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  • 27 Sep 2021

Label Congress 2021 preview

The first Labelexpo-run live event in more than 18 months takes place in Rosemont, Illinois in September

The first Labelexpo-run live event in more than 18 months takes place in Rosemont, Illinois in September

A line-up of high-profile speakers from across the label and package printing industry are set to take part in the Label Congress 2021 educational program that will run alongside the main exhibition on the first two days of the show. It is the first live event of its kind to take place this year in North America. 

The program includes a two-day conference offering a mix of 10 presentation- and panel-led sessions taking place on 29 and 30 September. 

Day one of the conference focuses on global market trends and key technologies. Among the session highlights is the opening joint presentation providing a global market view, led by TLMI president Linnea Keen and AWA president Corey Reardon. Other day one highlights include Filip Weymans, VP global marketing, Flint Group Digital/Xeikon, and AB Graphic International’s west coast regional sales manager Jim Kehring, who will present on digital embellishment technology. Other session topics include: a panel discussion examining whether converters should diversify into flexible packaging, with panelists Matt Bennett, global VP, packaging strategy, Fujifilm, Chris Baldwin, sales director at Omet Americas, and Bruce Hanson, CEO of AWT; and a further panel discussion looking at the benefits of hybrid printing, featuring Mark Turk, CEO of US converter International Label & Printing, Taylor Buckthorpe, director of sales at Colordyne, and Mike Pruitt, industrial printing project manager at Epson. Avery Dennison will also present on how to get smarter with the Internet of Things. 

Day two is themed around future-proofing your business. Highlights include the opening session on data transparency, led by Federico D’Annunzio, founder of and winner of the 2020 Label Industry Global Awards global achievement honor. Mike Rottenborn, CEO of Global Graphics, Nate Hoogeboom, MIS implementation specialist at Cerm, and Robert Buongiorno, president of BST North America are among the panelists at a later discussion on how far Industry 4.0 and automation can go. Sustainability is the topic of another panel discussion featuring Julian Cass, VP North America NW, Flint Group, Danielle Jerschefske, business development director at Outlook Group, and Abby Meyer, research engineer, Belmark. Other topics to be debated include creating a culture of continuous improvement and how to recruit and retain young talent.

All conference sessions will be made available on-demand the day after they take place. Tasha Ventimiglia, Label Congress 2021 event director, commented: ‘We are very much looking forward to bringing the industry back together at the only event of its kind this year in North America. Industry learning is an ongoing process, so we are delighted to be able to offer an on-site opportunity for attendees to continue this as we move into the post-pandemic recovery phase, with a high caliber of speakers tackling the industry’s most pressing topics. What’s more, by also making this content available on-demand digitally, we can offer this learning opportunity to a wider global audience that is unable to attend in person.’

AWA’s Corey Reardon said: ‘I am looking forward to participating in one of the first in-person industry gatherings since the start of the pandemic, and am also looking forward to supporting this event by providing insights, alongside Linnea Keen of TLMI, on the labeling and product decoration market. Together, Linnea and I will set the stage for this premier labeling event, creating an interactive ‘offline’ exchange of information, thoughts and insights, reflecting the challenges and opportunities in a post Covid-19 label industry.’

Mike Rottenborn added: ‘Innovation is especially strong in the labels and packaging market so we are pleased to join the panel discussion on automation which is the next logical step for this dynamic sector to take. Digital presses need to be smarter to take their place in the smart print factory, and greater automation will not only bring greater productivity to production lines but provide the ability to collect detailed data from an individual press and share with the wider enterprise.’

Matt Bennett said: ‘Digital packaging, especially in flexible packaging, is still in its infancy, however it is forecasted for robust growth. This creates a huge market opportunity for label converters looking to move into high-growth areas like flexible packaging. I'm happy to share my outlook and business potential on how a label converter can leverage this opportunity.’

Ventimiglia added: ‘Places are limited for all conference sessions, so attendees are strongly encouraged to book as soon as possible.’

Exhibitor focus 

Here is a round-up of what some of the event’s exhibitors will be showing.

3M will promote its line of ‘press-ready’ durable label materials with a new proprietary top coating technology allowing converters to use one material that performs across several print methods, eliminate pre-treatment steps like priming, and consolidate inventory. It will also show its high-clarity film w/PSA leveraging a durable hardcoating, protecting both surfaces and the antimicrobial agent.

Accraply will discuss its new machine, the Accraply Revolve Shrink Sleeve Seamer, a configurable machine that is said to offer flexibility, customization and scalability for customers.

