Linerless labels, now possible

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History of Ritrama, an innovative manufacturer of self-adhesive materials which, in partnership with Omet, Spilker and Ilti, presents a turnkey platform for linerless labels. The solution has garnered approval and has already been adopted by the largest beer producer in the world, because it is sustainable (uses less resources and eliminates waste) as well as generating many sizeable savings.

The beer giant South African Breweries of the Anheuser-Busch group – the first beer producer in the world with over 200 brands including Stella Artois, Beck’s, Quilmes, Corona and Budweiser – in 2017 declared a very clear need. find a more sustainable label than the self-adhesive one already in use.

The challenge required a lot of courage, up to experimenting an innovative technology never seen before, which enabled the attainment of important large-scale sustainability objectives.

The solution came thanks to Ritrama’s new Core Linerless Solutions® platform which uses a multifunctional smart liner, capable of transforming itself from process waste to resource. Core Linerless Solutions® is a laminated self-adhesive label, without the silicone coated support, therefore, much thinner than a traditional label. With this system, SAB has eliminated the recovery and disposal costs of 57 tons of liner per year in its South African site alone.

The new turnkey platform

Ritrama together with partners Omet and Spilker, presented the Core Linerless Solutions® platform at Labelexpo Europe 2019, after the anticipation already made to the label market during the 2013 edition. «It is true – confirms Sergio Veneziani – Core Linerless Product Manager Solutions® by Ritrama – our linerless materials, as well as the Ilti linerless labeling machine, were ready years ago. During the last edition we presented, together with our. partner, the lamination and finishing module for linerless labels, with the aim of making a turnkey solution available to label makers.

In these years of development of the platform, we have mobilized all our internal resources – engineers, specialized technicians, mechanics and electronics experts, with the aim of creating the first prototype of the machine capable of processing our Core Linerless Solutions® materials. An unusual but certainly brilliant and ultimately successful choice, given the results obtained to date. This prototype has in fact allowed us to demonstrate and prove the idea was good, achievable and repeatable, arousing a growing interest along the entire supply chain and among large label consumers worldwide».

The platform developed for label makers includes a lamination module designed and built by the Italian company Omet and a finishing module, designed and built by the German company Spilker.

The initial idea has in fact produced important new developments for all partners. Through a shared innovation project, Ritrama has taken a new technological path and has adopted a different and more effective approach to the market; the direct involvement of the end users has aroused interest in several large volume application sectors; Omet (well-known manufacturer of printing machines) has created a new line of machines by producing the first lamination module and Spilker (well-known manufacturer of die-cutting and cutting tools) has become the manufacturer of a finishing module for labels.

A concrete case of success story for the global self-adhesive label industry, where innovation and the ability to create a “hub” have generated (highly) valuable solutions.

A very thin label which does not produce waste

Core Linerless Solutions® by Ritrama is therefore a self-adhesive laminated label (the print is always protected by the lamination film) and without the silicone-coated substrate. The label is much thinner (and also cheaper) than standard labels. The base material consists of a 30 micron polypropylene, a multifunctional smart liner in 12 micron silicone coated polyethylene and a permanent acrylic adhesive. The versions provided use transparent (CLEAR), white, and metallized (SILVER) films.

The adhesive adopted by Ritrama in Core Linerless Solutions® materials is particularly performant and transparent, and has been used for some time and with great success in self-adhesive constructions for applications in “Beverage” and “Personal Care”. The approval carried out by SAB Gruppo ABInBev obtained with the design of linerless labels for beer bottles through a test process in very severe conditions (humidity, accelerated aging and speed of application), is only further confirmation.

The converting process developed specifically for Core Linerless Solutions® materials produces a linerless label identical, in terms of appearance, to the traditional self-adhesive one. Printing takes place with traditional decoration technologies and the reels made up, at the same size, contain at least double the labels. The result is a reel of labels ready to be applied by means of a special ILTI linerless labeling machine integrated in a high performance rotary labeling machine.

«In addition to solving the problem of the disposal of the liner, this solution stands out for another feature. «By virtue of what at first sight would seem a limitation (CLS technology only enables the creation of labels with regular shapes), the converting process does not produce scraps since the gap between labels has been eliminated. The figures speak for themselves: take for example a batch of 1 million self-adhesive labels produced with a “classic” gap of 3 mm.

The gap requires 3,000 linear meters in addition to the total material needed for the production of the labels. These are obviously part of the label shop supply provision and are included in the price of the labels (paid by the customer) but, being a waste from the die cutting process, they are thrown away. We have also seen that waste disposal costs are continuously increasing; in 2019 in Italy, they more than doubled, by virtue of the principle that “whoever discards the most pays the most”.

Core Linerless Solutions®: the advantages

The platform allows the label maker to offer its customers a concrete solution for the elimination of process waste, with a series of significant environmental and economic benefits. Here are the fundamental ones:

  • the Ritrama self-adhesive label Core Linerless Solutions® eliminates the disposal of the liner necessarily considered a side effect of the traditional self-adhesive label but, at the same time, a cost for organizations such as waste to be collected and disposed of;
  • it is more sustainable: It uses less material. The total thickness of the Core Linerless Solutions® self-adhesive label is 42 microns, or less than half compared to an 80-micron self-adhesive PE label laminated with 12-micron film;
  • the basic material is supplied to the label factory ready for use and does not require the addition of any chemical product whose compatibility with primers, printing inks is the responsibility of the label maker;
  • the saving of material in production thanks to the absence of scraps;
  • the reduction of thicknesses and the elimination of the gap between one label and the other means the reel can carry twice the labels. This means sending half the amount of reels to the customer, with a significant reduction in the costs of storage, transport and trucks in circulation: Which means even less pressure on the environment; – For a label manufacturer for example managing 50 pallets instead of 100 lightens internal logistics, frees up space, lessens use of human resources, vehicles and warehouses …
  • the linerless labeling machines are fed with reels of at least double the capacity, thus halving the time and work of changing the reel.

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