Having now completed four editions in the United States, the International Converting Exhibition (ICE USA), has established itself as a premier industry event for the converting industry. However, the 2017 version of the show offered much more than just the latest converting equipment on display at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
In addition to ICE USA, held April 25-27, the inaugural InPrint USA show offered an intriguing co-located environment, featuring the latest in industrial printing technology. With a heavy focus on packaging, décor and functional printing, InPrint USA highlighted solutions for attendees who implement print as part of the manufacturing process.
The Future of Converting Theater was another new addition to ICE USA, incorporating educational sessions right on the show floor, offering expert insights on several aspects of the converting industry.
Topics covered in the Future of Converting Theater included the latest in UV curing, including insights into LED technology, cutting, slitting, laminating, waste reduction and more. Kevin Joesel, director of sales for the Americas for Heraeus Noblelight America, offered a glimpse into the future of UV curing.
Joesel explained that UV LED is readily available in the print space, with systems available for digital and flexographic printing. However, the technology has been slower to adapt in the converting industry, due to a need for larger format systems. He provided a look at the Semray system from Heraeus Noblelight, which is a modular system that offers “plug and play” capability, offering increased flexibility in the width of the curing system.
In conjunction with InPrint USA, the debut Global Industrial Inkjet Conference provided a variety of educational sessions on the rise of inkjet technology and how it is becoming an important part of industrial printing.
Marc Graindourze, business development manager, industrial inks, for Agfa Graphics provided a presentation on the growth of industrial inkjet printing in packaging. He discussed three specific areas where inkjet is poised to increase its market share, including labels, direct to shape packaging and in migration-sensitive applications.
In the label segment, Graindourze explained that inkjet is still a new technology, but is gradually increasing its market share in a field dominated by flexography. He mentioned the speed and functionality of inkjet, and how hybrid solutions are presenting an intriguing option in the label world. For example, he explained that with a hybrid system, a static image can be printed flexographically, but then alternating flavor variations can be printed via inkjet.
For direct to shape printing, Graindourze discussed how printing directly to a preformed box can be done at the last minute. This can provide an increase in versioning opportunities, where information can be printed on a shipping box before a product is delivered.
For migration-sensitive packaging, Graindourze discussed the importance of ensuring the entire application works in conjunction to decrease the chances of migration. He explained how a low-migration ink can only provide its low-migration capabilities when used properly with a corresponding substrate and other consumables predetermined to reduce migration.
The Global Industrial Inkjet Conference closed with a panel discussion on inkjet printing in packaging, moderated by InPrint Co-Founder Frazer Chesterman, and featuring Simon Edwards, VP of sales and marketing for Tonejet; Christophe Bulliard, marketing director for Sensient Imaging Technologies, Michael Plier, director of business development for inks for EFI; and Graindourze.
Chesterman provided an outline of some of the trends driving the rise of digital printing in the packaging space, including 1 billion new consumers entering the market, consumers’ desire to go green, an increase of both younger and older consumers, the rise of online purchasing, health and wellness concerns, and a consumer desire for craft, local or “made for me” products.
The customization capabilities of inkjet printing were among the key topics discussed by the panel. Edwards explained that he does not foresee extreme customization, in which a package is personalized for a specific consumer, as a primary driver for digital package printing growth. However, he did say that he sees a great opportunity in “moderate customization.” For example, he said digital printing could be a great option to add branding for a hotel onto food or beverage products on the hotel’s property.
In total, more than 3,400 registrants attended the show. In a press release, Melissa Magestro, executive VP of show organizer Mack Brooks Exhibitions, said the co-located shows were both highly successful.
“ICE USA is where people come to see converting equipment and we definitely had more equipment on the show floor than ever before, 225 pieces to be exact,” Magestro said in the release. “This is definitely the place to come to see the latest technology and products, and the addition of InPrint on the show floor created great additional value.”
ICE USA and InPrint USA will once again co-locate for the next edition of both shows, which will be held April 9-11, 2019 in Louisville, Ky.