A quick trip down the health and beauty aids aisle of your local supermarket or drug store shows just how much consumer product packaging has changed in the past few years. More and more products such as household cleaners or personal care items are being made in eye-catching clear or semi-clear colors. In addition, to take advantage of that new look, the bottles they are packaged in are clear as well.
Product and package designers alike are constantly pushing the envelope to command consumer market share. This in turn has put a great deal of pressure on package and label manufacturers. The process presents a host of marketing and technological challenges. Clear bottles can provide additional marketing opportunities since there are more available areas on which to print product information or additional graphics (e.g., the back of the rear label that is now visible through the bottle and its contents).
The choice was clear (pardon the pun!): keep doing it the old way by placing a label on the back of the bottle and allow the glue and empty label surface to show through the bottle, or find a way to use this newly available surface to help market the product. Perhaps the single biggest challenge is the ink and adhesive quality on labels for the clear bottles. The UV process used to apply the adhesive requires an extremely well-treated web in order to ensure uniform, consistent coating; otherwise, light and heat in the process can melt or warp the sensitive film, resulting in uneven adhesion and poor-quality printing. A good, reliable corona treatment can make it possible to achieve the highest-possible consistency and quality on two-sided, four-color adhesive labels.
Earning the Label of Industry Leader
CCL Label, Inc. has risen to the challenge with an innovative and cost-effective solution. With the help of Corotec Corporation’s Uni-Dyne® narrow-web corona treating system, CCL Label, a division of CCL Industries, produces pressure-sensitive labels and labeling equipment for customers throughout North America. With more than a dozen facilities located in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, CCL Label is the clear industry leader in North America. CCL Industries recently purchased both Sonoco Engraph and Avery Dennison pressure-sensitive label businesses to add to CCL Label operations.
CCL Label’s facilities are equipped to handle various medium to long job runs of 50,000 to 300,000-foot webs. Several Gallus and Webtron combination press models are producing two-sided, four-color labels on a wide range of web materials.
Much of CCL Label’s business is in the health and beauty aids market: labels for shampoos, body washes, sunscreen, etc. CCL-produced labels can also be found on such products as household cleaners and any number of others marketed in clear bottles.
On a Clear Bottle You Can See Forever
Producing labels for clear bottles presents several hurdles that must be overcome. The adhesive has to be perfect and uniform, and the printing must be of the highest quality anything less not only raises costs for the label and product manufacturers, but could also hurt sales of the product. Wasted material caused by poor-quality adhesive and printing is simply unacceptable. To help ensure the quality of the labels, CCL Label purchases pre-treated top-coated film for their two-sided printing process, which can be very expensive.
The top-coated film runs through the press, where the untreated surface is corona treated and then printed with a UV-based ink. UV lights then cure (dry) the ink, and the UV adhesive is laid onto the film. The next step is to cure the wet adhesive before the peelable release paper is applied. If the film has not been adequately treated before adding and curing the adhesive, the UV light may cause the sensitive film to warp, destroying or distorting some of the adhesive and printing, and that can translate into unacceptable product and resulting film waste.
According to Frank Titus, production supervisor at CCL Label’s Shelton, Connecticut, facility, “We need the most efficient process possible one that not only ensures consistent, high-quality two-sided printing and adhesive coating, but that also helps us cut up-front operating and material procurement costs.” Corona treatment is ideal for this application because it ensures a reliably high-quality surface treatment for a wide variety of films and web materials.
Ease of Installation
After trying several manufacturers corona treatment systems, they quickly settled on the Corotec Uni-Dyne® corona treating system. The Uni-Dyne system efficiently and uniformly corona treats the film, allowing two-sided printing and the application and curing of the UV adhesive to the web surface without distortion. Among the biggest factors affecting CCL Label’s decision on the Corotec Uni-Dyne concept were its ease of installation and its unique “all-in-one” design once installed, all that’s needed is to plug it into a standard 120-volt power source and connect the ozone exhaust.
The Uni-Dyne needs very little maintenance or servicing, and whatever work might be needed is relatively easy. It’s extremely easy to use, and with addition of the optional Power Density Control, the Uni-Dyne system delivers consistently correct power density throughout the entire job run, eliminating guesswork and readjustment by the operators. In fact, Titus reported, “We haven’t heard a word from our operators since we installed the Uni-Dyne, which in this business is good news. If there were any problems at all with the system, you can bet we’d be hearing from them! The Uni-Dyne is so easy to install our own maintenance personnel did it themselves, in a fraction of the time that it typically takes expensive electricians and engineers to install other corona treating systems. But more than that, it’s been running like a dream for us and that means everyone is happy.”
The consistent quality of the product coming off the press with the Uni-Dyne has already saved CCL Label a great deal of expense in the production process. But complacency is not part of the CCL Label game plan. Continuing pressures in the market to keep up with new package designs and labeling requirements have CCL Label constantly looking at ways to improve and streamline label production.
“The Uni-Dyne systems do the job much better than the others we’ve tried,” said Titus. “That’s why we’re adding another Uni-Dyne to our operation and why we are now working with Corotec to develop a process using the Uni-Dyne concept that should let us treat both sides of the web material ourselves in the near future. This will allow us to purchase much less expensive uncoated material. Our goal is to do all the coating both sides of the film on our own presses, in the same operation as the two-sided printing and the adhesive application.”
For CCL Label, the Uni-Dyne corona treating system has improved product quality, made the operators and maintenance crew’s jobs easier, and saved money both in their own operations and for the manufacturers using the labels. The result: more attractive packaging for the consumer without adding prohibitive costs to the product.
All in all, there is a “clear advantage” for everyone in the process from beginning to end.