Labels: Adding Value to Packaging
Label converters are, indeed, at the center of an intermingling of technologies in the packaging chain, offering both web-fed, self-adhesive labels and sheet-fed, wet-glue labels, as well as flexible packaging and tube laminate. They also are experiencing, in the M&A arena, buyouts by flexible packaging companies wishing to expand their offerings, and by mainstream packaging companies purchasing self-adhesive label converters to develop their capability to provide personalized packaging.
The narrow-web presses that characterize self-adhesive label production have in recent years mostly employed flexographic printing, recently coupled with speedy UV curing. However, the fast-developing narrow-web digital color print options—particularly the HP Indigo and Xeikon—are dramatically changing the face of label print. As brand owners and retailers opt for shorter production runs of their products, delivered more often, as well as multi-versioning of products using the same basic packaging, the speed, flexibility and shorter-run capability of digital print is proving itself.
In an increasingly global label market, there is a real need for an active network for the whole base of industry players—sharing information and knowledge, transcending the boundaries of countries and languages. In less than three years, the L9—a global collective of label industry associations—has made enormous strides in this direction.
Label content is becoming more of an issue as the requirements of brand owner and retailer are transcended by the requirements of legislation on information and food safety, security and logistics input, and customer-accessible additional information via QR codes and similar devices. As a result of this broader agenda for label content, label size has increased and leaflet label usage has grown considerably. In the pharmaceutical field in particular, in the face of growing instances of counterfeiting, the addition of Braille content, and overt and covert security and track-and-trace devices is extensive.