SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Label printers visiting Labelexpo, in search of emerging technologies!


Ray Stanton Avery
It is a time in the evolution of label producing technologies when development is taking place globally towards various tangents. Until the 1930s, wet glue was perhaps the only technology for label production and application. When in 1936 Ray Stanton Avery created the self adhesive label, another process evolved and started to grow so much so that in recent times the usage of self adhesive or pressure sensitive labels reached a level of almost 50% of all the labels produced. Screen printing is a very old technology, with evolution and further development of this process into other applications somewhere in the 1960s, when plastic containers started replacing the heavy glass containers in packaging consumer products, screen printing directly on containers became popular. This could not really be classified as a mass usage technique as it lacked the decoration capabilities that were fast becoming the need of increasing consumerism. Initially flat bed letterpress and then flexo rotary printing presses with in line die cutting provided a good platform for producing multi-coloured labels at faster speeds. Introduction of more decorating processes like varnishing, lamination and foiling on these presses made the screen printing on containers loose ground even though screen printing evolved and grew in other application.

Flatbed label press
Over the next three decades narrow web label production saw landmark changes. Flexography saw immense technological advancements. Print quality improved tremendously and PSA (Pressure Sensitive Adhesive) label markets started to register amazing growth and proliferation. The printing and converting speeds which, in the initial years was 10-15 meters per minute on flat bed letterpress Japanese machines of 5-7 inches width had grown initially to 10 inches which later increased to be 13 inches to 20 inches and more. The printing and converting machines have also registered increase in speed, the new label presses are running at over 200 meters per minute. Ink technologies have also seen rapid changes. From the thick paste inks in letterpress to liquid inks in flexo printing. Drying techniques also changed drastically. In the initial days printers would hang paper web after printing on a clothes line to dry and then manually re-roll the labels. Then came the time when hot air drying was introduced on presses to increase speed. With introduction of UV inks the speeds shot up tremendously. As production speeds increased, number of printers also increased bringing intense competition. The need to reduce wastage and energy became an imperative to stay profitable. New changes and processes started to emerge on presses. The short web path, continuous production, inline inspection, and host of other changes were taking place in label presses. Introduction of LED UV inks is another step towards conservation of energy. Need for short runs, variable data printing and the speed of creation from computer to print made digital printing to also grow and evolve. 

Hybrid label press
In the beginning of a new millennium, to stay ahead of competition, label printers started to invest in hybrid machines with capabilities to print and convert with multiple technologies. Different printing technologies are now possible on the same equipment. Screen printing re-emerged in label printing machines with rotary screens, where high deposition of colour is needed. Gravure printing is also now a part of a label printing press where metallic inks are to be printed. Today presses are available with Flexo, Offset, Gravure, digital and Screen printing inline on the same press along with decorating and finishing like varnishing, lamination, embossing/debossing, die cutting, waste matrix removal, slitting sheeting in a single pass. The label presses have further evolved to have multi-substrate printing and converting capabilities. They are now capable of handling from films of 12 micron thickness to thick boards. These equipment are now able to produce a wide range of end products like labels, flexible packaging, shrink sleeves, lamitubes and folding cartons.

Labelexpo Europe has been the front runner in showcasing the evolving label printing and converting
technologies. Over the years it has acquired the status of being the Mecca of label industry. It remains the must-attend show for label printers spread across the world. Global suppliers of equipment, tooling, consumables, software, other related material and service providers exhibit their products alongwith new developments made by them at this premium show. This year 650 exhibitors will showcase their offerings at Labelexpo 2017. At the last showing in 2015, 31795 visitors came from 158 countries to witness the labels evolution taking place and showcased in 7 halls that have now increased to 9 halls. Digital label printing and converting that had miniscule presence some years ago is now spread in dedicated halls with 65 digital presses in operation. The show has grown from strength to more strength over the years. It has now become the must attend show for the global label printing and packaging companies. The story in India is no different, as one the fastest growing economies in the world, the label industry also is growing at a healthy and steady pace. Indian label printers have started to patronize this expo in growing numbers that keep swelling in every showing of this premium event. In an effort to assess the mood of the leading label companies in India I have asked them about their interest in the event or what motivates them to be there and maybe about their intention to buy.

Arvind Shekhar
Planning to visit Labelexpo Europe for the first time, South India Bangalore based Arvind Shekhar Director of Sai Packaging says, “Yes I will attend Labelexpo, It will be my first visit and I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn.” Also planning to visit first time is Himanshu Kapur, Director of J K Fine Prints Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai. He is son of past President of LMAI, a veteran of label industry, Surendra Kapur. Himanshu feels it is necessary to be at the show since no one wants to be left behind in the technology race for achieving perfection. His views are reaffirmed by Uday Lodha, Director Barcom Ltd. Mumbai. He says “I will attend Labelexpo because I have missed out on last two occasions and being part of the label fraternity I can’t afford to do that this time around and of course I look forward to connect with friends, colleagues and associates under one roof which is brimming with world class innovation and supreme technological advancements”. Rajendra Gandhi, Director Maharshi Labels Pvt. Ltd. Ahmedabad states that the event cannot be missed as we must attend to gain knowledge and update ourself.

