“We are definitely seeing a very high demand in the marketplace, and it’s coming from e-commerce,” explains Kelli Jo Messer, marketing director, Prime Paper & Variable Information at Avery Dennison. “Converters are continuing to get better at using paper, and the inks and converting presses are getting better, so the demand has definitely been increasing.”
Sustainability has been a key driver in paper development. Not only can suppliers create solutions that are friendlier to the environment, but the newest paper substrates are more efficient and effective for the bottom line. “As always, sustainable products are regularly requested, including papers made with post-consumer waste and FSC-certified materials,” says Patricia Mulvey, marketing manager at Green Bay Packaging. “In the end, most printers are still choosing the ‘non-green’ papers, but increasing numbers are interested in the sustainable offerings.”
In addition, the emergence of digital printing has necessitated the need for paper substrates that have been optimized for the major digital OEM presses. “There continues to be growth in inkjet and digital paper constructions and demands, especially as inkjet technologies improve,” says Ed Klene, marketing director at Technicote. “Customers see the value in short runs, quicker and cheaper job setup costs, and personalization and versioning with digital. Most digital printing methods require top coats or surface treatments specific to papers and the specific inkjet technology being used, such as aqueous inkjet, UV curable inkjet or others.”
There are various trends associated with paper substrates, as well. “Much like with films, down-gauging has been a popular trend,” says Joel Ulrich, roll product manager at Spinnaker Coating. “Converters want cheaper pricing and the ability to get more labels per roll. “Another evolution has been the development of many new top coatings for the paper market to help with various needs such as digital printing and/or added chemical resistance.
“The paper market as a whole is ultra-competitive right now,” adds Ulrich. “Particularly in the commodity grades such as semi-gloss, thermal transfer and direct thermal.”
Klene adds that the proliferation of the craft brewing and craft spirits industries has increased demand for uncoated, higher basis weight papers that convey craftsmanship and uniqueness in the visual appearance and hand feel of the papers. Additionally, prime labels for consumer goods have driven growth in specialty papers, like coated, metalized and holographic.
Here is a look at some of the latest paper-based label materials that suppliers are offering, as well as their service capabilities:
Avery Dennison has designed several adhesives to complement its wide range of paper facestocks. The company has introduced TrueCut, which is a general purpose permanent adhesive that delivers better adhesion, especially at low temperatures, for FSC-certified facestocks and prime papers. CleanFlake adhesive technology allows for clean removal from PET containers during the recycling process.
Sustainability plays a central role for the substrate and adhesive provider. “Avery Dennison, by 2025, plans to source 100% of the certified claimed paper, and 70% of that will be FSC,” explains Avery Dennison’s Messer. “In North America, which is really heavily focused on FSC-certified solutions, we are currently at 80%.”
Avery Dennison is also offering two new products for thin mobile printing and tight mandrel. The 330 TM and 330 MP lines provide increased productivity and more labels per roll because of a reduced caliper.
Avery Dennison’s advantage lies in its service, Messer says, which is designed to pair a tailored solution to each customer. “We have our AD Advantage program, which is really all of our technical services that we have available for customers, whether it’s having regional technical managers out in the field who will go to a customer, or you can email, call and have a live chat on technical support,” she adds. “We’re just a phone call away.”
Exact and Ready Width are programs featuring more than 100 products that can be ordered at exact roll widths. The Engineered Solutions team is also part of the AD Advantage program. “If we don’t have something in our catalog or online, we’ll work with you to understand the needs of the customer to create something specific for that for that solution, and it’s a nice thing to take advantage of,” explains Messer. “We offer that to all our customers for whatever the application is.”
Green Bay Packaging
Green Bay Packaging has developed a host of new paper solutions for converters. These include a thinner, more flexible high gloss paper, as well as thinner fluorescents. “Being thinner is also a bit less expensive and allows more labels on a roll,” explains Green Bay Packaging’s Mulvey. “Since much fluorescent paper is used in pricing guns, getting those extra labels on the roll is a big advantage. Also, some guns are now smaller, and this thinner stock allows a useful amount of labels to be loaded into the gun.”
