An estimated 13,200 people visited Chicago to attend Labelexpo Americas 2006, held Sept. 11-14. According to Tarsus, the show organizer, the attendance number (which is exclusive of exhibitors) was 6 percent higher than that of the 2004 show. Activity was brisk on the second and third days of the show, and overall the exhibitors reported that those visiting the 400 booths were decision makers from converting companies throughout North and South America and beyond.
Industry observers agreed that the show featured evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, products. Press manufacturers now are building their machines with servo drives in a variety of configurations and at different price points. Inkjet printing is making some strides in the process color area. Competition is high among print management systems providers. RFID equipment and systems were fairly well represented at the show.
Below is a sampling of companies and the products they exhibited or demonstrated at Labelexpo.
Kurz Transfer Products promoted its cold foil transfer materials, and announced that it has been working with XSYS Print Solutions on an optimal foil bond for converters. Kurz also introduced Light Line Select foils, which are made up of diffractive, continuous stamping foils characterized by the absence of visible seam lines in the design.
Appleton showed a label facestock selection tool that makes it easier for converters to match direct thermal paper performance with label requirements to deliver a more cost-effective solution. The selector tool lists 21 label applications, calculates primary and secondary recommendations, and cross-references each application with specific ribbonless thermal facestock attributes.
Innovia Films launched NatureFlex film, a fully biodegradable and compostable film for labels. Also showcased were Rayoface WTR and Rayoface VTR, films for variable information printing. Finally, Rayophane, a new film that brings the no label look to traditionally applied cut and stack wet glue labels, was introduced.
Green Bay Packaging showcased two new thermal transfer labelstocks: Economy Thermal Transfer and Ultra Economy Thermal Transfer. Both labelstocks can withstand high speed, diecutting and stripping. Also shown was EcoVantage, a PLA film derived from corn instead of petrochemicals.
|Lederle Machine Co|
Valéron Strength Filmsintroduced WristBRANDS, full color wristbands done with digital printing. The company also launched Valéron DT, a direct thermal printable film for high strength tag and label applications. Other synthetic papers were also on display.
Yupo Corporation America launched YUPO Accel, a high gloss, fast drying synthetic paper. The company also announced that it has made capital investments to improve efficiency in its production line, which will result in up to a 20 percent increase in production output.
Boise Paper announced that its board of directors approved a $72 million capital project to expand Boise's production of pressure sensitive paper to meet growing customer demand. The investment is expected to increase the company's pressure sensitive capacity by 200,000 tons.
Avery Dennison Performance Polymers Division introduced roll-fed shrink (RFS) label film, which can shrink up to 40 percent. RFS, a 2.0 mil, clear, reverse printed, polyolefin film, recently won the Design for Recyclability Award from the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers.
MACtac showcased several products including direct thermal and laser labels for pharmacy applications; LAS1812, bright white labelstock; a 1.5 mil polystyrene labelstock used as a base for peel-off coupons; clear-on-clear prime film label material; White Gold facestock, which has a white, bright appearance; dairy labelstock, with improvements in moisture resistance; and a full line of premium wine labels. MACtac also announced a partnership with Tailored Solutions' Label Traxx job management software.
FLEXcon displayed many of its products, including the REFLECTAmark Series, a reflective pressure sensitive film series; the optiFLEX CONFORMmax Series, 3 mil polyethylene films that conform to irregularly shaped semi-squeeze and rigid containers in health and beauty and household and chemical label applications; and the THERMLfilm UT, an addition to FLEXcon's high temperature product offering made with GE's Ultem film.
Avery Dennison Fasson Roll North America showcased its products for home and personal care products, non-pressure sensitive direct thermal offerings, magnetic products designed for flexo print, decorative stickers, food packaging, and machine-direction-oriented (MDO) performance labelstocks.
Stora Enso launched UniSet SA, a new wet strength pressure sensitive label paper for breweries; LumiSil LO, a new universal release liner base paper; and OptiLabel Digital, a new certified digital label paper designed to perform well on the HP Indigo ws4050 digital label press.
