Eminence Business Media

Eminence Business Media

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mike Fairley: Labelexpo brings comfort to the world of narrow web

Labelexpo Europe once again emphasized and enhanced the trends towards digital label printing, added-value solutions, and a continuing move by narrow web converters into areas of package printing.

Over the past eight years, well over 1,500 digital presses have been installed in the label industry and, today, are estimated to make up nearly one-in-four of all new narrow web press installations worldwide. Indeed, at a rough calculation at the end of Labelexpo, digital press orders and confirmations at the event probably exceeded one-third of total show label press sales. This trend towards digital is expected to continue as the UV inkjet performance and quality seen at the show also continues to make inroads in the market, and run lengths that can be met by digital continue to decrease.

Interestingly, conventional label press sales and orders during the four days of Labelexpo also held up well when compared with previous years – perhaps upwards of 90 or so machines – and very much evidenced by new analogue presses that aim to compete with digital by incorporating quick changeover, short-run capabilities or by added-value solutions.

Both conventional and digital narrow web presses are also continuing to make inroads into the shorter-run and added value areas of package printing, especially smaller-size folding cartons, flexible packaging and the decoration of tube laminate materials. Maybe 15 percent of new narrow web presses are now being used for some level of package printing. This trend is also evidenced by die-cutter manufacturers seeing good growth opportunities in cutters for applications such as sandwich packs and in carton sleeves.

It would be interesting to hear whether other visitors to Labelexpo see these same trends and opportunities – all of which should give comfort to the industry in these times of global financial turmoil and threatened recession.

Mike Fairley
International publishing director
Labels & Labeling