Tag Archives: Ron and Katherine Harper

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 accommodates 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 facility 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 refillable 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.


Scholarships, flexographic printing presses, classroom space and more mean Dunwoody graphics and printing students graduate with experience with real equipment.

Minneapolis, June 11, 2008 — Dunwoody College of Technology’s printing and graphics production lab was renamed the Harper Center of Graphics Technology last Friday in a ceremony honoring Ron and Katherine Harper, retired founders of the global anilox supplier Harper Corporation of America.

Joe Tuccitto, education director of the Flexographic Technical Association represented the Harpers at the event. Tuccitto, who is also a former Dunwoody faculty member, said: “Ron asked me to tell you all, ‘It has been our pleasure to work with Dunwoody College of Technology for the past 15 years in their quest for excellence in flexographic education. As many of you know, we have a passion for flexographic education, and Dunwoody has been a significant vehicle for that passion.’”

The Harpers have long been supporters of Dunwoody’s Design and Graphics Technology program. Most recently they committed $500,000 to the College, of which $100,000 will endow the Ron and Katherine Harper Scholarship Fund.

The gift is in addition to other support over the years, including a $100,000 donation that included more than 50 anilox rolls for use on the two flexographic machines in the printing lab as well as lease support for the machines. Flexographic printing involves the use of flexible plates in conjunction with anilox rolls to adhere ink on a substrate (the item the ink is applied to). It usually is a six- or eight-color printing process and each flexo machine has a plate for each color so that the substrate only needs to run through the machine once. In addition, the process accommodates a wide range of substrates, including flexible ones. Most consumer product packaging and labels are printed on flexo presses.

All of Dunwoody’s pre-press, graphic design and press students get experience with flexo output, which is somewhat unusual for graphics education at the college-level.

The Harpers support of Dunwoody is the result of their strong belief in supporting technical education.

“By putting money into education at the high school and college levels, we can ensure that students are working with the latest technology,” Ron Harper said. “They come into the workplace prepared, instead of only being familiar with ancient technology that is no longer applicable.”

The Harper Center of Graphics Technology also includes three classrooms within the production lab. They have been renamed Harper Studio A, B and C.

About Harper Corporation: Harper Corporation has manufacturing facilities in Charlotte and Green Bay, Wisc., as well as licensee operations in Bangkok, Thailand, and Herford, Germany. The Harpers have been deeply involved in education and training future flexographers at the high school and college levels since 1990.

The Harpers were the first to participate in the Flexographic Technical Association’s Flexo In High Schools/Colleges program, which was initiated in 1990 and saw the first flexographic press installed in a high school in 1992. Today 21 high schools and 32 colleges in the U.S., Canada and Argentina provide hands-on flexography training programs based on the one launched by the Harpers more than a decade ago.