Labelexpo Europe on track

Flexible packaging reaches center-stage with Flex Pack Trail

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Flexible packaging pouches produced on mid-web presses shown at Labelexpo 2019 in Brussels Photo PSA

Labelexpo Europe 2023 will take place at the Brussels Expo on 11-14 September. Traditionally focused on pressure-sensitive materials and narrow-web converting presses, the event increasingly opened up to wider ‘mid-web’ equipment geared at folding-carton and, particularly, flexible packaging. Post-show analyses of the past few editions showed that most visitors, around 85%, are producers of label stock, 45% are also flexible packaging converters, and 17% are in the folding-carton business. The main sectors in which they operate are industrial 34%, food 32%, beverages 10%, pharmaceuticals 8%, cosmetics 7%, and security 3%. Flexo-related technologies usually attract most visitors, but digital and offset technologies are also high on their agendas.

At the latest edition four years ago, the organizers of the show tried to follow the industry’s expansion into flexible packaging by providing a still rather small space to demonstrate three flexible packaging configurations with presses from HP Indigo, Xeikon, and Bobst. At Labelexpo 2023, however, flexible packaging will be center-stage with the introduction of the Flex Pack Trail, where visitors will be able to explore digital and conventional press technologies, flexible materials, coating, laminating, ink and curing requirements, in-line and near-line finishing options, QC, migration testing and other systems. Covering the show floor with live demonstrations across four days, visitors will be able to follow the Flex Pack Trail at their leisure. Trail participants include AGS, AB, Bobst, Fujifilm, Hamillroad, Lombardi, Meech, Nilpeter, Screen, Synthogra, TTS, Xeikon, and others.

Printing of both film- and paper-based flexible packaging materials will be demonstrated by several suppliers including HP Indigo on its new 200k digital press, Xeikon on the new TX500 Titon toner press, Screen on the Truepress Pac520P – for the first time at a Labelexpo – and Lombardi and Bobst on mid-web UV flexo press lines. On the second day of the show, a masterclass session on flexible packaging will be held, including a converter’s case study and the presentation of an update on the Finat UVFoodSafe project.

Labelexpo Flex Trail
Mid-web presses and flexible packaging are the way forward for many label converters thinking beyond in-mould labels and shrink sleeves

Matteo Cardinotti, CEO of Bobst Firenze and head of the Narrow Mid-Web Printing & Converting Product Line at Bobst commented, “Bobst chose to take part in the Flex Pack Trail because the boundaries between flexible packaging and labels are disappearing. Both from a brand owner stand-point, who are asking exactly the same things they are asking for labels – added-value solutions, faster job turnarounds, and reduced inventory costs – and from a converter standpoint, who would like to diversify their business and target to be the one-stop shop for their customers.”

Another emphasis at this edition of Labelexpo will be several sustainability initiatives to meet the growing number of legislative and brand mandates for the circular materials economy, such as the increasing incorporation of post-consumer recycled (PCR) material and more sustainable biomass resources into new label face papers, films and release liners. The trend is matched by ongoing research into thinner materials retaining their original characteristics, leading to savings in raw materials, reductions in transportation costs, and fewer roll changes on press.

Labelexpo Europe 2023 will cover nine halls with more than 600 exhibitors, among whom Labelexpo-diehards ABG, Avery Dennison, Bobst, Domino, Durst, Epson, Fujifilm, Gallus, HP, Kocher & Beck, Konica Minolta, Mark Andy, MPS, Nilpeter, OMET, and Xeikon. There will be more than 20 exhibitors from India at the show, including Acme Rolltech, Convertech, Cosmo Films, Garware Films, Holostik, Monotech Systems, Multitec, Shree Lamipack, SMI, Stic-On, Vacmet, and others.

Packaging South Asia contributors Ron Augustin and Nessan Cleary will report on Labelexpo Europe 2023 from the exhibition floor

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