Plastics Decorating - April May 2019

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2019 TopCon Preview

Cosmetics Shine with Foil UV LED Curing for Plastics Evaluating Weld Quality Inkjet Printing and Adhesion

Contents April/May 2019


The Future of Cosmetics Packaging Shines with Foil

page 8

The market for luxury cosmetics packaging is more important than ever as consumers look for a combination of quality and sustainability.


page 46

Process Highlight

page 12

Association Product

page 22 page 24


page 46

Tech Watch

page 52

Calendar Marketplace Supplier Quick Links

page 56 page 57 page 58

Hot Stamping/Heat Transfer

FEATURES 2019 SPE Decorating & Assembly TopCon and IMDA Symposium Preview


Simulating PANTONE Colors on Colored Substrates

page 6 page 15

Spot-matching colors for substrates can be a challenge. With a few key strategies, great results can be achieved.


Inkjet Printing and Adhesion of Low Surface Energy Polymers

(Proell’s Inks and Functional Lacquers)

page 26

Inkjet printing is a highly complex process. Following a few recommended steps will allow for robust adhesion.

Ask the Expert

Q&A: UV LED Curing for Plastics Decorating

page 32

As the technology continues to evolve, UV LED curing continues to offer many benefits for plastic parts decoration.


Methods of Polymer Weld Quality Evaluation

page 36

When it comes to polymer welds, there are a variety of methods from which to choose. Evaluating each method is essential for ensuring quality results.


page 48

In-Mold Label Coatings: A Small Part of the Label with Great Effect

Coating represents a very small part of an in-mold label. However, it plays an important role.

Read Plastics Decorating at or download the Plastics Decorating app. Cover story photo on this page courtesy of KURZ Transfer Products

April/May 2019 3

VIEWPOINT Did you know that you can find the last nine years of Plastics Decorating magazines online at Additionally, articles from earlier issues can be found on our website, too – stretching all the way back to our very first issue of Plastics Decorating, published in January 2000. Nineteen years of magazines. Four issues each year. If we guess at an average of 48 pages (those early issues were a little thinner than our current magazine), that’s more than 3,600 pages of industry knowledge shared by experts from all areas of plastics decorating and assembly. From welding and adhesives to pad printing, digital decorating and in-mold processes, we’ve probably covered it in the past two decades. This issue of Plastics Decorating – which will be online in digital format by the time you read this in your printed magazine – focuses on a variety of decorating topics, including a discussion on UV LED curing for plastics with Technical Consultant and Adviser Jennifer Heathcote. The magazine also takes a look at current and future trends when it comes to decorative processes for cosmetics packaging, as well as what it takes to achieve great results when attempting to spot-match colors when printing on colored substrates. Furthermore, don’t miss the preview of the 2019 SPE & IMDA TopCon and Symposium. The technology has advanced and the machinery might look a little different, but Plastics Decorating still brings the latest in decorating and assembly to your mailbox – or your inbox – every quarter. Just don’t forget about those digital archives when you need a little expert advice or problem-solving assistance on your next project.

Dianna Brodine, managing editor,

durable inmold labels decals overlays doming


6901 High Grove Blvd. Burr Ridge, Illinois 4 April/May 2019

ISSN: 1536-9870

April/May 2019

Published by: Peterson Publications, Inc.

2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 (785) 271-5801

Website: Email: Editor-in-Chief Art Director Jeff Peterson Becky Arensdorf Managing Editor Graphic Designer Dianna Brodine Kelly Adams Editor Sales Director Brittany Willes Gayla Peterson Circulation Manager Assistant Editors Brenda Schell Nancy Cates Lara Copeland Technical Editor Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group Plastics Decorating is published quarterly. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any manner without written consent from the publisher.

Dependable Brand Serving The Industry For Over 25 Years


Quality and Trust Made in Japan for Highest Grade

HEAT TRANSFER LABEL for Plas�c/Hot Stamping

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HIGH-SPEED HOT STAMPING MACHINES ✓ Mul� head ultra high-speed machine ✓ Visual camera inspec�on with auto-reject ✓ Wifi data management for central sta�on control

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CONSULT US FOR ANY DEMAND TO DECORATE HIGH-VOLUME PROJECT OR IRREGULAR SURFACE North Pacific International, Inc. 5944 Sycamore Court Chino, CA 91710 (909) 628-2224

The Best Source for Technical Content Related to Plastics Decorating and Assembly June 2-4, 2019