Changing scenario in the global label industry has made many printing companies to sit up and study
Hemanth Paruchuri
the developments taking place. No other event in today’s time brings together the complete gamut of changes happening in the label industry globally. Mukesh Goel, Director, Gopsons Papers Ltd. New Delhi wishes to understand the technological advancements and future direction of this industry.  Y H Solanki, Managing Director Sicon Packs Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai expresses that it is the biennial knowledge point for understanding the evolution of labels and the direction it is going in. The Indian industry is convinced that it is time to make strategic decision to restructure or plan their moves for leading their companies to new directions and excel. Hyderabad headquartered Pragati Pack has been in the fore front of industry constituents who are consistently investing in emerging technologies. They have never missed a Labelexpo for many years. Though the CEO of Pragati Group and industry stalwart Narendra Paruchuri is not attending but heading their label business his son Hemanth Paruchuri Director, Pragati Pack (India) Pvt. Ltd. Hyderabad will attend and he says “It is an important show that gives insights into trends in the industry and also showcases the latest technology”.  Jaideep Singh Owner Zodiac Printers also from Hyderabad expressed that it is a melting POT of all new innovations from across the globe. To be there is necessary for us to understand and assimilate, which enables us to plan our future strategy.


With India attracting the interest of global players in labels and packaging notable investments have taken place mostly as acquisition of running successful enterprises by companies like Huhtamaki, Skanem, ITW, etc. Amar Chhajed President Huhtamaki PPL Ltd. says, "We will be studying the latest developments in digital printing and finishing as well as new age technologies like EB curing. Sustainable raw material is also an area of special interest to us". Hariharan Venkataraman Managing Director, Skanem Interlabels Industries Mumbai- India will attend Labelexpo to catch a glimpse of the frontiers of labeling technology. 



Raveendran of Seljegat
 Exhibitors are always on the lookout of printers who will take purchase decisions. Raveendran Managing Director of Sel-Jegat Printers PrivateLimited, at Sivakasi in South India will attend Label Expo Europe at Brussels. They propose to finalise a machine with latest technology for the production of special labels as well as for the packaging line. They also intend spending more time on the digital printing equipment to understand and subsequently invest in the same. Dinesh Mahajan Managing Director Prakash labels says, "The expo will provide us with a platform for important buying decisions.". Harish Gupta, Director Sai Com Codes  Flexoprints Pvt. Ltd. Rai Distt. Sonepat NCR Delhi said “We intend to line up with new technology and to finalise two more lines for our new expansion”. Recently concluded LMAI conference titled “Innovations Simplified” left an indelible mark on the minds of the label fraternity attending the event. Tejas Tanna, Director Printmann Group Mumbai, India asserts that to keep up with the latest trends in the label industry and to identify simplified solutions to improve production efficiency, he will attend this exhibition.

Sandeep Zaveri
A rapidly growing market size and increasing number of label printing companies has brought with it intense competition. Added to this, the print buyers resorting to cost cutting measures like reverse auctions has made converters to sit up and consider measures to innovate, create new products, be more efficient and produce cost effectively. Sanjeev Sondhi, Director Zircon Technologies India Limited, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India  will attend Labelexpo with an intent to explore new technologies to produce to economies of scale and to add such value which can command better price. U K Gupta Managing Director India's largest Hologram manufacturing company Holostik Ltd. sees labelexpo as the showcase of latest innovations, trends and developments that lead to future growth of label industry. Sandeep Zaveri, Managing Director Total Prints Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai and President LMAI (Label Manufacturers Association of India) will be looking forward to see many innovations and latest equipment running on the show. 


Manish Desai
Networking at such events brings about comradeship amongst global label industry printers and suppliers. It builds bridges of friendship that leave lasting memories for industry members to look forward to and to return to the show in its next edition. Kuldip Goel, Managing Director Anygraphics Noida, U.P. is convinced that Labelexpo is not just an eye opener to the future trends, it also brings the global label fraternity a lot closer. It provides amazing networking opportunities. Manish Desai of Mudrika Labels Pvt Ltd Mumbai India and past President LMAI says "Label Expo delivers endless knowledge and networking opportunities with fellow label printers and suppliers.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India August 2017

Printing magazines and publications may reproduce this article giving credit to author. 

For advertising on this blog please email to harveersahni@gmail.com 

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