Gulf States Label prints for its direct customers and converts pressure sensitive rolls into sheets for a large number of local printers. One of Gulf States Label’s largest customers, Print Systems Inc., uses four Konica Minolta toner-based digital presses, producing close to 2 million sheets per year. The core business is chemical drum labels that must be BS 5609-certified to meet IMDG and GHS compliance. For this particular application, speed is critical to Print Systems, as most of its orders are on-demand. Prior to discovering Teslin, Print Systems used polyester label materials, which caused significant static issues during printing. Also, considerable time was wasted separating sheets of labels.
One of the benefits of using Teslin labelstock is its ability to dissipate static. This resolved Print Systems’ issue entirely while reducing potential static discharge when removing label liners (which could potentially ignite chemical and solvent vapors in certain manufacturing environments).It is estimated that there over $70 million dollars in label sales in the Houston area; yet with only a handful of converters in Texas’ largest city, much of that work has been sent out of the Texas state area. Gulf States Label, a mid-sized converter in the northwest section of the city, bucks against this trend and has been steadily growing its label business for the past 15 years. Gulf States Label operates in a 17,500 square foot manufacturing facility, with six conventional Mark Andy presses, a Primera CX1200 digital printer and custom cut abilities.
Gulf States runs lean. “We have no marketing or sales team, so we must rely on our quality reputation, continuous improvement and our ability to find the right solutions to continue to keep growing our business. Teslin labelstock was the ideal answer to a major issue facing one of our largest customers. We love this material - it prints beautifully and cuts better than polyester,” according to Mike Williams and Bob Nicolosi, co-owners of Gulf States Label.
With Gulf States Label achieving its impressive growth rate without the benefit of a sales or marketing team, Nicolosi acknowledges that the small company must rely on “word-of-mouth, good service and great quality” to sustain its growth rate. Ownership understands the importance of bringing new products and solutions to customers.
Gulf States Label converts rolls of pressure sensitive material into 8.5" x 11" and 11" x 17" sheets for Print Systems, who then prints chemical drum labels that meet IMDG and GHS compliance standards.
Founded in 1992, and also located in Houston, Print Systems produces close to 2 million sheets per year, and its multinational chemical clients rely more and more on “just-in-time” inventories. Traditional printing methods and turnaround times cannot adjust quickly enough to keep these customers satisfied. Print Systems owner Bill Turo notes that, as a result, “Today, we print the vast majority of orders on-demand and ship anywhere in the world in two days or less.”
Prior to discovering Teslin labelstock, Print Systems used a polyester-based PS label material, which caused significant static issues as the sheets came out of the digital printer. Nicolosi emphathized with his customer’s challenge because “static had always been a problem with polyester. If a label is being sheeted and run through a conveyor or traditional stacker, there is always a possibility that static will be created as the sheets come into contact with one another.”
The Gulf States Label production team spent considerable time on separating clumps of label sheets, and in a business where every minute counts, Turo needed a solution to this challenge of wasted productivity.
Turo read an article on durable labels and learned that PPG had recently begun producing its highly-printable Teslin synthetic material in four standard labelstock varieties that could run through digital presses. When he discovered that the Teslin material dissipates static, a lightbulb went off immediately.
“Teslin material was a godsend,” Turo says. “Most of my business is on-demand and requires almost instant turnaround. Static was significantly slowing us down as all our labels were sticking together as they came out of the digital press. Once we started using Teslin BS 5609-certified labels, I was able to double my workload without increasing our workforce, thus saving my company $120,000 annually. And my customers are thrilled with the quality of the printed drum labels.”
Teslin BS 5609-certified labelstock ran easily on Print Systems’ digital presses from day one, Turo recalls. Teslin labels enabled Turo to improve the efficiency of his workforce as they no longer needed to spend non-productive time pulling sheets apart. In addition, he adds, the speed and the heat of his fastest machine was no problem for the synthetic material.
In addition, a bonus benefit was in the fact that the Teslin labels prevented ghosting images that had occurred in the past with polyester.