Franklin Marriott Cool Springs • Franklin, Tennessee SCHEDULE OF EVENTS Sunday, June 2 2-6 p.m. Registration 6-7:30 p.m. Welcome Reception Monday, June 3 7-8:30 a.m. Registration, Continental Breakfast and Supplier Trade Fair General Session – All Attendees 8:30-9:15 a.m. Quality Automotive Interior Coatings – How to Ensure Products’ Survival Paul Uglum, Uglum Consulting

9:15-9:45 a.m. Measurement of Surface Free Energy Art Kasson, Kruss

9:45-10:15 a.m. Smart Surfaces: A Harmony of Design and Function Scott Tacosik, Kurz Transfer Products

Decorating Breakout Session 10:30-11 a.m. Digital Printing Technologies for Plastics – Focus on Color Inkjet and Laser Marking Scott R. Sabreen, The Sabreen Group, Inc.

11-11:30 a.m. Robotics in Pad Printing Micah Swett, Diversified Printing Techniques

11:30 a.m.-Noon Digital Inkjet Coatings Open New Doors Simon Kew, Alchemie Technology

Assembly Breakout Session 10:30-11 a.m. Methods of Polymer Weld Quality Evaluation Miranda Marcus, EWI

11-11:30 a.m. Cost-Saving Opportunities via Electromagnetic Joining Steve Chookazian, Emabond Solutions

11:30 a.m.-Noon New Laser Welding Technologies for Clear-to-Clear Welds Alex Savitski, Dukane

IML Breakout Session 10:30-11 a.m. “Speed to Market” – In-Mold Labels via Digital Printing Jim Murphy, Xeikon

11-11:30 a.m. Future Integration Through Digital Watermarking TBD

11:30 a.m.-Noon Packaging Trends and Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry Bill Ludlow, CRATIV Packaging

IMD Breakout Session 10:30-11 a.m. UV LED for IML and IMD – Competing Today While Preparing for Tomorrow Jennifer Heathcote, Eminence UV

11-11:30 a.m. Pellets to Product – Manufacturing in the Mold John Berg, Sussex IM

11:30 a.m.-Noon In-Mold Electronics: Approaches and Challenges Keith Davis, Tapecon

Noon-1:30 p.m. Lunch and Supplier Trade Fair General Session – All Attendees 1:30-2 p.m. Conversion from Analog to Digital Printing Technology Julian Joffe, Engineered Printing Solutions

2-2:30 p.m. Adhesives for Bio-Plastic – Treva™ Zachary Sayah, Henkel Corporation

IMDA Symposium & TopCon Workshops (See workshop box for full programming list.) Session 1: 2:45-3:30 p.m. Session 2: 3:45-4:30 p.m.

4:30-6:30 p.m. Networking Reception and Supplier Trade Fair 6:30-10 p.m. IMDA Awards Dinner

Tuesday, June 4 7:30-8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast and Supplier Trade Fair Decorating & Assembly Breakout 8:30-9 a.m. Advances in Innovative Coatings for Plastics Diane Marret, Red Spot Paint & Varnish Co.

9-9:30 a.m. Applications for Clean Joining Technologies Sean Spellman, Emerson Automation Solutions

9:30-10 a.m. Fixtureless Laser Marking Cuts Tooling Costs Faycal Benayad-Cherif, FOBA Laser

IML and IMD Breakout 8:30-9 a.m. Simulforming: A Unique Hybrid IMD Process Gary Hallam, Eimo Technologies

9-9:30 a.m. Objects of Desire Marshall Paterson, Advanced Decorative Systems

9:30-10 a.m. Novel Nano-Engraving for Secure and Sustainable Branding Veronica Savu, Morphotonix

IMDA Symposium & TopCon Workshops (See workshop box for full programming list.) Session 3: 10:15-11 a.m. Session 4: 11:15 a.m.-Noon

Concurrent Interactive Workshops » IMD vs. Heat Transfer » Integration Through Digital Watermarking » Thin-Wall Packaging IML Applications and Troubleshooting » IME in Practice » Variable Data Technologies for Plastics – Digital Inkjet vs. Laser Marking » Matching the Best Assembly/Joining Process for the Application » Choosing the Best Surface Treatment Technology for Surface and Joining » Hot Stamping/Heat Transfers » Adhesives for Difficult Plastics » Best Curing Technologies for Plastics Applications (sponsored by RadTech International North America) » Choosing the Best Options for Difficult Appearances » Solutions for Joining with Decorated Assemblies

Note: Attendees are able to attend any four of the workshops offered over the conference’s two days.

