster processing times, users access the powerful Roland RIP solution. Its improved features include five print queues and five hot folders—combined with the ability to store unlimited queue settings and native 64-bit processing that enables users to nest up to 86 jobs. VersaWorks 6 also offers a Special Color Plate Generation tool that uses the pixel data in a design to auto-generate a White, Metallic, Gloss, or Primer layer in the RIP.
Clemson University uses the device to print on a range of substrates, including plastics, paperboard, corrugated board, wood, and metal, creating a variety of applications including signage, point of purchase displays, labels, decals, cartons, containers, and artistic projects.
The University also utilizes Epson printers as well as software from Adobe, ArtiosCAD, Esko, and Solidworks.
One benefit of the LEJ-640 is its gloss and white ink capabilities. Clemson University students are able to utilize the machine’s gloss and white as needed. About 20 percent of the projects use the gloss coat.
Recently, the Clemson team visited PackExpo 2018, one of the country’s largest packaging expositions. The Clemson exhibit was surrounded with printed substrates made possible by the LEJ-640. “The goal of the project was to showcase/promote the Clemson Packaging Science Program and current research in packaging,” says Hurley. 20 students participated in the project.
The students used the LEJ-640 to print wall graphics on a corrugated substrate. An Esko Kongsberg cutting table as well as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop were also used. The project was printed on 4×8-foot sheets of corrugated board. One challenge of the project was printing on the thick, double wall corrugate and the orientation of the job.
“With the LEJ-640 we can print whenever and whatever we want,” says Hurley. “I believe this flexibility helped in the development stages where we were able to prototype quickly and check on how it looked.”
Packaging and Beyond
The future generation of printers and marketers rely on today’s innovations in hardware and software to create output that stands out. At Clemson University, packaging is serious business. Students in the Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences department utilize devices like the Roland LEJ-640 for hands-on learning to create effective packaging. dps
Jan2019, DPS Magazine