Development history and product classification of precoating film industry

1. Development history of precoating film industry

The printing and film are combined by professional laminating equipment to form a paper-plastic product. This technology is called lamination. The surface of the printed matter coated with film is brighter and smoother, the pattern is more bright, and the performance of wear resistance, folding resistance, tensile resistance, moisture resistance, chemical corrosion resistance and other properties are also enhanced. Even some apparent defects in the printing process can be largely compensated. Therefore, not only the service life is extended, but also the beauty of the product is greatly improved. Since the film coating technology was born in the 1950s, the film coating technology has experienced three important development stages:solvent-based coating technology, water-soluble coating technology, and precoating technology.

(1)The revolution of packaging materials led to the birth of solvent-based instant coating technology

In the 1950s and 1960s, the successive birth of BOPET(biaxially oriented polyester), BOPP(biaxially oriented polypropylene), BOPA(biaxially oriented nylon)and other film products promoted the revolution of packaging materials in the world, which led to the birth of instant coating technology for post-press film covering processing. Among them, BOPP film has played a crucial role in this revolution because of its reasonable price and wide application.

BOPP film was invented by Italy' s Monte Carti Company in 1958, and was industrialized in 1962, and then developed rapidly in the world. BOPP film has the advantages of light weight, non-toxic, odorless, moisture-proof, high mechanical strength, stable size, good printing performance, good transparency, reasonable price, low pollution, etc. It also reduces the use of paper packaging materials and strengthens the protection of forest resources. The birth of BOPP film quickly drives the change of packaging material industry, and begins to be widely used in the packaging of food, medicine, daily necessities, etc.

With the rapid development of the packaging industry, Solvent-laminating Technology was also invented in the United States in the late 1950s and entered China in the late 1960s. At present, it still occupies the leading position in China' s film covering market. The solvent-based instant coating technology is to use the special instant coating equipment to coat the solvent-based instant coating adhesive mixed with benzene solvent on the film, and then dry, heat and press it to compound with the print. The coated packaging has a bright and smooth surface, more bright patterns, wear resistance, folding resistance, tensile resistance, moisture resistance and chemical corrosion resistance, so that the instant coating technology can be rapidly promoted.

(2)The improvement of environmental protection requirements in developed countries has led to the development of water-based instant coating technology

After entering the 1970s, the awareness and governance of environmental protection in developed countries have gradually increased. The solvent-based instant coating technology will cause serious damage to the health of producers and consumers due to the use of benzene solvent, which is easy to lead to diseases such as leukemia and infertility. At the same time, organic solvents also have potential fire hazards in the processing workshop, and the developed countries pay increasing attention to its hazards. In order to solve the above pollution problems, water-based instant coating technology came into being in European and American countries in the late 1970s.

On the basis of the original solvent-based coating technology, the water-based coating technology replaces the organic solvent adhesive with non-toxic and harmless water-based adhesive(i. e. water-based acrylate adhesive)to solve the pollution problem of solvent-based coating technology. Due to its advantages of environmental protection over solvent-based instant coating technology, it has been rapidly promoted and entered China in the mid-1990s. At present, it still accounts for about 35%of the European market.

(3)The rise of environmental protection requirements and the printing industry revolution have promoted the birth and development of precoating technology

Although the water-based coating process has solved the benzene pollution problem of solvent-based coating, it still needs a lot of water to clean and discharge the pollution problem after cleaning sewage. It is still not an ideal environment-friendly coating solution. At the same time, it still has certain defects in product quality and production efficiency.

In the 1980s, with the birth of laser phototypesetting technology and offset printing technology, the printing industry ushered in a revolution, from which it entered the era of high-speed(from 2000 to 18000), automation and information. In addition, the post-press processing requirements are more exquisite, and the market demand for printing orders has also shifted from the original long-version(i. e. single variety, large batch, long time)to short-version(multiple varieties, small batch, fast and even 24-hour delivery).

Due to its own technical bottleneck, the traditional instant coating technology has been difficult to adapt to the requirements of the development of printing technology. First, the efficiency of instant coating technology is low. Due to the need for gluing and drying during the film covering process, the film covering speed is limited to only 15-30 m/min, which is far from meeting the post-press processing requirements after high-speed printing. Secondly, the quality is low. Name-coating technology is easy to cause blistering, wrinkling, gray color, paper deformation, and color change of pictures and texts. Thirdly, the emergence of digital printing technology puts forward new requirements for film covering, that is, coating technology cannot be used for digital printing, only precoating technology can be used.