DATES & RATES Registration SPE and IMDA members $505 Nonmembers $605

TO LEARN MORE Find additional information, including links for registration and hotel reservations, at topcon-2019.

Register today!


The Future of Cosmetics Packaging Shines with Foil by Brittany Willes, editor, Plastics Decorating


rominent fashion designer Yves SaintLaurent was reported to have said, “The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy.” This is true in part due to the number of brands and products available today. In an oversaturated market, brands have precious little time to attract and keep consumers’ ever-dwindling attention long enough to ensure purchase. As a result, packaging has a vital role to play when it comes to making individual products stand out. Cosmetics packaging, in particular, has become a highly competitive arena, and the demand for luxury packaging at an affordable price is expected to continue to rise in the years to come.

Consumers are looking for cosmetics that convey a sense of luxury and glamour. Metallic foils are the expectation for many classic brands, as well as up-and-coming brands.

A growing market “Cosmetic Packaging Market – Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2019-2024),” a recent report published by Research and Markets, determined that the global cosmetic packaging market in 2018 was valued at $27.87 billion (US). By 2024 that number was expected to reach roughly $35.7 billion (US) with a CAGR of 4.3% over the forecast period (2019-2024). “The market studied is mainly dependent on the global cosmetic products market and is subjected to similar dynamics. The increasing demand for cosmetic products in emerging countries and growing consumer awareness are driving the investments of companies that develop innovative packaging solutions. Therefore, a rise in the demand for cosmetic products is expected to boost the demand for packaging,” the report stated.

The global cosmetic packaging market was valued recently at $27.87 billion USD, with increases expected in the next few years. Middle and bottom photos courtesy of KURZ Transfer Products.

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The emphasis on in novative packaging solutions is no surprise to those in the trenches. Material suppliers, decorators, designers and manufacturers have been experiencing first-hand the need for more dynamic packaging as a means of setting products apart from those offered by competitors. With consumer demands expected to increase in 2019, cosmetics manufacturers are looking to consumers to determine the best ways to make their products stand out.

Interpack Processing and Packaging’s recent study, “Packaging Trends for Cosmetics 2019: Sustainability Combined with Luxury,” found an emerging emphasis on packaging that combines both luxury and sustainability. According to Interpack, “The market research and forecasts conducted by beauty product manufacturers are suggesting that consumers are especially looking for luxury and glamour on their cosmetic packaging this year. But the packaging also needs to be as multi-functional and sustainable as possible, while being easy to handle and to transport. For the industry, this means producing small quantities in record time and as cheaply as possible, while not forgoing luxury and sustainability.” Revitalizing a classic look “Consumers expect high-end finishes and designs that convey luxury and quality,” stated Allan Quimby, marketing manager for KURZ Transfer Products. Specializing in thin film technology, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based manufacturer develops decorative and functional coatings for a variety of products, including foil for cosmetics packaging. “Metallic finishes are the norm for the cosmetics industry,” Quimby continued. “They are an expectation and requirement for successful product launches and for upholding the image that many brands have worked so hard to build. These foil finishes have been – and continue to be – popular not only with the larger brands but with the smaller and mid-sized brands as well.” Part of what makes foil such a popular choice for cosmetics is the classic look it gives the packaging. Gold foil, especially, is what most consumers think of when picturing some of their favorite cosmetics: a simple effect that conveys a touch of elegance and luxury that most brands strive for. “Metallic foils do continue to be the standard look for so many classic cosmetic packages, such as Chanel, Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Revlon or L’Oréal,” affirmed Bill Morey, manager, technical sales, hot stamp dies and tooling for Schwerdtle, Inc. Headquartered in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the die and tooling supplier works with many product decorating companies looking to differentiate their products. As a result, Morey has seen that it is not just large name brands that benefit from the classic look of foil. “Simple applications of bright gold or silver foils can allow private label cosmetic packaging to stand out as well,” he noted. While classic gold and silver hot stamp foils will continue to be popular choices, hot stamping foils and specialty effects have been evolving to better serve the growing industry. Morey stated that one of the emerging trends in the last few years has been with multicolor foil effects. For plastic as well as glass containers, more and more designers are opting to use multicolor

