In the Works

STL Developing a Plastic Liner for 30% More Labels Per Roll

If you're in the card personalization business, you know how time-consuming and annoying it can be to have a label spool that tears in the middle of running a job. That was the problem that STL Research and Development considered as they developed their newest creation - a card attaching label that's mounted on a plastic liner rather than a paper liner.

The result? A thinner, more durable spool that makes room for a full 30% more labels over the current market standard.

If you're not in card personalization, this invention might not seem as exciting as it actually is. When you receive a credit card in the mail, the card is attached to a piece of paper - usually one that gives you the terms of the card or the pin number. The label that attaches the card to the paper has a permanent adhesive that attaches the card to the carrier, and a removable adhesive on the other side that attaches to the card.

When companies compile the entire package, they mount rolls of these two-sided labels into their machines and remove the backing of the side that attaches to the card at speeds of 100 to 200 cards per minute.

Typically, the backing on these labels is made of paper. The high speed of processing and the heat can cause the backing to tear in the middle of a run.

Cris Silivasan, the head of the STL Research and Development team, explains that this new invention would eliminate that problem, leading to fewer breakdowns in the perso manufacturing process.

"Because we can coat our own release liner, we use a plastic liner instead of a paper liner," Silivasan says. "The paper liner in their process, because it's a paper, it can tear and the manufacturer has to stop that roll. With a clear plastic liner that will never break, they don't have an issue."

In addition to reducing production stops due to broken rolls, the new product is half as thick as a paper liner labels. So the same size roll with the new plastic-lined label holds 30% more labels than the competition, meaning better throughput and fewer roll changes during the day.

The new label also reduces the time spent cleaning the rollers that process the card personalization, as the plastic liner labels leave no dust or residue, unlike their paper liner counterparts. When paper liner labels are run through perso machines, they are pulled off the liner quickly, and a fine paper dust is left behind on the rollers. This can cause slowdowns as machine operators must clean the rollers each time they change the roll out. But this is not a problem with the new plastic liner label material.

Currently, the product is not fully available to the general public, as it is still in the testing phase. However, Silivasan is confident with the way the product is progressing.

"We're partnering this for a particular customer, and we feel pretty good about this product. Time will tell whether we can improve it in the future," Silivasan says. "Once it's fully approved and running for several months for this customer, of course we'll make it available to other customers."