SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Monday, December 30, 2019

Successful LMAI digital print technologies event in south India

The narrow web label industry is a smaller segment of the larger diverse printing and packaging industry. It remains in focus for being the face of all products and an imperative identity providing part of any package. It is estimated by many that the Printing industry in India is growing at over 12% per annum. Some segments get slower and there are others like packaging are growing at a faster pace of 17% to compensate the shortfall by registering better growth. The label industry has been growing in a very wide band between 10 and 25%, the growth has always been in double digits. While Offset is the largest segment of the printing technologies employed yet the past 2-3 decades have seen growth in adoption of other printing processes like flexography, Rotogravure and Screen. 

In recent times the convenience of “just in time computer to print capabilities” has resulted in adoption of digital printing by many printers such that the segment is registering robust growth of 30%. The narrow web label industry that is largely employing flexographic printing has been conservative and hesitant in adopting digital printing for labels because of higher investment in capital equipment, expensive inks and costly printheads needing replacements resulting in costlier labels in comparison to those produced on their existing equipment. The return on investment appeared to be unattractive. It was just a matter of time that the growth of digital printing of labels in India would start to attract investment. Finat, the European label Association with global membership had reported a couple of years ago that European investments in digital presses for labels in a year had exceeded that in flexo presses. We now see an evident interest and indulgence in this digital label printing technology by Indian printers as well.

Recognising the need for knowledge and understanding  digital printing technologies since label printing and converting is in an evolutionary phase of adopting digital printing, while still growing with analogue, LMAI-The Label Manufacturers Association of India organized a program titled "DIGITAL PRINTING IN LABELS - THE WAY FORWARD" for the benefit of its members only. The program took place at ITC Welcome Hotel, Chennai on the 20th of December 2019. Unlike the other printing processes digital printing has largely four different tangents; Dry toner printing, Liquid toner printing, UV Inkjet printing and water-based Inkjet printing. To deliver the knowledge, leading companies came forward to sponsor the event as also to make very interesting presentations. The following speakers from their respective sponsoring companies made presentations;

Ø  Dry Toner Digital: Xeikon. Presenter; Vikram Saxena, Sales General Manager Xeikon India (Part of Flint Group)

Ø  Liquid Toner Digital: HP. Presenter; Ashok Pahwa, Sales Manager-Indigo & Inkjet Solutions (HP India Sales Pvt Ltd).

Ø  UV Inkjet Digital: Domino. Presenter- Ajay RaoRane, Asst. Vice President-Digital Printing Solutions. at Domino Printech India LLP

Ø  Water Based Digital: Astronova Inc. Presenter-Goutham Reddy, Regional Sales Manager

Ø  Non-speaking support Sponsors: Avery Dennison and Durst Phototechnik AG

After welcoming more than eighty delegates present and after felicitating the sponsors, LMAI Secretary Rajesh Nema handed over the moderation to Harveer Sahni member LMAI Board of Directors. 

Sahni updated the audience on the journey traversed by the label printing industry in India. Starting from the first self-adhesive label made by screen printing process in 1965, he covered many landmarks in the evolution that included the first flat-bed very narrow web Japanese label presses to produce labels in roll form in 1972, rotary label converting in 1982, flexographic label printing in 1993, adoption and development of UV flexo from 1997 onwards, setting up of LMAI in 2002 and the first installation of digital label presses toward end of the decade of 2000. All the speakers gave important insights in the technologies offered by them and emphasized the need and importance of short runs, personalization and variable data on labels and for that how Digital Printing capabilities are fast becoming a necessity. 

Goutham Reddy from Astronova explained the cost effectiveness of water-based process and also dwelled on their offering equipment to print on finished packages, 

Ajay Rao Rane of Domino highlighted the strength of UV inkjet and achieving a higher colour gamut besides printing opaque UV white that is needed for transparent films, 

Ashok Pahwa demonstrated the success they achieved in personalization of leading brand of beverages giving another dimension to retail marketing of fast moving consumer products and finally 

Vikram Saxena of Xeikon informed that digital printing was picking up pace with over 32 high-end installations reported in India. He further informed the benefits of dry toner digital printing technology and that it did not require any precoated media.

