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Futureproofing the label and package printing industry

It is little more than seven or eight years since the concept of putting together an education and training resource for the label and package printing industry was first conceived. Today, that initial concept has grown into the Label Academy, a global resource of some 15 technical books, two encyclopedias and a comprehensive history of the evolution of the label industry, together with an ever-increasing range of dedicated masterclasses and workshops. But it’s about much more than that. The Label Academy’s founder Mike Fairley reports about the latest titles.

From the writing of textbooks on the basics of label production that cover the printing processes, label design and origination, codes and coding, die-cutting and tooling, the Label Academy has rapidly expanded in scope, with its latest range of titles designed to provide information, help and guidance to aid this fast-moving industry. With ever-evolving new markets and applications, it is vital that it can future proof itself and best respond to the opportunities of tomorrow.

Flexible Packaging

One of the latest additions to the Label Academy’s best-selling book series is Illustrated Flexible Packaging, a sector with one of the fastest-growing print markets and achieving annual global growth of around five percent. It offers limitless possibilities for label converters looking to diversify, especially into shorter runs, so there was a compelling need for a stand-alone guide. However, it’s not a straightforward entry process, so a key purpose of this new book has been to set out the challenges and give practical ways to navigate these.

It was also designed to be an essential read for those who are either setting out on their flexible packaging journey or looking to expand production. Chapters in the book include: Paper and board, metallic foil, films and multi-layer constructions; Types of flexible packaging and special constructions; Pre-press, printing and converting; Forming, filling, sealing and lidding operations; Markets, applications and opportunities. Six months on since publication, the book has proven to be our best-selling guide of the year.

Shrink Sleeve Technology

Also appearing was the updated Shrink Sleeve Technology, aimed at new and existing converters seeking an understanding of how to produce the perfect shrink sleeve label and appreciate all the complexities involved.

As one of the fastest-growing product decoration technologies, with technological advances vastly expanding the market for shrink sleeve labels, the book set out to provide a clear understanding of the production process from start to finish. Chapters include: Shrink sleeve substrates and their usage; Printing technologies and inks for shrink sleeve decoration; Converting heat shrink sleeve labels – slitting, seaming, sheeting and finishing; Challenges, learnings and the quest for perfection.

Further updated titles

Two other (updated) key educational titles have also come out in 2019. The first of these is Inks, Coating and Varnishes: A guide to manufacture, handling and performance. Often treated as commodities rather than highly engineered liquids and pastes, these products nevertheless sit at the heart of a successful label production system and need to fulfill multiple functions and roles.

The Inks, Coating and Varnishes book covers all the relevant subjects and looks at how inks are manufactured to achieve these complex performance requirements. The book examines different ink chemistries and drying/curing systems, their different applications and handling requirements.

Our most recent book, only published this July, is a substantially updated edition of the Illustrated A-Z Encyclopedia of Brand Protection and Security Printing Technology. This must-have resource for brand owners, marketing teams, designers and product manufacturers, as well as the wider label and package printing industry, covers topics as diverse as: anti-counterfeiting and authentication, brand and product counterfeiting, security materials, technologies, products and solutions, security design, including RFID and nanotechnology.

What's next?

Scheduled for launch at Labelexpo Europe 2019, and complementing a Label Academy master class of the same name, is the updated and largely re-written Digital Label and Package Printing book. Still one of the Label Academy’s most popular books and now entering its fourth edition, it has been substantially extended to cover more information on the growing trends in Digital Front Ends (DFEs) and RIPs, inkjet technology, laser die-cutting, finishing advances, hybrid and package printing presses.

The book will also provide technical specification information and illustrations for most of the digital press, finishing and hybrid solutions on the market today. Visitors to Labelexpo Europe 2019 will be able to browse this and all the other Label Academy books that will be on display at the show. Those visiting the show were able to stop by the Label Academy stand to select and build their own in-house library of titles for employees.

Masterclasses and workshops

This ever-growing range of educational books is a solid foundation, but, the Label Academy is keen to extend the learning opportunities offered through the master class and workshop programs, not only at Labelexpo shows but into the wider industry - There is a growing need for in-house bespoke education, training events and activities and the Label Academy is exploring the potential for working with suppliers, associations and converters.

Visitors to the 40th-anniversary edition of Labelexpo Europe this year are able to deepen their technical knowledge of flexible packaging and self-adhesive labels by taking part in the show’s most extensive educational schedule to date, with three in-depth expert-led masterclasses (one of which is brand new this year) and a new workshop.

Alongside the aforementioned Digital Label and Package Printing master class, the two other learning programs at the show will cover Flexible Packaging, and Inks, Coatings and Varnishes. Attendees at all of these events will receive a copy of the related Label Academy book as part of their delegate fee.

Complementing the masterclasses is a new Self-Adhesive Materials Workshop in which participants will learn how self-adhesive laminates are made; the importance of materials and the need for different adhesives; why different laminate constructions are needed, their usage and how to identify them; and use of different self-adhesive test methods. The workshop will also provide an insight into the correct methods for handling and storage of unprinted and printed laminates, and management of material waste.

Put together, The Label Academy books, masterclasses and workshops now offer the label and package printing industries extensive education and training support, enabling suppliers, converters and end-users to top-up their in-depth knowledge of the latest developments driving progress and taking them into a successful future.

For more information see www.label-academy.com