Achilles displayed plastic films for the adhesive coating industry. Shown were label/decal films, graphic overlay films, masking/protection films, and specialty films. Applications for the products include automotive, bedding, bookbinding/stationery, building construction, industrial fabrics, medical/healthcare, packaging, pressure sensitive, and specialty products.
3M presented Radiant Light Films, which combine precise layers of polymeric materials with different reflective qualities allowing the colors to shimmer and shift with changes in viewing angle, light source and the environment. Also on display were flame retardant performance label materials, overlaminates, plate mounting tapes, digital products, and sheet label products.
UPM Raflatac announced its plan to build a new pressure sensitive labelstock factory in Dixon, IL, USA, 105 miles west of Chicago, with a $109 million investment. Completion of the facility is expected in the first quarter of 2008. The company also showcased its Raflink Business Line, its North American eBusiness platform, and Gen 2 RFID products.
acpo featured several products, including 505OB, a photoluminescent self-wound overlaminate film that glows when exposed to black light; 691V, a UV screening overlaminate film that protects labels from UV rays; and carton sealing tape.
|Kocher + Beck|
|Kurz Transfer Products|
Klöckner Pentaplast displayed new shrink label films, including Pentaprint E749/22, a high-shrink polyester film; Pentaprint E749/55 high-yield PETG films; Pentaprint E746/92 AS7 high-clarity polyester shrink label films; and Pentaprint L282/41 vinyl roll-on shrink-on (ROSO) label film.
Rayven unveiled a new line of durable inkjet label and tag stock, which are available in bright white. Both high-resolution photo and text images can be printed on the stock. The company also showcased its Any-Pak release liner, designed for products including plastic bags, mailing envelopes, pouches, and security bags.
Avery Dennison RFID announced a new technology transfer program that will give converters access to a range of its products and know-how, beginning with licenses for high-speed strap attach technology. The company also acquired RF IDentics, a Grand Rapids, MI, USA start-up that developed processes for printing conductive ink on the back of facestocks.
Mühlbauer showcased its RFID and smart label products. The company offers the FCM 10000/FLEX for narrow web systems, which is designed to produce small HF/UHF inlays and/or straps in an efficient way. The new FCM 20000 is meant for efficient high volume strap production. The ISL 250 is designed as a preparation system for multi-row strap material. The new TMA 15000 and the TMA 6000 are intended for a fully automatic attaching process of polymer straps onto the antenna web in a reel-to-reel process.
Complete Inspection Systems introduced ARmark Covert Markers, a new tool to aid in supply chain control, product surety and risk mitigation for industries faced with global counterfeiting. The new Model I2-DM uses vision based technology to capture and scan either 1D or 2D codes such as Data Matrix. The company also highlighted its AccuProof Pro Merlin Plate Inspection System, a standalone hardware inspection system.
IIMAK showed AuthentiFiber, a product meant to authenticate goods that are being counterfeited. Also on display was Clean Start, a printhead cleaner designed to assure labels and images are clear, consistent and highly readable. Finally, the company exhibited its anti-static GP725 thermal transfer ribbons for printing on RFID labels.
Schober USA presented its new RFID tag placement technology, which places RFID transponders under preprinted labels. Preprinted labels in widths from 20mm to 200mm can be applied at rates from 5,000 to 20,000 labels per hour. Standard features include an automatic web guide system for base material, mechanical cross register for transponders, servo driven labeling head, and an electronic rewinder with tension control for assembled labels.
Omet demonstrated the Flexy-S press at its booth. The servo driven machine is gearless and shaftless, and incorporated the company's patented Twin Cut die stations, shown for the first time in North America. The company, which also manufactures the Varypress for the narrow web market, plans to establish Omet America in the US in the near future. Omet equipment is marketed in the West by Matik North America.
Aquaflex, a press line making a steady comeback under the ownership of F.L. Smithe Company, presented its FPC and its ELS presses. The FPC is a larger and wider machine, driven by servo motors and featuring sleeve technology and print stations with a walk-through design. The new ELS has a servo drive on the impression cylinder, and is priced in a range similar to that of non-servo presses.
