Challenges and Opportunities

The tag and label industry is facing issues with dynamically differing effects. On one hand, the industry is brimming with opportunity. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), security packaging, and shrink sleeves have grown and continue to grow in popularity, providing a burgeoning source of revenue across the industry. At the opposite end of the spectrum, tag and label suppliers and converters are facing shrinking margins. Economic pressures from industry consolidation and higher costs in energy and raw materials have squeezed the industry on all sides. Something has to give in the near future, and market predictions are leaning toward a positive result. Scott Pillsbury,

Connecting Technology for Profit

RESTON, Va.—The annual EXECUTIVE OUTLOOK® conference, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, will focus on "Connecting Technology for Profit" when it convenes on October 14, 2006 at McCormick Place in Chicago, the day before opening of GRAPH EXPO® and CONVERTING EXPO® 2006. The conference draws 200 or more industry professionals annually for a full day's investigation of the hottest technological trends and opportunity areas likely to make news at the year's foremost graphic communication exhibition. GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO will run from October 15-18 at McCormick Place and is expected to draw nearly 40,000 participants, viewing more than 500 company exhibits that will

CTP Flexo: A Bright Idea

Necessity is the mother of invention.” Plato gets credit for coining this phrase. While this is unquestionably true, it’s the forces of “necessity” that are relative. For example, necessity reared its head somewhat earlier in the offset world than in the world of flexographic package printing, where the migration from analog (film-based) to digital platemaking still lags the adoption of computer-to-plate (CTP) in other segments of the industry. There are signs that this is poised to change. As consumer product companies and big box retailers look to drive sales through innovative, high-quality packaging—delivered faster and at lower cost than ever before—their printing providers

Doing Digital

The world’s going digital; ain’t no doubt about it—at least in my humble opinion. Digital technology has a firm foothold in printing, especially in the front end of the process—in prepress. Computer-to-plate is firmly entrenched in offset printing and is well on its way in flexo (see “CTP Flexo: Preaching to the Printers,” p. 16). The reasons for this encroachment into prepress are primarily based on cost savings and quality improvement. The future growth of digital printing for packaging and labeling will not only embrace these aspects, but will also include the capability for unique, distinctive graphic and text content that is just not

Eye On Inspection

The human eye is an amazing organ but sometimes it needs a little help. With press speeds reaching 1,000 fpm, operators would have a hard time catching print blemishes and other defects on the web if it wasn’t for inspection systems. All inspection machines can help printers save money and to explain the types of inspection systems on the market, packagePRINTING asked industry experts for their input. Explain the difference between inspection systems available in the package printing marketplace. • Jim Doerr, president and CEO, TruColor Vision Systems: Currently, the market is filled with inspection options. Features, advantages, and system benefits can be as

Flexibility is the Key

Flexible packaging is a dynamic area for package printing. Although other package-printing segments, such as tags and labels and folding cartons, are following a relatively normal course of innovative solutions, flexible packaging is experiencing a step increase, moving into packaging areas that are the domain of competing packaging methods—most notably, rigid containers. In a study titled, “Converted Flexible Packaging,” released in January 2006, The Freedonia Group predicts that the demand for flexible packaging will increase more than 4 percent each year through 2009. The advantages that flexible packaging offers over rigid packaging include cost, performance, and source reduction (less material used). Growth

Folding Cartons: Fighting on Several Fronts

The folding carton packaging market is working through some challenging times. Integrated companies and converters/printers alike are dealing with such issues as rising energy costs, overcapacity, overseas competition, and alternative packaging solutions. Despite these challenges, or more appropriately, because of them, industry players are circling the wagons, focusing on the strengths of their product attributes and making the difficult decisions required to consolidate and reduce costs. Commenting on his outlook for Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., Patrick J. Moore, chairman, president, and CEO, states, “The company faces critical challenges and opportunities as a result of dramatic shifts in the market that call for a profound change

Live Blog Chat to Answer Pressing Converting Issues

Tim Walker will host another LIVE blog event on www.convertingblog.com this Friday, March 3rd. Walker will answer any questions relating to the converting process as they are posted. To participate, visit www.convertingblog.com on March 3rd from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST.

P-S Label Innovation + Strong Customer Relations = Success

Label printers are under constant pressure to produce flawless, value-added labels at a low cost. Pamco Label Co. knows the feeling well. The Des Plaines, Ill. custom label printer has thrived for more than 50 years in a competitive tag and label market, in spite of the increasing quality and performance demands it’s faced. Pamco currently resides in a 55,000 sq. ft. facility which houses 13 printing presses and 120 employees. The company has prospered under a simple operating philosophy with a customer-focused perspective: “One hundred percent customer satisfaction,” said Alan Berkowitz, Pamco executive VP. “Our answer is always ‘yes,’ and then we ask,

The Industry’s Throw-Away

It’s an important and sometimes complicated material category in label printing—release liners—one which can have a big impact in the operations of both label printers/converters and their customers, the consumer products companies. For label converters, the substrate/release liner combination needs to provide a reliable surface so the diecut strike-through cuts the label completely, yet does not cut or weaken the liner below. This has to be done consistently over the course of a label run of thousands and thousands of times. Once the labels get on the customer’s packaging line, the precision and consistency of this operation will quickly be seen.

Under the Radar

It’s invisible to unsuspecting consumers. It doesn’t have a smell, taste or sound, but it can grab their eye while scanning the teeming grocery store shelves. It can add a certain “pop” to the packaging which can help make almost any merchandise fly off the shelves. “It” is ultraviolet (UV) and electron beam (EB) curing and, according to many experts, package printers can grow their businesses in the converting market if they add this technology to their arsenal. “For the most part, UV and EB are ideal for all manufacturing processes that require faster production speeds to add to their bottom line or enhance

What’s the Next Move

In today’s packaging markets, constant change is just the starting point. Technology is moving rapidly, with flexible packaging now playing a major role—in the form of pouches, often barrier-coated—as the container of choice for many snack foods, drinks, and other consumer products. Molded packaging is a major feature on supermarket shelves, as are all rigid plastics; and metal containers are also showing growth. Increasing awareness of the good environmental characteristics of paper-based products has led to a resurgence of interest in cartonboard as a packaging medium. In the product-decoration field, sleeving in all its forms, is growing fast. Print technologies have also