Innovations galore @Labelexpo 2017

Labelexpo Europe 2017, the largest international event dedicated to the label and package printing sector, culminated in its biggest-ever edition with record-breaking exhibitor and visitor figures and show floor occupying nine exhibition halls – 12% bigger than 2015. Held at Brussels Expo over September 25 – 28, 2017, Labelexpo Europe hosted 679 exhibitors, including 198 new exhibiting companies. Visitors and exhibitors alike enjoyed a massively enhanced experience, thanks to the recent refurbishment of Brussels Expo. Attracting large delegations from Brazil, China, India and Japan, the show reported 37,724 visitors; an increase of 5.6% on 35,739 visitors in 2015.

While labels remained central to the overall Labelexpo experience, the show floor reflected its continued diversification into flexible package printing with a wider appeal for brand owners and wide web converters. With 25% more working machinery demonstrated at the show, 2017’s event was used for a large number of significant product launches with new machines unveiled by many of the leading press manufacturers. In addition, inkjet technology made a real breakthrough at this year’s show.

Lisa Milburn, Labelexpo’s managing director comments, “The Labelexpo team have worked incredibly hard to deliver outstanding content for what was a very bold show and thanks to the commitment and support of our exhibitors and industry partners, we’ve created a very successful business environment for the industry. This edition has broken all previous records and its success is testament to the fact that the label and package printing industry continues to see Labelexpo as being the place to be. We are still extremely ambitious for the show’s future and we look forward to returning to Brussels with an even bigger and better event in September 2019.”

Automation redefined…

Running alongside the Linerless Trail and educational master classes from the Label Academy, the Automation Arena feature made its debut as it highlighted the latest automated label and package printing technology. As Industry 4.0 becomes a reality for label printers, the Automation Arena was put on to show the complete automated workflow in action from job creation and prepress through to finishing and customer invoicing. The ground-breaking special feature was run in partnership with AVT, Cerm, Esko, Grafotronic, Kocher + Beck, Matho, MPS, Wasberger and Xeikon.

Digital printing for packaging on the rise…

The labeling market is one of the largest growth segments in the printing industry. The demand for digitally printed labels in particular is recording extremely dynamic and sustained growth. Growth in the digital printing technology sector remained evident, with many high profile launches including Mouvent, a joint venture between Bobst and Radex. ebeam Technologies, Uteco Converting and INX Digital International jointly introduced Gaia, the industrial end-to-end digital narrow web system for mass-personalization of indirect food contact packaging and labels. Other digital launches included Durst’s new high resolution Tau330 RSC and Xeikon adding UV inkjet capability with the global launch of its Panther PX3000 technology. HP Indigo unveiled the GEM digital decoration system in-line with a WS6800 digital press. There was also the latest hybrid press offerings from major conventional press suppliers such as Gallus, Mark Andy, MPS and Nilpeter.

The level of customer interest in the latest labeling solutions from Gallus, a subsidiary of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg), was thus very high. Numerous orders for the Gallus Labelfire digital label press as well as for the new Gallus Labelmaster platform are evidence of Heidelberg’s leading role in this market segment. “The labeling market is an important part of our growth strategy,” explained Rainer Hundsdörfer, the company’s CEO. “We’re focusing on the globally increasing demand for labels, produced both digitally or in the conventional way. We’re convinced that our Gallus range will provide a great amount of potential for Heidelberg.”

At the Labelexpo, Gallus presented the Gallus Labelfire digital label press with enhanced inline finishing processes. As opposed to the digital label presses found on the market which only print digitally and incorporate label postpress activities into a downstream process, the Gallus Labelfire produces finished and die-cut labels in just one production run. Thus the digital printing of finished labels on the Gallus Labelfire guarantees faster production times in conjunction with less paper waste. This means that label printers save time, money and material in comparison with a multi-stage production process, as switching to the downstream postpress process is dispensed with. And thanks to the latest generation of Fujifilm inkjet printheads, the Gallus Labelfire, with a native resolution of 1,200 dpi, ensures print quality that matches that of offset printing.

Numerous orders were signed during the trade fair, including by first-time customers from Italy, Austria and Germany. Three customers have already ordered or are using their second press.

Flexo presses enhanced…

There was also a wealth of new conventional flexo press developments on show with enhanced features for automation, package printing and increased efficiency for short runs. Highlights included Gallus marking the European debut of its LabelMaster press, Nilpeter launching the latest iteration of its established FA-4* press and OMET introducing a film package for its iFlex press.

Happy exhibitors share…

Tony Bell, abg, shared, “Not only did we sell all 19 machines exhibited at the show, but took in excess of 50 orders and have been inundated with enquiries since we returned home. Labelexpo Europe was our best ever yet and it was great to have so many innovations to show our visitors. Our new screen printing unit, with speeds double those of our previous model, gathered crowds throughout the show and we received orders for retrofits, as well as modules on new machines. There was considerable interest in the Digicon Series 3 with FAST Track die, FleyeLink Workflow manager, new quick-change mandrels on the AutoSet glueless turret, and a new roll closure printer linked to the camera to identify any defects.”

