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Latest labeling trends (may 2014)

9/05/2014

In-mold labels (IML) are labels that are produced along with packaging. Worldwide they are referred to by differing names: IML labels, in-mold labels (Europe),or injection in-mold labels. IML is one of the fastest growing sectors within the packaging market for several reasons: Graphic quality is better than direct printing, comparable to that of self-adhesive or shrink labels. They can cover whole packages making them highly decorative. Durability and their ability to withstand temperature changes are further benefits. IML eliminate production costs and save time during labeling while at the same time reducing storage space. In addition, the material is 100% recyclable.

Replacement of paper labels with wrap around labels enhances packaging as there is a no-label appearance while at the same time offering transparency and high tear strength. Packages are protected against damage from moisture and enable higher resistance due to lower weight and thickness. IML labels present a low cost solution that features high application rates of up to 1,000 bottles per minute on automatic labeling systems and a 360-degree coverage. Such wrap-around labels are usually made of OPP and PET, recyclable plastics.

According to a study by the FTA (Flexible Packaging Association) flexible packaging containers for beverages require only 50% of the energy required for other types of containers. In addition, emissions are reduced by 75% while having also a positive impact on savings in transport. Flexible shrink wrap labels (wrap around labels) reduce power consumption by 35% and show a weight reduction of 81% in comparison with paper. The product-packaging ratio is five times more favourable.

Coloured labels that tell the consumer if the food has gone off are a new development initiated in China. A label recognizes the freshness of the food placed inside the container to which it is applied. Different colours distinguish the degree of freshness. While red indicates fresh food during the decay process, the colour of the label gradually changes through various stages of orange to yellow and then green (which somehow is opposed to the logical perception that is prevalent in the West).

A demonstration held by researchers at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Dallas, was done with milk. As tag or label indicator the bacterium Escherichia coli was used. Slight indicator variations can be applied using the same principle to other fresh foods such as salads or yoghurt. Each tag, rather than a label, looks like a kind of small gummy candy that has the texture and the size of a grain of corn.

The conductive inks used will be able to replace chips for RFID labels and packaging. SUN Chemical and Agfa Graphics have now developed nanotechnology-based inks with high conductivity. It is expected that these will replace existing inks in many applications. According to the developers, conductive inks can replace RFID codes at a fraction of the cost while offering greater safety than QR codes. In addition, they can be used for printing electronics.

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