Global Strategic Marketing Director, Packaging & Narrow Web Division
More than 14 years with the company
Coim USA, Inc.
6 years with the company
Vice President, Flexible Packaging N.A.
26 years with the company
Q: What are some important factors that must be considered when it comes to adhesive usage and flexible packaging?
Gaber: There are several things to consider – What are the bond requirements for the particular structure? What are the conditions of use (meaning, will this package be frozen, ovenable, etc.)? And what type of lamination assets does the customer have?
Lopes: The first consideration – even before performance – is often regulatory compliance. This has become more complex in recent years, partly due to the increasing desire for products that can comply with global regulations. As a European-based company with plants and sales offices in every corner of the world, Coim is well positioned to address this topic.
Another primary consideration is product type – solvent-based or solvent-free (with water-based relegated to a more limited number of applications). Solvent-free adhesives are valued for some obvious and well-documented reasons – lower applied cost, no solvent to dry or dispose of, lower-cost equipment, lower energy requirements, etc. But despite advances in solvent-free product technology in recent years (by all the main five adhesive suppliers), the high performance of solvent-based products continues to result in their choice for many demanding flexible packaging markets.
Hering: The adhesive technology and usage depends on many factors. Critical factors for the selection are the equipment and application system at the converter. The packaging design and package content are very important factors as well due to the compliant and regulatory limitations for many end uses.
Q: What’s one important thing that most people should know about adhesives, but likely don’t?
Hering: The adhesive is a very low factor in the cost calculation for the package, but it might be the most important component due to the required performance in many different end uses.
Gaber: The amount of adhesive applied (coat weight) is super critical to its performance. Many converters chase ink and film as issues to low bonds without checking to make sure they are following the recommended application rate from the supplier.
Q: What are some of the most recent trends and developments in adhesives? What do you foresee as a point of emphasis moving forward?
Lopes: Coim has placed a great emphasis on meeting more end-use demands with fewer products. Adhesives are sometimes considered to be very complicated and difficult to change. But consolidating and changing to more versatile and more global systems, both solvent-based and solvent-free, can deliver tremendous rewards. In addition to adhesive versatility, adhesive productivity has been a key focus – running at high line speeds with better appearance, for instance. To do this, adhesive suppliers must focus on the right properties of the base polymer (usually polyester). Coim makes exclusive use of in-house polyester manufacture to tightly control these attributes.
Hering: The overall performance requirements are becoming more demanding every year due to more stringent tests and quality requirements. However, we believe that the food safety awareness and more and more emphasis on any kind of migratory substances will have a strong influence in the near future on adhesive selections.
Gaber: I believe that three things will drive adhesive innovations over the next 5 years – biorenewable content, compostability and down gauging of packaging.
Q: How important is R&D when it comes to adhesives? Can you briefly explain R&D as it pertains to your company and where the emphasis is at this time?
Gaber: Our inks and coatings innovation process is based on the S.A.F.E.R Model, adhesives are no different, we feel that new developments need to touch on some or all of these pillars – Sustainability (S), Aesthetics (A), Functionality (F), Efficiency (E) and Regulatory (R).
Hering: The R&D is a very critical part of the business model in the Henkel culture. Due to the complexity and changing package design, as well as more regulatory concerns, we are tasked with providing new technology all the time to fulfill all these needs. Let us not forget the commercial aspect of the business. We are continuously trying to improve the cost of use for our customers by providing improved elements of our existing technology.
Q: “Sustainability” is a huge buzzword these days in all industries, let alone packaging. What are some ways that adhesives are becoming “greener?”
Hering: There are several aspects of sustainability. Henkel is one of the leaders for sustainability in Europe. One simple approach for this is to achieve more output with the same resources or provide the same output with less resources. Some of our product portfolio considers these principles. In addition, we have several products that are based upon renewable resources in our portfolio today. We do have biodegradable product prototypes that are compostable at very large percentages, but the market acceptance has not been very strong up to this point.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share about your company or adhesives as it pertains to flexible packaging?
Lopes: Coim also produces a wide variety of heat seal coatings, mostly for peelable lidding. Only a fairly small percent of converters focus on this area of adhesive application, with others buying heat sealable film as needed. Recent advances in technology at Coim have produced even more significant cost saving potential for those converters that have the capability of applying this type of coating. And in addition to products for traditional applications such as dairy and condiment lidding, we now offer heat seal coatings for markets such as fresh produce and ovenable lidding – both with extremely high clarity and anti-fog requirements.