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AWA conference to focus on the sleeve labelling scene

Sleeving has been one of the most dynamic areas of labelling and product decoration in recent years. Market analyst AWA Alexander Watson Associates estimates that the world demand for labels in 2006 was 39,500Mm2 – a growth of 7-7.5 per cent on 2005 levels. Of that total, sleeve labels represented around 7 per cent overall.

However, there are regional differences. Asia remains the largest area of demand for sleeve labels – built on the original development and use of the technology in the Japanese market – with growth in 2006 for this key market estimated at 8.5-9 per cent for all sleeve label types, and at its highest in China and India. North American volumes show a slowing growth in demand, at 8-8.5 per cent in 2006 over 2005, with growth in Europe in the same period estimated at 7 per cent. The technology is in the early stages of market development in South America: initial high growth rates are from a low start-up base, but are forecast to increase at rates of between 8 and 10 per cent.

Of the three different sleeve labelling technologies – heat shrink, stretch, and ‘roll on, shrink on’ (ROSO) – shrink sleeves dominate, with 72 per cent of the total global market.

The issues, challenges, and opportunities in this market will be explored further in next month’s AWA International Sleeve Label Conference, in Amsterdam; and markets, materials and technologies will also be quantified and reviewed in a new study – ‘AWA Global Sleeve Label Market & Technology Review, 2007’ – to be published later this year.

Next month’s conference will provide a forum for all involved – material and equipment suppliers, converters and end users. It will look into the materials, technologies, and markets. Dr William Llewellyn, senior consultant at AWA, sets the context for the event.

“Sleeve label formats have been a dynamic focus in the labels sector through the early 2000s, with double digit growth rates and an increasing list of end use applications. Sleeve labels have provided packaging designers, brand managers, packaging technologists, raw materials producers, and printers with both the opportunities and challenges inherent in a new decoration format that offers high quality, 360 degree, ‘head-to-toe’ graphics – even on complex container geometries.

“Success with sleeve labels has required significant developments in, and understanding of, label materials, adhesive and ink systems, origination, and printing, coupled with the technology specific challenges of tubing, seaming, and three dimensional modelling of labels and containers.

“Every step of the label value chain has been impacted. The unique nature of sleeve technology has necessitated investments by resin producers in films, adhesives, and inks; by film producers in new production technologies; by printers in evolving print techniques and label finishing technologies; and by labelling equipment manufacturers to match the demands imposed by shrink and stretch, as well as the use of tubular and flat web delivery.

“To take advantage of the enhanced scale of graphics and ‘label’ geometries offered, as well as the internal strength and mechanical advantages of full body sleeves, brand owners and their packaging and label designers have also been required to innovate. All this activity has also to take account in today’s packaging market of the environmental implications of the variety of films used, and, overall, of the recyclability and sustainability of label materials.

“The International Sleeve Label Conference 2007 is the first major international conference platform to pull together these key elements, offering presentations by experts and industry leaders from across the value chain to assist industry participants in all relevant disciplines to define current status and trends, as well as future opportunities and issues.

“The conference programme will deliver in-depth independent market data and research, as well as discussions on material developments and labelling systems, and represents an invaluable platform for information exchange and networking.”

The conference will open with an overview of the sleeving market and its associated technologies and materials, and will then look at specific focus areas, innovations, and developments. Bioplastics, new opportunities in stretch sleeves, shrink films as they relate to converting and application machinery, UV flexo inks for shrink sleeves, applied label costs, testing methods, and tubing technologies are among the topics to be covered.

Companies presenting papers will include, in addition to AWA, Autobar Flexible Packaging, GlaxoSmithKline, Avery Dennison, DCM Converting, ExxonMobil Chemical Films Europe, Klöckner Pentaplast, Krones, Sidaplast, and XSYS Print Solutions.

The formal conference will be preceded by a half-day workshop led by sleeving expert Gary Gates, on how to sell ROSO, shrink, and stretch sleeves. The event is also to be supported by a mini exhibition and an optional special facility visit to sleeve print system supplier MPS Multi Print Systems.

The International Sleeve Label Conference 2007 will be held at the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel, on June 26-27. Full details of the conference programme are available on the AWA website, where it is also possible to register on-line.


AWA Alexander Watson Associates
Tel: +31 (0) 20 676 2069

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AWA Alexander Watson Associates