The Flexographic label industry is growing but new regulations mean flexo label printing companies need to ensure they’ve got the capabilities to comply.
Printing, packaging and paper research group Smithers Pira came out with a report last spring that predicts the global labeling industry will grow to over $43 billion by 2017. According to the report, flexo and digital will be the big winners:
While digital still has a relatively small market share of label print processes in 2012, Smithers Pira estimates the share of digital label printing to grow from 3.0% in 2012 to 7.2% over the five year period to 2017. Flexography is also forecast to grow its share over the same period, while gravure, offset litho, letterpress and screen printing will lose shares.
[quote]Growth drivers will be developing markets, lead by China and India, and consumers’ plus brand owners’ increasing concern about environmental sustainability.[/quote]
For a thorough and interesting overview of the history of label printing, here’s a post at What They Think? that runs through a couple of hundred years of label technology, tracing recent domination of the rotary letterpress, to flexo, to UV flexo and now digital printing. Predictions include using inkjet to print directly on bottles and containers, and nanographic processes.
What’s Happening Now: OSHA’s HCS
OSHA’s new Hazard Communication Standard, which were updated to work with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), is now kicking in—the first deadline is December 1st, 2013, for employee training for labeling and safety sheet formats. The GHS is actually a United Nations-backed international guide to making labeling consistent across different countries. Prior to the GHS, hazard classifications varied from country to country which resulted in a mess of variations, and the lack of consistency became more problematic as international chemical trade grew. Here’s the link to the full guide.
What does this mean for flexo label printers? According to Packaging Digest:
Under the new requirements, manufacturers across several industries will need to print labels in vibrant colors to highlight potential hazards. Pre-printed color labels can also pose a challenge since the new guidelines prohibit the use of labels with empty or incomplete pictograms.
Some companies are touting new label printers that make compliance with these new regulations easier. Labeling Systems just released the Series 22, a color print and apply labeler, and Epson introduced its new ColorWorks Label Printer Technology at PackExpo Las Vegas.
For more information, take a look at OSHA’s fact sheet.