Pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs) are all around us in our daily lives. They help us seal and identify packages, decorate and label products, and provide structural integrity in countless applications.
Whether they need to be flexible and invisible or colorful and stiff, all adhesives need durability, and today’s consumers are increasingly requesting more sustainable and eco-conscious adhesive solutions.
That’s where BASF comes in. With our technical expertise and extensive portfolio of polymers and adhesive raw materials, as well as our coater-ready solutions, manufacturers can create high-performance labels, tapes and graphic arts in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
Stick to it
The demand for applications requiring pressure-sensitive adhesives has grown dramatically in recent years, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the onset of 2020, which added $102.08 billion in U.S. e-commerce that year and $116.45 billion in 2021, according to estimates.
This growth has a direct connection to PSA label market, which is expected to grow at ~7.9% CAGR (Global Market Insights Inc. 09.16.21 article). The largest adhesive customer grew about ~30% in volume in 2020.
“Each of those boxes has a label on it, and that label has a pressure-sensitive adhesive that needs to stick in a variety of conditions and hard to stick to substrates, such as corrugated cardboard,” says David Schulenberg, Adhesives Product Expert at BASF. “The adhesive coated label on the substrate also contains the barcode, the address, and other information, so it's a very important part of the package.”
Pressure-sensitive adhesives are popular due to their simplicity and versatility, as they effectively bond two surfaces together with some amount of pressure and without the need for additional agents such as solvents, water or heat to activate the adhesive.
It’s not just boxes that make use of PSA technology. Medical applications, automotive components, health and beauty products, and food and beverage packaging all make use of PSAs to display important product information, as well as marketing designs.
BASF offers a wide variety of acrylic emulsion polymers, styrene-butadiene rubber emulsion polymers, and ultraviolet (UV) curable acrylic hot melt polymers for high-performance adhesives, depending on application requirements.
“Our water-based ACRONAL® acrylic binders are popular in the label, graphics and tapes industries,” says Schulenberg. “ACRONAL NX 2160 is one of our largest sellers, and it's a unique adhesive in that it can be applied in a very broad temperature range, thus the name Alltemp.”
More demanding applications, such as automotive components and other specialty applications, can make use of acResin® UV crosslinkable acrylic hot-melt adhesive polymers, which make use of the advantages of 100% solids acrylic copolymers, hot melt processing and are free of water and solvents.
“acResin is a very unique product in that it's 100% solids, so it’s coated hot and then cured with UVC energy as opposed to having to dry it,” says Schulenberg. “It's very “green” in that there's minimal or no VOCs being given off into the environment, so it's a sustainable technology.”
In addition to polymer raw materials for adhesive formulations, BASF also offers Coater Ready (CR) options to customers.
“The Coater Ready portfolio is ideal for when a customer has a unique need or niche,” says Dalia Naamani-Goldman, Sales and Marketing Manager at BASF. “That's where they would come to us and connect with us on what's needed, and we would formulate to make it work for them.”
Ready-to-coat solutions, such as those containing ACRONAL A 240 na, NX 2160 and DS 3598, offer consistency and simplicity to customers purchasing large volumes of adhesive coatings and those who may not want to formulate the coatings themselves.
“We ran an ad campaign that stated, ‘We don't make the product you buy, we make it better',” says Schulenberg. “In this case, however, we are making the product, and we do make it better with our formulation expertise.”
Sustainability is trending
Whether coating formulators are looking for raw materials or ready-to-coat solutions, end-users are increasingly demanding more sustainable offerings. Several acResin and ACRONAL offerings enable low-VOC formulations and are APEO-free.
Alkylphenol ethoxylates, or APEOs, are extremely resistant to breaking down in the environment and can cause damage to aquatic ecosystems, and their hormone-like properties may also impair human
health. More companies and manufacturers are moving away from these chemicals as awareness and regulations surrounding their use increases.
“Regulations haven’t stipulated in North America yet that APEOs can't be used, but they’re coming,” says Schulenberg. “For all new products that we've developed globally since 2000 had to be APEO-free, so we are hoping by the end of this year that our entire adhesive portfolio will be entirely APEO-free, which I'm very proud of.”
For more information about BASF’s offerings for adhesive solutions, Click Here.