Whether you think of converting as the basics of slitting and winding, or the complex layering that can occur when laminating disparate substrates, there are always new developments that impact the latest in flexible packaging.

New avenues are appearing often. More exacting converting capabilities are introduced, which translates into flexible packaging also moving to new levels. When converting efficiency and automation happen, flexible packages can be more economically sound. If new developments in converting are realized, flexible packages can soar with a new look or offer better protection and convenience.

Converting encompasses transforming jumbo rolls of substrates by processes such as slitting, sheeting, flexographic printing, coating, laminating and ultimately, moving toward production of a product or package. On the other side, any film or substrate that is made into a bag, pouch or wrap for the purposes of protecting or carrying a product is flexible packaging.

Looking at the nation's top converting corridor stretching from the Green Bay, Wisc., area to metro Chicago, it's apparent that converters are holding their own during the rough economic patch the nation hit. The major converting centers in Wisconsin including Green Bay, Appleton and Oshkosh are reportedly 6.9 to 7.2 percent. This is a very impressive number when, since national unemployment has hovered around 9.4 to 9.9 percent in the past 20 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Onward and Upward

We must continue to consider non-traditional converting. As an industry, we must also be mindful of and try to develop converting and packaging that is not fully developed or has shortcomings.

In the broadest sense, flexible packaging and converting are parts of the important evidence that manufacturing is alive and well in the U.S. Innovation and high-tech efficiency are key reasons this industry remains to be a highly competitive. While quality has been a "given" since the '80s, it has also come roaring back as a reason to buy American. Added to the reasons to source nationally or regionally to cut back on transport costs, it means North American converters have the opportunity to push their advantages.

With a goal to tell the industry's converting stories more fully in the flexible packaging arena, Converting Influence is a great resource for Flexible Packaging magazine and its readers.

Continue the conversation with your colleagues and take advantage of any networking opportunity.