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Plastics Processing

Digital direct printing allows you to work with an almost unlimited variety of materials. The achievement of good adhesion of colours on individual material types, such as certain plastics, may - in some cases - require special pre- or post-treatment. In this "chapter" we inform you about the options.

Flexible media and thermoforming

Digital direct flatbed printing provides countless possibilities for labeling and decorating an almost unlimited variety of materials. Processing rigid media has become a standard application, with the odd exception. On the other hand flexible substrates such as touch pads, magnetic vinyl or thermoformable sheets, are nearly always special applications that need to be processed using specific inks. In this case the focus is primarily on the substrate’s deformability and tensibility. The print shouldn‘t flake or lacerate. Nor should it extend or burst when the printed object is creased. 

We offer multiple solutions for processing flexible media. You can send us your products for a free and non-binding test or visit us at our premises in Renchen for an individual presentation of our extensive product range. We look forward to hearing from you!

Surface activation

The low surface energy of plastics, including polyethylene and polypropylene, often has a negative impact on their printability. A non-soluble connection between inks and the plastic surface can only be achieved if both components have the same surface energy.

As inks, unlike plastics, have very high surface energy the plastic’s surface must be activated in order to equalise the two different energy levels. There are multiple ways to achieve this. With corona and plasma activation, for example, the substrate’s surface energy is increased using high-voltage discharge. High-voltage discharge in the air or in vacuo are currently the most advanced and successful surface activation methods available.

Industrial sectors set high benchmarks in relation to the durability and dependability of certain products or processes. Plasma activation is nearly free of potential energy and therefore particularly suitable for processing complex moulded profiles which cannot be pre-treated using the corona system. Plasma pre-treatment increases the surface energy and thereby ensures extended ink adhesion on the media.

All-over decoration and labeling

Using a newly advanced thermal transfer method, we have now been able to close this gap in the market. Instead of directly printing onto the substrate as usual, the image is printed onto a specially coated transfer film using an inkjet printer equipped with thermally reactive inks. The film is then put on the specially coated substrate and heated up to 140°C. Vacuum suction inside the oven ensures that the film and the respective inks cover every part of the product.

This innovative digital transfer method is suitable for processing heat-resistant plastics of any shape. Multiple standard applications, such as smartphone and tablet cases, are already digitally processed as described above. Several industrial companies, including those in the automotive sector, have discovered just how beneficial this digital decoration and labeling process can be.

Do you need to process a nearly unlimited variety of different plastic components? We will gladly advise you about technical details and processing options. Just get in touch with us!