Beneath the surface

From atmospheric conditions and print processes to moisture, paper, adhesives and end use, there are myriad factors that affect drinks labels.

By Henry Miles

Arconvert, part of the Fedrigoni Group, is a global leader in the production of pressure-sensitive papers and films for the label industry, and its Manter brand supplies demanding markets such as food, wine and spirits, cosmetics and luxury sectors. Arconvert offers a huge choice of uncoated embossed, felt-marked, laid, soft-touch, pearly and metallised papers, plus an impressive array of pulp-coloured papers. Manter’s beautiful papers are suitable for most printing techniques.

According to Girona-based Susana Fajardo, who is responsible for Arconvert’s business development in the UK, ‘a big change in the European label market in recent years has been the move from wet glue to pressure-sensitive labels, which are easily applied to products with light pressure. These self-adhesive materials are paper or synthetic substrates which already have the adhesive on them before they are printed and converted into labels.’

The pressure-sensitive material consists of four or five layers – the paper or film liner which carries the adhesive-coated face material; the silicone release coating which prevents the adhesive sticking too tightly to the liner; the adhesive, which differs depending on the label’s final application; the facestock (paper, film, cork, etc.) and, finally, the optional top coating, which provides expanded printing possibilities. Sometimes a barrier coat is applied behind the facestock to prevent water absorption.

Arconvert offers paper and synthetic liners, as well as acrylic and hotmelt adhesives. Synthetic liners are used when greater resistance is needed for high-speed labelling, for example during beer bottling, or for demanding printing processes. Today, water-based acrylic pressure-sensitive adhesives are preferred as they offer good machine runnability especially during die-cutting. They also perform well where the label is exposed to humid environments, for example when condensation forms on a glass bottle, as the molecules in the adhesive form bonds with the water molecules on the bottle improving adhesion. Hotmelt adhesive is used when an aggressive permanent adhesive is required with the fastest adhesion possible.

Recently Arconvert’s R&D Lab released its X-DryTM technology, which, says Fajardo, is a ‘revolutionary waterproof solution that means labels can withstand the cold, wet and humid environments of fridges and ice buckets.’ Combined with SH9020TM, Arconvert’s new permanent acrylic adhesive which prevents bubbles, wrinkles and edge-lifting, X-Drywine labels can remain flawless while submerged in ice and water for four hours or more.

Mike Fairley, ‘label guru’ and co-founder of Labels and Labeling magazine, notes the increasing importance that labels play in guaranteeing the authenticity of wine and spirits.
He suggests:

‘If an anti-counterfeiting element is required, try to incorporate it from the start. It is possible to use substrate, inks and print technology to build layers of security features that are tough to replicate.’

As for current developments, Fairley says that ‘new generations of hybrid conventional and digital printing presses, with sophisticated embellishment capabilities, are opening up totally new possibilities.’ The Manter IDP range is certified for digital printing with Indigo technology, thanks to a special coating treatment developed in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard. The IDP range is part of a larger series of products suitable for digital printing.

Arconvert provides pre- and post-sales technical support to printers and designers, to help ensure the material suits the end use, or if special inks or printing effects are used. With 90 per cent of its range coming from Fedrigoni mills, Arconvert can provide customers with quality and logistics consistency as the same materials can be used across wet glue labels, self-adhesive labels and packaging, all deriving from the same batches and dye lots to create a fully coordinated product. Fajardo notes that designers and clients are increasingly concerned about environmentally responsible options.

Manter offers the largest range of FSCTM certified premium pressure-sensitive papers in the industry, as well as papers produced using sustainable fibres.