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Event Spotlight

Packaging Innovations Preview

Packaging has been a key growth area in print for some time. Rob Fletcher looks to this year’s Packaging Innovations to see how the event will offer many opportunities

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Packaging Innovations 2016 attracted visitors from a range of industries related to the core packaging sector

Packaging a punch

Cited by many as one of the biggest growth sectors of the industry, the printed packaging market is bubbling with excitement, as more companies look to take advantage of an increasing demand for this type of work. Here in the UK, we are blessed with a dedicated event that enables industry members to view all kinds of solutions at one venue.

Taking place this year from March 1st to 2nd at the NEC in Birmingham, Packaging Innovations, and the co-located Label and Print, and Empack, will enable visitors to not only get up close and personal with some of the latest technologies, but also speak with market experts and industry peers about how to be successful in this area.

Packaging Innovations will once again be co-located alongside Label and Print and Empack

With so much on offer to those that make the trip to the Midlands, what features should they look out for in particular and how can they make the most out of their visit to the event?

Bigger and better than ever

Gerry Sherwood, event director for the Easyfairs UK ‘Packaging Portfolio’, which includes the three shows, is best placed to advise on Packaging Innovations. He says that members of the print packaging sector should ensure all three events are “firmly in their diaries” this year.

Gerry Sherwood, event director for the Easyfairs UK ‘Packaging Portfolio’, says Packaging Innovations 2017 will have more exhibitors than previous editions of the show

“We have all of the latest advancements in technology, machinery and printing techniques for our visitors to see, alongside some of the biggest suppliers from the printing world,” Sherwood says, adding: “We have more exhibitors than ever before, with more of these looking to launch new products to the packaging community than in previous years. We also have big focuses on flexo and digital, making the show a must attend for any print professionals.”

We have more exhibitors than ever before, with more of these looking to launch new products to the packaging community than in previous years

Describing the current situation within the print packaging market as “buoyant”, Sherwood goes on to pick out some of the new features that visitors to the shows can look forward to this year. ‘The Ideas Factory’ will see leading experts from non-packaging based companies form a cross-sector information sharing portal, allowing the newest techniques and knowledge from other industries to be applied to the packaging sector.

Also new at the show this year is an inclusivity feature, with David Wiggins of DRW Packaging Consultants examining how packaging can be more inclusive at the design stage to maximise appeal. In addition, visitors will benefit from a series of interactive sensory experiments designed to test show visitors’ motor skills and sight.

Sherwood also highlights a new initiative where Campden BRI will host a series of topical sessions for the FMCG industries, featuring presentations such as ‘EU Food Contact Materials Rules’ and ‘Understanding Migration Testing’.

Regular attendees will also be pleased to hear of the return of existing features, such as the ‘Big Print Debate’, which will once again tackle some of the big issues currently facing the wider print industry, and the ’Drinks Symposium’, hosted by Felicity Murray, founder of TheDrinksReport.com.

Picking out other features and initiatives, Sherwood continues: “Visitors looking for specific one-to-one expert advice on any packaging challenges they might be facing will be able to head to The Packaging Consultancy Clinic, which is being hosted by the Packaging Society.

“Elsewhere, whether it’s reducing waste through smarter packaging, finding more energy efficient solutions or finding more recyclable materials, companies with an environmental agenda, will be able to see how some of the sector’s brightest talents are helping to achieve sustainability targets during The Ecopack Challenge.

“We also welcome back The Pharmaceutical Symposium, The Great Innovation Debate, The Innovation Showcase and a series of Learnshops, which features over 30 hours of free-to-attend educational content from the likes of Amazon, Co-Op, Innocent Drinks, Lucozade Ribena Suntory and Jaguar Land Rover.”

Building on previous success

One of the biggest names on the floorplan this year is Epson, a regular attendee at Packaging Innovations. David Spratt, sales manager for business systems at Epson UK, says that since first exhibiting in 2014, both the show, and wider labels and packaging market have grown, with the manufacturer keen to address this increasing demand.

