Discussion on Linerless developments at Label Expo focused on terminology, the history of linerless and significantly, a realisation by existing material suppliers of the new opportunities available.
Monoweb, the first significant Linerless technology launched in the 1980’s offered a functional system but still delivered waste to the end user, all with adhesive coating.Pictured is a typical machine designed and built by Turpin Engineering in the UK. Another machine successfully labelled squeezable Heinz Tomato sauce bottles at 300 per minute, but the comlexity of on line label shape die-cutting whilst still delivering waste proved unaccepable to this major FMGG company, and as a consequence the project failed.
Proven eliminating waste advantages with Catchpoint labels means printers can invest in adhesive coating systems with confidence. Sustainability concerns will encourage a response, both in terms of new ideas and appropriate capacity.
Existing material suppliers can support and gain from the linerless movement. Inflation is changing cost profiles, and this will drive innovation. With the elimination of liner in many applications suppliers can focus on higher value added products. End users will still focus on convenience and total applied cost, and for many interactive and promotional labels liners will remain essential.
However since Labour costs at the converter will clearly not increase at the same rate as materials for the laminators, there will be a change in relative advantages encouraging different investments, even though the sustainability drive may be gradual in difficult economic conditions.
New concepts, such as further development of adhesive coatings activated in the label applicator, clear films with release coatings which can be reverse printed, and opportunities to turn liner waste into other useful materials for the packer are some of the other possibilities existing material suppliers should consider – FINAT’s “Blue Ocean” theme highlights the continued need for the label industry in all aspects to continue to embrace innovation.