The covers of the first four issues of L&L

Mike Fairley looks back on 40 years at the forefront of the label and package printing industry in the editor’s note from issue 6, 2018, the 40th anniversary issue of the magazine

Forty years of tremendous innovation and change that has seen label production move from a craft-based industry to one that is becoming ever-more automated and digitalized, and where global communication using the internet and email takes place 24 hours a day.

When Labels & Labeling first began contacting industry suppliers and converters worldwide in late 1978, the main method of communication was by desktop telephone or Telex. Even fax machines were still in their infancy. Back in 1978, over 70 percent of all labels produced were still wet-glue, gummed paper labels made-up around 17 percent of the market, while self-adhesives could almost be called a niche product with little more than 12 percent market share.

Of the self-adhesive materials that were being produced in the late 1970s, more than 85 percent were paper. What film products that were being used were predominately PVC and some PET. Forty ears on, filmic labelstocks make up an ever-increasing share of the global market.

Other new self-adhesive labelstock materials and technology, such as thermal substrates and thermal printheads, were also appearing in the early 1980s, subsequently creating a whole new market for variable information printing of price-weigh and mailing labels.

Early versions of today’s sophisticated origination and press hardware and software – originally for business forms and then labels – rapidly evolved in the 1980s and into the 1990s.

The late 1970s and early 1980s also saw the introduction and rapid growth in rotary letterpress worldwide, followed by rotary screen technology, while the development of monocolor inkjet printing of labels was already becoming a reality. Digital full-color toner printing technologies for labels were to appear in the 1990s. Digital printing is now estimated to make up nearly 50 percent of all new label press installations.

Labels & Labeling has not only reported on all these developments over the past 40 years, but in many cases was also involved in the technical and market research, education and training, that successfully took most of these innovations to market.

In this special issue, we outline the history of the magazine. Stalwarts such as Avery Dennison, Gallus, Mark Andy, Nilpeter and RotoMetrics – who have been advertising with L&L since its very first year – chart the technological evolution of label printing.

And key figures from their respective regions talk about their local markets: Bernhard Grob in Europe, Denny McGee in North America, Jeffrey Arippol in Latin America, Harveer Sahni in India and Professor Tan Junqiao in China. Finally, to everyone who has read and supported Labels & Labeling over the last four decades n– thank you.

This article is the editor’s note from issue 6, 2018, which serves as the 40th anniversary issue since L&L was first published

Issue 6, 2018 is arriving in the post now and will be published online in early 2019


Mike Fairley is Labels & Labeling's strategic consultant.

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