Labelexpo Europe 2017 was the biggest edition in the show’s history – the ‘biggest, greatest and boldest’, according to Labelexpo Global Series managing director Lisa Milburn, with more working machinery from a record number of exhibitors occupying more floor space than ever before.
And the near 700 exhibitors, of which some 200 were new, highlight how much the show has and is growing, alongside the buoyant global label and package printing market.
There were some notable highlights that were attracting heavy footfall across the four days of the show. The Automation Arena feature area in hall 11; the HP stand – otherwise known as the Patio; the Mouvent stand in hall 3; and the introduction of Gaia in hall 4.
This last example particularly drew my attention, having spent the previous five years at the sharp end of the evolution of L&L and Labelexpo Global Series events to embrace package printing technologies and the opportunities they present. In the case of Gaia, Uteco, a leading player in the flexible packaging industry through wide web flexo and gravure technology, supplied its expertise in web handling, with ebeam Technologies and INX Digital delivering EB-curable inks, the print system and EB curing.
Gaia was just one component of package printing’s expanded presence on the show floor at Labelexpo Europe in 2017. This included: HP and its myriad technologies for flexible packaging printing and converting; a further collaborative project, this time between Nilpeter, Synthogra, Flint, GEW and DuPont, to highlight the use of modern narrow web technology to produce short runs of flexible packaging (read more on this project in L&L issue 5, 2017); Bobst's new M8 flexible packaging press; and New Solution with its NS Multi digital folding carton press, powered by Memjet printheads and featuring a lamination module which can configured in-line with the printing module.
Further examples highlight other areas where the industry, and show, is diversifying into. Leapfrog again presented 3D printing technology – or additive manufacturing at it’s better known – for the production of prototypes and semi-functional parts. Leapfrog, a sister company to AV Flexologic, presented similarly at Labelexpo Europe 2015, where its Bolt Pro 3D printer was producing live on the show floor both times.
On the GIC stand, Valloy had examples of a new self-weeding transfer film, Easypeel Instant, a one-step transfer film for garment transfer labels, and placing care labels directly onto the fabric.
Dilli showed its Neo Sun FB2513-04DWX flatbed UV printer, which prints up to 100 sqm an hour at up to 600 x 2400 DPI. Its Auto Vacuum Control System can handle various media sizes, and the Dilli Variable Dot technology allows four-level grayscale (0, 3, 6 and 13 pico liter). Also on display was the Neo Triton digital cutter series.
Mimaki demonstrated its UJF-7151plus for direct printing on rigid substrates to create nameplates suitable for industrial marking or placarding. Additionally, a small laser cutting device was used in combination with the printer to cut rigid labels to finished product. The UJF-7151plus is a compact UV LED device with a print resolution of up to 1200 DPI on a 710 x 510mm printable area. It uses process, white and clear inks plus primer. Mimaki also showed print-and-cut of specialized labels using silver ink. The solvent ink-based CJV150 series unit integrates printer and cutter, and uses ink types including silver, orange and light black at a resolution of up to 1440 DPI.
Also running live on the show floor was the Mimaki UJF-3042 MkII UV LED printer, where direct-to-object printing was happening before attendees’ eyes. Principally intended for prototyping, this machine prints 360-degree decoration directly onto the container.
Read about these technologies and more in L&L's extensive review of Labelexpo Europe 2017 in issue 5