The Label Academy to provide education and training for the future: A new e-learning initiative for the label community

In today’s knowledge based economy, education and competence management are key to the future success of any business, and the label industry is no exception. This applies to all levels and functions in the company, from management to operations. At the end of 2012, the Finat Board endorsed a new initiative designed to align education and training programmes for operators in the label industry. Two years later, the Label Academy is ready for take-off.
Historically, the printing industry was regarded as having one of the best education and training schemes of any industry within the developed world, with a good apprenticeship system, excellent printing colleges, experienced trainers, and a wide range of printing textbooks on a whole variety of printing processes, typesetting, pre-press, bookbinding and finishing operations. Printing was regarded as a highly skilled industry with some of the highest industrial-skill wages.

Growing pressure on education

The more printing has moved away from a craft-based to a technology, service and communications-based industry, the more high-end sectors such as self-adhesive have developed and grown and the higher the pressures on costs and margins, the less high quality and knowledge-based education and training we seem to do.

Dedicated printing colleges in many parts of the world have all but disappeared, or they are not seen to be relevant to training for the self-adhesive sector.

Knowledge challenges and opportunities

Indeed, the self-adhesive label sector seems to have suffered perhaps more than many other sectors of printing, and it is perhaps not too difficult to see why. It has some of the widest ranges of materials to print on, it has the widest range of printing processes being used (often in combination on one press line) and it has the widest range of in-line finishing operations. There has been an increasingly sophisticated origination and pre-press processes and significant more challenges in terms of sustainability (adhesives and silicones, matrix and liner waste, etc.). Not to forget about the greater diverse selection of bar code types, QR codes, augmented reality and other interactive labels.

Each week seems to bring new industry knowledge challenges, and opportunities. And the demands are increasing all the time, from new digital technologies, interactive labels, brand protection solutions, to new developments in intelligent and active labels.

Enhanced education and training: transferring knowledge to the new generation

This enhanced level of education and training needs to be done sooner rather than later, as many of the existing skilled and knowledgeable people that have grown with the industry over the past 20 or so years come towards retirement. We need to utilise their knowledge before it is too late. We need to bring in new skills and abilities to tell employees about the new demands on labels. We need to re-build a new and dedicated education and training base for the industry’s future.

The Label Academy

This is why the publishing, internet and marketing team at Tarsus, supported by a small group of knowledgeable and skilled industry specialists, are planning the launch of The Label Academy. Over the coming months the team will be working on finishing the first six or more (out of the first 20 proposed) education and training e-learning and support modules that aim to provide the basic knowledge requirements of the label industry employees of today and tomorrow.


Initial e-learning modules will cover topics as diverse as Label Substrates, Label Printing processes, Die-cutting and Tooling, Origination and Pre-press, Digital Label Printing, Environment and Sustainability, the History of the Label Industry. The first of these Modules are scheduled to be available later this year for purchase or downloading through a new Label Academy website that is currently being developed.

Over the coming months, a dedicated Advisory Panel will additionally be working on how best to establish an internet-based industry testing scheme and moving towards an industry-wide on-line certification process.

The Label Academy: a supporting resource for existing education schemes

It is also planned that existing industry suppliers, associations, colleges, training and employer schemes and programmes will be able to apply to become accredited training organisations using the new learning modules. The Label Academy is not looking to take over or interfere with existing label industry training, but rather to become a resource provider and support body for the global label industry – with global resource material written for training providers to use in any country or market.

Finat Board endorsement

At the present time the proposed education and training resource being developed under the banner of The Label Academy has already been endorsed by the Finat Board and is currently being studied by other label industry associations around the world.

Who are involved in The Label Academy?

In planning for a number of years, the new label industry education and training scheme has been developed and pioneered to-date by Mike Fairley, widely known as the label industry ‘Guru’. Perhaps not so widely known is that before founding Labels & Labelling he spent several years as a further education lecturer before joining PIRA, the Paper, Printing and Packaging Industry Research Association as Deputy Head of Training. In this capacity he acquired extensive experience in lecturing and writing training manuals and materials on many areas of printing, papermaking, labels and packaging. He further developed his educational credentials at the UK Government sponsored Paper and Paper Products Industry Training Board as Head of Information, and as a consultant to the International Labour Office, the Economist Intelligence Unit and to the EU. 

