Evolution & Future of Label Printing

label printing

Today in the market one would not find a single product that has no label on it. Even if such a product is placed on shelves, it has a low probability of getting sold. This is because labels make it easier for the consumers to buy products according to their preferences and the information given on smart labels about the contents of the product, makes it easier for the buyer to decide which one to buy and which one to avoid.
Before the advent of labels in the 1700s, the printing industry was in its prime with printing mainly books, newspapers, magazines, and brochures. Even when the first labels appeared, they were used only for labeling medicine jars. Later on, wineries started using labels for their products. These labels were hand-printed with wooden blocks on hand made papers which were then pasted to the product with moisture stimulated glue. It was a costly and time-consuming method, given the demand and production time.

With the paper machine and lithographic method, label printing was made more appealing and easier. by this time marketers started adding the description to their products to make them more desirable. The change was brought to enhance appeal leading to an increase in sales from medicine, fruit crates, wines, and other daily products like bread, cheese cigars, etc to heavy machinery and everything else that was produced on a mass scale due to the industrial revolution. Everything was labeled for its distinction. Thus, the label industry flourished. From small business owners to large firms, everyone equally used the print industry for their businesses. With the passage of time and change of trends, label printing started using more eye-catching methods with distinct brand names and time-saving techniques to improve the quality of label production. Flexography was one such technique which brought about a huge revolution in the printing industry.

Next came the color printing and focus shifted from words to images by 19 seventies 40% of worlds label printing was dependent on self-adhesive labels in the late 1970s bar codes were introduced to manage logistics descriptions prices of the products along with developers’ information in 1990s the development of World Wide Web shifted label printing industry to the digital arena, where customization of design and quality of label printing improved along with economic benefits. This seems to be the future of label printing. Today the industry has a value of 42 billion dollars which is estimated to reach 45 billion dollars with an annual growth rate of 4.1% by 2025.

With changing dynamics of label printing machines and challenges such as product tampering, sustainability, and recycling and sophisticated designing to catch more market among the cut-throat competition, the label printing industry has come up with smart solutions. For curbing product tampering and theft, smart integrated labels are being produced. 3D printers are brought in for printing such packaging which has integrated labels or in other words carved on it rather than creating separate adhesive labels. Customizable designs with sophisticated details are also in use to avoid product theft.

With the rising awareness about eco-friendly products and the use of recyclable packaging which is high in demand today, recycling the packages depends upon the recyclability of the label thus water-based adhesives which are recyclable are used and inks that can be easily removed after a certain time are in rising trends. High-end products with an effective sales market are also a concern along with sustainability and eco-friendly products thus durability with packaging and sophisticated and small print label design is also important studies show a rise in lightweight products due to easy mobility and sustainable packaging.

Coding and marking alone are expected to reach a market value of $7 billion by 2024, a 7% growth rate. Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) goods, such as toiletries, over-the-counter medications, and cleaning products, boost the need for label printing for coding or marking. Today, printers are investing in sophisticated management information systems (MIS) that are integrated with specialized inspection and color performance software and technology, and even fully automated press and finishing line set-up systems. The objective is to run a completely automated and streamlined workflow 24 hours per day that receives job orders by electronic data interchange therefore Automation is also being applied to warehouse management and shipping.

With the development of new technologies and smart markets, it is safe to say that future holds a fairly advanced and sophisticated label printing machines market with less ink and more digitization and smart labels that can cut the waste and are cost-effective at the same time. Digital design along with digitized labeling seems to be the viable solution for growing industrial waste in an attempt to provide durable packaging.
According to the Smithers Pira report, “The Future of Digital Print for Packaging to 2022,” the market will grow at nearly 13% each year. Further, the digital printing market machines overall is exploding at 15%. To meet that demand, manufacturers of digital printers and inks must continue innovating to meet the needs of customers.

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