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Commentary & Analysis

What Made LabelExpo 2017 So Important?

This year’s LabelExpo event in Brussels was so much more than a trade show that gave vendors a chance to meet customers and impress prospects. This article provides a brief overview of the event, which invited attendees to “Gain an Unfair Advantage.”

By Pat McGrew
Published: October 12, 2017


  • A number of LabelExpo 2017 attendees brought checklists and were visiting as many vendor booths as possible, searching for solutions that would help grow their businesses in today’s very competitive market.
  • To see a process that could serve as a blueprint for any modern label shop, check out LabelExpo’s YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMTP4BCGGZo.
  • Also during LabelExpo, HP Indigo took some time to celebrate its 40th anniversary, complete with a giant cake and a quick review of how far digital label technology has come over the years.


What was so special about LabelExpo 2017 (September 25 – 28 in Brussels, Belgium)? Wasn’t it just another trade show that gave hardware and software vendors a chance to meet customers and dazzle prospects? In a word, no. Although attendees could have come to browse only the stands that were displaying what they wanted to see, the attendees to this year’s event seemed to be seeking solutions—not just a new label press or cutting solution. The attendees of LabelExpo 2017 were truly intrigued with the possibilities of hybrid presses that combined analog and digital technologies. They were asking hard questions of all of the vendors who blazed promises of workflow solutions across their stand signage. In fact, several attendees specifically mentioned that they had brought checklists and were visiting as many vendor booths as possible in their search for solutions that would help them grow their businesses in today’s very competitive market.

Show Highlights

If you read David Zwang’s excellent breakdown of the exhibitors and their solutions at LabelExpo 2017, you’ll already know that this was a global show. This event covered a lot of ground—not only physically with 9 halls of exhibitors, but also in concepts. The theme of this year’s show was Gain an Unfair Advantage, and this was not an overstatement of the possibilities for savvy attendees.


Those that were interested in a live, working example of what’s possible in a modern label shop only had to attend one of the demonstrations in the Automation Arena, where vendors like Cerm, Esko, Xeikon, MPS, Kocher + Beck, grafotronic, AVT, WLE, and Matho were supported by Avery Dennison, FlintGroup, and Zeller + Gmelin for inks and substrates. The demonstration offered proof of concepts that covered every step of the process:

  • Estimation and data collection with Cerm
  • Prepress automation, color management, and content viewing with Esko
  • Production on Xeikon’s 3300 and the MPS EF 430
  • Inspection with Graftronic and AVT
  • Winding from Kocher + Beck
  • Waste management from Matho
  • Core handling from WLE

The entire demonstration rounded out a process that could serve as a blueprint for any modern shop. If you missed it, you’re in luck—the LabelExpo team took the time to build a great YouTube video that should be on your playlist if you work in label production!

LabelExpo 2017 was important for another reason—the vendors who came to this year’s event were prepared to talk about much more than just label printing. In the Hybrid Software booth, vendors were happy to talk enterprise workflow as well as commercial prepress with equal care, concern, and sagacity. Elsewhere on the show floor, the Chili Publish team was holding conversations about packaging and commercial applications. Meanwhile, Global Graphics was discussing the new PDF for Packaging and its Fundamentals solution, which creates options for any business that is looking to enhance its existing RIP/DFE solutions. There can be little argument that this was a well-rounded show.

Also during LabelExpo, HP Indigo took some time to celebrate its 40th anniversary, complete with a giant cake and a quick review of how far digital label technology has come over the years. A full complement of HP Indigo solutions were on display at the event, including a WS6800 Digital Combination Printing device that was equipped with the GEM module for adding enhancements to labels.

All label producers are seeking ways to differentiate themselves, and a solution like the one shown in the HP stand—the largest at LabelExpo—can open doors to new and different conversations with brand owners and their print buyers. For more information on the topic of print enhancements and special effects, read our overview of the groundbreaking study entitled Beyond CMYK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing.

The Bottom Line

The organizers of LabelExpo 2017 did an excellent job of creating a venue that fostered conversations, demonstrations, and deal-making. In addition, they also made the event a great platform for education and networking—which is what we all want from trade shows!

Leveraging more than three decades as an evangelist for technology in communication, InfoTrends’ Pat McGrew uses her technical and marketing background to lead the industry toward optimized business process and information workflows. She has worked with companies to help them define their five-year plans, audited workflow processes, and developed sales team interventions and education programs. Working with customers and their clients, she educates the industry in production workflows to promote effective communication. McGrew is the Co-Author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and a regular writer in the industry trade press.


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