20 years NarrowWebtech – Timeline of twenty years label printing and converting

20 years NarrowWebTech means a review on 20 years label printing and converting!

For 20 years NarrowWebTech has accompanied the label printing and narrow web converting industries through a whole range of technical developments and drastic market changes. On the occasion of our anniversay a special timeline is showing the most relevant news tiems of the last twenty years.



NarrowWebTech initially began as a supplement within its sister magazine for package printing Flexo & Gravure International

The use of direct imaging of flexo printing plates increases following the launch of Barco CDI at Labelexpo Europe 1997

Rotary die-cutting: cheaper flexible dies partly replaces die-cutting cylinders

The first digital proof systems with the possibility of using original paper have proven successful in practice


NarrowWebTech is first published as a standalone speciality magazine by G&K

TechMedia GmbH

With a 50% market share labels are the main application for pressure-sensitive

material – this represents a global label consumption of about 9600 million m2

The strong growth in synthetic substrates continues: Film-based labels are gaining ground, recording an annual growth rate of 13% to 15%



RFID labels increase the possibilities of labelling and product tracking goods

The demand for the so-called no label look grows simulating the direct printing of containers, especially for the beauty industry

The label printing market is increasingly demanding hybrid printing presses for producing a specific product on a particular printing process


Faster production of flexo plates is possible following successful launches of Dupont’s first Cyrel Fast systems – with up to 75% faster plate production

The market for shrink sleeves is growing and is, with a growth rate of 20%, the fastest growing segment within the beverage labels segment

 Self-adhesive labels are dominating the market (58%) over wet-glue labels (30%) Finishing solutions for digital printing is an area which, in recent years, has evolved into a favourite topic for many experts


The transformation process to a networked print shop is more and more an issue within the label and packaging industry

 Self-adhesive labels are dominating the market (58%) over wet-glue labels (30%)

BASF introduces an adhesive which develops more or less adhesion depending on the strength of UV exposure


A new type of letterpress plate enables plate production using CTP

The market for self-adhesive labels is estimated to be 10 billion square metres by AWA whilst sleeves and in-mould labelling experience the highest growth

 Cold-foil embossing becomes more and more popular in the label industry


Flexible packaging is highlighted as an important and growing product within decoration technology

 Wrap-around sleeves are identified, by Avery Dennison, as the fastest growing sector (consolidated annual growth rate from 2002 to 2007: 15% )

The concept of linerless labels will be more accepted into practice due to new developments, according to a report from AWA



RDIF production on a press: Mark Andy presents a solution to produce RFID labels in a single pass integrated on a printing press

 Web control for printing presses is becoming more and more standard and improved web guidance as well as (re-/un-) winding

FINAT and the German association VskE present a draft which aims to produce a unified nomenclature for self-adhesive products

Digital die-cutting has arrived: High-speed laser cutting is a digital alternative to rotary dies


Security labels are used more and more and are increasingly popular for brand owners

 Sustainability is a topic affecting the industry whether discussing the recycling of matrix waste or the growing use of filmic substrates

Because of a case of ITX in baby milk the discussion to prohibit UV inks within the food segment begins

A new decoration trend in labelling: shrink sleeves in offset quality is also driving the “no-label-look” trend forward


The development of JFD continues and aims to gain ground in the label industry The prices of platin increase worldwide – as platin serves as catalysator for siliconisation the industry is searching for alternatives


The digital spectrum for RFID applications is limited and might lead to problems during their use – so a warning by AIM Deutschland

The number of offset and inkjet units used for the production of labels are growing significantly

 CTP for screen printing: with Screeny digital Gallus presents a digital imaging system for screen printing formes


As UV flexo is the most popular printing process for labels UV inks dominate the scene

 Environmental issues impact platemaking: Asahi introduces its “VOC-free” water washable photopolymer plate technology

CCL Label tests a booklet label with 48 pages and 43 languages for a pharma customer



Standards and colour management become more and more an issue for label printers and converters

In addition to conventional UV curing, LED-UV is a growing issue despite the fact that it performance can still be improved

The need to be connected with customers via the internet is an encompassing topic the label industry has to deal with


 Shrink sleeves account for more than 15% of the wordwide label market – also UV technology is discussed in this growing market

 UV Inkjet printing becomes more and more a competitor for toner-based and liquid toner-based digital printing

Focus on low migration UV inks due to the risk and the ongoing discussion of ink migration – the industry expects a significant growth


Workflow management: manufacturers such as Gallus offer software which is able to calculate and choose the best combination of workflow and printing press

Contrary to all expectations letterpress printing will continue to exist in the future – also digital plate technologies promote the letterpress process

AWA reports world market shares by labelling technology: glue applied (41%) and pressure-sensitive (40%) are followed by sleeving (12%), IML (2%) and others (5%)


In Europe the label consumption in total covers 5.78 billion label materials, twice as much estimated in 1996

G&K TechMedia GmbH is now part of Ebner Verlag GmbH & Co.KG

The implementation of LED-UV systems is forecast to increase by 30% to 2016

In December 2013 the new website www.narrowwebtech.com is launched


After several solutions being launched at Labelexpo Europe 2013 digital die-cutting for label production is discussed by the industry

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen takes over the Gallus Holding by 100%

Variable size offset printing is seen as an emerging printing process for the label and flexible packaging market

In December 2014 the new EU directive 1169/2011 for food labelling comes into effect



Companies enter the digital printing market such as Konica Minolta with the launch of its first digital label press bizhub press C71cf

NarrowWebTech is now an official media partner of BPIF labels, the British Printing Industries Federation Labels Group

Brothers Industries takes over Domino, Domino Printing Sciences stays as an autonomous business unit


NarrowWebTech includes digital printing as a separate segment by publishing ”Digital Printing Today“ twice a year

Cutting dies are more and more changed without interruption by so-called Quick Change Die Cut (QCDC) units


The Automation Arena has its debut as part of Labelexpo Europe 2017 demonstrating two automated press lines for conventional and digital label production

The trend to late stage customization further grows as well as the ongoing demand for production of personalised label production, also by brand owners

An issue label printers and converters talk about is direct printing on containers is as it is a competitive alternative for labels for certain applications


The price increase for raw material continues followed by further price adaptions especially for inks causing an ongoing discussion within the industry An issue label printers and converters talk about is direct printing on containers is as it is a competitive alternative for labels for certain applications

 Top 5 challenges

  1. Margins under pressure
  2. Ongoing consolidation
  3. Smaller runs / just in time
  4. Qualification of staff
  5. Sustainability & legislation

FINAT reports: Total consumption of self-adhesive label material in Europe totalled 7.45 million m² in 2017, corresponding to a growth rate of 4.7% compared to 2016

More articles and comments regarding the 20th anniversary of NarrowWebTech please find in this overview article!

Or take a look in our Special Anniversary Download!

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