I. Definition of Non-woven bags
What is a Non-woven bag?
Non-woven bags are bags made from non-woven polypropylene (PP) fabric. This fabric is made with spun and bond polypropylene fiber, which is soft, smooth and air-permeable. In a spun laid non-woven material the fibers are directly taken onto a moving web which arranges them randomly. The unprocessed web looks somewhat similar to cotton. The fibers on this web are then bound together thermally or mechanically. This material makes non-woven bags durable, attractive, breathable, reusable, water resistant, hypoallergenic, fire resistant, soft, light, and sometimes washable. The material for these bags is strong enough to last up to 5 years. An additional benefit of these bags is that they are easily printed with a company logo and advertisement; non-woven bags are a great tool in corporate branding and are attractive as gifts. Shoppers gain a beautiful bag which they will reuse while the company get the promotional boost whenever the bag is used.
Why are PP bags better than PE(polyethylene) bags?
PP Non-woven fabric is made from polypropylene (PP), which is different from the polyethylene (PET), the latter a common material used for plastic shopping bag. PEhas a more stable structure which makes it hard to break down it takes 300 years for PE to be completely bio-degraded! In contrast, PP has a less stable chemical structure which is liable to chain degradation.
What types of printing are available for non-woven bags?
- Silk Screen printing
- Heat transfer Printing
- Gravure Printing-Laminated non-woven bags
What can non-woven bags be used for?
- Reusable shopping bags
- Tote bags
- Drawstring gift bags
- Hand bags with zippers or Velcro.
- Garment bags
- Wine bags
- Thermal bags
- Food bags (for large amounts of flour, rice, etc.)
Why are non-woven bags good for businesses?
- Easily printed with company logo and advertisements.
- Reused by customers for continued advertising years down the road
- Much more durable than plastic bags
- Easily cleaned
- Attractive to customers
- Thermal bags will keep items warm or cool
- Shows concern for the environment
II. Printing Options
Silk Screen printing
This is most common printing technique for non-woven bags. Screen printing uses a water like gelling agent with ink mixed in. A screen or stencil is placed over the bag and the ink is applied in the desired colours. The screen is then removed and the bag is left to dry. Since screen printing does not involve chemical solvents, the screen stencil can be washed with just water. The advantages of this printing technique are the image can be in almost any colour, it is long lasting, water resistant, odorless and works well on many materials. The disadvantage is that as this method is usually done by hand, for multicolour printing, the positioning may not be accurate which can create smudged or distorted images. As well only solid colors can be screen printed, you cannot show gradations or shading with screen printing.
Heat/Thermal Transfer Printing
Heat transfer printing is a special printing technique that requires a heat sensitive medium. The image is first printed on a heat sensitive film or paper. Then using heat, the image is transferred to the nonwoven fabric. This technique is suitable for printing small or large areas. The benefit of transfer printing over screen printing is that you can show gradations or shading easily. The disadvantages of this method are the high cost and the image may be placed incorrectly. This method is also perfect for printing bar codes and other types of scanning codes as they will come out perfectly.
This 2 step technique is used for laminated non-woven bags. First, using a traditional indented copper plate (as opposed to embossing), the image is transferred to the film. Then, using a layered processing technique, glue the imaged film to the non-woven fabric. This method is suitable for large scale colorful printing. The advantages are the exquisite high quality images produced, fully automobile production and quick production time. The end product is particularly water resistant and more durable compared to the other non woven bags printed using other techniques. With gravure printing you also have two finish options, either matte or glossy. The finish is more durable, but less friendly to the environment as the film used is not easily degradable.
III. Advantages of Non woven Bags
These bags can be produced at a very low cost. The cost is further reduced when you consider that customers will keep reusing them thus reducing the need to produce as many bags. Further, many stores charge their customers for these bags so they can even make a profit off of them. There is also the invisible savings you received in marketing since customers will keep using these bags regularly thus promoting the business advertised on them. To save upfront costs, some retailers carry conventional plastic shopping bags that are thin and easily torn. However, in the long run it costs retailers more since they must purchase thousands upon thousands of these bags when they could have purchased far fewer reusable bags that customers are more willing to purchase.
Reusable non-woven bags last hundreds of times longer than traditional PET shopping bags. Non-woven bags can carry significantly heavier loads than PET bags, are far less likely to be torn, punctured, ripped, or broken, unlike PET bags. Laminated non-woven bags are of even better quality, proven to be more durable, water resistant, and attractive. PP bags are also fire resistant, they can withstand temperatures in excess of 130oC where as PET bags start to melt around 90oC. In addition to being used as a shopping bag, PP bags are great for use as food bags for items such as rice or flour. PP bags are much more durable than the traditional layered paper bags, are completely recyclable, and are cheaper too.
An attractive non-woven bag not only serves as a packaging/shopping bag, but also a wonderful vehicle for advertising. Used as a shoulder bag, non-woven bags can be stylish and modern. Consumers of late have a very negative view of traditional PET bags. They are seen as wasteful, bad for the environment, and unseemly. Even worse, they are often found in gutters and on streets thus representing the business they are from in a very bad light. Contrastingly reusable non-woven bags are seen as being very progressive, good for the environment, recyclable, frequently reused, and rarely seen in the garbage or on streets. Reusable bags represent a very positive marketing strategy for a business where as PET bags can be very negative.
Non-woven reusable shopping bags have numerous environmental benefits. By being reusable they greatly reduce the number of bags needed. They are more easily recycled than traditional PET bags. They can carry a larger and heavier load thus meaning fewer bags need to be used. They can be used for many years. As an important part of corporate branding, a company that supports environmentally friendly products is also seen to be more responsible, and will win more customers a gain a market share which cannot be bought over by money. Solvents are not required for the printing process. They can even be re-purposed when they start to wear out and made into rugs, clothes, and other items.