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Converting beyond print

In issue 2 of L&L we take a closer look at how die-cutting and finishing skills can open up new, value added markets.

Called by many ‘functional’ converting or ‘converting beyond print’, we are talking about a wide range of applications requiring accurate die-cutting from a web of material, often on difficult and expensive substrates. These applications include – but are by no means restricted to – die-cut components for cell phone manufacture, facia panels for cars, medical items like bandages, access cards, transit cards, apparel tags etc.

The technical key to this business are the rotary cutting tools, which often have to be specially selected for use with highly abrasive materials. The same debate rages between solid and magnetic tooling – with mag dies able to handle longer runs of abrasive materials then ever before – but technically there is nothing here that can’t be handled by any competent narrow web converter.

Converters on both sides of the Atlantic have pioneered these applications – Schreiner Etiketten in Germany was a World Label Award winner for its work in the medical industry, for example. The challenge is how to enter and sell into these specialist markets, and a good way in is often through supply chain partners to the auto, consumer electronics or medical industries, rather than the end users themselves. It is these companies which are looking for a point of differentiation in a highly competitive market always tending towards commoditization. Perhaps you already supply product ID, information or brand labels to these companies, and it would be worth discussing a more innovative or efficient way to manufacture the products themselves on your web converting equipment?

Much functional converting work, of course, takes place in the Far East, close to where the goods themselves are manufactured, so you need to think hard about where the low hanging fruit might lie closer to home.


Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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