Labelexpo shows are great for kick-starting the label industry out of a recession mentality. That was the case with Labelexpo Europe last year, and it was the case with Labelexpo Americas this year. The show created a real buzz of excitement, which was reflected in the impressive sales figures for the leading global press manufacturers.

Labelexpo Americas also sparked a major debate between the digital and conventional press manufacturers, the latter led by Mark Andy, as to where the cross-over point lies between the two technologies. Mark Andy was arguing forcefully that with a modern flexo press with fast change sleeves and inking system and all the advantages of servo-driven digital pre-makeready – especially on repeat jobs – a flexo press can profitably go to the upper range of run sizes digital is currently claiming, particularly where complex converting is involved.

Visitors to the show got a chance to see both technologies working side by side at the Technology Workshops, a new feature which saw a Nilpeter flexo press using HD Flexo technology running alongside digital presses from HP Indigo, Xeikon and EFI. The workshops were moderated independently and included discussions of automated workflows linking EskoArtwork pre-press systems to plant-wide MIS – including modules which automatically calculated whether a job should be printed flexo or digital.

A ‘grid’ developed by the L&L editorial team and filled in by each manufacturer allowed visitors to assess the limitations and advantages of each process in regard to substrates, consumables, makeready times and running costs. There was good feedback from both visitors and exhibitors, so this feature will certainly be repeated at Labelexpo Europe.

Before leaving the subject of Labelexpo Americas, it is worth remarking on the emergence of Latin America as a major powerhouse of the global labels industry. L&L’s Latin America editor James Quirk spent most of his time at the show spotting and talking with the region’s most powerful label and packaging converters. They are investing in top of the line converting equipment and building businesses to rival the best in the world.


Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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