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  • 24 Aug 2022

Reuniting at Labelexpo

This year’s Labelexpo unleashes all the technology suppliers have been developing over the last three years

This year’s Labelexpo unleashes all the technology suppliers have been developing over the last three years. Andy Thomas-Emans looks at key technology trends to look out for at the show

 

As the first Labelexpo show in three years, Labelexpo Americas presents an opportunity for label converters to see the major technology developments that have taken place since then.
The rise of digital embellishment has been one such trend. After digital printing, digital embellishment will be the next big game changer for label converters and package printers.

Digital embellishment means replacing analog coating, decoration and converting processes with digital. This can range from simply replacing a flexo varnish plate with an inkjet-applied varnish to digital foiling, digitally-applied tactile effects, simulated embossing, debossing and laser die-cutting — all fully variable with on-the-fly job change and no tooling.

The Digital Embellishment Trail at Labelexpo Americas 2022 will enable attendees to explore the full range of digital decoration options, both stand-alone and inline, with live demonstrations, sample packs and experts on site. Suppliers like Prati and Cartes will demonstrate complete ‘lights out’ lines for fully digitized and automated finishing, including inkjet modules, laser die-cutting and turret rewinds.

Digital printing sees some exciting new technology at the show. This includes the worldwide launch of the HP Indigo V12 press and the Domino N730i, with Durst showing a 20in-wide UV inkjet press printing four colors at 328ft/min. This all looks set to challenge flexography in terms of raw speed and productivity on 4-color work. Low migration ink sets and an increasing range of additional colors are other key inkjet trends at the show.

We will also see the titans and founders of the conventional narrow web press industry accelerating their own shifts towards digital and hybrid technologies. Mark Andy is a prime example as the company reveals its new Digital Pro Max digital press, building on its long standing partnership with Konica Minolta.

LED-UV has an increasingly prominent place in both flexo and inkjet curing, and there are significant new launches at the show, including the first global reveal of GEW’s AeroLED air-cooled LED-UV system. We will also see the launch of dual-capable lamps able to cure both LED and conventional UV inks, which will help converters introduce LED into their existing workflows. 

Automation, Industry 4.0 and AI are other key trends to watch for at the show. AI is making rapid strides, particularly in machine learning for inspection systems, and automation is impacting just about every aspect of the label converting business from tool selection to job planning and factory management.

On the materials and consumables side, sustainability is the key trend at this year’s show. Materials suppliers are not only about using more recycled material in labelstock or using forest-certified paper grades; the industry is also talking about adhesive and ink technology enabling the recycling of containers by releasing cleanly and without residues. TLMI will focus on many of these trends and on liner recycling in its dedicated sustainability zone.  

Labelexpo Americas 2022 also includes an extended conference and education program amplifying the technology trends seen on the show floor. The two-day conference program explores some of the label and package printing industry’s key technologies and trends, including Industry 4.0, automation, supply chain challenges, mergers and acquisitions, the changing industry landscape, and product diversification.

Two in-depth master classes will cover digital embellishment and self-adhesive label materials.

Finally, this show will be the first machinery exhibition to bring together the label and packaging industry since the start of the Covid pandemic. The Labels & Labeling team look forward to being there. 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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