Technology marches on

7 February 2006

Converting is a mature industry …..or so they say. Reviewing a recent report on the future for printed RFID antenna and circuits (page 24) this month I read of amazing leaps in technology designed to bring forward the exciting world of smart packages and labels, but crucially to achieve the production of cheaper tags.

That is where we can surely expect the drivers of technology to take us this decade. The slack, the majority will agree, has all but been removed from the converting industry in terms of labour and, to a lesser extent, line efficiency.

Now it's the turn of materials scientists and technologists, process and control engineers to make the breakthroughs on the cost front. 'Twas ever thus so I hear you say. Well yes, man has always produced new materials when there was a need for them – bronze, iron, steel, plastics.

Today is no different. This month we see yet more moves in research and development in biopolymers (see Amcor and Plantic, page 8). As well as being about biodegradability I am sure that this is the latest partnership that is examining alternatives to oil based plastics and associated price hikes.

I have no doubt that Ipex will be awash with new material constructions and processes, barriers achieved by nano coatings; quick change presses, inks tailored to achieve rapid curing, quality and cost effectiveness; JDF and MIS.

Mature…..? No way. It's only just beginning!

Pauline Covell

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