Codimag, also distributed by Matik, attracted attention with its VIVA 340 intermittent-feed offset press, even though the machine has been on the market for several years. The press utilizes inexpensive plates for printing and hot foil stamping, plus flexible dies. The intermittent motion of the web allows for the use of a print cylinder of uniform size that repositions itself. The company plans to introduce Model 420, which is a fully servo driven press that is nearing completion.
Gallus exhibited three presses at Labelexpo: the EM 280 (of which there are 500 installs worldwide), featuring optional servo drives; the EM 510 S, a servo press featuring sleeve technology; and the RCS 330, the Swiss company's top of the line machine with full direct servo drives throughout. Gallus also introduced two additions to its Screeny family of screen printing products: S-Line, with higher stability and a longer lifespan; and digital screens (in development) produced using laser ablation.
|Computer Productivity Services|
The new Comco C2 servo press and the improved Mark Andy 2200 were two of the several products on display at Mark Andy's booth. The new 2200, an industry workhorse, features improved web tension, die station upgrades, several operator conveniences, improved drying, a new master control panel, and a smaller footprint. The C2, ergonomically designed and built from the ground up, is a multi substrate machine available up to 32" wide. At Labelexpo the press ran 12 micron film at 1,000 fpm.
HP Indigo's newest generation digital press, the ws4500, was unveiled at the show. The latest version features a fast ink replacement feature, which reduces downtime. HP also announced that it is a reseller for the Esko Optimize Pack and the Esko Scope Pack for the HP Indigo, a pair of new digital front-end software products. The company also has launched a Label Job Estimator, which helps converters determine whether their label jobs can be converted more economically on an Indigo press or on a conventional press.
Nilpeter conducted continuous demonstrations of its MO-Line of offset combination machines, the FA-Line flexo press featuring UV flexo and servo technology, and the new FB-Line, made in Cincinnati and now driven by servo motors. The company says it sold 20 presses during Labelexpo, 15 of which were FB machines.
GIDUE introduced its new Xpannd UV offset hybrid press. The machine can be equipped with any number of combination processes, including UV flexo and screen printing technology. The press features the new Intelligent Register system for automatic register of the printing units and PC press interface for interactive print management and job tracking.
Edale launched its newest press, the Lambda, a fully servo machine that offers easy future upgrades through the incorporation of additional converting, printing or laminating modules. At the show the press was configured to convert RFID products. Also on exhibit was the Alpha press.
The newest press at the show from MPS was a nine color EF 16" UV flexo press. The servo driven machine (as are all of the company's presses) featured MPS's 1000th print unit. Also demonstrated were an EC 10" two color module, and EDF 16" UV flexo module showing rotary screen and hot foil, an EF 16" UV flexo module showing sleeve technology, and the EP 22" model showing the company's walk-in platform technology for presses wider than 20".
|Advanced Vision Technology (AVT)|
|Water Ink Technologies|
Drent Goebel showcased its VSOP (Variable Sleeve Offset Printing) press, projecting an appeal to printers of labels, flexible packaging, folding cartons, and commercial printing. Drent Goebel and Energy Sciences Inc. have developed an electron beam curing unit that can be integrated in an offset press, and which is about the size of a print unit.
Jetrion, an inkjet systems company under the Flint umbrella, introduced its 4000 series press, which delivers four color process labels using Xaar inkjet heads. Designed for short to medium runs, the press currently handles web widths of 4", 6" and 8", and is priced from $299,000 to $400,000.
Sun Chemical announced that its Solaris digital inkjet printing press, also delivering four color process and using Xaar technology, will be commercially available in early 2007. A prototype is in operation at the company's Carlstadt, NJ, USA plant.
ETI Converting Equipment, though not exhibiting equipment, talked up its process for creating, printing and converting pressure sensitive material in one pass. The company maintains that converters can realize productivity gains of up to 250 percent.
Other systems and equipment
GEW introduced its new e-system mini electronic UV lamp head featuring an e-brick 3.6kW electronic power supply. The e-System, an all electronic energy saving UV system, and the e-System mini, which is designed specifically for low-cost running on narrow web presses up to 10" (25 cm) print width, were both on display.
