Stefano d’Andrea (Acus), once again was called to Gipea to provide an overview of trends and new features that emerged during the recent Labelexpo Europe.

The expert drew attention to the importance of process rationalization and integration, of digital printing and of flexible packaging that, even taking into account the Finat data, reported in the article "Italian label manufacturers win out", was widely evoked as a natural complement to a label making concern’s offer.Here are some concrete examples, cited by the expert during his talk.

• Digital printing, especially inkjet, was represented in a more structured and complex manner than in previous editions of the Brussels fair, and witnessed the proposal of medium-sized systems that have bridged a gap in the product offer. As well as being a fundamental element of any hybrid printing system, this technology is spreading progressively, not only among label printers but also the final users, like for example supermarkets or your local stationers. The fair also witnessed the emerging of new requirements that the evolution of digital must satisfy: an evermore refined aesthetics and visual appeal, lesser consumption of the ink layer, the development of opaque inks, the availability of low migration products (here meaning all elements of the printed product “system”).

• For the first time in a labeling fair a central drum machine was placed on show:  broad web technology is being extended to narrow web with the help of a boosted automation serving short production runs. This also results in high quality printing on very thin media, and this with a machine offering limited overall bulk, which can take innovative inks in highly limited quantities (even less than one kilo at a time).

• In terms of the processes, you have a machine that is capable of doing a few things really well, rather than “everything on the same machine”. This leads to a simplified system design, as well as to paying more attention to the characterization of the print conditions and the calibration procedure.

• Interesting the panorama of the flexo polymers, rendering beautiful solutions that do not require the use of solvents, that have the benefit of being waterbased and done with flat top geometry.

• UV LED is still arousing a lot of interest though people have now become more cautious: to adopt it one needs to modify various components of the system and, from this point of view, the new generation machines offer greater advantages.

• The issue of sustainability among other things leads to the use of less silicon in the bases and in the reduction in thickness of the supports, as well as in the progressively increasing attention paid to the carbon footprint.

• There has been a renewed interest in heat transfer, though prior printing on ribbon is required.

• Lastly, d’Andrea makes a reference to the progressive use of eye tracking and facial coding in rating the graphics of a printed item: two techniques the use of which is growing, and that open up new frontiers to designers.

RELATED ARTICLES: "Italian label manufacturers win out"