Records set in Rosemont: The most important event of the year is the ideal venue for product and technology launches.

Author:Katz, Steve
 
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Labelexpo Americas, in its 16th edition, attracted record numbers in 2018. A total of 487 exhibitors were spread across 203,642 square feet, with almost 30% of exhibitors new to this year's show.

During the course of the three-day show, which took place September 25-27 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago, IL, an increase in attendees to 16,413 from 86 countries passed through its doors. The Latin America region was strongly represented, with a 95% increase from its 2016 show attendee total. Day three, traditionally a quieter day, saw over 11% more visitors than on the same day in 2016. By the end of day three, the show organizer reported an 83% rebook rate for the 2020 event.

Labelexpo Americas 2018 featured key press unveilings, including: the Callus Smartfire, the Mark Andy P9E. P7E and P5E;Xeikon's entry-level label printing and converting option, Label Discovery; Epson's UV LED cured L-6534 digital press; Grafisk Maskinfabrik's DC330 Mini converting machine; and AB Graphic's new ILC760 inline coating machine.

Among the many products launched at the show were: Avery Dennison's heat sealable reclosure technology; Flint Group's portfolio of food compliant inks for short-run flexible packaging, including the web-based Vivi Color Solutions; Phoseon Technology's Firejet FJ605, a self-contained and air-cooled UV LED curing lamp for flexographic applications; Kodak's Flexcel NX Ultra Solution, a solvent-free, VOC-free, water-based system; and GEW's E4C UV curing system, engineered to offer converters access to higher power in a compact footprint.

Tasha Ventimiglia, Labelexpo Americas event director, commented, "The tremendous feedback we've had from exhibitors and visitors alike at this year's Labelexpo Americas demonstrates that there's a real momentum in the industry right now, and that was reflected in the buyers' mood, with numerous sales achieved on the show floor and a strong international focus. This year's theme Explore your Future' really was evident, with more fascinating innovations than ever before, providing even more choices for buyers and a significant increase in exhibitors. It really shows that press manufacturers and the industry supply chain are upping their game. The Automation Arena and TLMI Ecovillage proved to be huge hits, with many-packed out demonstrations on the show floor and are further proof that the industry continues to evolve. This show is very much about the visitor experience, and it was fantastic to see this pay dividends with 140 exhibitors and 800 attendees opting in to our brand new Label Connections 1:1 matching program, and all attendees using our lead retrieval touch NFC badges offering for the very first time. These really helped connect suppliers and buyers more effectively than ever before.

Micheal Lane, CEO, The Meyers Printing Companies, who took part in the conference CEO panel discussion on day one of the show, said, "You sense a positive buzz from the economy, clearly we are in a good economic cycle, people are buying. This show is as good as any I've ever seen. And there's more options, more solutions, than perhaps ever, and this whole idea of digital and flexo, melding together to create different solutions that have never existed before--there's booth after booth after booth that's an example of where that technology is going. My expectations this year for Labelexpo have been exceeded."

Adam Gray, president and CEO, SheetLabels.com, who presented a conference session on the rise of print-on-demand, said, "We have attended Labelexpo Americas for 10 years now and have always learned something new. Most importantly, we've established many long-lasting relationships with other converters, vendors and many great people in our industry. I would encourage anyone in the labeling and packaging industry to go to this show."

ON THE SHOW FLOOR

Mark Andy's booth featured both digital and flexo options, as well as inspection, rewind and finishing equipment from Rotoflex. Live demos of the Digital Series HD and Performance Series P7E full-production presses allowed potential customers to see in-action the continuous enhancements of each machine. Digital One demos spanned throughout the day and drew large crowds to the booth, as well. Building on Mark Andy's 2017 FTA Technical Innovation Award win and increasing hybrid install volumes, the company brought the next installation in its Digital Series to the show for its North American Labelexpo debut. The Digital Series HD ran four different applications with a total of 23 SKUs on two different substrates, all under 15 minutes, showcasing its versatility. The introduction of the Performance Series P9E--available in web widths up to 26"--allows Mark Andy to thrive in flexible packaging and labels, offering solutions for shrink sleeves, bottle wrap and foil lidding with more ergonomic tool loading and automation. Attendees were able to experience the new press model with the interactive print stations on stand.

