Packaging coatings

Packaging coatings market

The global and UK packaging coatings market

Globally, the packaging coatings market is huge in size and has connections to a wide range of other industries. The worldwide packaging industry is rapidly growing and it is forecast to reach an annual revenue of $975 billion by 2018. Packaging coating is in close relation to the packaging industry and has primarily three purposes: it protects the content of the package, it increases the durability of the package and improves the appearance making the packaging more appealing. Also the industry of packaging coatings is constantly growing and has potential: for example the  company Kellogs produces 24 million packages every year, all of them just for one type of one product; breakfast cereals. Now, try to imagine how many printed packages are needed for all sorts of breakfast cereals produced by all companies.

Packaging coating manufacturers in the UK are in association with the British Coating Federation which connects the whole coatings market in the country. The packaging coating suppliers in the UK include the following companies.

  • PPG Packaging coatings
  • Packaging Products Ltd
  • FFP Packaging
  • AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings
  • Valspar

European regulations for packaging coatings

The European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA) represents more than 80 coating and ink manufacturers. EuPIA also issues regulations for correct ink manufacturing that meets actual EU standards. These rules and regulations highly concern the packaging coatings market.

The regulations are of high importance due tot he fact that there are many different types of packages and contents. It is crucial that the content does not affect the packaging and other way round. The coatings thus prevent component migration between the content and the package.  Not only are the regulations necessary for the food and beverage industry but also for example for the chemicals and cosmetics industries. Packaging inks for the food industry need to meet many standards and regulations. Lately, so called component-migration is getting much attention. This represents the transfer of components from ink, such as mineral oils and low-molecular components.

The phases of packaging coating

Packaging coating is present on many industries such as food and beverage, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and many others. Not only are consumer goods packages coated, but also industrial products packages require printing and coating processes. Packaging coating can be applied on for example on:

packaging coatings in medicine packages

The pharmaceutical industry makes use of packaging coatings.

  • Closures and caps
  • Aerosols and metal cans
  • Cardboard packages
  • Plastic tubes and other plastic packages

The packaging process starts with choosing the material, shape and design for the package. The following step includes packaging printing which has a highly decorative purpose. This means thus that the pictures, logos and text on packages are printed. After the printing, a packaging coating can be applied on one or both sides of the package. The inside coating creates a barrier between the content and the package. For example in the food industry it prevents the packaging material getting into touch with the content. The outside package coating for its part, protects the package from for example moisture, fingerprints and scratches. It additionally, protects the ink and makes sure the appearance does not change in different circumstances. Sometimes also the appearance or “feel” of the package is modified with packaging coating. This results in different texture and finish (gloss or matte).

Types of packing coating and coating methods

Decorative printing is usually typographic or lithographic. Typographic refers to making fonts readable when displayed , thus usually the text about product information. Lithographic printing for its part refers to printing pictures and other figures. Some examples of packaging coatings applied on the printing or on the inside of the package include:

  • Barrier coatings to keep food longer fresh
  • Anti-mist to prevent misting and improve appearance of for example salad packs
  • Cold seal for ice-cream and confectionery packaging, ideal when the product is heat sensitive.
  • Heat seal to allow packaging materials which would normally not have good affinity to seal to each other. Lidding films are good examples of uses of heat seal.

There are several ways to apply printing inks and packaging coatings. The ink application methods include:

  • Lithography or offset printing for labels and folding cartons (e.g. food, cosmetics and electronics boxes). High print quality but also high set up costs and only suitable for flat surfaces.
  • Flexography for stand up pouches and corrugated boxes. A slightly cheaper option with slightly lower print quality.
  • Digital for labels, prototypes, corrugated boxes, folding cartons and film for flexible packaging. A very low set up cost option with high print quality. However, larger volumes have high costs and the ink scuffs easily.
  • Rotogravure for stand up pouches and folding cartons. Very high print quality; printing photo images is also possible but not many coating options, and requires a very high initial investment.
  • Silkscreen for labels, prototypes, folding cartons and promotional items. Ideal for pre-made packaging such as bottles and caps. Also suitable for t-shirts and mugs. Low set up costs but slow production speed and thus not good for larger volumes.

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