It was encouraging to note that despite the event being organized in South India many printers travelled from all over India to attend and to learn the nuance of this emerging technology. Some of the printers seen at the event included Gee Kay-Bangalore, Seljeget-Sivakasi, Fairfix-Tirupur, ITC-Chennai, Manipal Technologies-Chennai, Prakash Labels-Noida, Kwality Offset-New Delhi, Pragati Graphics-Indore, Speclabel-Kolkata, Total Print-Mumbai and Zodiac Graphics-Hyderabad. LMAI founder members Raveendran of Seljegat, Sandeep Zaveri of Total Print, LMAI founder promoter Amit Sheth and Board member Ajay Mehta of SMI were present at this important industry event.

An interactive question answer session was followed by a vote of thanks by Rajeev Chhatwal Vice President of LMAI. The evening ended with networking cocktails and dinner.

Written and reported by Harveer Sahni, Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi December 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Environmentally conscious and sustainable in labels

Another day in life many years ago, we would love to light up a bonfire on a winter evening and sit around it warming ourselves and enjoying it. It was a common sight to see construction workers and other labourers huddled around a small fire they would light up by burning tree branches or dried leaves to warm themselves and ward off the cold. This incineration, which was a pleasurable exercise once, is looked at as non-acceptable now because it generates smoke and adds to the already high level of pollution in our cities. In the 1960s all our groceries were shopped wrapped in paper or carried in paper bags. In India we saw a lot of paper bags made even from old newspapers and old magazines adding an element of recyclability to the already used paper. 

In 1965 Swedish company Celloplast patented the single use poly bag to start an era of convenience in shopping with plastic bags. By late 1970s or early 1980s the polybag evolution had reached India and started to grow at a robust pace. It also became the preferred packaging material for a very diverse range of end products. Rapid developments were made to create multipolymer laminates to achieve better shelf life and barrier properties.   So much so that it became difficult to imagine a life without these plastic bags.

Mountain of garbage termed as landfil
Ironically by end of the last century the ill effects of plastic waste due to non-biodegradability became the most worrying factor for governments. The plastic bags littered around the globe remained plastic for years and would remain so for hundreds of years. Bangladesh became the first country in the world to implement a ban on thin plastic bags, after it was found they played a key role in clogging drainage systems during disastrous flooding. Other countries began to follow suit. Soon the awareness came about that plastic was not only clogging drains but also adding to soil quality erosion, affecting life of cattle who devoured these while grazing and endangered the sea with tons of plastic dumped in. The heightened awareness of all kinds of waste going to landfills; in fact, they are no more landfills but have become garbage mountains occupying expensive and already shrinking land space in cities and emitting poisonous gasses impacting environment and health of population. Climate control, banning single use plastics, finding alternative to multi-polymer plastic laminates due to these not being recycled, conserving resources, recycling, reusing, waste management, etc. became imperatives for all governments. Environmental protection and sustainability became the necessity and buzzword for a safe future of generations that follow us. Sustainability is explained as the avoidance of depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance, in other words replenishing the mother earth with the natural resources that we use for our benefits.

