A show to remember

By Jack Kenny, Editor | November 17, 2011

If anyone doubted that people need labels, that doubt was buried in Brussels this year. The need for top quality labels and packaging drove thousands of label manufacturers from every corner of the world to invest in the trip to Labelexpo Europe, where many of them put their signatures on paper or shook hands to conclude arrangements to buy equipment, materials and services. From the moment the doors opened on September 28 for the four-day show, the mood was bright. The weather in Belgium was warm and bright; the weather in the six halls of Labelexpo was too warm, but the business atmosphere was electric. More than once I heard people say, “This is the best Labelexpo ever.”

Jakob Landberg of Nilpeter summed up the before-and-after experiences accompanying this year’s Labelexpo: “Before the show I was unable to predict or even set the target and success criteria for us at the show.  We had a lot of interested clients who wanted to invest – after having been waiting for financial spring time – and holding back on investments during the financial crisis. On the other side, most of our clients need leasing companies or other financial support when acquiring capital goods like printing machinery. But with the result of the show I must say that our industry seems more optimistic than other sectors – and also the financial institutions must have realized that they cannot make business without lending money to sound and healthy companies. They can’t make an omelet without cracking eggs.”

A buzzword in the industry these days is innovation. It’s often an elusive target, but that never stopped people from making claims to innovative triumph. Members of the trade press are skeptics. We wander the show floor looking for Something Really New and not just a variation or two. This time, I must say, some of our eyebrows went up when we saw actual innovations. The ThinStream process developed by Avery Dennison and Gallus, in which a thin film facestock on a 12 micron film liner can be safely diecut under freezing temperature, was one such innovation. Another was Nilpeter’s Revolver, a deceptively simple device that allows the press operator to change a die in a single minute or less. Now there’s a concept.

And then there is digital. While nothing in the digital hall at the expo made our socks roll up and down, the improvements certainly have boosted the appeal of digital label printing to a greater segment of printers. We explore those changes in this issue in more detail.

Yes, it was a show to remember, and its impact on converters and suppliers alike will be felt for as long as the investments continue. I think that Jakob Landberg had the best comment of all: “I love and hate Labelexpo – I love to be there and I hate to leave.”