Advanced Vision Technology (AVT) showcased automatic inspection and quality assurance solutions meant to control product quality and production efficiency throughout the complete label converting process. AVT's products were displayed at several partners' booths as well as the company's own.
Kocher + Beck displayed several products related to cutting technology. In the booth were flexible dies, magnetic cylinders, rotary cylinders, envelope technology (where envelope machines are fitted with specially developed magnetic shafts to accommodate flexible dies), printing technology (including hot stamping tools and precision-ground printing cylinders), and inline offset cutting products. Special tools such as the GapMaster, a system used to set the gap between the magnetic or cutting cylinder and the anvil cylinder, were also exhibited.
AB Graphic International showed the latest models from its Digicon range of converting lines, with an emphasis on wine label converting. Three of the latest models from its Vectra range of turret rewinders ran in line with Omega unwind and blank label converters. Also, an inspection rewinder from the company's Omega range, equipped with a Flytec vision system for 100 percent inspection, was introduced along with an SR1300 inspection slitter rewinder. The company reported that all machines on exhibit at the show were sold.
Stanford Products presented its line of shrink sleeve finishing equipment, slitter rewinders and doctor machines. On display was the Model SM-10 Seammachine, boasting speeds up to 500 meters per minute and with several new patent-pending features.
RotoMetrics showcased its RD200 machine-finished dies, suitable for cutting thinner films; and adjustable clearance anvils and multi-port air-eject dies. The company demonstrated MyRoto.com, which includes online ordering and a tracking tool. In addition to its line of rotary dies and accessories and flexible dies, the company exhibited magnetic cylinders, CNC and EDM solid dies, print cylinders, specialty dies, sheeters, hot stamping and embossing tools, and pressure gauging systems.
Esko exhibited a range of products for the tag and label supply chain, announcing partnerships with DuPont and Pitman Company to demonstrate a complete tag and label workflow, from ideation to flexo plate imaging. Esko demonstrated its new Scope 3 packaging software, the Cyrel Digital Imager (CDI) Spark 2530 flexo imager for narrow web platemaking, and the Kongsberg XE10 samplemaking table. The company also introduced PerfectHighlights screening technology for creating screen sets for flexo jobs using specific inks and substrates on specific presses.
Luminite exhibited its laser engraved rubber print rollers for flexography. Though the company also creates cylinders using photopolymer, it maintains that its engraving process in rubber produces print cylinders in the round that last far longer than conventional photopolymer plates.
BST Pro Mark launched three new products: Premius Digital LeX, an integrated on press print management system that features defect detection, color monitoring, bar code verification, job and roll reporting systems; Shark, a 100 percent inspection system for narrow web applications on the press or rewinder; and an Integrated Work Flow Management system that allows marking of defects (visibly or invisibly) with detection and removal of defects in downstream process.
Chemsultants announced at Labelexpo that it has named Gary Avalon as its chief operating officer. The adhesives consultancy recently marked its 20th anniversary by opening a 10-acre campus with new testing, product development, and research and training facilities for the global adhesives and sealants industry.
tesa tapes presented a wide range of its plate mounting tapes, in a multitude of thicknesses and hardnesses to meet a variety of printer demands. The company also provides laser-writable labels for custom identification and coding.
Degussa Goldschmidt Chemical showcased a complete line of pressure sensitive release coatings. The coatings are free radical curing systems allowing for creation of PS substrates inline, followed by adhesive coating, printing and laminating, all in one process.
CTC International demonstrated its latest coreless/glueless rewind technology, an improved butt splicer, next generation automatic matrix winder, and a system for inserting finished rolls from turret rewinders directly into boxes. The company's products include turret rewinders, butt splicers, waste matrix winders, and lap splicers for overlaminates and foils.
A 100 percent print inspection system, Web:Inspector: 2, was demonstrated at the Erhardt+Leimer booth. The system is a product of the company's recent merger with Nyquist. The unit has 6144 pixel inspection over the full web width, and can be self-installed on many of industry standard rewinders or on printing presses.
Rotoflex presented its "Focused Finishing" theme at the show with demonstrations representing four main product categories, including security finishing, diecutting, digital web finishing, and inspection. The company introduced its next generation in digital web finishing with the Vericut 2, featuring advanced motion control technology and modular design.