Kimoha Solar plant
The author while returning from Labelexpo Europe in Brussels in the end of September 2019, stopped over to visit Dubai based label printing company Kimoha. While excelling in the world of labels Kimoha leadership had done a lot of work including investing for environmental protection, waste management and sustainability, setting example for others in the label industry to follow suit. Being fully aware that advancements and enhancement approaches are needed for the economic development of the present without compromising the capacity of future generations, Kimoha has taken steps to be sustainable and take care of the environment and its social well-being. They successfully completed the Green Building Initiative and are the first printing company within GCC to have the Gold LEED certification from the US GBC for its manufacturing facility. Under the new green clean energy initiative, they have commissioned own Solar Plant with Installed capacity of 1.0143 MWp, generating 30% of their power requirement. Kimoha Solar Plant is one of the largest Solar plant in the manufacturing segment within JAFZA. All the mechanical material handling systems are battery operated to cut off use of fuel and its associated pollution.
Integrated Waste Management System
Kimoha sources material from FSC certified partners as a responsible management initiative in protecting forests, being in paper industry.  The entire facility light management system is based on Motion & Occupancy Sensors. Occupancy sensors increase lighting energy savings by 23 %, auto turning off or turning down for amount of time with no movement. Skylights are used as natural lights here at Kimoha warehouse, thus further adding to Energy Management initiatives. As a part of its water conservation initiative, waterless urinals are installed in the facility washrooms. One waterless urinal saves approximately 3,250 gallons of water a year. The Solar cleaning system is also of dry wash robotic system which aids this program. On its Carbon footprint initiative, Kimoha has installed a state of art Integrated Waste Management System for auto extracting and compacting its label design and trim waste. Most of the paper waste is bailed, to reduce size and skip loads and sent to recycling vendors for a circular economy. Right from inception Kimoha has always believed in human capital and thus refrained from using Solvent Inks.  Kimoha also has a Sedex Member Mark which is a testimony to their responsible and sustainable business practices.
Back home in India the author tried to touch base with label printers in India to understand if they too were investing to make their industry and products environmentally safe and sustainable. It was heartening to note that the process has begun but it is just the beginning. To have a large-scale impact down the line, it appears legislation will provide the necessary impetus required in this direction. Noida based Any Graphics lead by Kuldip Goel is building a new huge new certified green factory spread over 15500 square meters that will be ready to move into in 2020. Kuldip Goel says: ‘The green manufacturing unit will be our contribution towards being environment friendly and sustainable. The process began right from the time when we started building the plant. For instance, we cannot uproot any trees from the new land without having a plan to re-plant and nurture them and plant maximum number of local varieties.’ Complying to the Green factory requirements they are procuring maximum construction materials produced from within 500 kms of the construction site, using minimum 50 percent old material and furniture from previous factory, minimum usage of wood, covered car parking, usage of less water and big fume taps to save water, natural sunlight inside the factory, usage of light and insulating Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) panels in the building, amongst others. They also plan to install both sewage treatment plant (STP) as well as an effluent treatment plant (ETP) at the new facility. ‘With the STP, they will be able to re-use almost 50 percent of our water that would otherwise just go down the drains. With the consumption of almost 40,000 litres of water a day, this will be a huge saving. They are also installing state of the art 600-700 KW rooftop solar power units. This will reduce 5.5 to 7.5 MT of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to planting about 35,000 trees. Goel further added, “We have even studied air direction at the new site to maximize the impact of air flow and sun for most efficient use of solar light and energy. There is a list of above 40 requirements listed by The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) that we must adhere to for our factory to be qualified as a green building and we are passionately working on each one of them”.
The author with Anuj Bhargava
Another Noida based Label Company Anuj Bhargava lead Kumar Labels who also produce labelstock for their captive consumption has put in place many processes in their production plan to make their contribution to environment and sustainability. They have shifted to 100% LED lighting in their factory. They plan to replace UV lams with LED UV lamps on all their presses by 2021, the process has begun. They have developed and commercialized SRTF (Single Release with Two Face stocks) which saves 50% release liner. Spreading the concept globally. Other endeavors include elimination of corrugated boxes and using multi-use plastic trays for dispatches within 200km distance which saved over 15 Tons of kraft each year. Selling labels on bagasse, mineral paper and recycled kraft label stocks (though to begin with the quantity is small). Work has started to use thinner liners. 70% of factory is on evaporative cooling instead of air conditioning, saving energy. No plastic bottles or cups are used for water or food, even during group dinners. Segregation of waste is done so that most unsupported material gets recycled. Employees are encouraged to shift closer to factory to avoid commute and save fuel. To set an example, owners have also moved closer to factory. Used UV lamps are disposed off through a recycler who removes the mercury.