In order to help pharmaceutical printers with accuracy, Green Bay Packaging has designed a cleaner semi-gloss paper to reduce contamination from dust and debris that might come from the labelstock. Green Bay is also offering paper substrates that are environmentally-friendly while maintaining graphic integrity. Polar White Wet Strength paper contains an extruded barrier coating on the back that keeps the label opaque, even when wet. This is especially helpful for wineries, breweries or other end users with wet applications.
“There is a continuing push from our customers for lower cost materials, which usually means thinner,” says Mulvey. “This reduces the initial product price and can provide additional benefits like more labels on a roll, lower shipping costs and a reduced use of resources, which means the thinner stocks are more environmentally-friendly. Printers want to run faster for greater throughput, and presses are being designed to meet that need. This means the labelstock must be designed to handle these higher press speeds.”
Neenah is a substrate provider offering paper-based and synthetic products, and everything in between. The company’s Endura durable paper product portfolio is a paper-based offering that performs like a film-based (synthetic) product. In addition, it is BS 5609 certified for chemical labeling for overseas marine shipment applications.
“We pioneered durable label and tags with synthetic paper more than 40 years ago while keeping our innovations fresh and relevant with offerings like Endura durable paper,” explains Gracy Wingkono, product manager - Performance Labels and Specialties at Neenah. “It enables durable printing using laser or inkjet while eliminating the need to use PVC-based products when high durability is needed but price sensitivity is high.”
Neenah’s Kimdura product line is a synthetic label portfolio that eliminates the need for pre-printed labels (full-color POD printing with inkjet). It also does not require lamination of the labels with a clear laminate.
Neenah’s paper products are designed for durability, regardless of the printing method. The company has established four pillars of product design (Durability, Printability/Runnability, Appearance, and Conformability) to meet its customers’ needs. “When someone purchases and uses Neenah’s products – it’s more than the product itself that matters,” says Wingkono. “The people, culture, assets, processes and experience/skill/knowledge within Neenah’s team are the main powerhouse to ensure customer satisfaction. We have world-class R&D, operations and ISO 9001 certified mills.”
Most recently, PPG launched its Teslin labelstock, which is a durable, secure and highly printable synthetic paper that excels in applications that demand a tough, high-performance material. This new product line is available in master and slit-roll forms, and can be combined with high-quality adhesives and liner materials to ensure that critical printed data remains protected on labels. The labels can be ordered for standard applications or those with BS 5609 requirements.
“It is broadly accepted that you can’t run just any synthetic paper or printable plastic through a digital press,” explains Fabrizio Mandingorra, PPG business development manager, Teslin Substrate. “Most substrates have to be specially coated for ink to adhere. You also need to make sure you use a substrate that will accept the toner or ink and won’t melt, damaging your machine and possibly voiding the equipment warranty. The broad adoption of digital printing is forcing synthetic paper manufacturers to focus on digital optimization. An exception is Teslin. It does well in this area because it is compatible with most digital print technologies and can be used across a broad array of applications when durability is needed. No top coat or over varnish is needed, making Teslin easier to use than other synthetics and printable plastics.”
According to Mandingorra, Teslin substrates are seeing increased usage in growth areas like chemical labels and supply chain security. These labels often require protection against counterfeiting and tampering. With new applications, the company provides knowledgeable and highly trained technical and customer service teams to help customers navigate new materials. “It all starts with a thorough understanding of the requirements for the application,” he adds.
For the cut and stack label market, Sappi is now offering LusterCote packaging, which has been optimized for flexo and offset printing. LusterCote is a coated one-side (C1S) product, and it performs well with both hot melt and wet adhesives in a wide variety of converting applications.
“Press operators rave about how the sheet performs on press, and graphic designers and brand owners will love the print fidelity,” explains Michael Browne, brand manager, Packaging Papers, at Sappi North America. “Additional applications for LusterCote include banderole for yogurt pots, base sheet for metalizing, PS label face sheet, litho laminating, posters, book dust jackets and more.”
As part of Sappi’s 2020 Vision global strategy, the company continues to grow diversified wood fiber groups focused on dissolving wood pulp, paper and products in adjacent fields.
Even though converters are exploring new methods of print such as flexible packaging, Browne still anticipates paper growth for Sappi. “We believe there’s an opportunity for paper and other sustainable substrates to gain market share,” he says.” Paper is a renewable resource and has nearly seven times the recovery rates of plastic, which is generally derived from fossil fuels.”