In 1989, GBC Company of the United States complied with the needs of printing technology reform, and after years of research, successfully developed the pre-coating technology, creating a new era of post-printing film covering technology.

Pre-coated film is a film-coated product that combines the non-toxic and harmless hot-melt adhesive layer suitable for the material to be bonded with the film substrate meeting the corresponding technical requirements through a special process. The production process is that the pre-coating film manufacturer will process the film materials that meet the specific technical requirements, such as BOPP, BOPET, etc. , through special equipment for electric treatment, heating and pressure treatment, and then compound with the hot melt adhesive generated by the high temperature and high pressure salivation through the extruder to make semi-finished products, and then process the finished products that meet the size requirements of the printing and packaging film-coated products through the slitter according to the customer' s product size requirements. The printing and packaging enterprises do not need to do any gluing process on the film during the film covering process of the printed products. They only need to heat and pressurize the film through a special film covering machine. Its operation process is simple and pollution-free.

The unique production process and laminating process of pre-coating film make it have the advantages of environmental protection, high-speed laminating(60-100 m/min), high laminating quality, high bonding strength, exquisite post-printing, and good post-laminating processing performance, so it has been rapidly promoted in the United States once it is launched. In 1996, the United States realized the comprehensive substitution of precoating technology for ready-to-use technology, which currently accounts for about 95%of the film covering market. As Europe is the birthplace of water-based instant coating technology, the promotion of precoating film was slow at first, but in recent years, the market share of precoating technology has gradually increased steadily, reaching 65%at present. Japan and South Korea began to promote pre-coating film in the 1990s, and have reached about 70%and 50%of the market share respectively. At the same time, the birth of precoating film makes it possible to cover the film of digital printing products, thus giving birth to the emerging market segment of commercial printing film covering.

In the revolution of the printing industry, not only the pre-coating film was born, but also some other post-printing surface finishing technologies were developed, including the currently widely used UV glazing technology. UV glazing refers to a kind of post-press processing technology, which is made by applying a special coating on the performance or local area of the printed matter precisely and evenly, and then drying and hardening the coating on the surface of the printed matter at a very fast speed by ultraviolet irradiation. UV glazing technology can be used to modify the entire surface of the printed matter, and also can be used for local UV glazing on the printed matter after film coating to achieve special artistic effects. UV glazing technology can play a certain role in protecting and brightening printed products. However, UV glazing does not occur in the composite process with the film, and its wear resistance and folding resistance are poor. Although it can bring good appearance effect, it is not competent in protecting the print, extending the service life, and reprocessing after film coating. At the same time, the printed matter after UV glazing is not conducive to further post-processing on its surface(such as indentation, embossing, bronzing, etc. ), so the fineness and artistic effect of its printed matter are also affected and limited. Therefore, UV glazing is generally used for short-term reading and simple packaging, and the space in high-end printing market is relatively limited.

The pre-coating technology has been mastered by developed countries since its invention. In 1998, the controlling shareholder of the issuer, Beijing Kangde Electromechanical Development Corporation(now known as" Kangde Group" ), started the research and development of this technology, and was included in the national key technological innovation project plan of 2000 by the former State Economic and Trade Commission for support. After four years of efforts, through independent research and development combined with technical cooperation, the issuer has mastered the pre-coating production technology with independent intellectual property rights, and completed and put into operation the first pre-coating production line in China on October 16, 2002. In recent years, with the enhancement of national awareness of environmental protection, the market demand brought by the improvement of national printing technology and quality requirements, and the promotion of relevant policies gradually issued by the country, China' s pre-coating industry has made considerable progress.

2. Classification of pre-coated products

According to the classification of substrate, the precoated film can be divided into BOPP precoated film, BOPET precoated film and BOPA precoated film. For BOPP pre-coating film and BOPET pre-coating film, please refer to" I, (II)Main Products" in this section. BOPA pre-coating film is a pre-coating film produced with BOPA film(or biaxially stretched nylon film)as the base material. It has good barrier, puncture resistance and impact resistance, high brightness, good heat sealing and moisture absorption, and printability, and can meet the requirements of some high-end customers for post-coating products.

According to market application, it can be divided into industrial printing precoating film, commercial printing precoating film and special purpose precoating film. Among them, the industrial printing market mainly refers to the market of plate printing and packaging film covering of consumer goods such as food, medicine and daily necessities; The commercial printing market mainly refers to the application film covering market in emerging fields such as digital printing, card certification, anti-counterfeiting and commercial advertising; The special-purpose market mainly refers to construction materials. The latter two types of markets are emerging markets that have emerged with the emergence and development of precoating technology.