The implementation process went smoothly, as Print Systems’ customers had no objections to the material change and were very satisfied with the quality of the vibrantly printed labels that met both IMDG and GHS standards. Other benefits, according to Gulf States, include the ability of Teslin labelstock to mold well around chemical drums and does not experience corner peeling or shrink when applied to a plastic container, as can occur with vinyl and polyester.
Avoid contamination with Simco-Ion
One of the greatest barriers to achieving high quality is contamination. Dust and other organic material are present in the air and on substrates. If this contamination lands on the material before manufacturing, the material is compromised throughout the entire process.
“Ultimately, contamination on material can pose a serious threat to the quality and appearance of the end product,” explains Sue Serveiss, marketing manager for Simco-Ion. “However, the application of high performance contact cleaning or non-contact web cleaning can dramatically improve yields, reduce waste, increase run time and increase quality ultimately leading to greater profitability and happier customers. Simco-Ion offers label converters various options for contamination control both in contact and non-contact form.”
Simco-Ion’s Teknek NWP Narrow Web Cleaner for industrial films and papers utilizes the Teknek Cleaning Core to remove surface contamination prior to printing, coating or laminating. “Teknek’s uniquely formulated elastomer rollers are manufactured in-house and have much higher performance and cleaning properties than ordinary tacky rolls or tacky rollers,” Serveiss says. “The large diameter elastomer rollers lift dry unattached particles down to a micron and transfer them to a reverse wound pre-sheeted adhesive roll. When the adhesive is full of contamination, a layer is easily removed, thus refreshing the roll.”
Operators have full side access to the Teknek Pre-Sheeted Adhesive Rolls for purging. This ensures the NWP can be fully integrated into the line or process. Threading up of the web is made easy with the opening top half of the NWP.
Clean webs, Manage static with Meech
The need to minimize waste and achieve higher levels of productivity are top priorities for label converters, who often struggle to determine whether contact or non-contact cleaners are the best option for dealing with the removal of contamination from their web process. Explains Matt Fyffe, VP/general manager for Meech International, “Both have their advantages for label printing applications, but the best results will only be achieved if the right cleaner is used for a specific job. Label converters have traditionally used tacky roller contact systems on their narrow web presses to remove contamination. Penetrating through the web boundary layer and physically picking up dry, unbonded contamination and removing it from the web surface, tacky roller contact cleaning systems provide excellent cleaning for filmic substrates. For paper or board, which typically carry higher contamination levels, contact vacuum systems or non-contact systems are more commonly used.”
A contact cleaning system, such as Meech’s TakClean (tacky roller), Fyffe says, features a design that allows operators to see the contamination being collected on a second adhesive roll, which removes debris from the first roll that makes contact with the web surface. “Monitoring of the second roller is imperative – because while contact systems are reliable, contamination will build up unless the roll is checked and changed on a regular basis. Unchanged rolls will see gradual deterioration until the adhesive is refreshed,” says Fyffe.
Due to the limited lifespan of adhesive rolls, contact web cleaning may not be suitable for more heavily contaminated substrate materials. CyClean, Meech’s non-contact web cleaning system, is capable of removing contamination to below 1 micron and incorporates fluid dynamic principles to deliver higher levels of cleanliness for label printing applications. “Using a blow-and-vacuum system, CyClean produces a powerful blowing airflow on either side of the web to strip the boundary layer and all traces of contamination from the web’s surface. The presence of vacuum airflows ensure that turbulent air is captured and subsequently removed – it is an efficient method, and due to its compact size, integration into existing web lines is more straightforward.
“In order to guarantee maximum web performance, cleaning systems should be installed as close to the critical application as possible,” Fyffe says. “In addition, the installation of static control technology should be of vital importance to the web cleaning process. Left untreated, webs with static charges on them will attract dust, dirt and other contaminants – this can impact final product appearance, leading to wastage and potential downtime as debris can block up important machinery on the production line.”