The self-adhesive labels industry as it continues to grow, has been facing a gigantic task for disposal of side trim, waste matrix and liner waste. Almost 50% of the label material after conversion is waste and earlier converters were either sending the same to landfill or incinerating it. Both the actions are adversely impacting the environment and require urgent attention. Multinational labelstock manufacturers Avery Dennison has taken some pioneering initiatives towards this problem. The Company under their “Avery Dennison’s Recycling Services India program” has been concerned about the accumulation of waste and is on a mission to also reduce the amount of packaging materials used beside recycling and managing the waste generated. They in association with leading brand owners started collecting the label liner generated as part of the labelling operations centrally before passing these on to the appointed recycler for this Liner Recycling Program. The collected liner waste is then reprocessed, and this recycled pulp is used to create new materials such as cardboard, paper, and tissue. On another front they are interacting with converters to co-process or reprocess their leftover label matrix instead of landfilling it at no cost, given that the paper and film materials are sorted at the converter end. The matrix that is made from either paper or film material is usually discarded. As per Avery’s initiative through co-processing, paper matrix can be re-used as fuel in industrial processes. Through reprocessing, filmic matrix is converted to polymer pellets used to manufacture products like boards and benches.

Himanshu Kapoor of Mumbai based J K Fine Prints lists the processes that they have implemented in this direction: The have started liner recycling program with Avery Dennison, all plastic ink bottles are sent to MPCB(Maharashtra Pollution Control Board) waste handling unit, used UV lamps go to hazardous waste collection unit, they pack finished rolls in paper and not in plastic, all waste is shredded and sent to cement kilns to use as an energy source to replace natural gas, cores/boxes/packing materials etc. are reused to reduce carbon footprint, waste water from water purification system is reused for cleaning purposes, all ACs/fans/lights are switched off when not in use, Auto stop taps installed resulted in reduced usage of water and collection of used liner from end users and sending to recycle in pipeline.

Sustainability is important for many reasons including environmental Quality in order to have healthy communities and a safer planet for generations that follow, we need clean air, natural resources, and a nontoxic environment. Government has now realized the huge negative impact of this and due to their efforts to spread awareness, words like sustainability, environmental protection, circular economy, recyclability, reusable, etc. have become frequently debated topics in industrial conferences and CSR initiatives of leading industrial houses. Even the common people now are impacted and concerned about this problem. Label industry has been implementing many such initiatives to reduce the impact of waste. For a lot many years we have seen press manufacturers making the label presses with short web pass to reduce setup waste, usage of thinner filmic liners have been implemented at many places to reduce the tonnage of liner going into manufacture of self-adhesive labelstock and more so because the filmic liner can be recycled to produce other plastic products. In recent times we also witness the development of linerless labels to entirely do away with the liner by use of a filmic liner that is peeled off in the manufacturing process and laminated on top of the same label. One solution cannot cater to all labelling needs, every process has its advantages and disadvantages, but the heartening fact is that now the industry is taking steps both to reduce wastage and eliminate it from going to landfills and incineration. The social responsibility of the labels industry is evident!

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi December 2019

Friday, November 1, 2019

Selecting Digital Label Printing technology

Change is the only constant in life.” This is an age old saying and it is so true! As we look back in

time that has gone by, the evolution in technologies that impact our life is amazing and for the new generations it is difficult to imagine the path traversed by elders. For example, look at the development in telephony and communications; there was a time when, to get a telephone we had to make a lengthy application with documents plus a hefty deposit and then wait for 3 years to get a telephone. For dialing national or international numbers one had to book a call and experience endless wait to be connected for a 3 minute call. Those who did not have telephone connections had to visit a post office to call relatives in other cities, book a call and wait for their turn until the operator tried to connect them for a call that they had to pre-declare the duration as 3 minutes or 6 minutes. Mobiles have transformed life and we have instant voice and video communication capabilities 24X7 with multiple phones in our pockets. The mobile is perhaps the most impactful technology experienced by us in life so far. In a somewhat similar manner, printing technologies have evolved over hundreds of years to bring changes enabling perfection and colourful meaning to all printed products. A technology that began with carving stone blocks, apply colours and transferring images, evolved to using wooden blocks, metal type sets, letterpress printing, screen Printing to offset printing, a technology that was widely adopted and spread across the world as the most preferred print process. Also evolved flexographic and rotogravure printing. All these technologies had a costly pre-press and make-ready process as also the cost of artworks, plates, print cylinders, etc.

