New film products across differing label technologies are now emphasising the commitment of Mobil Plastics Europe to the world of labels.

Look at all the label technologies today that are achieving the highest levels of percentage growth and it soon becomes apparent that film material are at the forefront in expanding the label industry into new markets and opportunities.

Whether the end user is looking for the latest in wraparound film labels, materials for in-mould labelling, shrinkable films, or performance films for self adhesive labels, then the new generations of specially created co-extruded films – especially polypropylene – seem to be leading the way.

Virtually unknown in the label market prior to the pressure that come on PVC label materials in the late 1980s, polypropylene – or more specifically biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) – is now the fastest growing labelstock material with applications in sheet and reel-feed printing by almost any process.

Uniquely engineered in recent years to offer excellent clarity, flatness, stiffness, resistance, etc and today available with surface coatings for ink or adhesive receptivity, the latest generations of BOPP films can even begin to offer significant cost savings over other methods of production decoration and, in some cases be cost-effective against paper.

Even so, leading BOPP film producers such as Mobil Plastics Europe continue to invest in new labelling film capacity, in label film research and development and in the launch of new ranges of films for wraparound labelling, patch labelling in-mould labelling and pressure-sensitive – many of which can be seen by the label industry for the first time at Labelexpo Europe. The company will also be digitally printing film on an Indigo press at the show.

Headquartered in Luxembourg for European operations Mobil Plastics Europe has film manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands and is currently working on a US$300 million development programme for films in Europe. This follows three years of consistent films improvement which has taken them to the forefront of the European label films market.

Brand new from Mobil is ‘Lithor 70 LX 002’, a 70 micron white opaque two-side coated, BOPP for reel-fed printing and ‘Lithor 70 LX 720’ for sheet litho printing. These new Lithor films are mainly for the sheet fed offset market although they are also printable by gravure and flexo.

With a stiffness similar to 70gsm paper, excellent ant-static and flatness properties, excellent water resistance and excellent mould resistance, Lithor films are particularly suitable for cut-and-stack wrap-around labelling (where they already have some commercial applications), for cold glue-applied patch labelling, for in-mould labelling and for hot-melt gluing. Mobil are also testing Lithor materials for printing by hot stamping and by thermal transfer.

This new LITHOR family of films, although still under development looks very promising across a wide range of labelling applications.

For the wraparound and self adhesive label markets Mobil has recently launched two new Lable-Lyte products. Already claimed as the market leader for reel-fed and cut-and-stack sheet-fed labelling in Europe, there are now two new Label-Lyte films: LL534 – a transparent BOPP film coated on one side with a water-based versatile printable coating and coated on the reverse with a water-based receptive layer for pressure-sensitive adhesive – and LH534 – a super white opaque cavitated, modified higher density, BOPP film for pressure-sensitive labelling applications and is also two side coated.

Both films are significantly thinner than an equivalent polyethylene film, so offering the converter and end user more labels on a roll, and of course less packaging waste.

For both the LL534 transparent and LH534 opaque films there is very good printability on the top coated surface, which together with a superb gloss finish, excellent stiffness and flex resistance, compatibility with most adhesive formulations, improved resistance to moisture and staining by acids and oils and mould, creep, abrasion, peel and bubble resistance.

The films are also unaffected by refrigerated storage, have good tear and split resistance and have good overall converting, die-cutting and dispensing properties – indeed an ideal film for use in pressure-sensitive labelling applications where superior optics and graphics are desired.

Another new range of label films to be launched this year by Mobil are the Roso (Roll-On-Shrink-On) products which will be shown for the first time at Interbrau. Designed for roll-fed labelling, Roso films are shrinkable OPP films that are two-side heat sealable and one-side treated for compatibility with aqueous and solvent-based flexo and rotogravure inks.

Both the Roso LR 400 (clear) and LR 447 (white opaque) films are designed for use in roll-fed labelling of contoured containers such as aluminium and steel beverage cans, aerosols, beaded metal cans, curved glass and plastic bottles.

The films may be applied as a single web or as a lamination, with either heat-seal or hot-melt roll labellers. Both give consistent, uniform MD shrink of up to 18 per cent (a 25 per cent shrink capability has been developed). They offer versatility with hot-melt or heat-seal labellers, and consistent slip for efficient labeller performance.

Roso XL041 the 25 per cent or ‘high-shrink’ development is a clear, high shrink, heat-sealable and glueable, OPP film designed particularly or use in the roll-fed labelling of 202 necked-in beverage cans and, again, is compatible with aqueous and solvent-based flexo and retogravure inks.

Brand enhancement
Depending on the specific Roso film, they are available in 20, 30 or 50 micron gauge and eliminate the need for direct decoration and associated high inventory costs while improving merchandise performance. The films ensure brand enhancement with superior graphic appeal for contour style containers.

According to some estimates, the Roso films can offer up to 14 per cent cost reduction over printed cans, coming from savings in stock holding and labelling, and printing. Already the new films can claim the first use of a Roso film on contoured containers for coloured soft drinks in South Africa. More new applications are expected to follow rapidly.

To continue the growth potential of OPP films (currently growing in Europe at some 22 per cent annum, and even higher for Mobil) Mobil Plastics Europe has recently announced new OPP investment to increase, its packaging and labelling film capacity by 15 thousand tonnes at its site in Kerkrade in the Netherlands.

This additional line will bring Mobil Plastics Europe’s OPP capacity to 120 thousand tonnes per year, worldwide, Mobil’s projected 1997 capacity of 230 thousand tonnes from four plants in North America and the three plants in Europe, as well as a TFM joint venture in Thailand.

Future investments are planned to strengthen Mobil’s global market leadership in OPP films for the flexible packaging and labelling sector. MPE label films are available from global manufacturing locations and are unique in the BOPP label market.

Undoubtedly Mobil’s success in the market comes from offering good products as well as from the ability to work close to their customers and find solutions that can offer better efficiency, high quality, a good presentation on the supermarket shelf and provide an overall competitive cost. Success that should continue well into the future with the new film products that are now available.


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