Complementing Mike’s undoubted training and industry knowledge in writing the new e-learning Modules are a team from 4impression (author of the FINAT Educational Handbook) under Paul Jarvis and Netherlands-based Converting Technology International of Sietze de Kievit, who have been piloting training material and courses on label substrates and tooling. They are also members of the Academy’s Advisory Panel. Other global specialists are likely to be co-opted as required for specific subjects or markets.

Official Launch: Labelexpo Americas 2014

From now onwards the first results of the work that has been undertaken to-date and the first e-learning modules to be produced will start to be announced and initial training and testing materials become available. The aim is to then have the official launch of The Label Academy at Labelexpo Americas in September. 

It is certainly hoped that the global label industry will support this exciting new initiative and strive to produce the better-educated and trained employees who will be needed for the successful and long-term future of the industry.

The past brings future perspective

Another way of learning is to have insight and an understanding of past accomplishments. A good way of gaining that knowledge is reading ‘The Evolution of Labels and the Label Industry in Europe.’ This book is the result of several years of research and writing by Michael Fairley and Tony White. Over 240 pages of text and historical illustrations they trace the history of labels and label production from early wooden presses printing on hand-made paper, through all the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution during the 18th and 19th centuries – including continuous papermaking, cylinder presses, ink-making and inking rollers, early colour printing, the first cutting punches and dies – right through to the 21st century innovations of self-adhesive label materials, printing and converting, computerised origination and digital printing. The prestige limited hard cover edition book should be a must-read title for all those who have an interest in how the world of labels and label production has grown from its early origins to the present time. 

GMG ProofControl 2.1 supports latest ISO standards and measurement conditions

GMG, a leading developer and supplier of high-end color management software solutions, announces the immediate availability of an updated version of its GMG ProofControl quality assurance tool.

GMG ProofControl is an easy-to-use quality control application that ensures digital color proofs meet a predefined standard. Used as part of a color-managed production workflow, ProofControl is an integral component to help print service providers provide the most accurate simulation against a vast range of international output standards such as ISO, ECI, SWOP and 3DAP, or any user-defined quality standard.

When paired with a third-party spectrophotometer (either an external device or the integrated spectrophotometer increasingly found in professional-grade print engines) GMG ProofControl measures the color output, comparing the result to target values stored within its database. If the measurement readings are within a predefined tolerance, a small adhesive label is printed and fixed (typically) on the back of each calibrated proof, providing a quick visual assurance to all project stakeholders that it has been produced to within acceptance standards.

Enhanced measurement and standards support for GMG ProofControl 2.1

GMG ProofControl v2.1 now includes support for the more tightly-defined, D50-based, ISO 13655:2009 standard. Using a measurement device that supports M0 (no UV cut), M1 (No UV cut, D50) and M2 (UV Cut) filter settings, such as the X-Rite EyeOne Pro2, users can select the appropriate measurement parameters when creating either profiles adhering to international standards such as ISO 13655, or to the user’s own unique print standard.

GMG ProofControl v2.1 also includes presets for the new SWOP and GRACoL standards SWOP2013C3 (CRPC5), SWOP2013C5, GRACoL2013 coated (CRPC6) and GRACoL2013 uncoated (CRPC3). These new standards profiles are based on ISO/DIS 15339-2 with its specification of a limited number of Characterized Reference Printing Conditions (CRPC), which are device-and-process-agnostic color space references requiring M1 measurement conditions (ISO 13655:2009).

“GMG ProofControl allows print service providers to provide guaranteed and quality-checked output standard for their digital color proof production, regardless of device, standards criteria or print process,” says Birgit Plautz, Manager Technical Services, GMG. “Continuing technological advances allow the industry to continue to refine and develop ever more accurate and definable output standards. GMG ProofControl v2.1 embraces these new standards and measurement conditions, allowing our customers to offer best-in-class digital output to the end user, supported with a quality assurance certificate that confirms the expected output tolerances.”

GMG is a leading developer and supplier of high-end color management software solutions and the brand is synonymous with a guarantee for high-quality solutions for everything to do with color. GMG’s goal is to provide complete solutions for standardizing and simplifying the color management workflow in order to achieve consistent colors on all media types and with any printing technology. Today, more than 11,000 systems are in use among customers around the globe. These span a wide range of industries and application areas including prepress houses; flexo, packaging, offset, digital, wide format and gravure printers.

GMG ProofControl is available worldwide through GMG’s network of authorized dealers.