Scantech Automation launched Securitrack, a flexible format high-security rewinder, that is part of the company's Printrack family of label converting and finishing machines. Securitrack was designed to allow label manufacturing clients a way to solve their customers' demands for more highly specified tolerances and details.
DataLase showed its unusual marking system, which involves application of a special coating to a box or label, which then receives a low-level laser beam that marks variable information in the coated area, directly onto the package or label. The product is marketed for shippers, product coding and security applications.
Kodak Graphic Communications Group presented several of its prepress products and systems to Labelexpo attendees, including workflow, digital color proofing, thermal computer to plate, screening solutions, and media products. The Thermoflex Narrow Hybrid CTP platesetter allows for output of offset as well as flexo plates. New Pandora 2.9 software further automates creation of packaging layouts.
Keene Technology marketed several of its splicing and rewinding products, including the JR series turret rewinder, which features automatic web transfer at process line speed, high speed nip and web cut, and a drive system that utilizes no clutches; and the ZG series of shaftless butt splicers, featuring zero gap butt splicing guarantees, shaftless turret design for full width roll support, and a fully automatic splice cycle.
Latran Technologies exhibited its Prediction Digital Halftone Proofing System for flexo converters, a system that allows printers to create a proof for the customer on the same material that the finished label will use. The system uses a dot structure, and can be calibrated for a printer's specific presses.
IST METZ presented MBS-5, a UV system that utilizes URS reflectors, a cold mirror reflector technology, and the ELC range of electronic control units, which is designed to be highly reliable and reduce energy consumption.
Graymills exhibited the Remote Control Peristaltic Ink Pump, a two-piece (pump and control box) remotely controlled peristaltic pump meant for press builders and users with space considerations. Also on display was a retrofit kit allowing users of the pump to install a quick-change head system on their existing pumps meant to make press changeovers easier and faster.
Dover Flexo Electronics showcased several new products. WebHandler3 tension controller is a closed-loop controller that delivers automatic, digital tension control with a touch-panel interface. The NWI narrow web tension transducer is a cantilevered narrow web transducer with an optional built-in LED tension display and a 0-to-10 VDC output. The 1D6D single disk pneumatic brake is a tensioning solution for unwind applications with low-torque requirements or installation space constraints.
Maxcess International, parent company to Fife, MAGPOWR and Tidland, broadcast live demonstrations from the show floor, posting the video logs on each of the companies' web sites. MAGPOWR's new CYGNUS tension control, which is meant to allow operators to maintain consistent tension throughout the web and eliminate lengthy setup procedures, was on display. Differential shaft designs and retrofittable blade guards, available from Tidland, were also in the booth.
Tailored Solutions introduced Version 5.0 of its Label Traxx flexo business management software. It incorporates the latest version of the 4th Dimension database on which the program is based. Version 5.0 includes a revamped user interface, enhanced order entry workflow and enhanced connectivity to various digital presses. Tailored Solutions also announced the opening of its Europe office in England.
Computer Productivity Services exhibited its new integration between print, financial, inventory, service, and people management solutions for Microsoft Dynamics GP version 9.0 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 for Microsoft Outlook. The system coordinates item and product information with location and availability, customer buying preferences, purchase patterns, payment history, inventory quantities, orders and invoices, and price level.
CRC Information Systems displayed THE System, a fully integrated information management system that utilizes Windows 2000/2003 and SQL Server 2000 platforms and addresses the specific requirements of label printers from estimating and production to accounting and e-commerce.
EFI explained its PrintFlow MIS systems to attendees, which offers real-time calculations and enterprise-wide scope for management of work flow throughout the entire operation.
Radius Solutions' Scheduling and Shop Floor Data Collection Modules were shown. They offer full control over operations, scheduling and production, whether in one or multiple plants and display job-specific information, cost tracking, and schedule optimization with a complete overview of costs and labor.
DiMS! organizing print launched its new software for the label industry, DiMS! 700. Features include extended functionality of the proactive iDiMS! Today workflow page and a new Advanced Production Tracking tool that provides complete tracking of all production material. A new estimating and pricing model dedicated to the label industry is available.
