As well as a slew of new product introductions, the show was notable for its feature areas and educational forums

Labelexpo Americas 2018 closed its doors with impressive figures cementing the event’s position as the region’s preeminent trade show dedicated to label and package printing.

The 16th edition of Labelexpo Americas saw 16,413 label and package printing professionals descend on Rosemont’s Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on September 25-27. There were 487 exhibitors on show, up from 455 in 2016, spread across 203,642sq ft of floor space – a record for Labelexpo Americas. Around 30 percent of exhibitors were new to this year’s show. Visitors came from 86 different countries and there was an impressive 95 percent increase in visitors from Latin America. Day three, traditionally a quieter day, saw an 11 percent increase in visitors compared to the same day  in 2016. By the end of the show, a record-breaking 83 percent of exhibitors had rebooked for the event in 2020.

As well as a slew of new product introductions, the show was notable for its feature areas and educational forums.

The Automation Arena – introduced at Labelexpo Europe last year – demonstrated for the first time a fully automated shrink sleeve workflow from design and proofing to seaming and inspection, all linked via a Cerm MIS. The Arena included two production lines, one digital and one conventional, and showed how these machines can be set up using a single workflow without manual intervention including converting, rewind and inspection.

Sustainability was a key theme. Not only were materials manufacturers demonstrating down-gauged and recycling friendly substrates, but in the TLMI-sponsored Ecovillage all matrix waste and printed materials were being collected and sent for recovery into energy pellets. TLMI also announced partnerships to develop promising new technology which can ‘crack’ mixed plastic waste back into monomer components, which can then be upcycled back into virgin plastics.

The show provided a range of educational resources including a comprehensive conference program running over the first two days and three well-attended Label Academy masterclasses on Shrink Sleeves, Automation, and Inks and Coatings. The conference sessions ranged widely over subjects such as mergers and acquisitions, opportunities in short run flexible packaging and managing brands’ 360-degree print portfolios, while a CEO panel discussed industry trends at the highest level.

Among fringe events was the latest meeting of the UVFoodSafe group, which brings together all the key players in the narrow web conventional and digital press manufacturing industries along with key materials and ancillary suppliers to develop a best practice program for curing indirect food contact materials.

In terms of technology developments, hybrid printing, moves towards flexible packaging and automation dominated, as did the continued push of UV LED into the narrow web mainstream. Industry 4.0 technologies are driving the whole label converting supply chain towards greater efficiencies, integrating design, approval, factory management, print and finishing into one seamless operation.

Read Labels & Labeling issue 5, 2018 for a comprehensive review of Labelexpo Americas 2018, covering press technology developments, materials, inks, workflow and more

James Quirk

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James Quirk is group managing editor of Labels & Labeling.

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Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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David Pittman is deputy editor at Labels & Labeling.

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Chelsea McDougall is North America editor for Labels & Labeling.

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