While, Randy Ward, acpo, said, “Every other year, Labelexpo Europe just amazes me as to how it gets bigger and better with every show! We knew that this would be the perfect show to unveil our three new product offerings (Barrier Coated Films, Brand Security and Softsens overlaminate) and once again, we were not disappointed. Labelexpo Europe has a way of drawing a professional group of visitors that are looking to learn as to what’s new in the market. The traffic flow from start to finish was strong and the four days flew by in no time, thanks to everyone that made this year’s show the best Labelexpo to date!”

Corinna Hokamp of BST eltromat, added, “At the booth, visitors saw the latest technologies for quality assurance in the label and packaging market. With exciting live presentations, BST eltromat informed visitors about its products and solutions for narrow web applications. Especially, the products POWERScope 5000, new web monitoring system, the CompactGuides, web guiding systems and the 100% inspection system for narrow web, TubeScan eagle view, from partner Nyquist Systems, have attracted highest interest. Another highlight was the co-operation from BST eltromat with Carl Ostermann Erben, Colorware and Colorbreeze regarding the important topic of color. Together with these partners BST eltromat has shown the advantages of a consistent connection of process steps, from the pre-press stage through quality assurance systems to product analyzes with informative reports.”

While Kapil Anand of Cosmo Films, shared, “Labelexpo Europe was quite productive for us. Our newly launched products received good traction from existing and prospective customers. We witnessed a huge footfall and there were visitors from all parts of the world. There were significant visitors from Latin America. We feel that Labelexpo is an excellent platform to network, showcase one’s capabilities and also learn from other industry players on the new technologies being commercialized.”

Frank Maeder, Epson Europe, shared, “Labelexpo Europe has been fantastic for us, not only in terms of footfall but also in terms of the calibre of visitor and seriousness of conversations we have had. There has been massive interest in the new SurePress L-4533 Series aqueous inkjet press, of course, but also the UV model, the SurePress L-6034. This has been a commercial success with brisk sales; Labelexpo is much more than a showcase event. Brand owners and manufacturers visiting have shown interest in our Colorwork’s and LabelWorks devices and they have been impressed by the additional applications we can offer, such as RFID and the use of special substrates, like clothes tags. We have been delighted to welcome printers and end users from every Continent on the globe.”

Alon Bar-Shany, HP Indigo, shared, “As we look back at this year’s Labelexpo, we see tremendous growth compared to two years ago, solid sales exceeding the very aggressive targets we set, and lots of leads and interest in our solutions, particularly the new value of the HP Indigo WS6800, from the Pack Ready for Labels to the HP Production Pro for Indigo L&P. As expected, the HP Indigo GEM received non-stop attention from visitors. While we closed many sales with clients spanning some 30 countries, our focus goes beyond the sale of presses. We focus on the growth of our existing customers and bring solutions to allow them to scale easily.”

Edoardo Cotichini, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe, said, “We’ve had a fantastic response from visitors to our stand. They were amazed at how far we have come since launching into the label market two years ago. Labelexpo Europe was an important platform for Konica Minolta to showcase its world-class technology and services, and the high level of interest demonstrated that the AccurioLabel 190 is a product that will sell extremely well. The in-line finishing option has been well received, as was the flexibility of running off-line too. We set ourselves specific business targets for the show, and they have been exceeded.”

Ashok Krishna, MDV Group & Ricoh, shared, “MDV/Tech Folien had their most successful Labelexpo Europe with approximately 200 leads. It was noticeable that visitors included companies from Africa, Vietnam and the USA. Discussions with several potential distributors were extremely promising, and renewing contact with existing customers lead to many new enquiries. Ricoh reported separately that the event was very effective in generating a lot of interest from customers, business partners and journalists alike. Also several social media postings were initiated. All of this driven by the many beautiful printed samples which were created by the co-operation between Ricoh, MDV and Color-Logic. These samples clearly demonstrated the versatility and flexibility of the MDV media and the Ricoh Pro C7100X digital press. All in all, a big thank you to Labelexpo for their efficient arrangements and for all those people who visited this year, and see you all next time.”

Winners revealed at Label Industry Global Awards

The most innovative, creative and commercially successful work from the label and package printing industry has been rewarded at the Label Industry Global Awards 2017. The people behind some of the most important innovations introduced over the past 12 months, were presented with their trophies in front of over 500 industry peers at a gala dinner held on 25 September as part of this year’s Labelexpo Europe in Brussels.

