AWA Sleeve Label Conference Packed with Info

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS | AWA Alexander Watson Associates reports the ninth AWA International Sleeve Label Conference and Exhibition 2015, held in Miami, FL, at the end of April, provided strong evidence that, in just a few short years, sleeve labeling has become a core technology for product decoration and identification. According to AWA sleeving’s top-to-toe labeling capability provides tamper-evidence, and the different film substrates employed, plus the special shrink/stretch, sealing, and application processing equipment, come together with the printed sleeves to create a whole, dynamic industry. 

Opening the conference program on the first day, AWA’s Dr. William Llewellyn set the sleeving market in the context of the global label market, by region, by demand, and by label format. He highlighted growth trends, saying, “Although growth remains strongest in the Chinese and Indian markets, it does show a slowing from historical highs.” He noted that pressure-sensitive labels have returned to growth levels—at ±4% globally—above those of the general market, and glue-applied label volumes are continuing to grow in emerging markets but declining in developed markets to show a global growth rate of 2.5%–3%. However, he said sleeve labels offer the greatest growth potential, with a global level of 5%–5.5%

Dr. Llewellyn went on to detail sleeve labeling demand across the regions—where Asia commands the largest share, 64%—and by format, where heat shrink TD sleeves take the lion’s share of 87%. He said roll-fed shrink MD sleeves, the newest format, are also the most rapidly growing, at more than 12% per annum, as they become available from a broadening range of suppliers.

Tom Hammer, product manager North America for Flint Group Narrow Web, covered low-maintenance, water-based, self-crosslinking ink systems. He said, “UV-LED inks will greatly change our industry forever,” emphasizing that, despite the high initial cost, “the payback is so fast that the investment has to be really worthwhile.”

Other topics included the following:

• M&A activity, addressed by Blaige & Company;

• short-run shrink sleeve challenges and solutions, by ActionPa;

• “Are the MDO and TDO sleeve technologies competitive or complementary?” by Klöckner Pentaplast;

• recycling solutions for shrink film labeled containers, covered by Eastman Chemical Company;

• contract packaging, warehousing, distribution, and transportation by Verst Group Logistics;

• waste recovery, addressed by Sleever International;

• the stand-up pouch, described as both “competitor and companion” to sleeving by Takigawa Corporation;

• shrink sleeve converting and application for high-volume beverage labeling and HP Indigo digitally printed labels, covered by Karlville Development.

The event attracted more than 150 delegates, featured a tabletop exhibition, and included the presentation of the first-ever International Sleeve Label Awards—inaugurated by AWA to recognize the multiplicity of creative and technological achievements in sleeve labeling applications today. The next AWA International Sleeve Label Conference and Exhibition will take place in Denver, CO, March 3-4, 2016.

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