Narrow no longer a niche

27 August 2003

The world of labels and narrow web converting looms large with the opening of Labelexpo Europe 2003 in Brussels this month (September 24-27). As well as a further selection of innovations to be featured in the show, this issue also includes a report from the recent AWA Labels and Labelling Conference in Amsterdam, and John Collins' assessment of his first 100 days at Avery Dennison Northern Region. There is even a review of the label markets by FINAT and AWA in our special feature on the Benelux countries.

This degree of coverage only reflects the important place that narrow web technology now holds within the converting spectrum. No longer a niche market "just for labels", it has widened to provide new opportunities in folding cartons and flexible packaging for small-to-medium printers and converters. Also developing rapidly, 'smart labels' and RFID technology in general offer an exciting long term potential for growth and expansion. And let's not forget digital printing – another new technology that has yet to be fully realized for converting applications.

Even the core business of label converting has seen major innovations. Self adhesive and wet glue now have to compete with in-mould, sleeves and direct print. As Corey Reardon said in his opening speech at the Labels and Labelling Conference, "what we once defined as 'labelling' can now better be described as 'product decoration and identification', and buyers are choosing to achieve this via a variety of technologies". Any one – or combination of - those technologies may be used on different product variants and sizes, according to which solution provides the best performance/price ratio.

Whatever the technology of choice, the future looks bright for the narrow web market; and the best way to get a fix on what that future will bring is to check out the exhibits – and talk to the exhibitors - at Labelexpo Europe. Converting Today will be doing just that. We look forward to seeing you there.

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