Established over 40 years ago, the company is a major player in the corrugated market, with five offices in Italy, a presence in Poland, and a total workforce of over 90. Of these, a significant proportion work in the highly-experienced technical department that does much of the problem-solving for Z Due’s clients. “Every job begins its life in the technical department,” says Mingozzi. “It’s where we identify potential issues and work out how to overcome them. And the department stays involved throughout the job, attending press start-ups if necessary, and organizing training for customers’ own people.”
Ask most successful business owners to describe their winning formula in a few words, and they’ll struggle. Not so Andrea Mingozzi, co-owner with brother Lorenzo of Modena-based prepress company Z Due. His reply is short and to the point: “We’re a problem-solving business. It’s as simple as that.”
Z Due are very good at it, too, if its success at this year’s Global Flexo Innovation Awards is anything to go by. As well as winning a Gold Award, Z Due was also recognised in the Highest Honors category, with the judges selecting no less than eight of its entries. All eight involved flexo printing onto corrugated cardboard, and all were previously printed offset.
Another 20 or so staff work in Z Due’s graphic department. “We’re prepress specialists, not designers,” says Mingozzi, “but on many jobs you have to understand the design elements in order to arrive at the right solution. So our graphics people will be involved in matters such as color selection, choice of screening and deciding which plates to use.”
“Different plants have different machines, of all ages and degrees of efficiency. With each job, we have to optimize image quality and workflow to get the best out of the equipment.”
All of this explains the multitude of print samples that visitors to Z Due’s Modena headquarters typically encounter, produced for a customer list that includes numerous leading Italian packaging printers, among them Antonio Sada & Figli, Ondulkart, International Paper Italia, Smurfit Kappa Italia and Toppazzini.
Working with such a variety of clients poses particular challenges for Z Due, as Mingozzi explains. “As you can imagine, different plants have different machines, of all ages and degrees of efficiency. With each job, we have to optimize image quality and workflow to get the best out of the equipment.”
An easier life
For Z Due and its customers, life has become a lot easier since the Kodak Flexcel NX system arrived in 2018, part of a major investment programme designed to anticipate, and meet, changing market conditions. “We stay close to our customers,” says Mingozzi, “and we hear the same message from all of them — in today’s supply chain, they need to control costs, offer faster time-to-market, handle shorter runs and print sustainably, all without sacrificing quality.
“Like everyone in the business, we’ve been watching closely what’s been happening in flexo over the last few years, and there’s no doubt that today the process can not only match offset and gravure for quality but also has the edge in key areas. Not only are its sustainability credentials strong — start-ups are faster, so there’s less wastage of substrate and ink — but the cost-savings are very attractive. For example, with Flexcel NX we can produce quality print even on lower-weight stocks — which is important given rising paper costs.”
He also describes Flexcel NX as “more forgiving, with an unmatched capacity to control ink transfer, even printing rougher or uncoated stocks. These things really matter when our printer customers have a variety of presses, but such is the stability and cleanliness of Flexcel NX that modifications to the press set-up are minimal. Usually the third or fourth sheet off the press is good, and so far we’ve never had to stop the press for washing.”
“Not only are flexo’s sustainability credentials strong — start-ups are faster, so there’s less wastage of substrate and ink — but the cost-savings are very attractive.”
Flexcel NX has also streamlined production on a number of jobs, as one of the award-winning entries shows. This was previously printed offset and involved multiple processes — printing, lamination, die-cutting and gluing. The Z Due solution printed directly at up to 8,000 boxes an hour, resulting in faster delivery, lower costs, fewer plates, faster set-up and lower ink consumption.
Asked what future plans the company has, Mingozzi says Z Due has its eyes on the higher-volume market, and on expanding into flexible packaging. “Anywhere there are problems to solve, we plan to be there.”