The applications and markets within the flexible packaging industry continue to grow without signs of slowing down. Due to the product’s on-the-shelf appeal to consumers, more efficient uses and options for storing flexible packaging is experiencing unprecedented growth in the U.S. From 2012 to 2013, the U.S. flexible packaging market grew 3 percent, from $26.7 billion to $27.5 billion.
The two main focus areas of the flex pack world come down to the type of package (shape, size, and material) and the printing process. Due to the explosion of specific types of flexible packages, meeting the printing demand has been a challenge for flexible packaging printers .
For example, sleeve labels have seen a dramatic rise in demand and application. More and more products have shifted their designs to accommodate sleeve labels. Cookies, yogurt, milk, carbonated beverage, and coffee creamers are just a few examples of upright packages that now use sleeve labels. According to a market report from Smithers Pira, sleeve labels are forecast for a 5.6 percent annual growth rate through 2019. So what’s that new influx mean for the printing industry ?
For starters, printers will have to deal with a bigger demand. This means flex pack printing that is faster, cheaper, and safe. Many printers have gone with electron beam (EB) flexographic printing for these exact benefits. EB Web Offset printing will also cut costs for print lengths that change frequently. Laminated structures can be replaced by EB coatings, saving substrate material costs. Speed is another big advantage for using EB technology for labels. Electron beam inks only require one dryer at the end of the press, so all thermal and interstation dryers are eliminated. EB chemistry is food safe and FDA compliant. EB coatings are formulated of 100% solids, so printers don’t have to worry about VOCs, solvents, or hazardous emission. This will represent significant cost savings in hazardous waste handling, disposal, and training of plant personnel, as the flexo label market grows.
To keep up with future flexible packaging market demands, EB is the most cost effective solution that produces the shelf appeal that consumers will notice. This technology is available today and ready for tomorrow’s challenges.