The 1970s saw the beginning of an era that would continue to impact the print industry in a totally different tangent, the digital printing! The technology enabled printing with a command from a computer with press of a button without much of processes that were needed in conventional printing. It is so much like the changes in mobile phone technology coming about. By 1993 the digital printing technology developed such that the first commercial digital printing press named “Indigo” was produced by Benny Landa in his company with the same name. This transformed the printing world; one could now print personalized short run jobs straight from computer. In 2000-2001, the company Indigo was acquired by Hewlett Packard (HP) and at the time of acquisition Landa had said, “Our vision has always been to lead the printing industry into the digital era and to see Indigo technology pervade the commercial market. Now, a part of HP, that goal is in sight." Rightly so, the market of digital printing has been registering robust growth. Digital printing technology has been developed by various press manufacturers and is being widely adopted with innovative indulgence.  Label manufacturing is an integral part of print and has also been witnessing growth both in terms of total market as well as in Digital printing of labels. The global market for label printing has been growing steadily in recent times, valuing at $36.98 billion in 2017. As per Smithers Pira the total market of labels is likely to cross 49.9 Billion USD by 2024. According to Finat; 2017 was the first year that, with nearly 300 digital press installations, the volume of newly added digital label presses surpassed that of new conventional label press installed volumes.

While label printers in the western world have been early investors in digital label printing presses yet the Indian printers have been skeptical about the need for this investment in the Indian label production scenario. For this reason, until about 2015 most of the established label printers adopted the wait and watch stance toward digital printing of labels. However, in recent times we see the interest and investment towards this technology growing slowly and steadily, though the rate of growth in digitally printed labels is still small. Increasing number of printers have been seen studying the digital label printing technologies at labelexpos. Advantages of digital printing include speed, flexibility and low prepress costs, not requiring expensive plates shorter times to make ready. It is especially useful when printing variable data (numbering, bar- or QR codes, content variations, etc.).

The different types of technologies available leave the printers in a confusion as to what is the most appropriate technology that they should invest in. Unlike other conventional printing processes evolution of digital printing has moved into different technical ways of achieving the same goal which is computer to print.

Largely available technologies offered by various manufacturers of digital equipment are as follows;

1.       Dry toner based
2.       Liquid toner based
3.       Inkjet
4.       UV Inkjet

While looking at the selection of digital print process one also needs to decide the finishing of the labels whether they wish to do this inline or offline. Every different short run job maybe of varying shape requiring frequent stops and change of cutting dies. This substantially reduces press running time and impacts profitability adversely. In such a case it is advisable to finish the labels offline, one offline equipment can free up printing time of multiple presses. Laser die cutting is another option whereby it can handle multiple and frequent job changes without the need for additional dies and machine stoppages, but this calls for a much higher investment in the finishing equipment.  Additionally, one needs to decide with digital, what dpi resolution to go for; does the work need a white ink in one of the printing heads; does the press have an extended color gamut. Press running speeds of all the digital label press technologies vary quite considerably. The printing speed with many short-run job changes is also an important factor for consideration.

Dry Toner based process:

Chester Carlson inventor of Xerography
This process is an evolution of the earliest photocopying process known as Xerography invented by Chester Carlson founder of Xerox and converted as Laser printer by Gary Keith Starkweather in 1970s which transformed to digital printing with laser printers also called electrostatic digital printing as we have seen in our offices. In a laser printer a laser beam runs over an electrically charged drum preparing an electrical image carrying charged areas.  The drum is a cylinder coated with a material that becomes conductive when exposed to light or laser beam. Areas that are not exposed have a high resistance which allows these areas to hold the electrostatic charge necessary for the process. The image then collects the toner and transfers the image to a paper or substrate that is then heated to fuse the image on to it. In traditional xerography the image is formed by reflecting light off an existing document onto the exposed drum which then picks up the toner and transfers the image. Dry toners consist of pigments embedded inside polymer beads. The fusing phase of the electrophotographic process melts the polymer beads to the surface of the paper. These can print on both coated and noncoated papers. Image quality is a complex issue, determined by a combination of hardware, software, consumables and processes. Dry toner is not absorbed by the substrate, it always achieves an optimal optical density as all the ink transferred is adhering on surface. The particle size of the toner has been reduced over the years to achieve fine print results and most equipment are offering prints of 1200 DPI for solids and blends with good color depth and subtle contrasts, ideal to reproduce vibrant images.

