Celebrating its 10th year, March’s 2017 Converters Expo boasted about 20 percent more exhibitors combined with an impressive growth in attendees. At the heart of the nation’s largest converting corridor in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the expo showcased the latest in converting techniques, packaging and related services.

Displays at the expo ran the full gamut, with virtually everything involved in making products using paper, film, laminate structures, printed substrates, adhesives and coatings, pouches and more. From prototyping to finishing, packaging to logistics, experts were on hand to assist product developers, engineers, buyers and those looking for contract manufacturing.

Trends in Converting

More complex converting processes are enabling product developers to offer niche specialty items with more features. In addition, large-scale commodity costs are being improved due to higher levels of efficiency.

Laminating, coating and printing are more interrelated than ever. For example, many printers are expanding their converting lineup, now offering coated and laminated materials. Coatings can add protection and barrier properties to flexographically-printed packaging materials. Laminations allow for two-sided materials, such as heat-sealable film to a paper, a non-woven or another type of film.

Custom work by converters also confirms strong interest in specialty converting. Attendees learned that close collaboration is the way converters offer the newest ideas and can improve on their customers’ concepts. Many companies are also moving deeper into multiple converting processes for both convenience and cross-combinations.

A show focus was in the way film, paper and non-woven roll goods are combined for better product benefits. Because of combinations, products can have:

  • A smooth side and second side with absorbency, such as medical goods that have a barrier backside and moisture-grabbing frontside.
  • A sandwich consisting of a package peel-back made possible by printed film, silicone coating, adhesive and metalized or other layering.

Exhibitors also presented product manufacturing possibilities for protection, aesthetics, strength, softness, stretch and many other characteristics.

Some of the experts telling the story:

  • Adhesives supplier Adhesives Research offers tape technology and high-slip splicing tapes. Capital Adhesives’ story is centered around consistency and technical support. Morchem’s lineup ranges from hot-melt adhesives to primers and additives. Wikoff inks and coatings support printers and coating converters.
  • Loparex and Contract Converting work the liners and label stock side of the industry. Converted Products, Corydon, Nichols Paper and Perftech each offer a unique range of converting support from spooling, to narrow and wide widths, release liners, waxing, creping and perforating.
  • Paper and films are the expected materials for converting. However, various non-wovens are increasingly joining materials combinations because of additional benefits. Georgia-Pacific absorbent non-wovens can be laminated to films, and they are often stronger than paper and tissue. They can become linen-like napkins and used to produce wipe products.
  • Spuntech Industries offers another type of non-woven for stronger fabrics because of its synthetic fiber content.
  • Specialty films come from exhibitors such as Astro Films global exports, Charter NEX blown and cast films, FILMtech metalized and barrier films, and Filmquest, a large converter of PET film.
  • Specialties extend even to shipping crates. Dura-Fibre does not hang its hat on the old-school offerings. It supports shippers that need a product that’s stronger than corrugate, but where wood is overkill.
  • RD Prototype specializes in the latest clear prototype packaging, a step crucial to initial concepts. ASPIRO, Inc. and ProAmpac represent regional and international packaging. Suppliers including Optima-USA are skilled in equipment expertise for packaging, a final step in converting, but the first impression experienced by consumers.

Equipment and services suppliers were also strong at this year’s show. Advances in equipment capabilities and efficiency enable today’s converting successes. From complete production lines all the way through packaging, products roll off the line seamlessly. For example, Elsner Engineering delivers processing lines for wet wipes that cut non-wovens, add liquids, and fold and fill packages in one smooth operation. PCMC manufactures production lines with its partners in focused markets from tissue to non-wovens. RG Engineering has its automated, modular constructed equipment.

Additional suppliers serve production segments or add enhancements:

  • Ashe Converting Equipment, Associated Machine Design, Atlas Converting, Catbridge Machinery, Deacro Industries, Elite Cameron, GL&V, Jennerjahn Machine, Kampf Machinery, Parkinson Technologies and PCMC were some of the slitting/rewinding machine specialists. The slitting/rewinding converting process has long been a basic in roll breakdown, but precision and efficiency continue to grow.
  • High-efficiency coating, laminating and printing machines were represented by Davis-Standard, KBA, Faustel, Frontier, Nordmeccanica and SAM-NA.
  • Environmental support was represented by a range of machinery companies from Adwest Technologies to Catalytic Products International. Michelman’s primers and coatings are environmentally friendly for printers. Recycling systems from Process Control Corp. and PureLoop are expert suppliers.

So many diverse aspects of converting are part of the Converters Expo world. Analysis, data, control and detection systems really do provide solutions and eliminate roadblocks. Allied rollers, knives, cores, lasers and advanced machining are so strong in the nearby region.

It’s the busy converting corridor where the thriving Converters Expo will be back to tout the latest emphasis in 2018.