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Plastics pounce on paper labels

Pauline Covell reports from Interpack, Düsseldorf

With 174,000 visitors from 103 countries passing through the doors of Interpack, converters from around the globe exhibiting at the show could take heart from the prospect of increased business.

A total of 2,557 exhibitors from 51 countries showcased their goods and services over 150,000m² of space.

Two major developments at the show came from the cut and stack labelling area where converted plastics looks set to launch a major attack on wet glue paper.

Label opportunity

With adhesive coating and curing in the labeller, an innovative patented technol-ogy that allows pressure sensitive-like OPP labels to be applied with modified cut and stack labelling equipment will, it is claimed, dramatically expand the decorative possibilities of this style of labelling machinery.

The TOppCure technology, a development of AET Films, was discussed on the stand of Krones, whose equipment is included in a demonstration facility in AET’s Delaware, USA R&D facility. A complete labelling line, comprising a case unpacker, conveyers, a fully modified Krones Topmatic labeller and repackaging equipment, enables AET to demonstrate its proprietary technology at production speeds. Converting Today saw effectively labelled and pasteurizable glass bottle samples (even over the mould line), and AET director of label market development Rob Carter said the technology would run equally well on plastics containers.

In the process, a specially formulated adhesive is applied, through an accurate metering system, to label pallets that individually remove labels from a modified magazine. In other words, the adhesive is almost printed onto the label. These pallets then transmit the labels to a transfer wheel, when the label adhesive passes through an irradiation zone where it is UV cured.

Next the label is located precisely on the container where it adheres strongly, resulting in a final labelled product with the appearance similar to a typical pressure sensitive label. Commercial speeds of 550-600 labels/min are forecast.

Rob Carter said: “The company has been working on this project for the last four years and it is still in its final phases of development. It is planned that it will be commercially available at the end of August.” He explained: “We are at Interpack naturally to gauge further interest, but we are also using this opportunity to talk to converters. We plan to have an approved list of qualified converters. There is film expertise, but it is also about converting expertise. The die cut labels have to be in register and some may need to have a tactile feel. Anti static is also crucial.”

It is also understood to be significantly cheaper than pressure sensitive clear labelling. And flow-out time is shorter – “less than three days, as opposed to four with pressure sensitive”.

Film advance

Using PP in top class wet glue labelling applications has always been seen as a tough challenge, ExxonMobil told Converting Today. But now the company is aiming at the beer and beverage markets using glass or PET bottles, as well as detergents and cosmetics containers with its new films. It is understood that labels made from this film are being used by Coors in the USA.

Label-Lyte 85XP280, a white film designed for use in water-based wet glue cut and stack patch labelling, with an anti-static mirror finish metallized print surface, was seen on specially produced beer bottles at the company’s stand.

The film is compatible with solvent based flexo and gravure inks and is designed for use as a single web. It is said to offer excellent converting performance. Following printing, it is sheeted and cut for use on conventional magazine-fed labelling machines.

“The market looks extremely promis- ing,” said business manager Mirek Tokaj. “The film allows switching directly from paper without any machine modifications and provides an increased machine efficiency thanks to the moisture resistance offered by the OPP. It can be used with standard water based wet glues and its multi-layer cavitation structure allows the glue to dry as easily as it does on paper labels”. Basically, the film comprises a cold glue receptive layer, a high opacity cold glue receptive core, the proprietary layer for mirror finish and the outer mirror finish. The open channels from the core at the edges of the label allow the water to be squeezed out as the label is wiped on the bottle giving it a smooth surface.

The company also announced that Henkel France has revamped its Mir range of washing-up liquid by replacing traditional paper labels with glossy white Lithor 65LX001 ones applied on its existing wet glue labelling machines.