To enhance the customer experience, Sappi has also designed its website to enable track-and-trace capabilities on shipments, check stock availability, and print documents like shipping invoices. The website is mobile friendly, as well.
“Our e-commerce capabilities are like having our inside sales team at your command. You can also count on our dedicated inside and outside sales teams to deliver outstanding customer service,” adds Browne.
Spinnaker has recently launched three new paper facestocks for the industry. A lightweight, top coated paper, 38# CTT has excellent thermal transfer imaging properties, and its thinner profile allows for more labels per roll. Meanwhile, ScanTherm Industrial is a direct thermal paper with a chemically resistant topcoating that provides enhanced image durability in industrial environments where chemicals and other cleaners may be present. The higher activation temperature offers more durability than a standard direct thermal product, says Spinnaker’s Ulrich. Finally, Satin Matte Inkjet Cover-up Paper is an opaque matte paper that is designed to be compatible with most desktop, roll-to-roll and wide-format water-based inkjet printers. This sheet delivers excellent photo images, color graphics and sharp text. It has good water fastness and wet-rub characteristics, too.
“With the addition of many digital OEM’s in the label market, the biggest challenge becomes continuing to develop the right paper products with the right top coatings that print using each particular technology, whether it be UV inkjet, water-based inkjet, toner, etc.,” explains Ulrich.
Spinnaker offers a comprehensive customer service program designed to handle converter challenges. “Customer service is the center of everything that we do,” adds Ulrich. “The Technical Consulting team is always available to help troubleshoot specific applications and help the customer choose the correct product, the first time. Our industry-leading Trimless program allows our customers to only order what they need, with a minimum order requirement of 3" x 5,000'. In today’s world of Lean Manufacturing, we don’t force our customers to order a lot of extra material that they may not need at that time.”
Technicote provides cost-effective roll solutions to label converters in the United States, Latin America and Canada. The company has forged good working relationships with its vendor network, allowing for new pressure sensitive constructions for an expanding customer base.
According to Technicote’s Klene, one of the areas in which the supplier excels is in providing patterned adhesives, which allow for easier converting. Technicote can offer patterns with large ungummed areas. By developing its own perf wheels, Technicote can also offer the right perforation to prevent bubbling in the label construction.
“With cost pressures in the industry, the ease of converting and increase in press speeds are important factors for our customers in choosing the right label construction,” says Klene.
Technicote offers a full line of laser, thermal transfer and direct thermal products. “With the growth of Amazon and online shopping, the industry is seeing a rise in laser and direct thermal transfer paper constructions,” says Klene. “Within that segment, we are seeing a transition from thermal transfer to direct thermal.”
To meet the demands of shorter runs, Technicote’s new Tech 25 program allows customers to order as low as 2,500 feet of custom coated roll label products. “Technicote also supports our customers by bringing technical experts on-site to trials. To meet our customers’ needs for always-ready products, Technicote partners to offer customer specific and product specific stock programs for two-day shipment,” he adds.
UPM Ralatac offers many high-gloss, semi-gloss and thermal transfer papers to handle a wide range of applications. Its high-gloss products feature a coated face paper and are specially designed for prime labeling applications, including multi-color promotional and product-enhancing labels. The semi-gloss offerings are geared toward end uses in food, pharmaceutical, retail and industrial products. The papers can accommodate accurate color reproduction, as well as reliable matrix stripping and trouble-free dispensing.
The company has recently launched its 60# Raflacoat Premium range. The product’s clean, white appearance, and excellent gloss and smoothness are suitable for any prime applications that require brightly colored text and graphics for enhanced shelf appeal, including food, retail and personal care labeling. Featuring a true 60# semi-gloss face paper paired with a variety of adhesives and liners, these new label materials are designed to help products pop on the shelf.
UPM Raflatac’s Aluminum Super Emboss material is a metalized paper that has been embossed with ink to achieve a coin-like effect. In addition, the company offers a number of wet strength papers designed to accommodate moisture. This is especially helpful with wine and beverage labels, especially those submerged in an ice bucket.
According to UPM Raflatac, its diverse range of paper materials offer excellent versatility and can be customized to fit the shape of the product. UPM Raflatac will also frequently work directly with converters to develop a tailored solution to fit their need.
