March 2000 Issue


Cartonmakers Must Accentuate Positives

The carton industry posted modest gains in 1999, but could renewed strategic smarts bring major momentum in 2000? By Susan Friedman At first glance, the folding carton's economic health could be summed up as simply "all good." According to Liz Hill, director of industry information at the Paperboard Packaging Council, "the national economy is still in an upswing, and the folding carton economy is following." Hill's rundown of folding carton gains in 1999 includes a .7 percent rise in annual sales, and a 2.3 percent increase in tonnage. She also reports a .5 percent export volume increase, as carton companies pooled their strengths through

Flexibles Fly High, Aim Higher

As growth rates get more comfortable and application areas open up, flexible packaging converters remain keen on expansion. By Susan Friedman Could flexible packaging be on the cusp of a growth comfort zone? The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA)'s finalized economic statistics for 1997 reveal 5.2 percent growth that pushed shipment values to $17.1 billion—the second highest growth rate recorded in the last five years. Projections for the years following '97 indicate shipment values will ultimately near $19 billion in 2000. In 1999, packagePRINTING's Top Flexible Packaging Converters survey showed smallest converters ($10 million in annual sales or less) posting the most impressive growth rates,

Making Digital Magic

What tricks can help printers handle trapping's complexities? By Terri McConnell An in-house prepress and plating operation can provide more precise control over image reproduction and can significantly reduce turnaround times, while offering tremendous flexibility for coping with last-minute remakes and inevitable scheduling changes. Some printers are electing to bring only the final "output" phase of the process in-house. They still rely on trade shops or color separators to perform all the magic required to transform a desktop packaging design into a plate-ready electronic job file that can be fed into a computer-controlled imaging device. And it is magic; design files supplied by the

Million-dollar Label Questions

Pressure-sensitive label price pressures and competition may be heating up, but so are lucrative opportunities in film constructions, variable information, and product branding. By David Kucsma The pressure-sensitive label industry is a complex market, comprised of a number of segments with unique growth drivers and growth rates. Suzanne Zaccone, president of Graphic Solutions and the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI), believes the growth in pressure-sensitive labeling is a reflection of the overall health of the economy, driven by new product development. Feedback from base material suppliers and converters indicates the pressure-sensitive label marketplace grew 5 percent to 7 percent in sales dollars in

On the Up-and-Up

Buoyed by the surging national economy, package printers are expected to buy, diversify,and go digital to profit in 2000. By Regis J. Delmontagne, President, NPES A national economic expansion unprecedented in its duration and vigor continued in 1999—and will continue in 2000—to power the package printing industry to strong growth. Economists speaking at December's PRINT OUTLOOK® 2000 program in Washington, DC, noted that 1999 was the fifth consecutive year in which the U.S. economy grew by 3.7 percent or more. Economic expansions throughout our history have averaged 32 months in length, while the current boom finished 1999 in its 105th month of growth. As

One Web's Dual-Weave

Will web offset ultimately gain greater quality or efficiency momentum? By Susan Friedman You've got to hand it to offset for being such a well-rounded printing process—the printing equivalent of a person who's attractive and athletic, with a good personality to boot. Web offset, of late, has brought many positives to many package printers. Eric Short, president of RDP Marathon, confirms web offset's continuing ability to satisfy on multiple counts with his prediction that this process will be strongest in both high-volume and high-quality package printing applications in the coming year. Several recently introduced presses appear poised to make this prediction come true, but

The Best of Both Worlds Gets Better

Still-smaller flutes and sophisticated print capabilities strengthen microflute's ability to perform double duty. By Jessica Millward For the past several years, microflute corrugated's marriage of structural strength and high-quality graphics has proven to be a match made in packagers' heaven. With the development of E- and F-flute boxes in the '90s, the line between folding carton and corrugated converters was blurred, and customers reaped the benefits. Time, and technology, marches on, however, and the microflute industry has kept pace with the evolution of still-smaller calipers and new ideas about printing. The small flute segment comprises roughly 9 percent of total corrugated shipments in North