effects. According to Morey, a package might start with a fully metallized container that is then screen printed and hot stamped in any combination of pigments and bright metallics. “Another striking effect can be to subtly mix spray color coatings as a base and then coat over it with bold inks and foils. For example, a lot of eyecare packaging utilizes multiple color designs on brightly colored, molded packages that may then be hot stamped using shiny, metallic-base pigmented foil, such as black, that will complement with bright gold, silver or even a different metallic pigment color foil in a two-color package,” said Morey. Innovations with foil Just as packaging itself has evolved over time, so too have the effects and decoration process itself. To meet customer needs, foil stamping has had to adapt itself to become more user friendly. Quimby noted how decorators today have an everwidening variety of improved application equipment to meet these growing needs. As a result, there are many economical features that make foils more affordable, even for smaller brands looking to establish shelf presence. According to Quimby, KURZ has developed processes and products to be competitively priced in the commodity space. “We find that most designers and engineers are already very familiar with foils and how to use them. They are often hungry for new innovations and technologies to take their packaging to the next level,” he said. Incorporating metallic finishes into packaging designs is essential for giving brands and products the luxury and high-quality image that influences many consumers’ purchasing decisions. In order to best take advantage of the latest innovations and ensure the final product appeals to consumers, a great deal of collaboration must take place. “I have long advocated for early collaboration between the concept designers, art houses, package engineers, molders and decoration tool

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suppliers to work together to ensure a smooth product launch offering superior product appearance and functionality,” said Morey. Along with providing the classic, luxury image consumers expect, forther innovations with metallic finishes are now available, particularly personalization. “We are seeing the constant need for personalization and digital connection/ enhanced user experience for the consumer,” remarked Quimby. Part of living in the digital age means increased need for incorporating digital elements even into product packaging. Elements such as QR codes are able to connect consumers directly to product manufacturers, allowing for a highly personalized consumer experience. These elements have their own role to play in packaging design. “I think we can all agree that this trend crosses into most industry requirements,” Quimby continued. “KURZ has invested ahead of this trend, and today we are able to offer and deliver many new technologies – such as DIGITALMETAL® – application equipment and even customized software solutions to engage, meet and exceed these requirements for both the brand owner and consumer.”

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Current and future trends As predicted by Interpack, one of the fastest growing trends in cosmetics packaging is sustainability. Market research noted how “one major aspect for many shoppers is not just luxury, but also sustainability; and the packaging needs to be just as natural as the ingredients contained within the beauty product. High up on the wish list is refillable and recyclable packaging made of environmentally friendly materials. But that doesn’t mean doing without an air of luxury: transparent cellophane made of biodegradable wood pulp, for instance, can add some shiny metallic glamour to the packaging.” Companies like KURZ have been working hard to balance the need for luxury and the desire for sustainable packaging to meet customer demands. “A large growing trend for KURZ is the replacement of less environmentally friendly metallic effects with hot and cold stamping foils,” said Quimby. “We feel that this trend will continue to drive business back to the US over the next few years, because many brand owners want to reduce their carbon footprint.” The push for sustainable packaging isn’t the only trend drawing business back to the US, according to Quimby. “We’ve been

seeing a number of projects coming back to the US for a number of reasons,” he stated. “Some brands want to control the manufacturing and supply chain process better. Counterfeiting continues to be a major obstacle and issue for a lot of brands.” Anti-counterfeiting, brand protection and enhancement solutions continue to be major focuses for all brand owners as more and more counterfeit products flood the market. “The damage that can be caused by counterfeiters is immeasurable for a brand,” said Quimby. Other trends include the possibility of production in smaller lot/run sizes and wanting to manage the inventory, waste and cost more closely. “Some are doing it strictly for cost savings resulting from higher importation, logistic and manufacturing costs,” Quimby said. Morey said Schwerdtle has likewise noticed an increase in work returning to the US. “American molders were already getting more efficient with new and faster molding presses integrating more automation, which, in turn, allows them to produce more finished goods without greatly increasing the in-house production employment numbers,” he said. “However, if we see our

customers increasing their decorating die supply orders to us, it means they are producing more goods that, in turn, will have to ship. This could potentially lead to increased employment levels, right from the package engineering departments to molding, decorating, assembly, then packaging and shipping. Overall plant and machine maintenance would be necessary as well – all requiring additional work hours – if not added personnel.” Whether through a desire to decrease carbon footprint through more sustainable packaging materials, desire for increased brand protection or more efficient processes – no matter the reason – more jobs moving back to the US is a trend most hope to see continue. Looking ahead It’s clear that no matter the design or current trend, hot stamping foils will always have their place in cosmetics packaging. They will always convey a feel of elegance and luxury that consumers associate with skincare and makeup products. Whether through a classic gold foil or a more modern punk purple metallic finish, hot stamping for cosmetics is a sustainable solution in which companies and consumers are happy to invest. n