Verso has recently developed papers for heavy weight wet strength labels featuring finishes for craft beverage, wine and spirits applications, and inkjet for direct food contact applications. The company has designed its portfolio for durability, functionality and printability throughout a wide range of applications. Its specialty papers portfolio includes over 180 specialty paper grades in a varied portfolio ranging from 20 lb. papers to 12 pt. board.
“Our latest product launch includes bleached and natural kraft machine-glazed papers for food service and flexible packaging applications,” explains Cory Boettcher, Verso specialty brand manager. “At Verso, we are continuously improving our industry-leading pressure sensitive paper portfolio, which is the largest in North America, featuring over 30 pressure sensitive label facestock papers and over 30 release liner base papers.”
Verso has a technical service team to help customers navigate a range of challenges, from costs to regulatory requirements. “A common constraint is the asset capability at the disposal of the developer,” says Boettcher. “Newer paper making or coating technologies may be available as capital upgrades, which are not only expensive, but also require several months to design, install and calibrate. Therefore, working within the asset capability constraints is often a limiting factor for the developer in the final performance of the product produced. Recently, regulatory actions, such as compostablity requirements or banning of specific chemistries in different countries, states or locales, have driven some market developments.”
Verso has also optimized its papers for digital printing. “With digital printing, the toners and inks, print technology and drying systems are more unique, complex and diverse. This leads to more reliance on OEMs and field testing, which lengthens development cycles and time to market,” says Scott Peplinski, Verso specialty product development manager. “In addition, these diverse digital applications are more critical due to the way they interact with paper surfaces, including adhesion and durability, dry time and print quality.”
Wausau Coated Products
Wausau Coated Products is providing its customers an improvement and upgrade of the company’s EverOpaque product line. The next-generation EverOpaque XL combines elegant papers with an upgrade in dry and wet label appearance for a breakthrough in wine and spirits labeling. In addition, Wausau offers new dissolvable and digital solutions.
“Our inkjet paper offerings grow almost monthly, with new materials for aqueous and UV-cure lines,” says Kelly Kubisiak, marketing manager at Wausau Coated Products. “We scour the earth for the best papers, plus do custom inkjet coatings, as well. After years without a dissolvable paper supplier in North America, we are adding Dispersa from Neenah for wash-away or dissolvable label uses.”
Wausau Coated Products works closely with its customers to tailor digital papers to their specific presses. The goal is to optimize products that will pop off the shelf. “Matching a paper substrate, treated or untreated, to a press make and model number is a challenge that we meet through close ties with OEMs, owning machines of our own, and providing start-up kits to new press owners and doing technical service follow-ups at our customers,” explains Jim Sheibley, executive VP of sales and marketing. “Our WCP Digital Reference Guide has been a big hit at conferences, expos, and online with those choosing which press to buy or finding labelstock that they can rely on all the time.”
The company’s technology group also works to produce best-in-class minimum order quantities, allowing customers to experiment with different jobs. Wausau will often build functional prototypes when a special inquiry comes in for a custom material.
Zanders has noticed a growing demand for paper due to the proliferation of digital printing. The company’s latest product launch is a high-speed inkjet paper named Zanjet. It is specifically certified for HP and part of the ColorPRO Technology Partnership Program. Zanjet is available in gloss and silk surfaces, as well as a gsm range from 90 to 250 gsm. It is also printable up to 150 m/m.
In addition, Zanders has added Zanbarrier OGR, an uncoated grease and oil resistant wrapping and bag paper, and Zanpack silk, double-coated on one side, with an exceptionally smooth surface and matte silk touch. Meanwhile, Zanpack touch has an uncoated surface, giving a grainier, more natural touch. This product is available with tinted base board and colored backside coating.
“We are constantly developing our gsm offers,” explains John Tucker, sales director at Zanders GmbH. “Just recently, we expanded the Zanpack range by heavy weight grades: One-side double-coated Zanpack silk is now available in 450 gsm, two-side double-coated Zanpack silk2 is offered new in 450, 490 and 560 gsm.”
Zanders has worked extensively to keep up with the burgeoning digital demands of its customers. “Market demands can develop very fast such as through the launch of new digital printing presses, which can challenge product development,” says Tucker. “Zanders is well-positioned here. We have launched several products in the last two years and are constantly augmenting and optimizing our product ranges. Zanders has a long history in producing paper for digital printing. Our digital print grades are ideally suited for high-quality packaging, as well as graphic applications.”