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Editor's note: Labelexpo Europe 2019 preview special

Andy Thomas on what to expect at the Labelexpo Europe 2019 in Brussels

Labelexpo Europe 2019 arrives at a time when automation, artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things are starting to make an impact in the real world, and we will see these trends reflected in the show.

Flexo press automation and embedding presses into factory-wide management systems is a key trend, while MIS suppliers launch ‘intelligent’ tool selection and sequencing systems. 

Hybrid press technology will be another key trend at the show, with the emphasis moving towards making digital and conventional elements work in harmony. 

And inkjet itself is developing, with increased interest in screening and quality control aspects as well as raw DPI and speed. Water-based inkjet will be revolutionized by new pigment-based ink systems premiered at this show, and this could have a major impact on flexible package printing in particular.

This show might well be remembered as the one where flexible packaging on mid-web presses became an integral part of Labelexpo. On the materials side, look out for label suppliers bringing out flexible packaging coatings and materials targeted at niche, short run added value flexpack work. Then there is the Flexible Packaging Arena, where both conventional UV flexo (Bobst) and digital flexible packaging (Xeikon) production will be demonstrated. 

Companies such as Nilpeter, HP Indigo and others will all have dedicated flexible packaging demonstrations on their booths.

Sustainability has often been talked about, but at this show it hits the ground running. It’s not just a case of downgauging film facestocks and liners. We are seeing a real revolution in ‘circular economy’ systems using biomass as material feedstocks and incorporating post-consumer plastics waste into new films.

These are just a few of the stand-out trends. As always, others will emerge from the show itself and the buzz and discussions that surround it. 

Of course, there is plenty more going on away from Brussels. In this issue, we welcome a new correspondent – Yukiko Suzuki of Label Shimbun, covering the Japanese market. Her first article appears in this edition of the magazine, alongside our usual global spread of coverage. And a new market – Namibia – is covered for the first time in L&L, thanks to our Africa correspondent Gill Loubser. 


Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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