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Hot Stamping/Heat Transfer CDigital 410.646.7800 Since 2001, CDigital, Baltimore, Ma r yla nd , has focused on developing and producing fullcolor heat transfers for the product decorating industr y, including plastics. Operating two 5-color Xeikon 3030 presses, CDigital has the ability to produce heat transfers that provide 1200 dpi CMYK+white full-color image quality, along with variable data capabilities and fast turnaround times. By utilizing a combination of one of its nine different films and 16 adhesive systems, CDigital provides a decorating solution for a wide range of products. CDigital also can produce heat transfers for short or large runs with low order minimums and no set-ups.

items and more. It also offers convenient warehousing and shipping options. Hot Stamp Supply Company 877.343.4321 H o t S t a m p S u p p l y C o m p a n y, Winchester, Virginia, offers the Print Pro 5x5 Air 1 Ton as its most capable and powerful tabletop machine. The Print Pro 5x5 Air 1 Ton is capable of foil printing on everything from plastics, poker chips, paper, stationery, pencils, napkins, greeting cards, leather goods and wood products. It provides a full ton (2,000 lbs) of printing pressure for small or large prints. This is enabled by full control of the pressure, heat and dwell time to achieve the preferred print.

CPS Resources Inc. 704.628.7678

Infinity® Foils, Inc. 913.888.7340

Offer ing standard hot stamp machines and fully automatic systems, CPS Resources, Indian Tr a i l , No r t h C a r ol i n a , h a s manufactured machines and foil for more than 30 years. The company features standard hot stamp machines and fully automatic systems. Its in-house engineering staff and tool shop helps CPS respond to its customers’ unique applications. Combining CPS’s manufacturing of a variety of hot stamp foils with machinery gives it the tools needed to solve any decorating challenges.

Featuring premier foils for stamping plastics, including its exclusive Nakai foils, Infinity® Foils, Inc., Overland Park, Kansas, offers plastics foils available in pigment, metallic and holographic versions. Its multiple foil releases allow customers to find the perfect solution for their plastic applications. The foil products cover the range of hard to soft plastics and provide adhesion, abrasion and scratch resistance characteristics. The plastics foils are available in the most popular shades, including foils for second-surface applications. There is no foil order minimum, and orders can be placed online 24/7.

Digital Decorations 978.463.0416 Provider of digital heat transfer products, services and equipment, Digital Decorations, Salisbury, Massachusetts, offers versatile and costeffective solutions and delivers digital heat transfer printing and decoration. Its dependable printing options include color matching, variable data, gangprinting and custom quantities. Digital Decorations provides digital heat transfer products for health and beauty, medical, educational, promotional and industrial businesses – covering cosmetics, tubes, packaging, stationery, bottles, ad specialty

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Mountain Graphix LLC 630.681.8300 The L100 heat transfer label product line from Mountain Graphix, Carol Stream, Illinois, is specially formulated for use on PVC, ABS, polycarbonate, styrene and acrylic plastics. Its proprietary formulation provides a heat transfer with no heat mark from the application head as well as no adhesive extension around the design. The L100 series has outdoor weatherability and passes all appliance and automotive specifications for abrasion and chemical resistance while providing pure opacity and print quality. The L100 series is versatile and flexible. It can be used

on various substrates, textured parts, matte or gloss, and will blend in with the part, leaving no heat mark. The L100 can be printed in all colors, including metallics.

United Silicone 716.830.8419

North Pacific International, Inc. 909.628.2224

The new US25-E Frame hot stamp machine from United Silicone, Lancaster, New York, revolutionizes the ability to costeffectively decorate deep reusable containers such as crates, bins, totes, roll-off carts, garbage ca n s a nd i ndu st r ial containers. A 16" throat depth in an affordable 2.5-ton system enables users to realize up to 40% cost savings as they no longer need a 12-ton system to exceed 10" throat depth. With up to 52" part clearance (a threefold increase over traditional systems), the US25-E Frame is ideal for large containers.

