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FLEXO Magazine : September 2009
20 FLEXO SEPTEMBER 2009 www.flexography.org INDUSTRY INDICATORS level. One of the innovations in our industry is the possibility to add RFID to a label, enabling manufacturers and retailers to track and trace products around the globe, at any given moment. There are many applications of RFID-labels en- abling manufacturers and retailers to track products around the globe and the reliability of RFID labels is already at an extremely high level. What neither retailers nor the brand-owners are prepared to pay for as yet is the use of RFID-labels as item-level tags on individual products on supermarket shelves, and invest in the corresponding systems. Once reliability is improved and costs come down, the industry will see further expansion of RFID applications at item level. For the time being, however, printers/converters can still come a long way with matrix- barcodes. IV. PANEL • Andrew Jack, Dow Corning • Federico d'Annunzio, Gidue • Andrea Vimercati, Pilot Italia • Arjan Vette, Avery Dennison CONCLUSION: With the label industry 's reputation for be- ing process facilitators, there is no smarter functional solution than self-adhesive labels DISCUSSION The panel was challenged with the question which technol- ogies the Technical Committee will be talking about in 2020. Meeting the latent demands of customers. New techno- logical developments open new windows for the narrow web and label printing industry. In the past decade, printers/con- verters have seen that it has become more and more impor- tant to develop new technologies to be able to meet new de- mands. Printing has become better, faster and at lower cost. Flexo is still the dominant printing method for self-adhesive labels, but offset and digital printing will grow sharply in the future due to global standardization of prepress and reduced operating costs. Look at the beverage industry, an area where self-adhesive labels used to be considered as too expensive, but have been penetrating successfully as high-end alternative at competi- tive conditions. The industry 's ambition should remain to meet marketing and environmental demands even before the customer has expressed these demands. For the next 10 years, the panel expected a lot from new technologies like cold foil, UV acrylic and filmic materials. Linerless labels are an interesting development, although their market possibili- ties as yet seem limited. Sustainability to become a driver for R&D. Discussing the hot topic of sustainability, the panel shared the conviction that narrow web printers and their supplier partners will continue to move toward cleaner production methods, and produce labels using the least polluting materials. Producing cradle-to- cradle products will be difficult for everyone to achieve in the short run, but saving energy, using solvent-free materials and doing research on recyclable liners are goals within reach. And if the market, forced by legislation and public opinion, starts selecting its suppliers on grounds of sustainability, it will become a pure business opportunity to invest in research for sustainable products. V. PANEL • Håkan Saxén, UPM Raflatac • Thomas Hagmaier, Hagmaier Etiketten • Jaume Puigbò, Sinel Systems • Sean Duffy, Bluestar Silicones CONCLUSION: Research on recycling possibilities should start at the product design stage, not after the product has been developed. DISCUSSION The panel was faced with the question where printers can expect to see self-adhesive labels where they do not see them now, and what needs to be done to convert ideas to reality. Once again, the beverage industry was given as an example of how self adhesive labels successfully occupied new ter- ritory, but even in that area, the majority proportion of the market is not yet using self-adhesive labels. No doubt, further innovations in terms of thinner materials and application technologies will help self-adhesive labels in making further advances in this area towards 2020. Labels getting smarter. In spite of growing competition from sleeves, wraparounds and in mold, there is still a large potential for self-adhesive labels, provided printers remain in- novative and cost efficient. In fact, labels will only get smarter, as in the case of RFID-labels. Although these still have some time to go before they can replace the bar code label in the supermarket, there is no doubt that their evolution will follow the example of bar code labels when they were first brought to market in the 1980s and the corresponding systems, stan- dards and readers were improved step-by-step to where they are today. Joint research and development higher on the agenda. But smart is not just RFID, and the possibilities are virtually endless, it is just a matter of bringing together the right re- sources and expertise in a consistent manner. This especially concerns joint R&D on recycling. In a world where the impor- tance of sustainability is becoming more and more important, a substantial proportion of the liner materials used by CPCs disappears from the system as waste. Although already exist- ing alternatives for recycling could be used more effectively, the possibilities for liner recycling should be widened sub- stantially over the next decade. According to sustainable best practices, research on re- cycling possibilities should start at the product design stage, not after the product has been developed. This, according to the panel, should be the No. 1 topic on the industry's R&D agenda. These kinds of developments can never be carried out individually, and collaborative innovation can speed things up and improve the outcome." Collecting the harvest. If label professionals review the harvest of the collective knowledge of the top 20 industry experts, they can see a dream scenario emerging: A scenario in which the entrepreneurial and cooperative spirit of the past will continue to find new solutions to create value for custom- ers in existing and new markets. Yes, there is enough room to grow in new geographical areas, and there is room to expand the market share of self- adhesive labels in specific market segments. New technolo- gies and services will increase the value we create for our individual customers.