In trade exposition parlance, the term “show within a show” can refer to anything from a modest cluster of vaguely related booths to a concentration of attractions rich enough to take serious attention away from the main event. The Converting & Package Printing (CPP) Expo, co-located with Graph Expo next week from September 28 to October 1, won’t make visitors to McCormick Place forget which show is doing the hosting. But, it has so much to offer packaging specialists that it will require these attendees to make some careful decisions about dividing their time between the two programs.

As the name indicates, CPP Expo is specific to the converting, package printing, and industrial printing marketplace. The 119 companies taking part in it account for more than one-quarter of all the exhibitors that will be present at the co-located events. Within CPP Expo’s scope are flexible packaging, folding carton and box making, corrugated, narrow web tag and label, wide web and industrial printing technologies. Flexo, gravure, and digital printing will be represented, together with finishing, coating, laminating, drying, and related processes.

It’s a proven must-see mix for packaging professionals. Organizers say that when CPP Expo was co-located with Print 13 last year, nearly one-third of the 24,645 attendees at both events were printing professionals who had come expressly to see package production technologies. Converting equipment and processes, ranked third among all products shopped by attendees, generated thousands of requests for information from interactions on the show floor.

This year, CPP Expo will gain a new dimension—a third one, to be precise—by participating in “Plastic Print,” a specialty pavilion it is co-sponsoring with the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC, the producer of the Print and Graph Expo shows) and the Society for the Plastics Industry. The pavilion’s keynote is 3D printing, a burgeoning additive manufacturing process with potential applications for conventional print and converting service providers. Scheduled to include live demonstrations of 3D printing systems, the installation is being billed as a venue where the worlds of package printing, commercial printing, and industrial manufacturing converge.

“Developments in 3D Enhancement for Printed Packaging and Advertising” is one of the offerings in CPP Expo’s eight-track educational program, which will present a total of 28 conference sessions spanning the various disciplines of packaging printing and converting. Led by experts, the tracks cover presses and related equipment; finishing and folding carton converting; corrugated converting; adhesives, coatings, and inks; CTP and prepress; narrow-web printing for envelopes, tags, and labels; peripheral systems and machine components; and papers, films, and foils. There will be additional thought-leadership programs in the CPP Expo Theatre, complimentary with registration.

Everything at CPP Expo is being staged by H.A. Bruno LLC, the owner of the show and a producer of industrial conferences and events since 1923. The organizers asked a number of session speakers to identify what they see as the primary technology investment opportunities for those attending the event.

Dave Rumson, slitting consultant and educator:

“I believe the future for converting operations will be to take control of the converting process through SCADA systems (supervisory control and data acquisition). Real-time data can be collected from web tension controllers, motor drives, an automatic slitting system, web steering equipment, web thickness gauging, the web coating and extrusion processes, etc., on each finished roll for potential defect prevention and roll quality inspection with traceability. Each slitter will have a history of throughput and can be monitored externally. Additionally, SCADA camera data can be sent to a slitting knife positioning system to relocate knife locations on the fly, maintaining the sitting action if a print or crease line changes due to a web shift or an error from a previous process.”

Rick Sanders, sales and marketing manager, Energy Sciences, Inc.:

“The technology every printer should invest in is electron beam (EB) curing systems. EB systems allow converters to print with high quality EB inks, coatings and adhesives at a lower overall cost while producing no VOCs. I also think Gelflex-EB will be the next hot technology. Gelflex-EB is a new CI (central impression) flexo EB curable ink system that provides higher quality print with lower overall cost and is earth friendly too.”

Jill Ahern, senior director, consulting services, Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions:

“Definitely mass customization. Being able to cost effectively and instantaneously customize goods for consumer segments, geographic regions or even on an individual item level will be a key capability and source of competitive advantage in the near future. I think the next ‘hot’ technology will be in advanced functional printing—everything from batteries to advanced taggant inks to technologies yet to be developed. As the role of packaging evolves, cost-effective printed elements will be a key enabler.”

Kelly Robinson, PE, PhD, owner, Electrostatic Answers:

“From the perspective of preventing losses from static electricity, the single most important technology that every converter and package printer should have is an on-line static monitor that is data logged. This provides a history of static for a run, and, if there is a problem, offers some clues about just what went wrong.”

“There are so many new technologies and topics covering all sectors of the industry that it’s difficult to keep up with the information you need to know to compete and grow your business,” the organizers say. “How do you decide which investments will give you the best return? Attending CPP EXPO will allow you to meet and learn from hundreds of experts in one place.” Registration is available here.