On the evening of day one of the show, Mark Andy Print Products and DuPont Advanced Printing hosted a customer appreciation event. The festivities were kickstarted with a live demonstration of the Mark Andy Performance Series P7E featuring DuPont Cyrel Fast Easy EFX plates and a job mix of shrink, EG flexo print, and digital inkjet screen printing through the Digital Plus Screen retrofit solution. The DuPont Cyrel Fast Easy EFX thermal processed plates are designed for the highest quality printing of halftones, linework and solids at high-speed printing. During this time, attendees also received an exclusive sneak peek at the Performance Series P9E, Mark Andy's newest addition to the Performance Series platform. The P9E addresses market demand for film and flexible packaging, especially those short run in nature, with its 26" web width option.

Domino Digital Printing North America brought its "Digital Printing Spectrum" Open House concept to its booth during Labelexpo Americas. Domino hosted an insightful program, with something new and different each day of the show, including live on-stage guest presentations from some of the most respected and influential industry experts, L&NW Editor Steve Katz among them. Inviting visitors to "See More. Learn More. Do More," attendees to the Domino booth were able to see live demonstrations of the N610i digital UV inkjet label press in various configurations, including roll-to-roll, inline and nearline with ABC finishing, along with a dual bar K600i digital UV inkjet printer integrated on a Delta ModTech machine.

MPS demonstrated the hybrid flexo-inkjet EF SymJet press during Labelexpo, combining the MPS EF flexo platform with an integrated, Domino N610i inkjet engine. The press allows converters to combine flexo and digital printing, as well as converting, all in one pass. Tim Fox, president of MPS Systems North America, commented, "This year's Labelexpo Americas surpassed all our expectations. We knew hybrid printing was a hot topic that show visitors were keen to see, but selling four of our EF SymJet hybrid presses at the show proved the industry is eager to adopt this technology as the future, combining the best of both worlds in digital and flexo label printing."

Intelligent label solutions that boost efficiency and provide consumers with interactive brand experiences, high-quality digital printing solutions and adhesives that enable fast, efficient digital printing were primary elements of Avery Dennison's "Change the Game" zone at Labelexpo. "It's an exciting time to be a part of our industry," said Mariana Rodriguez, business director - intelligent labels, Avery Dennison. "Game-changing labeling innovations add value to the work converters perform to help their customers reach consumers in new and unique ways. It's our job to not only help converters reduce costs while increasing efficiency with printing, facestock and adhesive innovations, but also to provide breakthrough technologies, such as intelligent labels, that ultimately enhance the consumer experience."

AB Graphic (ABG) exhibited 13 machines over four booths at Labelexpo, covering a wide range of finishing applications. ABG highlighted a monster beverage specification Digicon Series 3, showing the all new fast flatbed screen printing module, the Big Foot 50 ton flatbed hot foil unit, and its little sister, the 25 ton flatbed hot foil unit, with a new swivel head allowing foil to be fed both along and across the web like the Big Foot. This setup ran two beverage labels, highlighting the quality and the extensive embellishment capabilities of the machine. Launching at the show was the Jetfk digital embellishment module--an off-line, fully digital system creating amazing varnish and foil effects. Also, the popular Digicon Lite was shown with a sheeter and conveyor option. ABG's turret rewinders were shown in several different configurations, including the best selling AutoSet, available as a standalone turret or integrated on a Digicon Series 3. ABG's German manufacturing division brought six different fleyeVision 100% inspection cameras, including two of these seamlessly mounted on slitter inspection rewinders. There was also a booklet machine at the ABG booth--last shown six years ago--capable of processing up to 36,000 booklet labels per hour.

Delta ModTech featured a high-speed finishing system, vision inspection demonstration and a compact coating system. Visitors got to witness the speed and flexibility of the Spectrum finisher. Delta's truly modular design is the most flexible in the industry, the company says, with new options like the programmable Dienes auto-slit unit.

Also, Edge laser diecutting or hot foil/embossing can be added at any time without a major rebuild. Also on display was Delta's MOD-Track vision system, which fits seamlessly into any Delta ModTech converting machine and allows for closed loop registration to any die station, product conformance inspection and...

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