Spratt comments: “We entered the on-demand label sector and first came to Packaging Innovations in 2014, and this event is a very important showcase for us. We have returned each year since then as we have become more established in this market sector and each year we have shown new and exciting innovations.”

With this in mind, Spratt picks out some of the technologies that will be on show on the Epson stand. These include options from the Colorworks C7500 series of label printers, a range that has recently been expanded to support continuous media rolls for users who want to print labels without the need to have die-cut media.

Visitors to the Epson stand will be able to view the manufacturer’s Colorworks C7500 series of label printers

Epson has also added Wasatch RIP software for the ColorWorks C7500G, adding colour and workflow management capabilities, while the Colorworks C3500 now features a Linux CUPS driver, with the option of also adding the Epson Printer Settings utility to Linux.

Visitors will also have the chance to see the smaller Labelworks printers, which are suited to many industrial, commercial, and domestic applications, with one model able to print onto coloured ribbons. In addition, Epson will launch its new mobile Labelworks LW-Z700 label printer at the show.

Spratt adds: “We aim to build on everything we have achieved in the past. Of course, we set objectives for how many people we will meet at the show and how many businesses will ultimately invest in our printers but there are less tangible benefits too. For us, it is about development and progression and this year there are several new messages for the delegates.”

Quality visitors

Another exhibitor at this year’s event will be I-Sub, which plans to showcase its own technology, as well as solutions from Mimaki. Director Andy Spreag speaks favourably about Packaging Innovations, explaining that the firm has enjoyed plenty of success at previous editions of the show.

I-Sub will demonstrate how its own technology, used in tandem with solutions from Mimaki, can produce packaging with special effects

Spreag expands: “This will be our fourth year exhibiting at the show and previous years have proven to be very successful for us, especially our Digi-Foil system that offers traditional foiling effects produced digitally on virtually any packaging substrates.

“We will be looking to promote our UV digital printing and Digi-Foil applications to all the visitors to the show and demonstrate how our Mimaki UV printer system, Digi-Foil and cutting solutions can transform our clients short run and mock up production whilst offering fantastic quality and results.”

The firm’s Digi-Foil, one of the main attractions on its stand at the NEC, gives the user the ability to enhance final products with overprinting of varnish or images, which Spreag says produces “unique results” as one-offs or short-run production jobs “without the normal costs associated with traditional foiling”.

Also on display at the I-Sub booth will be the Mimaki UJF7151 UV printer, which can print onto a range of materials up to 153mm deep, in addition to cylindrical objects such as bottles and containers.

Spreag adds: “We are always impressed with the quality of visitors to the event, everyone that visits us is visiting with keen interest in what the show offers and what new innovations they can see and adopt to improve their business and what they are able to offer their clients.”

Although other sectors of the print industry may fluctuate, packaging is an area that will, at the very least, remain constant for the foreseeable future. Packaging is something that is always required; be it for a supermarket looking to harness more interest in new food products, or a high street brand hoping to make its latest merchandise stand out to the consumer.

When combined with quality print process, packaging can spread a powerful message. However, as cited in the industry press, there are several factors that come into play, such as the sustainability of the final product and the processes required to achieve certain effects. By attending dedicated events like Packaging Innovations—and indeed the co-located Label and Print and Empack—members of the traditional print market will be able to learn more about such considerations, as well as find out more about the technology in this sector that can help you gain a real advantage over the competition.

O Factoid: The NEC was originally going to be built adjacent to the M1 junction 21 near Leicester but it was turned down by Leicestershire County Council with claims that "The big shows won't move away from London". O

In addition, with the content programme this year set to feature representatives from some of the biggest brands in the UK market, you will be able to gain a valuable insight into what such companies are on the lookout for when it comes to packaging, which in turn will allow you to ensure your business is offering such services. So, see you at the NEC?

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