Major brands offering dry toner based digital label presses are Xeikon and Konica Minolta.

Liquid Toner based process

Liquid toners also use pigments in polymer beads, but they are dispersed in oil that evaporates during fusing process. Liquid toners are used in digital presses that are typically used for commercial printing on a wide range of coated papers. Benny Landa an Israeli inventor mentioned above, having to his credit 800 patents produced the first Indigo digital printing press in the early 1990s using liquid toners in a process that was called liquid electrophotography or LEP in his company established in 1977. Landa came to be known as the father of digital printing. The liquid toner used by HP came to be known as ElectroInk, that combines the advantages of electronic printing with the qualities of liquid ink. ElectroInk contains charged pigmented particles in a liquid carrier. The image is created with electrophotographic process on the drum directly from digital data, avoiding the use of any analogue intermediate media. It starts with digitally created pages or print elements containing text, layouts or images. HP Indigo uses a blanket in between to transfer ink from the drum to media. The blanket is heated, melting and blending the ElectroInk particles into a smooth film. This produces an image that is completely defined on the blanket and transferred to the substrate by direct contact. For this reason, it is also referred to as offset digital printing.

Major brand using liquid toner based digital printing process: HP

Inkjet Printing

Inkjet printing is the oldest of technologies in non-contact printing evolving into digital colour printing commercially. Existing together there are two main inkjet technologies i.e. Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) and drop-on-demand (DOD). The CIJ method has been in use for ages in which a high-pressure pump directs liquid ink from a reservoir through a gun body and a microscopic nozzle, creating a continuous stream of ink droplets. These droplets are subjected to a varying electrostatic field and then these charged droplets pass through another electrostatic field to deflect them and form characters. The process can be understood by the image reproduced from Wikipedia. The Drop-on-demand (DOD) is divided into thermal DOD and piezoelectric DOD. Most commercial printers use the DOD to print. The large format ones use solvent or water-based inks depending on the equipment and the product. The inks used in digital inkjet label printing presses are water based and formulated with either dyes or pigments. Aqueous inks provide the broadest color gamut and most vivid colors. The water-based inks are inexpensive and may ultimately spell out as the lowest cost print, but some substrates may require specialized coatings as there is an imperative need for the ink droplet to sink straight in and not to smudge or smear. With growing volumes, increased environmental and consumer friendly nature of inks the coated stock prices are likely to become largely affordable making this technology to watch as wider acceptance is envisaged. Such inkjet printers can achieve high resolution of 1600 DPI. Since the start of a new millennium another water-based inkjet technology called Memjet has been evolving. Memjet is used in high speed, full colour printers to give a high-quality print at a very low cost. It uses a fixed print head unlike conventional inkjet printers where the cartridges or head moves back and forth during printing. The Memjet print head is fixed and is of the width of the material it’s printing on enabling edge to edge printing. This way it’s only the material that moves underneath the head as it’s printed.

Major brands using water based digital inkjet printing: Trojan from Astronova, Afina, Colordyne

UV Inkjet Printing

UV inkjet Digital printing is an extension of the inkjet printing that uses ultra-violet light to dry or cure ink. The inks consist mainly of acrylic monomers together with a photo initiator and after printing when exposed to strong UV lamps or in case of specially formulated inks to LED-UV light, the ink is cured by crosslinking. The ink due to this chemical reaction becomes instantly dried leading to increased printing speeds. The curing process with high power UV exposure for short periods of time (microseconds) allows printing on thermally sensitive substrates like BOPP and PE. Since the ink sits on top of the substrates and neither is dried by evaporation nor by absorption resulting a robust image on a wide range of uncoated substrates. It is the fastest growing sector of digital inkjet printing and more sustainable than conventional printing.

