The Industry’s Throw-Away
It’s an important and sometimes complicated material category in label printing—release liners—one which can have a big impact in the operations of both label printers/converters and their customers, the consumer products companies.
For label converters, the substrate/release liner combination needs to provide a reliable surface so the diecut strike-through cuts the label completely, yet does not cut or weaken the liner below. This has to be done consistently over the course of a label run of thousands and thousands of times.
Once the labels get on the customer’s packaging line, the precision and consistency of this operation will quickly be seen. If a label is not diecut completely, it will not separate properly from the liner, and if the liner is weakened, the release liner may breakout, causing downtime. In either case, the customer is not happy.
Throw into this the potential for adhesive migration within the label rolls as they are transported and stored in a wide range of environments, along with any number of other potential problems, and you can quickly see that label/release liner systems need to be well engineered, many times, for the specific application in which they are used.
The importance of finishing operations in label production can never be underestimated. In discussing the use of high-tech digital tools with finishing equipment, Rotoflex’s Ron Gourlay noted that with the consistent, high-quality graphic capabilities of modern printing presses, more attention is being focused on issues impacted by finishing. This is well understood by label printers, and is summed up by Richard Adler, Jr., CEO and president of Fort Dearborn: “You never want the label to be a bottleneck in the customer’s filling lines.”
The important role provided by release liners in label runnability is one of the reasons why they need to be so well engineered. But the time spent in the spotlight by a release liner is short lived, and once its thankless job is done, it gets thrown away, back into another—yet unwelcome—spotlight. With today’s growing environmental concerns, package printers recognize their responsibility to reduce the amount of material being sent to overflowing landfills.