What I can do, though, in this limited space, is provide you with something of a sneak peak. I’m going to go out on a limb make a bold prediction – the 2017 edition of Labelexpo will go down as a record-setting event. Okay, I’ll admit it’s not a very bold prediction, but from where I sit – or rather walk through – the halls are as busy and as full of energy as I have ever seen. Massive crowds are gathered at loud press demonstrations that are now full-on multimedia experiences. There’s music, lights, video and of course the hum of the machines. Don’t forget that distinct Labelexpo smell – it’s a feast for the senses. And we’re shaking hands and touching substrates. Embellishment is a theme here, among other things, adding digitally-printed tactile effects to labels and packaging.
Of course digital printing is front and center, as is automation. These things aren’t new, but their evolution is ongoing. Inkjet technology in particular is continuing to advance – faster speeds, higher print quality. Low migration – which has a lot more to it than just ink – is another hot topic. There’s a wide range of diversity here, and Brussels remains a fitting host city for an event with such an international flair.
Our industry is changing and moving fast, and is quite different now then a decade ago when people lamented that nothing was new. Xeikon alone launched four new presses at the 2017 Labelexpo – four! And the company has diversified its portfolio of presses to include an inkjet machine, the PX3000, which certainly points to where many believe the industry is headed – a diverse, hybrid approach to printing and servicing label customers.
Speaking of diversity, while proofreading the showcase of this issue – our annual Company’s to Watch feature, I couldn’t help but notice something different. After close to a decade covering the industry, I’ve observed that it’s been somewhat male-dominated. Perhaps that’s changing, as among those we’ve deemed as the Companies to Watch reveal that quite a few women are making their mark. It struck me as different – which is a good thing.
Steve Katz, Editor