Ink makers pleased by Labelexpo results
By David Savastano, Editor, Ink World magazine
Among the ink manufacturers on hand at Labelexpo 2006 were Alden & Ott, American Water Graphics, Braden Sutphin Inks/Flexo Division, Datalase, Eckart, Environmental Inks & Coatings, Fujifilm Sericol USA, Interactive Inks & Coatings, INX International Ink, Jetrion, Pemla Ink Technologies, Rad Cure, Siegwerk USA, Spectra Color, Sun Chemical Corporation/Solaris, Uvitec Printing Ink, Water Ink Technologies, Wikoff Color, XSYS Print Solutions, and Zeller+Gmelin.
Overall, exhibitors found that the show was indeed worthwhile.
"For us, Labelexpo Americas 2006 went very well due to the high amount of activity at our booth," said Deanna Whelan, marketing manager, narrow web inks — North America for XSYS Print Solutions, which partnered with Jetrion and Flint Group Printing Plates. XSYS Print Solutions showcased a wide variety of new products, including its Hydrokett Prime water based flexo ink for paper substrates; Uvoscreen OPQ UV rotary screen ink; Flexocure Ivory, a white UV flexo ink; and Lithocure 3G next generation of UV offset ink.
Jetrion launched its new Jetrion 4000 Series Inkjet System digital UV press at Labelexpo. The Jetrion 4000 Series delivers full-color labels in production volumes with quality comparable to flexography, and production costs significantly lower than current digital color presses.
Developed for short and medium length narrow web production runs, as well as variable data imaging, the Jetrion 4000 series of digital inkjet color presses gives label converters all the advantages of UV inks coupled with the immediate and low-cost changeover of digital printing.
Sun Chemical and its Solaris group were also on hand, exhibiting a wide range of new products.
"Labelexpo Americas 2006 is an ideal opportunity to show the breadth of our Solaris line of inks for narrow web applications and display our latest developments in conductive ink, digital presses and brand security," said John Kalkowski, North American marketing manager for Sun Chemical, which showcased its new Solaris Digital Label Press among its new offerings. "The label market is very vibrant and narrow web converters are highly innovative. Labelexpo Americas 2006 gave
|Flint Group was well represented at Labelexpo Americas 2006 by XSYS Print Solutions, Jetrion and Flint Group Printing Plates.|
INX International Ink and Triangle Digital INX were active at Labelexpo Americas 2006.
"I thought overall Labelexpo Americas 2006 was a good show, with a lot of interest in inkjet, which is good for us," said Renee Etiopio, INX International Ink's corporate marketing manager. "We got a lot of ideas from the show."
INX showcased its new shrink sleeve inks, including INX ShrinkPac for gravure and Flexo ShrinkPac inks for polystyrene, PVC and/or shrinkable polyester.
For Wikoff Color, Labelexpo Americas 2006 was the perfect opportunity to showcase its entrance into the flexible packaging market after the acquisition of Frontier Printing Ink.
"Labelexpo Americas 2006 is a good show for us," said Jim Freid, product manager, fluid inks and aqueous coatings for Wikoff Color. "We feel that Labelexpo is the best opportunity to meet new customers. This year, we had our largest booth ever, and we had proportionally more contacts than in the past."
Siegwerk Ink Packaging also showcased its capabilities at Labelexpo Americas 2006. "We used Labelexpo to introduce Siegwerk Ink Packaging to the label and narrow web market, as well as highlighting our energy curable capabilities," said Becky Cornelius, Siegwerk Ink Packaging's marketing manager.
Alden & Ott introduced a wide variety of products, including its Galaxy water-based paper and film inks, which are water-reducible and very press stable; Multi-Shrink shrink sleeve inks; and its UV Rotary Screen White inks.
"I felt the show was better than 2004," said Angelo Capozio, national sales and marketing for Alden & Ott. "We had the opportunity to speak with more people, and there seemed to be quite some interest."
Water Ink Technologies introduced products as well, including its new OptiShrink and Pharmaflex SW for shrink film applications and Optifilm, a new low viscosity water-based film ink which offers excellent press stability.