The ability to add special coatings and treatments to substrates is providing new opportunities for labelstock producers and label users.

Look at the growth of the label industry over the past ten years or so and it soon becomes apparent that those label technologies that are wholly or significantly based on non-paper materials, or special performance materials – such as thermal, laser or ink-jet imprintable surfaces – are growing the fastest.

In the self adhesive label market, both these areas are achieving far higher growth than the more conventional uncoated and coated paper grades of filmic and VIP labelstocks to meet new technology, performance or labelling requirements.

Even within the filmic labelstock market the trend seems to be away from reliance on corona-treated surfaces to those that have surface coatings that enable film materials to be printed with the usual paper printing inks in all normal printing processes – either mechanical or VIP electronic printing, fluorescent and satin colours also seem to be finding new markets and applications in the label market – but now capable of being used in copiers, laser printers and colour ink jet printers. All putting new demands and requirements on both special paper and non-paper labelstock materials.

Not unsurprisingly, such new demands and requirements for a whole range of coatings and surface treatments onto to paper and film bring a need for specialist paper coatings and treating facilities, and for converting plants that can develop the necessary skills and expertise.

One such company that has become something of a pioneer and innovator in both paper and film processing and converting can be found in Karlstein Bavaria. MDV Papier und Kunstsoffveredelung GmbH was originally established in 1810 and has a long tradition of producing fancy and speciality papers – and labelstocks – and in new product development.

Family-owned since 1982, MDV invested around DM 23 million in new buildings, storage facilities, computer system and state-of-the-art coating and environmental performance technology in the period from 1992 to 1994 to make them one of Europe’s leading speciality paper and film processors, and an important name in the self-adhesive thermal, laser, copier and coated film supplier market, as well as one of the few manufacturers of heatseal papers and boards and gummed papers in Europe with a tradition which goes back to the 1950’s.

Apart from their specialist acqueous coating facility the company also have a solvent coating capability in Eastern Europe. Total employees in the two plants currently number 125 people and the company’s approximate annual processing capacity is 150 million square metres.

Over the past ten years the company have developed and introduced a range of specialist products which have aided the development and growth of today’s self-adhesive market. New products currently being developed will keep them at the forefront of speciality processing into the next millennium.

First products for the self-adhesive labelstock market were created as far back as 1958 when fluorescent label papers were introduced by MDV. However, it was in the mid-to-late 1980’s when the company started introducing a whole range of new products for the self-adhesives industry, of which more than 45 per cent of the company’s output is now exported.

One of MDV’s early self-adhesive materials innovations came in 1986 when Robuskin was launched. Offering superb printing results by almost any printing process, Robuskin as a special water-based ‘moleskin’ coating that enables non-paper and filmic substrates to behave like paper. Neither do the films require any form of corona treatment to get the best results.

Base materials for the Robuskin treatment include synthetic paper, PVC, polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester and polystyrene, all of which can be either one- or both-side coated. Standard and fluorescent colour Robuskins, MDPE base and soft PVC versions are also available, in reel widths up to 2200mm wide (depending on substrate type).

During 1987 and 1989 MDV launched thermosensitive paper and filmic materials specially designed for the self-adhesive industry and began the production and market introduction of direct thermal printable substrates, namely Thermocard and synthetic films (Thermoskin). These are currently popular in the ski pass and tickets industries.

All the Robuskin and thermoskin products have the added benefit of accepting handwriting systems and in all processes giving excellent smudge resistance of the image.

In 1990 MDV introduced to their range of Fluolux fluorescent papers, a 100 per cent recycled base for use in poster and labelstock applications, the first company in Europe to produce fluorescent labelstocks using a 100 per cent recycled base. Today, with the earlier-1950’s fluorescent products and new grades introduced in the past few years including TCF base, the company are believed to be the leading producer of fluorescent papers in Europe.

Most recent of the company’s introductions include Jetprints Fluorescent, a fluorescent material for colour ink-jet printers, a matt polyolefine Jetprint film for ink-jet printers, Fluolux Copy – a fluorescent paper in different neon colours which can be used in normal copiers and laser printers – and Jetprint Copy, the first universal paper of its kind of satin, white and fluorescent which are usable in copiers, laser printers and colour ink-jet printers and plotters. Jetprint Copy also takes MDV for the first time into the market for office and graphic products.

Apart from the company’s range of coated films, variable image printing materials and fluorescent products for the label industry, they also produce special anti-corrosive papiers, metallic surface papers, special ultra-absorbent, moth paper or OCR print-outs, and a smooth paper using a new, environmentally friendly agent.

In 1991 they also developed and introduced a security scratchcard board (RBL-Karton_, a light opaque board for the manufacture of lottery scratchcards. Being fully recyclable it replaces the traditionally used ‘sandwich’ materials made from different substrates.

Currently coming to the market or awaiting launch are a new security fibre paper product for the stamp market, a special security ticket material for high value concert or entrance tickets, materials to meet sea water immersion requirements, UV stabilised films for outdoor applications, VIP security feature card materials, and much more.

Of particular interest amongst the latest innovations is the security ticket material. This is based on a PVC base – although it could be virtually any filmic substrate – which then has a UV readable image, logo or design printed on the surface prior to coating with Robuskin or thermoskin for conventional and/or variable image printing technologies. At the entrance to a concert or event the ticket can be validated under UV light when the hidden image becomes visible.

Not unnaturally, if you build a reputation for high performance speciality coatings and surface treatments onto substrates, then you need special coating capabilities, good R&D and testing laboratories, the ability to formulate your own coatings, and specialist finishing facilities such as super calendaring and embossing. This of course enables MDV to produce tailor-made solutions to complex problems in today’s demanding environment.

All housed in a purpose-built environmentally friendly factory with state-of-the-art BMB and Pagendarm coaters (2,200mm and 2,250mm wide respectively), finishing facilities and automatic packaging., ‘MDV are now looking to market their specialist expertise and products into a wider market place, and also looking to work with potential laminators or users to create new opportunities and markets’ says company chairman Dr Baldev Krishna. ‘We also need to find the right people to establish MDV in the market, and this we are now starting to do.’

Certainly, any visit to the MDV factory, or an examination of the company’s specialist products, shows that they have a good range of high quality technical products and abilities. Abilities and products that will undoubtedly see them become of increasing interest to a label industry constantly on the lookout for new product solutions and higher added-value materials for a profitable future.

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