Harveer Sahni, managing director of Weldon Celloplast and label industry enthusiast, recently caught up with Tomas Rink, president of the Ritrama Group and the 2013 winner of the R. Stanton Avery Lifetime achievement award. The topic of conversation was Ritrama's new Core Linerless Solution, a technology unveiled at Labelexpo in Brussels that's touted to bring linerless labeling to the forefront of the industry. Also in the conversation is Tarcisio Scapinelli, president of ILTI, the Italian dispensing machine supplier that's part of this linerless labeling partnership.
Harveer Sahni (HS): At Labelexpo Europe, Ritrama, ILTI and Prati successfully created a buzz with its Core Linerless Solution, a technology designed to eliminate the liner wastage totally. How did the idea evolve?
Tomas Rink (TR): The idea of developing it came from my extensive debate last year with you; and then the consecutive discussion with Italian Labelling Technology Industry (ILTI). ILTI was doing some tests on substrates when Scapinelli expressed his wish to meet me and discuss something. He asked me: "Why can’t we find a way out to eliminate the liner all together?" That’s when I came up with the solution of developing a traditional material using traditional technology, which can be later converted into a linerless solution.
HS: Even for a labelstock manufacturer like me, the idea is fascinating. I find the idea so simple that it boggles my mind why nobody could come up with this solution earlier. You have eliminated the liner completely. Normally, one would print on a 50 micron film and then laminate it with a 62 gsm liner and use it. However, here, the final labelstock face material is only 37 microns instead of 50 microns. The technology is, making a self adhesive laminate with a 25 micron film and 12 micron filmic liner in a conventional manner. This would then be printed at full speed on a normal label press. Then, using Prati equipment, the liner would be removed, turned-around and laminated to the same facestock exposing the siliconized side on top and rewound like an adhesive tape. The ILTI dispenser would cut and dispense these labels on to the product. So, in effect, you are using a lesser thicknesss of face material, that is 37 microns instead of 50 microns, which translates into lesser weight for each reel of labelstock and no liner going to the landfill.
Tarcisio Scapinelli (TS):The patented technology is simple, yet intricate in application. In the Core Linerless Solution, once the facestock is printed, the liner is split, and using a patented technology, imposed as a laminate over the facestock to render a protective layer. The Prati machine for printing and converting as well as the dispensing machine from ILTI highlighted at the show were prototypes.
HS: Just before dispensing it seems you use microperforation and use a gentle push-and-stick technique on the label before applying it on the package. But does micro-perforation offer a clear edge when slit with a pressure technique?
TS: Yes, we microperforate the label. However, just before the label reaches the applicator it is slit using a splicer that renders a clean edge to the label. Microperforation helps in the process and doesn’t slow down the machine. Since both the liner-come-laminate and the facestock are clear films, the need for diecutting the labels is also eliminated. This means that the machine will enable printers to print one to 1.5 meters continuously and then slit it to finish it. Label printers will discontinue printing in smaller widths. One of the limitations that restricted the length and speed was the diecutting process. Core Linerless Solution eliminates the need for diecutting. It also means that there would be lesser machine stops, and, in turn, higher productivity.
HS: Do you expect this technology to develop further? Also do you feel threatened that the technology can be adapted by other players since your technique is not very different from the traditional methods of labelstock manufacturing?
TR: It is a patented technology, especially the process of using the liner as an overlaminate. Therefore, any form of copying will be violation of the patent. As far as future development is concerned, every technology, including this, is open for development – that’s how they evolve. However, I do not see many changes with this technology.
HS: Although, the Indian label market is taking baby-steps in adoption of filmic labels, when do you expect your Core Linerless Solution to make inroads to India?
TR: We are working on finding a good pilot project to begin supplying this technology in India. We recently have found a Brazil-based paper and paperboard label printing company who has aligned with us for the pilot project. We do find India an interesting market, but investing in a good pilot project is something that is making us wait.
HS: Around one-billion square meters of liner ends as waste in India. Solutions like this would most certainly make a big impact. However, manufacturers like Ritrama should push the government to bring in legislation regarding this.
This interview was first published in PrintWeek India.