Mar 8, 2017
At this time of year vendors and users of digital print technology have a spate of events that qualify as vendor-specific tradeshows, ones hosted or sponsored by individual equipment suppliers. Among the best known are two that just took place, namely Hunkeler Innovation Days (February 20-23 in Lucerne) and Dscoop (March 1-4 in Phoenix, Arizona, for HP users). A third event, coming soon, is a pure play in digitally printed packaging and well worth visiting—the Xeikon Café that will take place in Belgium on March 27-30.
Xeikon Café 2017 will be the third edition of this event, and like its predecessors it will focus on the products of Xeikon and its many partners as they are used solely for packaging applications, which today account for almost half of Xeikon’s overall business. The last Xeikon Café, held exactly two years ago, was heavily attended and had the same elements as the upcoming event: a big floor at Xeikon’s main site near Antwerp, cleared for printing many packaging applications on multiple Xeikon presses; exhibits by a long list of industry suppliers, such as makers of finishing lines, workflow software, media, and coatings; and conference sessions running throughout the event, to explain the digital packaging market and how to profit from it.
General observations about Xeikon Café are (1) it grows with each iteration and (2) it offers insight and education about many areas of digital print production. About size, the 2015 version, which Xeikon says had over 800 visitors, lasted three days, included demonstrations of 15 applications, and held exhibits by 30 partners for equipment, media, and software. While the 2017 Café’s attendance is to be determined, this year’s event will last four days, have 28 application demonstrations, and hold exhibits by 42 industry suppliers, many of them from Xeikon’s list of “Aura Partners”.
As to insights, the Café gives a full view of all the packaging applications that Xeikon addresses, and the equipment, supplies, and software that Xeikon uses to print and finish them. There’s a lot to see; as with other vendor tradeshows, there’s no real space constraint, so pretty much all that’s commercially available is in view and at work. For the showcased print applications, there will be all the ones that Xeikon is known for, such as prime labels, in-mold labels, folding cartons, etc., but also ones where Xeikon is just starting. Notable additions: wet-glue paper labels for beer, wine, spirits; wraparound film labels (35 micron BOPP) for soft drinks; paper food wrappers (21 gram uncoated paper); stand-up pouches and other flexible packaging, using various film media. (While Xeikon is not known for flexible packaging printing, managers there say the film pouch application will be ready for commercialization at Label Expo in September.) Even corrugated will be part of the mix, via roll-to-sheet printing on Xeikon 3500, a 20” web, plus lamination to board stock; the solution is a digital alternate to the “litho lam” that leads in fine color graphics for corrugated, a growing category.
Given its location in the heart of “The Benelux” region, the upcoming Café will draw most of its visitors from Western Europe, but some will come from a great distance, as they did in 2015, given that Xeikon’s sales and support are worldwide. In addition to the above, we recommend the event as worth the trip in part because of its great “potables”: Besides coffee, in the afternoons a Xeikon Café always offers some startlingly good beers.
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