Samuel Jones celebrates its half century in the manufacturing of self-adhesive materials with a review of labelling developments over 185 years.

Labelexpo will see leading label materials producer Samuel Jones celebrating a truly golden anniversary – 50 years of self-adhesive labelling production. And the exhibition will provide a golden opportunity for Samuel Jones to welcome visitors to Stand No 265, Hall 7, to drink a toast to this important half century milestone. For it was in 1945 that Samuel Jones became the first company to manufacture self-adhesive labelling products in the UK and Europe – a lead which, to this day, has kept the company to the forefront of this ever changing industry. In 1975 Samuel Jones’ self-adhesive programme was relaunched under the now universally recognised Taktik brand name: a double decade of branding that strongly identifies both roll and sheet labelling lines.

The advent of self-adhesive technology, however, may be viewed as a relatively ‘recent’ development in terms of Samuel Jones’ long history as an innovator in paper adhesives expertise. This dates back to the company’s foundation in 1810, since when it has created – or furthered – each and every advance that has occurred during the past 185 years.

The past
With the sophistication and flexibility offered by today’s self-adhesive laminates, it may be interesting to look back over the past. During the 1890s introduced gummed coating of pre-printed flat sheets and in 1905 pioneered the then entirely new concept of non-curling gummed paper. This revolutionalised gummed paper production by allowing it, for the first time, to be printed after coating, rather than before coating. In 1919 Samuel Jones adopted its famous Camberwell Beauty butterfly logo as a means of demonstrating to printers that it was feasible to print several colours on to gummed paper.

Up to the 1930s packaging materials were predominantly board or paper based, using an enormous variety of remoistenable adhesives; but, as plastics started to appear, it was found that gummed labelling did not adhere well to such packages and new adhesives were required. This led to the introduction in 1935 of heat activated (heatfix) adhesives, a major step forward in the technology of the time.

The all-important date of 1945 saw experimental European coating and sales of self-adhesive laminate. As late as 1950 non-silicone release coatings, based on castor oil and shellac varnish, were still being used. Silicone coatings were initially water based, moving rapidly to petroleum based. This was a far cry from current, environmentally clean, solvent-free silicones! At first adhesives were solvent based and, judging by the formulations, were not especially aggressive; which is just as well, bearing in mind the absence of silicone release coatings. The first synthetic face material for self adhesive labelling was cellulose acetate, coated in 1954.

By the 1960s Samuel Jones was the first time unusual, products developed by Samuel Jones were a paper based magnetic recording tape for the then new open-reel tape recorders in 1950; chart recording paper for electrocardiographs, and magnetic oxide ticket material for London Transport tickets in the ‘60s.

Also in the 1960s Samuel Jones launched the first particle gummed papers produced for European consumption. This resulted in Flat-Sam which continued to lead this specialist market until it was superseded in 1989 by new, patented Super Flat-Sam the first major advance in this field by any producer in almost 30 years. It totally eliminated solvent use from the process.

With self adhesive materials again in mind, a further notable milestone – though one which failed its early promise in terms of international acceptability – was the production by Samuel Jones on February 10, 1964, of the world’s first free-form postage stamp. This was issued on behalf of Sierra Leone.

Holt melt technology, pioneered in the ‘60s with heatseal material, was followed in 1973 by hot melt self adhesive label and tape products, giving the advantage of environmentally non-polluting production combined with high tack performance. Samuel Jones also led the way in the development of solventless silicone technology, using a patented process. This heralded an important advance, allowing consistent, fault-free coating on to release backing paper at one micron silicone thickness.

The mid 1980s saw the introduction of the mechanically scored random slit Scoreline backing paper removal system which significantly upgraded Taktik self adhesive sheet products.

The present
When looking back over 50 years of self adhesive production, it is perhaps not surprising do note the changes that have occurred to keep pace with market demands and end user specifications. In those early days Samuel Jones launched self adhesive labelling materials with just a permanent adhesive, followed by a removable adhesive both designed for traditional letterpress and litho printers. The scope widened to embrace flexo and screen printing and fast gained momentum to satisfy requirements of variable information printing which has now grown to include impact ribbon, chemi-thermal, thermal transfer, laser, copier, ink-jet, magnetographic and ion deposition.

In tandem with the development of labelling papers compatible with diverse print disciplines went the continuing search for adhesives to suit not just the print processes but the end user applications. From offering just permanent and removable options, Samuel Jones today provides a full spectrum of self adhesive choices. These include:

-General purpose permanent
-Heavy duty permanent
-Special permanent for recycled boards
-Chill permanent
-Deep freeze permanent
-High temperature permanent for laser printers
-Plasticiser resistant
-Water removable
-General purpose peelable
-Special for autoclaving

For the ambitious roll
label printer, the Taktik range of self adhesive face papers promises maximum flexibility and choice – with standard products always available to suit all traditional and electronuc printing processes. With all the Taktik adhesives, over 150 self adhesive labelling combinations are offered.

While working constantly towards acquiring an ever expanding share of the self adhesive label materials market in the UK, throughout Europe and worldwide, Samuel Jones continues to emphasise the importance of quality control governing all production procedures. In 1991 the company’s quality management system was approved by BSI Quality Assurance to BS 5750 Part 2. Since then standards have risen, assuming international status, and the company has now been approved under the new specification of BS EN ISO 9002.

Samuel Jones is also dedicated to staff involvement throughout all ranks. The company is now committed to achieving Investors in People status and is working towards acquiring this nationally recognised standard by the end of 1995. Administered by CambsTEC, Samuel Jones’ local Training and Enterprice Council, Investors in People acknowledges employers who actively invest in the training and development of their employees as a means of meeting their strategic business objectives.

The future
Responsibility for Samuel Jones’ current programme of growth and development lies largely with Stephen Boyd, appointed as Managing Director in June 1994. His philosophy pinpoints the importance of ‘people’, ‘processes’ and ‘products’ and during his stewardship the company has already seen volume increases of 15 per cent for roll label products and 30 per cent for sheet labels.

‘As already mentioned’, says Mr Boyd, ‘we are concentrating on people through the Investors in People scheme and we have already significantly strengthened our sales and management teams, both in the UK and overseas. As far as processes are concerned, investment is proceeding apace. We are currently completing upgrading of our R600 coater to achieve substantially increased coating – at a cost of some £ 1m. We are also increasing finishing capacity. And a further major improvement will be the factory – wide computer system we are installing’.

‘As for products’, confirms Stephen Boyd, ‘we are well aware of the fast changing nature of our markets and the need for continued product innovations – and we are geared to respond rapidly to such changes. One of our special strengths is in our focused in-house development of adhesives, as well as our close working relationship with paper and film suppliers. New label constructions are designed inevitably around customer requirements for specialist applications and our expertise in maintaining close customer partnerships accounts largely for our current successes. We are the fourth largest self adhesive labelling materials producer in Europe, with a growing market share. With niche products, we are also achieving major sales worldwide.’

‘We are confident’, concludes Mr Boyd, ‘That Samuel Jones is well positioned to serve the dynamics of today’s label industry – and especially the growth of the non impact imaging sector which demands particularly swift responses. Samuel Jones is already strong and, with size, speed and innovation, we intend to be a major player in the field for more than a further half century.’


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