Competitive landscape

European, American, Japanese and Korean enterprises, represented by GBC, have been occupying a leading position in the international market, especially in the medium and high-end market, due to their early start and relatively mature technology. However, in recent years, China' s pre-coating industry represented by the issuer and India' s pre-coating industry represented by COSMO have risen rapidly with their lower product prices and product quality levels close to those of enterprises such as GBC. At present, the world' s pre-coating industry has been shifting to Asia.

Analysis of the development status of upstream industries

The main raw materials of the pre-coating film manufacturing industry are BOPP film, EVA hot melt adhesive, BOPET film, and LDPE hot melt adhesive. The current development status of the industry is as follows:

1. Current situation of BOPP industry

BOPP film(or biaxially oriented polypropylene film)is prepared by co-extrusion of polypropylene particles to form a sheet, and then stretching in both vertical and horizontal directions. It is used as a substrate in the production of BOPP pre-coating film. BOPP film is light, non-toxic, odorless, with good physical stability, mechanical strength, air tightness, high transparency and gloss, good printing performance, simple production process, low pollution, and suitable price. It is widely used in packaging and printing of food, medicine, daily light industry, clothing, cigarettes and other products.

2. Current situation of EVA industry

EVA is a solid fusible copolymer composed of ethylene(E)and vinyl acetate(VA). The higher the content of vinyl acetate(VA), the higher its transparency, softness and toughness, and the lower its melting point. According to the different VA content, EVA products can be divided into foam grade, wire and cable grade, coating grade, hot-melt grade and other different grades. The application fields include packaging, adhesives, printing, wire and cable, footwear and clothing. In the pre-coating film production, coating grade EVA is a commonly used hot melt adhesive, which is compounded with the substrate in the process of heating and pressure to become a pre-coating film product.

3. Current situation of BOPET industry

BOPET film(or polyester film)is a film material made of polyester(i. e. polyethylene terephthalate)as raw material, which is extruded into thick sheets, and then biaxially stretched. It is used as the base material in the production of BOPET precoating film. BOPET film is a colorless, transparent and glossy film with excellent mechanical properties, high rigidity, hardness and toughness, puncture resistance, friction resistance, high temperature and low temperature resistance, chemical resistance, oil resistance, air tightness and fragrance retention. It is one of the commonly used composite film substrates.

4. Current situation of LDPE industry

LDPE(low density polyethylene)is a thermoplastic obtained from ethylene free radical polymerization under high pressure. Due to its good flexibility, impact resistance, sealing, electrical insulation, chemical stability and molding processability, LDPE is widely used in various polymer processing technologies, and its main purpose is to produce film products, including agricultural film, packaging film, industrial and construction film, etc. In addition, LDPE is used as hot melt adhesive for BOPET precoating film in the production of precoating film.

As a polyethylene product that has been used for a long time, the production process of LDPE has been very mature. At present, foreign large chemical enterprises, such as BASF, Sumitomo, LG, etc. , as well as domestic petrochemical enterprises, such as Shanghai Petrochemical, Yangzi Petrochemical, etc. , can provide stable LDPE supply for the domestic market. At the same time, as a downstream product of petroleum processing, similar to EVA, the price trend of LDPE is greatly affected by the fluctuation of crude oil price.

The main factors affecting the profit level of the pre-coating industry are:

First, changes in the prices of raw materials and products. Both are closely related to the price of crude oil, and the change of crude oil price will be transmitted downstream along the industrial chain. However, to the advantage of the precoating industry, the proportion of precoating film in the total cost of downstream products is usually small, and downstream users have a low demand elasticity. Even if the precoating film manufacturers raise prices due to the rise of upstream raw material prices, the downstream printing enterprises and distributors will not reduce the purchase volume of precoating film for this reason, and the precoating film manufacturers can effectively transfer the cost pressure to the downstream, To ensure its own profit margin. On the other hand, the upstream raw materials of the precoating film are in a state of oversupply, which is a fully competitive market. The precoating film enterprises have strong bargaining power over the middle and low-end raw materials suppliers.

Second, technological progress. Generally, leading pre-coating companies can reduce production costs and improve profit margins by developing new technologies. However, when advanced technology is gradually mastered by most enterprises, the level of profit margin will return to the average.

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