In 2005, Label & Narrow Web’s associate editor at the time, Talar Sesetyan, wrote an article titled “Synthetic Paper: What is it?” This was nearly 12 years ago, and of course much has changed over that
span of time – and I’m not referring to label substrates.
The back issues of L&N W are archived on our website, and they go back
as far as 2004. Using Google Analytics, we have the opportunity to see which
articles get read the most. We can not only see what stories garner the most
interest but also how long readers stay on a given page, and how they got
there – whether it’s the words they typed into Google or a link they clicked
on a social media site, for example.
We get monthly reports on what’s being read on the L&NW website,
and sure enough, time and time again, “Synthetic Paper: What is it?”
from 2005, makes our top ten list of most viewed articles. In fact, without
even using the words “label” or “narrow web,” a Google search of the
two words “synthetic paper” brings up Talar’s article on the very first
results page, listed eighth out of nearly eight million landing spots. As
we put our 2017 editorial calendar together, we decided that an update
on the topic was long overdue. So, here it is.
Per the Global Market Insights 2016 research report, the global
synthetic paper market size is projected to grow to 209.7 kilotons by 2023, an estimated gain of 6.1%. “Label market growth
is estimated to be the highest, with gains at 6.3% up to 2023 and is
predicted to exceed 80 kilotons,” says Alan Harsey, print technologist
at Arjobex America.
We know it’s an area of growth, but what is it? The definition
of synthetic paper is somewhat fluid, and the answer to the question is largely dependent on what supplier you ask, and what their
company offers the label industry. For this article, we’ve reached
out to a few experts, and their definitions vary.
Jason Depner, PPG global segment manager, Teslin Substrate Products,
ADVANTAGES AND ATTRIBUTES
explains that synthetic paper is any printable material that isn’t made from
wood pulp or natural fibers. He says, “While synthetic papers are typically
polymer-based, not all are equal in composition. Different polymers or poly-
mer blends offer different benefits, so users need to define the right composi-
tion that fits ideally with their application.”
According to Jack Smith, senior vice president of Hop
Industries Corp., “Synthetic paper is a white opaque plastic that
is made from either polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE)
plastic that has been modified with a calcium carbonate coating
(CaO3) or clay filler (CaO3) to enhance its dyne level for better
ink adhesion and brightness for printing durable tags and labels.”
Cecily Randall, international sales at Channeled Resources Group,
gives it to us in layman’s terms. She says, “Synthetic paper is a cross
between paper and film. Synthetics are resin-based, so they share some
appealing characteristics of film such as tear resistance, water resistance
and grease resistance. While synthetics don’t feel like paper to the touch,
they emulate paper’s bright white, printable surface.”
When choosing a substrate for a labeling application, converters must
steer their customers toward what best suits the end use. Every roll of
labels has a different requirement, so substrate choice will take into
account many factors. Some examples:White wine labels need to withstand an ice bucket bath, shampoo bottle labels need to hold up for
weeks or months in moist, humid bathroom environments, lawn mower
labels need to withstand the outdoors and sunlight, and so on.
So when does the application point toward synthetic paper? And
what advantages does it have over traditional paper or film?
You might say synthetic paper provides then best of both worlds of
paper and film. Harsey says Polyart, Arjobex’s synthetic paper, combines the
advantages of paper with the durability of plastic. “Polyart looks, feels, prints
and converts like a premium matte-coated paper but stands up to water,
weather, grease, chemicals and resists tearing,” he says.“It has the printability
of paper with the durability of plastic.”
“A real advantage they have over paper is resistance to yellowing and
a much longer shelf life,” says Randall. “Synthetics are used in a variety
of applications requiring strength and resistance to the elements. For
example, drum labels where resistance to chemicals may be necessary,
or medical applications, such as labels or patient wrist bands, where
moisture and tear resistance is critical. Synthetics are also extremely
By Steve Katz
66 Label & Narrow Web www.labelandnarrowweb.com January/February 2017
Its properties make it an attractive substrate
selection for a variety of applications.
Yupo synethic papers decorate these in-mold labeled products.