Major brand using digital UV inkjet printing: Canon, Domino, Durst, Epson, Screen, Xeikon

Short run labels with variable data
Selecting digital printing equipment for label printing is a complex task depending on the printer’s customer portfolio. It varies on many parameters, like the equipment price, ink price, media cost, media to be printed, consumables cost, speed of machine, resolution required, space and finishing required. Time is not far when printers will invest in multiple technologies to attain the best of each process and to service a wide array of customers. However to start with the print on demand feature is so very attractive and for short runs it seems to be becoming an absolute necessary at least in case of established printers whose large investments in high end flexo or combination presses gets held up doing shorter runs and taking away valuable production time. Since short run demands from brand owners continue to swell along with need for variable data, it becomes necessary to opt for an offline finishing equipment which does not slow down their printing capabilities.

Hybrid digital-flexo label press
Most of the leading label press manufacturers have started offering Hybrid machines with combination of Digital and flexo printing capabilities along with decorating and finishing inline. It is not a simple decision to opt for the hybrids. As mentioned earlier here, it all depends on the portfolio and requirements of individual label printers. It is interesting to note that all hybrid presses with digital capabilities displayed at Labelexpo Europe in September 2019 were fitted with UV inkjet digital presses. Leading press manufacturer who are offering Hybrids of flexo, digital and inline finishing include Gallus, Omet, Mark Andy, Nilpeter and MPS. With environmental concerns, migration of inks and other food or Pharma safety needs, non-waterbased inkjet systems may see more development in future. As of now due to the speed and versatility offered by UV Inkjet coupled with the ability to add additional white and other colours, UV inkjet is the predominantly used technology however investment is high. Therefore, selection of the best suited technology for digital in labels must be as per individual printer’s need and that of their diverse customer mix. It is a competitive time and cost of equipment, cost of consumables and the nature of output is very important to ponder over before finally selecting the first entry into digital.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi November 2019

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Labelexpo Europe 2019, the best ever!

My personal journey and connect as I walked through the show -Harveer Sahni (Author)

From the word go, Labelexpo Europe 2019 was a vibrant and happening show! As the show opened on 24th September 2019 the corridors started to fill up and a whole lot of cosmopolitan visitors were visible.The exhibitors were happy to get busy in the opening hours itself. The event that used to be solely targeted towards labels, has gradually transformed to extend its reach into labels, flexible packaging and package printing. Exhibitors from across the globe presented their latest innovative technologies in all segments of converting in the targeted product manufacturing arenas. From prepress, printing, decoration to finishing it was all there with a huge number of live running machines. 


All exhibitors put their best foot forward making available their best technical people to answer the queries of printers and converters to help them consider or implement the adoption of  evolutionary changes coming about in the industry as showcased at the Brussels expo center or otherwise known as  Parc des Expositions center in Brussels (facing the famous Atomium) which is one of the largest and best-connected exhibition centers in Europe.

At this edition of the event the Tarsus group was also celebrating 40th year of Labelexpo, which owes its inheritance to the first show named Labelex held in May 1980 at Old Horticultural Halls in London with just 44 exhibitors consisting of label converters, label and marking machinery manufacturers and label materials suppliers. The second show in 1981 was also held at the same venue in London but had grown with 60 exhibitors and visitors coming from 30 different countries. The following year in 1982 the show was renamed Lablex International and moved to Birmingham. By 1985, Labelex International transformed to become a biennial "Labelexpo Europe" and was being held at the downtown Rogier Center in Brussels. Exhibitors by then included Mark Andy, Nilpeter, Webtron, Ko-Pack, Edale and FSK. Working flexo and rotary letterpresses became a standard feature of Labelexpo. The number of visitors also started to grow. 1987 edition of the show at the same venue saw 80 exhibitors and 5000 visitors from 38 countries. It was in 1989 that Lablexpo finally moved to Parc des Expositions center in Brussels, its present venue, with visitors coming to attend from 48 countries, making it the premier global label show. The small show that started in London in 1980 now attracted 693 exhibitors. The success of Labelexpo Europe has led to biennial Labelexpo shows spreading also to America, China, India, Thailand and now yet another show announced to be held in Mexico in 2021.

