At Graph Expo last month, I’d heard rumblings that Pack Expo International (held Oct. 28-31) was going to be a huge show, filling three halls in Chicago’s cavernous McCormick Place expo center. So I should not have raised an eyebrow (but I did) when the main parking garage was full upon my 10:30 a.m. arrival on October 30, one gray day before Halloween. I suppose the cab line should have been my first clue: 30 taxis idled at the main entrance, with 15 more stopped on the street, waiting to make the turn off of King Drive. Foot traffic was brisk, too, once I got inside.
There were a fair share of 20 or so familiar, print-related suppliers there, such as Domino with its thermal inkjet printers, including the modular G-Series i-Tech for challenging substrates . Epson showed just-in-time label digital printing solutions, while Hitachi America launched its RX inkjet series featuring three- and five-line, high-resolution marking and coding capabilities. RISO demonstrated how its ComColor inkjet printers can output combinations of invoices and pressure-sensitive packing labels on a single, 8.5x11-inch sheet. Nordson’s focus at Pack Expo was on adhesive dispensing and Vijuk’s, as always, on micro folding. Roland wide-format dealer Beyond Manufacturing made the drive south from Shawano, WI.
Paper companies Great Northern, International Paper Industrial Packaging, Korber Paper, and 3M (roll media) also exhibited. Boise announced that its Hexacomb unit will open a new manufacturing facility in central Mexico for the production of paper-based, “honeycomb” packaging and graphic display boards. The new plant, expected to be operational by late 2013, could produce up to 90 million square feet of product annually.
Atlantic Zeiser, a leader in industrial high-security coding and personalization technologies, exhibited in the Pharmaceutical Pavilion. The firm showed its Omega digital UV inkjet line for narrow printing applications at high resolutions (360 and 720 dpi). Also SmartCure, an eco-friendly, UV LED curing technology, was highlighted.
In the “Brand Zone,” Hewlett-Packard’s Graphic Solutions Business presented HP Indigo solutions for packaging markets: the HP WS6600 dedicated for labels printing; the new 20000 digital press for flexible packaging printing; and the new 30000 model for folding carton printing.
Swiss manufacturer Zund was in the “Brand Zone,” too, showing off its G3 cutter running AphaCorr CAD software. Esko Artwork, meanwhile, featured the Kongsberg line of cutting tables, including the XE 10 dieless digital cutting and creasing model for folding carton packaging.
The long walk to Muller Martini’s small booth in a far corner of the north hall was anti-climactic. A 33.5-inch-wide tower from its versatile VSOP (Variable Sleeve Offset Printing) web press was there but not running, which proved a bit disappointing. See-through doors did allow visitors an inside peek at the patented change-over technology, which enables print sizes to be altered without having to remove entire inserts. The proprietary process is quick and efficient, especially considering the variety of print lengths inherent in packaging. The VSOP press can handle shrink sleeves, wet glue, wrap-around, and in-mold labels; films, laminates, and food packaging; and folding boxes, liquid packaging, and carton printing.
Likewise, when I finally found Mimaki USA (down yet another set of escalators), its presence was rather small as well, emphasizing its CJV30 integrated inkjet print-and-cut series for durable, outdoor sign graphics. The model is available in four sizes for a range of applications, from seals and labels to vehicle markings and large point-of-purchase displays. The devices output at a maximum speed of 58 square feet per hour (540×720 dpi, 4 colors), and in standard mode at 39 square feet per hour (540×1,080 dpi, 4 colors). They use both solvent and eco-solvent inks, including white and metallic.
Symmetrical ink cartridge arrangement enables reliable and detailed high-quality image generation even with bidirectional printing. When the ink cartridge runs out, another cartridge automatically begins to supply ink. Ink cartridges can be replaced during printing, and overnight, “lights-out” continuous printing is possible. Fast-dry inks allow for quick cutting after printing.
Manual operation also is substantially reduced on the CJV30, Mimaki said. The number of pinch rollers and their clamp pressures can be set from RIP software, and pinch roller pressures automatically changed according to media. By raising the intermediate pinch rollers on both sides at the time of cutting, media peel-off after cutting is eliminated. CJV30 automatically adjusts to ensure accurate media feed, resulting in high-quality finishing.
For high-precision cutting, a photo-sensor on the cutting head automatically reads registration marks on the print for precise and automatic positioning. Even with a laminated print, contour cutting is performed with finely tuned accuracy.
A Really Big Show!
Just how big was PACK EXPO 2012? The year’s largest packaging and processing show filled the south, north, and east halls at Chicago’s McCormick Place, covering more than 1 million square feet of space. Of the nearly 2,000 exhibitors, some 10 percent of them exhibited in the (Food) Processing Zone. Here’s a look at the tradeshow, by the numbers*:
- > 1,965 total exhibitors
- >45,000 attendees
- covered more than 1.1 million square feet
“While we fully expected to surpass our attendance goals, the storm’s effect on East Coast travel prohibited many from making the show,” said Charles Yuska, president and CEO of show organizer and producer PMMI. “However, we still finished with the largest Pack Expo International since 2006.”