Printing in and out of time

Who remembers the poem, In and out of time by Maya Angelou?

I just love the way it ended;

“The sun has come.
The mist has gone.
We see in the distance our long way home.
I was always yours to have.
You were always mine.
We have loved each other in and out
in and out
in and out
of time.”

Thinking deeply this is my story and the passionate love I have for printing, we indeed love each other in and out of time…

Many don’t know that one other thing I love in and out of time is music, to the extend that I sometimes write and compose songs for fun, and even released a single, meanwhile there is so much to learn from music and rhythm like defining “in time” as – following the rhythm and pace of a music correctly. If you are out of time, you are then really not following the rhythm and speed of the music correctly, you are off beat. The picture of me singing and my friend and brother, also an industry colleague on the drum had gone viral years ago after an African night event in Belgium, the event was organized by one of our suppliers as a side event at one of the printing exhibitions. It was tagged African Night yet the music was far from African, we decided with our colleagues from Kenya to cajole the band leader to give us some time to infuse “Africa”, he reluctantly agreed by only giving us the last ten minutes of the event, we agreed and it was a blast! In fact people stayed back for an extra twenty five minutes as they couldn’t resist the music we made. It was Mariam Makeba a talented singer and song writer that said “African music, though very old, is always being rediscovered in the West.” This was exactly what happened on that beautiful day in Belgium.

When it’s time to inspire hope, here is what Nelson Mandela had to said about African music, “The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope”.

Talking of hope, the printing press from its advent actually helped in raising the hope of musician, I personally don’t think it’s possible to overemphasis the significance of the printing press in history generally — in the music scene for instance, composers took advantage, had new opportunities for income, also amateur musicians many among the rising middle class leveraged on the benefits that the printing press brought and provided a new market for their music. Notice that Musicians prior to the advent of the printing press were entirely dependent on either the church or the ruling noble class for a living, even though the printing press didn’t change that system of patronage overnight, yet it did provide additional opportunities and freedom for composers. The printing press, by virtue of the volume of copies of musical scores, also greatly enhanced the preservation of the music of that period and even till now.

As we reflect on the effect of the printing press on the structure of every society, let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that we are living again in a time when a similar forward leap in the redistribution of information is happening, especially as COVID 19 pandemic has changed a lot in our supply chains behavioral pattern, our lifestyle, our travel and tourism and the inevitable emergence of new trends and lifestyles. My opinion is that we have to do two things; 1. look inward a bit more and 2. collaborate a lot more!

Has anyone noticed that the printing space for flexography in Nigeria is dominated by foreigners? (Reasons for this dominance will be addressed in a different forum, please watch out for this discussion). Yet this is a printing sector that is in and out of time. It feeds the Fast Moving Consumables subsection, the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and basically feeds all requirement for labels, flexibles and packaging.

Flexographic printing is a modern high speed process, most suitable for packaging and label applications, characterized by fast, cost effective and high quality printing for meeting that special needs of mass produced goods. Flexo printing utilizes polymer or elastomer image carrier which is engraved to create a raised design of what is to be printed, this image is transferred to the substrate with the use of anilox roller that get fed with inks through an inkwell. Flexo presses are able to print on a wide range of both porous and non porous substrates, those operating in this space are also most happy with the ease of printing with a wider variety of inks on this presses. The flexography process like the offset counterpart also requires Prepress; graphics designer and Flexo CTP runs out the Flexo plate which goes on the press, mind you there is a starvation of trade shops, producing and selling out Flexo plates in Nigeria yet there is an offset CTP or CTCP in almost every street, transfer of knowledge backed by some minor diversification won’t be a bad idea for CTP printshops. The Flexo press in turn takes in its substrates in rolls through series of rotary flexible relief plates, with which individually colours stations are fed with inks, each relief plates working in tandem to output all colours in a single pass, it is possible to integrate additional processes like embossing, laminating or diecutting on the press in a single pass and this is the beauty of its mass production capability. Application like self adhesive labels, cut and stack labels, food packaging and plastic bags are what millions of consumer come in contact with daily which ensures that a printing process like this remains in and out of season.

For those who don’t still see the reality of the wide application of Flexo printing, think about how many times you come in contact with a flexo printed item daily, I can help you picture this with the story of Mukaila “afinju fish seller”, on his typical day he gets up tears open his plastic shaving stick (the wrapper is Flexo printed), Mukaila loves his clean shave, even that which disguises his balding head, he jumps into his bathroom, his bar soap wrapper is also flexo printed. On the break fast table, he joins his children in having a quick breakfast comprising of the neighborhood bread whose wrapper is flexo printed, sachet milk, beverages and cereal – all flexo printing packaged. On the way to drop his kids in school he buys that popular sausage roll we all eat in traffic (wrapper is obviously flexo printed), he added pet drink (shrink wrap label that is equally flexo printed) and the children’s lunch pack is ready, the seller has no change as it’s still just 07.30 hours in the morning. Not to worry, she gave some sweet to cover the change and of course all children will be grateful but the reason I added that is also because the sweet wrappers are all flexo printed…

My hope is that this write up helps project some new realities and ensure that Nigerians become bold in positioning their printing businesses to meet the growing need of trends and lifestyle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like