Spread over nine halls and covering almost 40,000 sq. mtrs. of floor space, up from 37,600 sq. mtrs. in 2017, the show presented the largest offering of label and package printing technologies and live demonstrations seen to date. This included the fast growing areas of hybrid printing, flexible packaging and automation.  37,903 visitors from 140 countries visited the four-day show – a substantial increase from 125 countries in 2017. India, China and Japan were especially well represented with large visitor delegations. Eastern Europe also showed a stronger representation compared to 2017, in particular Croatia, with a 51 percent increase, Lithuania (36 percent), Romania (25 percent), and Russia (14 percent). Brazil also saw a 14 percent increase on visitors compared to 2017.  Other attractions at the event included Label Academy Master Classes, the Flexible Packaging Arena; displaying demonstration and overview of two conventional and digital press lines producing indirect food contact flexible packaging to the latest GMP standards, Self-adhesive label materials workshop to understand the nature and construction of self-adhesive laminates; how they are made, the importance of materials and the need for different adhesives and sustainability and finally the insight café; showcasing the latest sustainable products and services designed to support a more environmentally conscious label and package printing industry. India's SMI was the first Indian company to have conducted a masterclass at Labelexpo by their Managing Director Ajay Mehta. On the side lines of the show, judgement for the World Label Awards was held, Amit Sheth was amongst the judges on behalf of LMAI (Label Manufacturers Association of India).

L9 meeting under the aegis of Finat was held and many other networking events took place. All exhibitors appeared to be a happy lot at the outcome of the show. Many expressed that this show was the best ever!

Dinesh Mahajan, Kuldip Goel, Corey Reardon CEO AWA and Author

Market research company AWA Associates had organised the Linerless conference.

Tony Hadley performing at Awards night

The Label Industry Global Awards were created in 2004 to
celebrate innovation and excellence in labels. They are the label industry's highest accolades. The awards night was held on the first day of the show on 24th of September 2019.

Pictures of Label Awards Night 

Pawandeep Sahni from India Nominated for Rising star award

Author with Douglas Emslie Group Mg. Dir. Tarsus
With Lisa Milburn Mg. Dir Labelexpo
Diverse technologies for label manufacturing were displayed. From conventional flexo printing to extremely complex hybrid combination presses were on display.

Gallus Labelmaster on display

Omet X7 combination of flexo with waterbased gravure
Bobst Stand

With Manohar Dhugga at Mark Andy Stand
Edale Stand

Lombardi Stand

With Jakob Landsberg of Nilpeter

The digital section that is growing at a faster pace than the conventional had manufacturers showcasing the various digital printing technologies including water-based Inkjet (Memjet) digital, UV inkjet digital, Dry Toner digital and liquid toner digital.
With Appa Durai-country head HP, Neeraj and Dinesh Mahajan

Domino Stand

Astronova Stand

ABG Stand
There was a complete networking spectrum of converters and suppliers to label industry 

With Sanjeev Sondhi of Zircon Technologies

With Trilok Mittal of Wonderpac at Lundberg stand

The Lartec team

With Vinesh Bhimani Kimoha Dubai

With Douglas Emslie and Mike Fairley
With Marco Calcagni Director Omet Srl Italy

With the Martin Automatic team

With Tomas Rink Chairman Ritrama
With Lmai President Kuldip Goel and Hon. Sec. Amit Sheth

Abhay Datta of UV Graphic Technologies
Spilker Stand

Vetaphone stand

Rohit Mehta Director SMI, Vivek Kapoor Creative labels and family
With Prasenjit Das of Dupont

With Roger Pellow

David of Ace

Wink Stand

Calvin Frost-Channeled Resources, Gavin Rittmeyer-Martin, and Jules Lejuene-Finat

Delta Modtech

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The author with sons Pawandeep and KD Sahni

Written and collated by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi October 2019