Avery Dennison to showcase more than 15 innovations to the Americas at Labelexpo

Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials will highlight numerous innovations that will expand business opportunities for converters at Labelexpo Americas 2014. The labeling industry’s premier trade show in America will run from Sept. 9-11 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

“Our booth’s theme of ‘Inspiring Innovations. Sustainable Growth.’ reflects our dedication to providing the best products for our customers and the environment,” said Darrell Hughes, vice president and general manager, Avery Dennison Materials Group North America. “Labelexpo is a showcase event that we use to introduce products and services that expand the use of pressure-sensitive materials and help our customers grow their business.”

Avery Dennison will showcase more than 15 innovations to the Americas, including:

Tire Labeling Portfolio, which improves shelf appeal and tracking in challenging tire applications. The materials feature production-friendly gum patterns designed to eliminate oozing and increase conversion speed. The materials are already qualified at several large global end users, enabling converters to gain business quickly.

CleanFlake Portfolio, an expansion in the range of Avery Dennison’s award-winner material designed to advance the recycling of PET containers — which addresses supply imbalances of recycled PET (rPET) and improves cost. CleanFlake now includes Roll-Fed Sleeve constructions that provide excellent clarity, on-bottle coverage and better yields of PET materials at recyclers. Using a pound of rPET instead of new PET uses 84% less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 71%. By using CleanFlake, brand owners can promote recognition of their efforts to recover and recycle these materials.

Select Solutions Collection, a comprehensive offering of 17 application-specific portfolios offering 300 possible Mix & Match constructions, all suited to meet the most unique labeling needs. This collection includes 427 products and counting, with lead times of 4 days or less and low minimum order quantities – from 0.5 to 1.8 million square inches. In addition, Technical Solutions Leaders are available to help converters understand and solve their customers’ unique needs, from concept to commercialization, with the quick and easy Engineered Solutions process.

ClearCut S7450 Adhesive, a premium adhesive for labels of wine and spirits and non-alcoholic beverages. S7450’s wet-out performance allows for effective bonding between the film and the bottle’s surface, even with a high degree of surface imperfections. Pairing S7450 with MDO film allows for enhanced conformability when labeling unique, curved bottle designs. ClearCut technology significantly reduces adhesive ooze and increases productivity.
These innovations and the others that Avery Dennison will feature are designed to drive growth for label converters in new market segments and new product areas. “As competition expands, our innovations will deliver new business opportunities and a healthy bottom line for customers,” Hughes said. “We are committed to providing innovations that enhance efficiency and reduce environmental impact while also supporting growth. That’s what ‘Inspiring Innovations. Sustainable Growth.’ is about.”

A global leader in labeling and packaging materials and solutions, Avery Dennison serves customers with insights and innovations that help make brands more inspiring and the world more intelligent. Avery Dennison representatives will be available to discuss the innovations at the Avery Dennison Booth #119 in the exhibition hall.

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I’m not qualified to head the Federal Reserve, that’s for sure. Nor am I a professional economist, something that our industry’s economists can certainly agree about without saying “on the other hand.” But I do have a job to explain economic trends from a businessperson’s perspective. That often gets lost in the shuffle of financial […]

Labelexpo India 2014 on course for record results

Registration is now open for the seventh edition of Labelexpo India. South Asia’s premier label and package printing exhibition, it returns to Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 29 October – 1 November and will be bigger than ever before.

Covering 5,800sq meters, Labelexpo India 2014 will feature around 250 exhibiting companies including over 50 first time exhibitors. Underlining the growing importance of the Indian market, many of the industry’s leading suppliers have taken larger stands including Dupont, Esko, Nilpeter, Technova Imaging Systems, UPM Raflatac and Xeikon. Other leading press and material suppliers showing their latest solutions include Avery Dennison, Dragon Foils, Epson, Flint Group, Multitec Aids, Nuova Gidue, Omet, Webtech and Weigang Machinery.

Aimed at label and package printers, brand owners and label designers, many new product and service launches are scheduled to take place. Visitors to the show will be able to see the next generation of printing machinery coming onto the market as well as learn about global market trends and see live demonstrations of the most advanced technologies available, compare the latest materials and find out about the newest developments in flexible packaging and intelligent labels. In addition, Labelexpo India will once again play host to the LMAI Avery Dennison Label Awards at New Delhi’s Le Méridien Grand Ballroom.

