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Think yourself into the future, FINAT members told

Self-adhesive label printers will have to ‘out-think' their market and meet demands even before their customers have thought what those demands should be, FINAT's panel of experts have concluded in a review of the industry's development up to 2020.

FINAT , the self-adhesive label association, has produced a series of ‘webinars' - videoed panel discussions distilling the views of the leading lights of the industry - which are featured on its website.

Looking at possible technological developments up to 2020, the panel - Andrew Jack (Dow Corning), Federico d'Annunzio (Gidue), Andrea Vimercati (Pilot Italia) and Arjan Vette (Avery Dennison) - have concluded that technological developments will open up new markets for label printers. ‘These are new windows of opportunity for our industry,' they concluded.

The last decade has set the pattern with printing becoming better, faster and at lower cost and while flexo is still the dominating medium for self-adhesives, offset and digital printing will grow sharply in the future due to global standardization of pre-press operations and reduced operating costs.

‘Look at the beverage industry - an area where self-adhesive labels used to be considered too expensive - where penetration has been successful as a high-end alternative under competitive conditions,' the panel said.

By out-thinking the market, label printers should develop new technologies like cold foil, UV acrylic and filmic materials to give customers choices they have not yet thought about. Linerless labels are also an ‘interesting' area even though their market possibilities, at the moment, seem limited.

Hand-in-hand with these label opportunities will be advances in sustainability with more moves towards cleaner production methods and producing labels using the least polluting materials. ‘While achieving "cradle to cradle" solutions will be difficult in the short run, saving energy, using solvent-free materials and doing research on recyclable liners are goals without our reach,' the panel concluded.

‘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.'

FINAT's principal role in all this will be creating the facilities to share knowledge and information, creating collective intelligence, encouraging collaboration and passing on knowledge and skills.