The Accraply Revolve machines leverage next-generation controls and an intuitive human-machine interface (HMI) to simplify operations. Through the HMI, operators can access step-by-step help guides, diagnostic reporting, preventive maintenance alerts, on-board parts ordering and several additional resources. Also, advanced machine design features eliminate operator error.

‘One of the most exciting things about the Accraply Revolve line is how smoothly and easily the machines operate,’ said Joe Leonard, Accraply’s converting product line leader. ‘The technology and servo motors work together to create a crash-proof forming table that restricts operators from inputs that drive the machine out of spec, which limits operator dependency and dramatically reduces the risk of downtime.’

Baldwin Technology will be exhibiting in booth 63 at Label Congress. The company will showcase its entire suite of data-connected technologies that work in harmony to produce labels. These innovations range from corona surface treatment to UV and LED-curing, to 100 percent inspection and defect detection/removal, to in-line color measurement, along with advanced real-time and historical process monitoring via Baldwin’s Industry 4.0 AMP Internet of Things (IoT) software platform.  

‘Data will drive the next great advantage in label converting, the same as in just about every other industry,’ explained Steve Metcalf, chief marketing and IoT officer for Baldwin. ‘Those who have access to their production data—and can harness this information to improve their process, quality and competitiveness—will have a real advantage over those who don’t.’   

Craig Black, Baldwin’s vice president of Sales, Americas, said: ‘There are many companies that make print technologies for labels. Baldwin differentiates itself as the only industry supplier offering a complete platform of next generation, connected solutions that can be deployed on your press to give label converters something new. We are excited to support the industry by way of Label Congress and look forward to seeing so many of our label industry customers, partners and friends together again.’

Channeled Resources Group will feature three product lines including Channeled Choice which offers customers thousands of pressure-sensitive papers and films and features off-cuts and specialty products on 4.5in and wider rolls of 5,000 to 20,000ft. Channeled Value is said to offer the largest selection in the industry of B-grade, reprocessed labelstock. Blank Label Stock gives customers Direct Thermal and Thermal Transfer in 3in and 1in cores, 3in to 16in ODs and fan folded in a variety of sizes, which can allow converters to avoid wasting press time and money.

Coatings & Adhesives Corporation will show a range of products such as Corban AM Antimicrobial Coatings, Deter BT Bitter-Tasting Coatings and Dual-Cure Energy-Cured Coatings. The company offers production of coating and adhesive products as well as polymer production for specialized applications. 

Colordyne Technologies will promote its 2800 Series AP – Retrofit and its 3800 Series UV – Retrofit print engines. 

Domino will have a table-top exhibit in booth 33 at Label Congress. Attendees can discuss their label printing requirements and pick up a label sample pack and brochure. 

‘We are very excited to see everyone at Label Congress and spend quality time in-person with our business partners, colleagues and friends in the industry…while making new connections as well. It’s been way too long since we were all together,’ said Bill Myers, marketing manager, for Domino, Digital Printing North America.  

Epson will showcase its proprietary Epson clear digital varnish ink in booth 37. Digital varnish is easily controlled in the artwork and can be applied over white and CMYK inks during a single pass through the press to create distinct visual and tactile finishes and simulated metallic foiling. This allows businesses to highlight important parts of a label such as sophisticated graphics, logos and brand names.  

‘Label Congress is a great opportunity for the label community to reengage in person after a difficult year – we’ve missed seeing our friends, colleagues and customers, and have a lot to talk about since the last Labelexpo in Chicago in 2018,’ said Victor Gomez, director, Industrial Labels, Epson America.  

Fathom Optics will demonstrate its design tools and technology. The company brings printed depth, motion and chromatic effects to a wide range of print applications including prime labels, shrink sleeves and product authentication. Fathom Effects are produced using existing press systems and materials, and do not require specialty inks, substrates or additional materials such as lenticular lenses and foils. Fathom’s browser-based software platform fits into standard design and pre-press workflows.

FLEXcon will show a range of products for the packaging and labeling markets. The optiFLEX ecoFOCUS PET & HDPE is designed for sustainable packaging applications like food and beverage and household chemicals, the FLEXcon NEXgen which is a range of durable labeling products including greener vinyl alternatives and FLEXcon PHARMcal, a pharmaceutical pressure-sensitive labeling product.

Flexo Wash will promote its line of cleaning products for the label and package printing industries including its Flexo Wash FW 850 and FW 850-2 laser anilox cleaners, which can clean up to two narrow web rolls in one cleaning cycle.

