Unpredictability of prices and variable quality of raw materials has been a major imperative for the development of a new generation of synthetic adhesive for glass bottle labelling by Henkel Industrial Adhesives. The first of the range – Optal LG4 – has already created great interest in the European glass container market. Potential customers in the brewing, wine and spirit and soft drink sectors have been trailing the product with considerable success and first orders have now been placed.

The Optal range continues to be developed and expanded at Henkel’s ‘centre of competence’ for glass labelling products, at Chalon in France. Henkel’s task was to match the acknowledged reputation of traditional casein/starch adhesives for clean running, high tack, easy clean down and ice proof properties. Previous attempts within the adhesive industry to produce synthetic adhesives with all these characteristics have met with only limited success.

The confidence of Henkel’s chemists that they have met and exceeded these criteria has been borne out by the successful trials in many different bottling plants in various parts of Europe.

Next developments to the range will include adhesives with special ice proof qualities and the ability to bond just as effectively to plastic containers. The Optal products meet all international food industry health and safety regulations. Tests have been run at speeds of up to 70,000 BPM on high speed labelling lines and excellent running and clean down characteristics have been maintained throughout, claim Henkel. Optal LG4 has similar hypercondensation and water resistance features as traditional casein adhesives.

Furthermore, the Optal adhesive bonds more effectively to difficult coated glass surfaces than traditional products. Pricing of the new range is comparable to the traditional adhesives.

The continuing problems of availability of casein/starch raw materials at ‘acceptable prices and of acceptable quality’ leads Henkel to believe that the future lies with the new generation of synthetic products. Pressures from the higher priced food industry have dictated price increases and made availability uncertain.

Added to this, global climate changes can affect raw material quality which in turn, will have a deleterious effect on future adhesive production. The ingredients of the synthetic adhesives are entirely unaffected by these factors, says the company.

Henkel’s quality control systems are of a standard to allow the continued production of casein/starch adhesives for those customers who, for whatever reason, need to continue using traditional adhesives.


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