The sell-out award ceremony included some of the biggest names from the international label community, as those working behind the scenes in this vibrant sector took the limelight in recognition of their hard work. Joining PEIAC’s Professor Tan Junqiao who was earlier announced as the winner of the prestigious R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award, HERMA, AIM and ebeam Technologies were officially announced as the winners of this year’s other categories.

The R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Avery Dennison was given to Professor Tan, the founder and honorary chairman of the China Label Sub Association of the Printing Equipment Industries Association of China (PEIAC). His passion and dedication over many years in serving and promoting the development of a modern label printing industry in China, have led to him being widely acclaimed as true pioneer and founding father of the Chinese label industry. Professor Tan joins fellow distinguished winners including: Tomas Rink of Ritrama, Helmut Schreiner, Nilpeter’s Lars Eriksen and Kurt Walker of FINAT.

The Award for Innovation (for companies with more than 300 employees), sponsored by Flint Group Narrow Web was presented to HERMA GmbH for its superTack (63Vst). The judges singled out the manufacturer of self-adhesive label application systems, saying that product innovation has enabled HERMA to create the world’s first resin-free adhesive for labels that requires an extremely strong initial tack, making the adhesive an ideal solution for films, as well as moist, fatty, dirty or dusty surfaces, and extending it beyond the food sector. By dispensing with resin, HERMA’s adhesive reaches the approval for dry, moist and fatty foods and comes closer to the zero migration benchmark.

The Award for Innovation (for companies with up to 300 employees), also sponsored by Flint Group Narrow Web went to AIM, the trade association for the automatic identification industry. For nearly half a century, AIM has provided unbiased information, educational resources and standards to providers and users of these technologies. AIM took the accolade for its Ultracode which is a process innovation that enables the automatic capture of data by any digital color camera or smartphone. The process utilizes the first international standard 2D color barcode Ultracode which is printable by any RGB or CMYK process color, inkjet or toner technology. The code, together with advanced data compaction schemes and URLs encodes data in less than half the area of a QR code using the same modular size.

ebeam Technologies took the Award for Sustainability, sponsored by Labels & Labeling Magazine for its Compact curing unit. ebeam Technologies designs, manufactures and integrates electron beam (EB) technology solutions. The award was given for the company’s development of a compact electron beam curing system for narrow-web presses which now makes low-energy, photo-initiator-free, curing accessible for label and package printing production. Using ½ to 1/10 of the energy required by heat, steam, chemical, microwave or UV processes, ebeam systems are compact, vacuum-sealed, zero maintenance and have high longevity.

Skanem Interlabels automates prepress across its three plants in India

Skanem Interlabels India, a part of the Skanem Group with their HQ in Norway, has upgraded its prepress with Esko’s ArtPro and Esko’s Automation Engine software at the Vasai plant which has a fleet of flexo, letterpress and digital presses. It also extends prepress support to the Baddi plant in North India and the Guwahati plant in North-eastern India.

For Skanem, cutting edge prepress software tools that are recognized and serviced globally are just the beginning. The day-to-day efficiencies of industrial strength software must lead to faster and better press utilization in its plants across India. With top notch industrial strength prepress software, Skanem is working to increase production quality and quantity and to reduce turnaround times.

Kamal Sharma, operations director at Skanem Interlabels India says, “ArtPro is a quality control tool that helps packaging and label professionals by detecting potential problems at an early stage. Any element in the artwork that doesn't meet the requirements is highlighted, enabling the operator to quickly find and fix it before sending for print.”

With the Esko Viewer in ArtPro, an operator can view and compare separations just as if they are inspecting the final plates. The separation files are visible in high resolution, reducing the risk of wasted proofs, plates and press downtime.

Additionally, with the installation of Esko’s Automation Engine, Skanem has streamlined its entire file management process and automated job tracking and prepress functions in a common workflow across letterpress, flexo and digital presses. Automation Engine allows users to pre-set and automate repetitive tasks and decision making within the workflow to reduce operator interventions and errors, thus improving production efficiency.

Skanem Interlabels India builds flexible and automated workflows with an intuitive graphical user interface using Esko’s Automation Engine. Tasks such as pre-flight, trapping, generating proofs, creating reports, adding colour marks etc can be automated in the workflow. The data management tools within the software optimize data storage and allow for fast location of product status and data throughout the production chain.

Premium retail brands grow with Xerox – TRESU inline digital print and coating workflow

The Alexir Partnership, the Edenbridge, UK-based supplier of folding carton packaging, is helping niche and premium food brands reduce stocks and succeed internationally with targeted, diversified product offerings in short runs, as a result of its Xerox - TRESU digital printing and coating line.

The company became the first major supplier in the UK with an inline solution for digitally printed folding cartons, when it installed the four-colour Xerox iGen 4 sheet-fed digital printer with a TRESU Pinta coater integrated inline in 2015. Complementing an existing offset workflow, the integrated, single-pass digital printing – coating line is capable of up to 110 sheets / minute and printing carton up to 610µm thickness, enabling printing on-demand with low origination costs and low order quantities.