‘We’ve been busy developing new products and new ways to help our customers print better since the last tradeshow,’ said the company in a statement. ‘Different than a regular Labelexpo event, Label Congress is a smaller show, intentionally curated with the guidelines of Covid-19 protocols in mind. Considering it is the first time in three years that the industry has gathered for this, it will be a great step towards normalcy.’

Flint Group Narrow Web and Flint Group Digital (Xeikon) will exhibit both company’s product for label & packaging converters. Demonstrations from Flint Group Narrow Web include the latest announcements on their DualCure inks and demonstrations on sustainable product offerings, including the new Evolution series.

Xeikon will promote its digital presses including the Xeikon Cheetah CX500 digital label and packaging press featuring FDA-certified dry toner; the Xeikon Panther PX3000 UV inkjet press as well as finishing options. Xeikon will feature a digital embellishment area as a complement to its presentation at the Congress conference. Xeikon rounds out its demonstrations with a focus on the importance of color management to label and packaging converters.  

Fujiflm will promote a variety of digital and flexo products for the label and packaging segments including its upcoming J Press FP790, a water-based digital inkjet press for flexible packaging, which is said to achieve more than 90 percent of the Pantone color gamut while also using two white inkjet channels for delivering high white opacity.The company will also highlight other products including different inks available for a variety of substrates and digital and flexo presses, Flenex flexographic plates and processers, its Illumina UV LED curing system and the company’s ColorPath Sync color management software. 

Global Graphics will be exhibiting with all four Global Graphics group companies - Global Graphics Software, Hybrid Software, Meteor Inkjet and Xitron - for the first time. The companies will present their full range of products for digital label printing, including their new SmartDFE.

Harper Corporation of America will unveil its new, patent pending engraving, the X-CAT. The company also has surprises planned to celebrate its 50 year anniversary.

KOR Engineering will discuss its KOR SR4-350 machine. It's intended for small and entry-level applications and requires only one operator and finishes labels in a single pass. It can be customized with performance upgrades including a 100 percent automatic vision system integration and an auto-positioning rotary shear slitter.

Label Traxx MIS will showcase several new features included 100 percent automated scheduling through a new integration with, new online artwork approvals, Siteline web portal for customers, and end to end integration.  

MoistTech Corp will debut its new linear belt driven slide unit, which will allow multiple sensors to be traversed across a production line. MoistTech will also have its moisture measurement technology at the show. 

Multifeeder Technology will be promoting its MFT 103hsm+ Labeler, which has three independently powered, synchronized 3-axis servo drive motors for unwind, rewind and drive. Multifeeder will also feature its booklet to web system, which uses MFT’s patented lead registration technique. The booklet to web system uses lug belts to square the product on the lead edge for accurate and reliable label placement. 

Nobelus will display its line of tactile films used in label applications, including Karess and ScuffProof, which is a new antibacterial laminate that uses two technologies to give both anti-scuff as well as germ-inhibiting protection.

Polymount will introduce three new technologies: a new self-adhesive plate sleeves that eliminates the need for sticky back tape, a re-engineered version of its automated plate cleaner with new rotating brushes to double cleaning speed, and the new Polymount film cleaner which allows printers that print on film to remove the ink from start-up rolls so it can be reused. 

PPG will show its Teslin label material. This substrate locks in toners and inks, rendering printed information impervious to scrapes, scuffs and other damage for reliable and versatile durability. It is compatible with a wide range of print processes and can be customized for almost any label application.

Pregis will show its suite of in-house sales services to acquire presses, equipment and plant consultations, and engineering and repair/maintenance.

Quantum Design will promote KTI and CTC product lines with video footage of the latest MTR series turret rewinder. This rewinder has four spindles and is available in web widths up to 22in (558mm), roll diameters up to 16in (406mm), speeds up to 750 ft/min (228 m/min) and can run cores ranging from 0.75in to 3in (19mm to 76mm).  

RotoMetrics will be promoting a new adjustable anvil, new flexible die offerings, narrow web guiding system, and narrow web slitting system among other Maxcess/RotoMetrics products.

Stouse will feature its label printing capabilities for unique beverage can labels, as well as other prime labels. 

Tharstern will showcase its recently launched Tharstern Cloud for Labels and will be demonstrating it for the first time at Label Congress.   

printIQ will show its cloud-based management workflow system (MWS) with the new LotTrack module. It will also showcase the new label reordering feature. 

Luis Rodriguez, North America editor of Labels & Labeling


Luis Rodriguez is North America editor of Labels & Labeling. Previously, he covered emerging automation technology in various industries including oil, gas and manufacturing.

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