The Glue Talk Blog


Reducing Ink Smear to Protect Your Brand Image

Posted 08 Sep 2017 by Justine Hanlon, Market Manager, Flexible Packaging

Your brand’s graphics, especially your logo, should be nothing short of superior if you want to compete in today’s market. Your logo is critical to your marketing strategy since it is the visual representation of all that your brand represents.

According to HubSpot, “Your logo will be pervasive throughout all of your marketing campaigns, and it's one of the most prominent branding elements that people will think of when someone mentions your company.”

To create positive brand experience, it is important to ensure your graphics and logo are unblemished and free from ink smear. Ink smear, in the context of laminating, is the degradation of print quality due to movement of the ink. This can range from fuzzy edges to inks bleeding into each other and is primarily caused by either the chemistry or the process.

If it is chemistry-related, it is due to interactions between the adhesive and the ink. If the ink is softened or solubilized by the adhesive, it will flow and change the appearance of the printed image. Ink that is not completely dried or excessive adhesive amounts also contribute to ink smearing. Testing for ink smear should be performed when inks or adhesives are changed.

Ink smear primarily occurs during the lamination stage. Since this process happens towards the end of processing, it can contribute to very expensive laminated film that has to be scrapped.

Ink and the Flexible Packaging Market

Ink has increasingly become more important to the flexible packaging market. When there were only two or three color systems, a small amount of quality defect was deemed acceptable. Today, with multi-part and multi-color ink systems, the graphics are more complex, and even the slightest imperfection can be quite noticeable. More and more, large converters have begun to reformulate inks on the fly. Within the flexible packaging market, processes, chemistry, color, and the type of adhesive used all matter.

H.B. Fuller Can Help

H.B. Fuller’s Flextra Fast™ SF6400/XR1400 adhesives are more resistant to smearing due to the low solubility of the inks in the adhesive system. Other performance benefits include good metal adhesion, positive heat resistance, compatibility with high-speed laminating equipment, and competitive pricing.

Our technical service teams are able to recommend process changes for ink smear by identifying what needs to be changed, such as a longer or hotter dry time or an adhesive change, and we have the ability to test film and adhesive combinations.

Learn more about our latest Flextra Fast™ SF6400/XR1400 laminating adhesive by visiting our booth (C1962) at PACK EXPO in Las Vegas, September 25-27.

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