Alexir’s digital division has become a self-sufficient unit, employing six full-time staff. As Claire Summersby, marketing manager at the Alexir Partnership, explains, it is meeting the growing demand for short production runs. “Our Xerox – TRESU printing and coating line is filling a vital gap of between one and five thousand units, which we were unable to offer before. For brand owners, it provides a much faster route to market, allowing us to offer high-value services, like on-demand sample printing, personalised prints and multiple variations of a brand. It has attracted significant business from small market players and provided start-up companies with a springboard for growth. Furthermore, we are increasingly supporting marketing departments of larger brand-owners, by developing promotional campaigns,” he said.

Dragonfly Tea, based in Newbury, UK, is benefiting from the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of Alexir Partnership’s digital carton service for its range of speciality black, green, white and caffeine-free tea sachets that are sold across the E.U.

TRESU’s Pinta inline flexo coater provides a layer of protection and enhances aesthetic appeal. Sheets are fed to the coater automatically, from the Xerox iGen 4, immediately after the printing stage. A wide range of UV- or water-based coating media, supplied by TRESU, are available for achieving matte, gloss, full surface, spot or fine-line effects. Fast sleeve-changes and an automatic, self-cleaning coating supply system limit job changeover times to just minutes even when switching between UV and water-based varnishes. Coated sheets are subsequently transferred to the adjacent KAMA ProFold 74 gluer / folder or Kongsberg plotter.

HP introduces breakthrough solutions to enable converters to digitally print any label

At Labelexpo 2017, HP Inc announced a new portfolio of solutions for digital printing and embellishment of labels in any quantity for any application, in another industry-leading move to transform labels and packaging printing from analog to digital, enabling converters to profitably grow their businesses into new markets.

HP also announced the HP Indigo GEM, the breakthrough one-pass digital embellishments solution. Integrated with the HP Indigo WS6800 Digital Press, the GEM produces highly decorated labels simply and efficiently.

The new solutions come only 15 months after the extensive drupa 2016 technology rollout. Customers are already benefitting from these new capabilities in color accuracy and consistency, higher productivity, and a widened range of applications.

The new capabilities include the HP Indigo WS6800 Digital Press integrated with the HP Indigo GEM, HP Indigo 20000 Digital Press with HP Indigo Pack Ready Lamination for flexible packaging production enabling immediate time to market, and the HP Indigo 8000 Digital Press, the most productive narrow-web press in the industry. In a store-environment experience, HP Specialty Printing Systems (SPS) OEM partners demonstrates solutions based on the new SI-1300 desktop labeling print engine and other technology.

Inline with the HP Indigo WS6800, the HP Indigo GEM is a fully digital one-pass printing press for embellishing with foil, screen, tactile, varnish and other special effects, using one workflow, one operator, and one design file without the need for tooling. The HP Indigo GEM utilizes GEM Coat and GEM Clear, sold by HP Indigo. Developed with JetFX, shipping of the GEM is expected to begin in the spring of 2018.

While, Pack Ready for Labels is a new solution supporting the production of high performance, high-resistance labels to help meet the industry’s highest standards, including for household and chemical products. It includes an upgraded Inline Priming Unit as an option on the HP Indigo WS6800 Digital Press and supplies including varnish and primer that will be sold by Michelman.

The new Inline Priming Unit also delivers enhanced press utilization, and better serviceability.

HP Indigo also announced a new HP Indigo ElectroInk Silver, now in beta customer testing. The new ink formula is capable of generating a wide gamut of metallic colors, combining metallic effects with digital capabilities in one printing process. The new ink is set to expand the application capabilities enabled by HP Indigo’s technology, and open a new field of package design opportunities for converters and brands to stand out on the shelf.

The HP Indigo WS6800 together with the HP Indigo GEM will be powered by the new HP Production Pro for Indigo Labels and Packaging. With five times faster processing, HP Production Pro delivers higher productivity, scalability and simplicity for any job, including handling large volumes of variable data printing.

Trelleborg invests in flexo sleeve capacity

Trelleborg’s printing solutions operation has completed a major investment program at its Axcyl flexo sleeve production facility in France, commissioning a new oven, grinder and sleeve indexing facility. The project is part of an ongoing increase in capacity at the site, which also entails the creation of the new position of director of operations, a role now filled with the appointment of Katia Deycard.

Trelleborg’s printing solutions operations, part of Trelleborg Coated Systems, offers first class solutions for the printing industry with worldwide recognized brands, such as Vulcan, Rollin, Printec and Axcyl. Its solutions are leading edge in the offset and flexo printing markets for a variety of applications including newspapers, magazines, catalogs, business forms, labels, metal decorating and packaging.

Group Publications