This left AkzoNobel in a position to focus on its core businesses, among other things integrating what was ICI’s Packaging Coatings business into AkzoNobel’s Performance Coatings business.
All this is explained by Giorgio Mosetti, business manager for the Flexible Packaging Division of AkzoNobel’s Packaging Coatings, as background to our discussion about the formalising of the appointment of Conequipt as the South African sales arm.
In fact, Conequipt has been selling these products on the local market for a year or so. ‘Our strategy was not to make our presence too obvious until we had thoroughly tested the market,’ Giorgio explains. ‘However, we are now enjoying considerable success with our products, and it’s time to announce the fact that AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings is here and that Conequipt is our South African agent.’
Based in Italy, Giorgio is a veritable expert on the topic of laminating adhesives for the flexible packaging industry. He’s also no stranger to our shores – he has visited several times over the past year to meet potential customers and, as he puts it ‘to enjoy the local landscape and food’.
In the process of meeting customers, he has uncovered an unusual phenomenon. ‘Traditionally, in South Africa,’ he explains, ‘laminating adhesives have been supplied by ink companies. Looking at the global picture, South Africa is only country where this happens – elsewhere in the world converters prefer to have separate suppliers for inks and adhesives.’
In Giorgio’s view, it’s a fairly simple matter to supply adhesive along with ink. ‘However,’ he insists, ‘we’re intent on introducing product-specific adhesives for lamination.’
He goes on to explain that a close relationship with Nordmeccanica has allowed AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings to become a leader in the supply of laminating adhesives for the flexible packaging industry. ‘Our approach is different,’ Giorgio continues. ‘We believe that close contact with a machinery supplier such as Nordmeccanica is essential for us to provide a technical service specifically for adhesives.’
And, as Conequipt’s Mark Cooper points out, his company has particular expertise in the production of the field of flexible packaging. ‘As Nordmeccanica’s agent, we supply the world’s top lamination equipment; we also supply corona treaters. We have expertise throughout the entire process from extrusion, where we represent Reifenhäuser, to flexo printing, where we represent Uteco. We are leaders in the flexible packaging market and this new agency for laminating adhesives is a very comfortable fit.’
The main challenge faced by Mark and his team is to persuade customers to change their attitude. ‘We know it has been the norm for ink suppliers to supply adhesives, but we’re making good progress in changing that mindset and already have several local customers. We’re focusing first on Cape Town and then rolling out our sales efforts to Durban and Jo’burg,’ he adds.
So what do we mean by speciality adhesives for flexible packaging?
‘We sell adhesives for flexible packaging that have some special features,’ Giorgio replies. ‘Of these features extended pot life and ease of use for solvent-free adhesives are key reasons for our success. Our adhesives are easy to clean, easy to handle and easy to use – mainly because of an extended pot life and low viscosity. We have found a good balance between pot life and fast curing in the reel.’
Because converters need an adhesive that’s immediately available, the tendency has been to speed up the reaction time, generally giving a pot life of 20 minutes. This, Giorgio points out is not very long when a reel has to be changed or a machine cleaned. ‘Our adhesives have a 30-minute pot life, sometimes even longer, which makes a big difference … it allows sufficient time for a full job changeover without the adhesive becoming difficult to use. Most adhesives perform in much the same way, so the trick is not in final performance but in ease of use,’ he maintains.
Today’s flexible packaging would not be possible without modern adhesive systems and the industry’s evolution has closely matched the development of new adhesives and production processes, leading to the high-quality, technically-demanding packaging structures required by modern consumers.
And this is where AkzoNobel’s laminating adhesives come in to play.
The family of flexible packaging adhesives offered by AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings is named Pure-Flex and the portfolio includes 100% solids, water-borne and solvent-borne adhesives, allowing converters to choose the product that best satisfies their converting methods, substrates and end-use conditions.
By working closely with machinery, substrate and ink suppliers, AkzoNobel has ensured a range of adhesives that’s constantly adapting to new materials and application methods.
The Pure-Flex solvent-free, 100% solids adhesive allows high production speeds, as well as minimising risk of odour contamination and solvent retention. The water-based version covers a wide range of uses from general purpose to high performance without the use of organic solvents; and the Pure-Flex solvent-based range satisfies a wide spectrum of requirements, whether for chemical and heat resistance for high-performance laminations, or for high-volume snack packaging.
AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings has a history of supplying products for metal food cans which stretches back over 100 years. Throughout that time the company has been at the forefront of product and service excellence. Now that same ethos is being applied to the supply of laminating adhesives for flexible packaging.
T +27 021 9818120
About laminating adhesives
Selection of a particular adhesive system depends on a number of factors, all of which can lead to problems unless they are properly understood or controlled. Common chemical, physical and performance factors are:
• Mixing ratio of components
• Shelf-life of resins
• Pot-life after mixing
• Curing time and energy required
• Molecular weight
• Solids content
• Solution viscosity, melt viscosity
• Wetting behaviour and coating ability
• Drying speed
• Initial bond strength (green tack)
• Ultimate bond strength
• Resistance to service environments
• Adaptability to laminating processes
• Laminating conditions (nip pressure, temperature, speed)
The adhesive in a laminate is often chosen for more than just its bonding ability. In addition to holding the substrates together for the life of the laminate, the adhesive might have to perform certain other functions that are necessary to the success of the final product – for instance chemical and heat resistance, etc.
The laminating adhesive must also be resistant to an effect called ‘tunnelling’, which is the localised separating or delamination of the substrates caused by two films of different extensibility that stretch or relax at different rates. These localised stresses can have a detrimental effect on the laminate’s appearance and performance.
Other general considerations in selecting an adhesive for lamination include specific adhesion, type of substrate, mechanical bond strength, formulating flexibility, and heat and chemical resistance.