Brilliant Polymers’ sustainable solvent-free adhesive alternatives 

Laminating adhesives – price pressures & innovation

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Gaurav Talwar Brilliant Polymers
Gaurav Talwar the managing director of Brilliant Polymers says that part of the higher costs of raw materials must be passed on to customers Photo Brilliant Polymers

According to Brilliant Polymers (and other ink, coating, adhesive and solvent manufacturers), market conditions are driving up the cost of many raw materials, and manufacturers continue to face a series of supply chain challenges that have continued throughout the pandemic. Similarly, shortages, logistic bottlenecks, and escalating oil prices have pushed up the prices of raw materials used to produce laminating adhesives for flexible packaging.

Laminating adhesives are based on polyester and polyurethane technology. They require a range of raw materials from acids, glycols, and solvents to make polyesters and isocyanates like TDI and MDI to make polyurethanes. In the last three quarters, the prices of all of these raw materials have risen to unprecedented levels.

While most of these raw materials are from the petrochemical chain, and their prices are affected by volatile global oil prices, the overarching factor remains the demand-supply equation for these materials. Brilliant Polymers managing director Gaurav Talwar says, “The problem isn’t just base material,” citing increased energy and packaging materials costs, as well as sharply rising freight rates because of global logistics constraints. “We are currently in an unprecedented situation where due to several global factors, the prices of all these raw materials are hitting record levels at the same time.”

The new normal – a higher price to customers

Talwar points to four significant trends affecting raw material prices – global steel prices have hit new records, leading to an increase of over 50% in the cost of mild steel drums, the packing material of choice for the laminating adhesives industry. Logistics costs have surged both within India as well as in export markets. The global shortage of shipping containers has led to a sharp rise in transport costs. Oil prices have risen sharply. And lastly, robust global market demand, led by China’s V-shaped economic recovery, has led to shortages of many raw materials.

As a result, Talwar says the overall impact is more than 50% on the cost of production of laminating adhesives. “Despite internal innovations and cost reductions, the magnitude of these rising costs is no longer sustainable. To continue producing world-class products, it is necessary for us to pass along some of these increased costs,” he says. “Over the last six months, we have seen seeing the prices of laminating adhesives rise, but we are nowhere near the levels necessary. We expect these levels to be achieved in the coming quarter as the industry stabilizes to a new normal.”

Innovative solutions – solvent-free laminating adhesives

Brilliant SF Adhesive S621-S631
Brilliant S631 and S621, along with their hardeners, are unique products that combine various functionalities in one product – offering excellent optics even in metalized film lamination at high speed with negligible impact on COF after lamination in thin PE films. They can be used for medium to high-performance applications like larger bags (5 and 10 kg), and aggressive products, including alcohol. Photo Brilliant Polymers

To mitigate the effect of the upward pressure on prices, Brilliant Polymers is focused on providing alternative solutions to maximize value for customers. The use of solvent-free laminating adhesives has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Since these do not contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that often escape unchecked into the atmosphere, solvent-free lamination is the first step towards sustainability. Typically, solvent-based adhesives are run at 35% solids, which means 65% of the mixed adhesive is solvent which can, if unchecked, evaporate into the atmosphere and add to the air pollution. Solvent removal and recovery also require heat input, a further burden on the environment. 

Brilliant SF-Adhesive S641-S400
Brilliant S641 / S400 are Brilliant Polymers’ latest innovation – a two-component solvent-free adhesive offering faster PAA decay times than most standard products with several unique properties such as exceptionally fast physical cure and bond development, fast chemical cure, and migration compliance for food safety. And these can be used for high-performance applications, including hot filling and with possible savings of 50% or more in comparison to high-performance solvent-based adhesives.

On the other hand, with the precise dosing and application technology on today’s modern solvent-free laminators, adhesive deposition can be controlled minutely and maintained over time. The technology leads to savings and reliability over time.

The primary solvent used by the laminating adhesives industry is ethyl acetate, and the cost of this material has more than doubled in the past two quarters. By moving applications from solvent-based to solvent-free technology, savings of over 50% can be achieved. 

Brilliant SF Adhesive S745 and S715
Brilliant S745 and S715 are single component solvent-free adhesives for flexible packaging and carton applications. These can be used to laminate substrates to paper or board or even for film-to-film lamination and replace solvent-based adhesives. Photo Brilliant Polymer

Brilliant Polymers says it has been at the forefront of solvent-free adhesive technology and is the market leader in India and several global markets. “We are encouraging our customers to move increasing numbers of their applications to solvent-free technology,” says Talwar. A majority of Brilliant’s revenue comes from solvent-free adhesives. It has several innovative solvent-free adhesives that, along with their hardeners, offer a variety of functionality in each product.

Optimistic increase in solvent-free adhesive manufacturing capacity

Looking ahead, Gaurav Talwar says, “We see increasing demand for laminating adhesives for flexible packaging and are investing to double our manufacturing capacity. We expect our increased capacity to go online by the third quarter of 2021. Our increased capacity and strong relations with suppliers, customers, and partners will ensure market-leading growth in the coming years. As always, all products from Brilliant come with our promise – Technology, Quality, and Service!” 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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