Jade Grace, event director said: “Labelexpo India is an important professional platform as it serves the needs of label and packaging printers across Indian and South Asia. Reflecting growth in the marketplace, the size of the show has grown steadily with each new edition, as has the number of products and solutions being displayed. With the increased number of exhibitors, Labelexpo India 2014 is no exception as it confirms the strong commercial opportunities that exist across FMCG.”

The show is free to attend and visitors can pre-register by visiting

SPGPrints demonstrates DSI UV-inkjet technology, low-migration inks and HD-digital imaging at Labelexpo Americas 2014

SPGPrints (booth 560) showcases its DSI digital UV-inkjet technology, new low-migration inks, computer-to-plate and computer-to-screen imaging, and rotary screen printing technology for labels and packaging at Labelexpo Americas, 9-11 September in Chicago. 

High spec and low-ownership cost with the DSI UV-inkjet label press

The SPGPrints’ modular DSI digital UV inkjet printer offers a productive solution for short-run, variable data and personalised labels thanks to its high specification, low ownership cost and high-definition reproduction.

Offering production speeds of up to 700m²/hour and available in widths from 135mm to 530mm, the system is a competitive alternative to flexo for production runs of up to 5,000 linear metres and, sometimes, beyond.

The printing platform, with CMYK as standard, can be built or latterly extended with up to six more print heads. Options are orange and violet to make 90% of the colour gamut achievable, digital white with ‘screen-look’ opacity and digital primer to maximise substrate compatibility, while minimising waste.

Photo-quality is a given thanks to proprietary scratch / chemical-resistant UV inks, optimized specially for the DSI press. They offer BWS-7 light fastness, high gloss and 1% tonal values. An ink innovation highlight is a new range of low-migration inks, about which more will be revealed in the run-up to the show.

Intermediate in-line LED pinning stations ensure crisp text, fine lines and maximise colour definition. A water-cooled chill drum enables processing of heat-sensitive substrates.  The system can be specified as a stand-alone printer or a custom-built single-pass printing, finishing and converting line.

Bas Hoijtink, commercial manager (graphics) at SPGPrints, comments: “The future-proof specification of the DSI press together with optimised ink technology and SPGPrints’ technical expertise is proving to be a strong basis for success in high-end short-run decorative and industrial label markets. We are working closely to help customers enter a diverse range of added-value services, such as prototyping, variable data printing and web-to-print.”

variLEX CTP / CTS imager: a simple, single digital workflow for HD flexo, dry-offset and screen

SPGPrints’ variLEX hybrid CTP (computer-to-plate) and CTS (computer-to-screen) imager gives the label and packaging industry a single, digital imaging solution for high-definition flexo, dry-offset, screen and letterpress printing formes. Maximum resolution is 4000dpi.

variLEX can be equipped with a multibeam diode laser system for ablating the black mask and/or a multibeam diode laser system to directly expose UV-sensitive materials like screens. Its integrated inline exposure system, unique to the variLEX, facilitates ablation and exposure in one step. This eliminates the need for offline exposure and ensures sharp printing results.

The machine accommodates different mounting cylinders to handle all common plate and screen material available on the market. These include a black anodized vacuum cylinder for flexo plates, a magnetic cylinder for screens and letterpress plates, and a hybrid cylinder (vacuum and magnetic) to handle all materials.

variLEX comes with SPGPrints’ unique software solutions, including the company’s database-driven on-the-fly RIP system. This allows use of all common graphics industry file systems.

Arno Bouwmeester, managing director, SPGPrints Austria, comments: “With its single-step operation, open software platform and high-definition capability, the variLEX provides a fast, lean and flexible solution for high-end label and flexible packaging pre-press workflows.”
RSI rotary screen technology
SPGPrints’ range of retrofittable RSI (Rotary Screen Integration) units give a productive, economical means creating a host of visually striking, tactile and functional effects, of up to 300 micron thickness, in a single printing pass. Printing effects include the ‘no-label look’, metallic and opaque colours, glitters, tactile warning symbols, texture varnishes, scratch-off inks, holograms, conductive inks and Braille. Electroformed nickel RotaMesh screens offer stability at speeds in excess of 100m/min, can be re-imaged several times and have life-spans of up to 500,000 web metres. Screen widths range from 12” to 36” (307.7mm to 923mm).

Daily demonstrations will give visitors first-hand appreciation of SPGPrints’ total system solutions for personal care, food and industrial markets.