North Pacific International (NPI), Chino, California, offers heat transfer services, including label development and machine design installation. Reliable quality and advanced technology are the essence of NPI. NPI heat transfers are made in Japan with ROHS, REACH and Japanese government compliance. In the early days of distributing its products, NPI realized there were few hot stamping machines available to properly apply heat transfer labels. NPI now provides turnkey systems for heat transfer labels for all types of plastics decorating projects. Preco Corporation +81.6.6443.0039 Preco, Osaka, Japan, offers onestep decorating solutions on various materials and applications with high physical resistance requirements. Preco has been focusing on decoration with Japanese technology for more than three decades, providing multicolored heat transfer foil, hot stamping foil, 3D plates and in-mold foil (IMD/IML) for writing instruments, cosmetics, oral care and home electrical appliance industries. Preco looks to expand to new fields and overcome new challenges.

Webtech, Inc. 609.259.2800 Webtech, Inc., Robbinsville, New Jersey, supplies the decorating industries with a full complement of hot stamping foils and security products. Its librar y of woodgrains and pattern foils is extensive and is offered in various configurations, from foils to laminates, with top coats that are steel wool-resistant. The in-house design and engraving departments can turn around new patterns or prepress in one week. Webtech’s rotogravure, flexo and silkscreen presses offer heat transfer and Therimage labels, up to seven colors. A turnkey decorating system of foils and hot stamping equipment also is offered. n

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Nazdar Inks Are All Around You Manufacturer of the most comprehensive selection of UV-LED, UV, solvent-based and water-based inkjet, screen printing, and flexographic inks obtainable from a single source.

Whether printing indoor or outdoor applications on substrates from plastic to paper, metal, glass, and more, there’s a Nazdar ink that’s right for every job. For more information visit:

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Simulating PANTONE Colors on Colored Substrates by Bruce Ridge, director of technical service, Nazdar Ink Technologies


nyone who has attempted to match spot colors when printing on colored substrates knows that the process presents various unique challenges. However, i ncor porati ng a few key suggestions can lead to great results. This article looks at why these challenges exist and how to approach overcoming them.

In today’s world it may be hard to imagine, but there was a time when a printer, asked to match a color, could only describe that color using descriptive terms like bright red, medium green Image 1. A comparison of how the PANTONE Formula Guide has changed through the years. All or a commonly known color like images courtesy of Nazdar Ink Technologies. “Coke red.” Then, in the early 1960s, the PANTONE company developed a color matching system that has been adopted It is important to understand how a PANTONE formula guide by designers and printers. It took years for every printer and is produced. These books are printed by the offset lithography designer to acquire a PANTONE formulation book. Once they process on #1 grade 100# gloss text stock (for the coated books), did, everyone had a numerical system to designate common spot and premium grade 80# text stock (for the uncoated books). colors, which now number 1,700 or more. For most printers, The offset process applies one of the thinnest layers of ink in the challenge now is to match those colors. the printing world. This means the ink layer is thin enough – and therefore the color is translucent enough – that it is highly Most printers use the PANTONE matching system when influenced by the paper it is printed upon. selecting and printing spot colors. A majority of the colors in the PANTONE formula guide are translucent, primarily due to One of the reasons PANTONE books undergo updates is the limited ink deposit achievable with offset lithography. This changes to the paper used. The latest PANTONE guides means a portion of the white paper substrate is always showing state that the paper used will contain optical brighteners, through the color, resulting in cleaner, brighter colors. Once appearing brighter under certain lighting conditions. The the substrate being printed on is no longer white, printers must optical brighteners may have an influence on spectrophotometer move away from translucent inks. In doing so, the clean, bright readings of the paper and the color on it. Essentially, this means characteristics of the colors in the PANTONE guide may be lost. that, when trying to match a PANTONE color but not printing offset inks on paper, the goal should be to get something similar The goal is to achieve similar appearance to the color – not an exact match. The differences in color will The word “match” means, for one thing, to be equal or similar probably go beyond ink deposit if using screen, pad or inkjet to another. For most printers, the expectation is for their printed printing. The vehicle, pigments and type of ink may be different, color to be the same as the PANTONE color chip the customer taking printers further away from achieving an exact match. has supplied. PANTONE books are similar to any other manufactured product, made to an acceptable tolerance. This Measuring color with a spectrophotometer gives a mathematical means every book is not exactly the same, but it is reasonable indication of how close one color is to another color. to expect that the color in the printer’s book will be similar to the customer’s book. 

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Image 2. This model of L*a*b* color space illustrates the specific “addresses” of different colors as conceptualized in 3D space.

Spectrophotometers translate each color into a set of numbers, allowing for quantifying and comparing colors, even without the best color vision. Most color-matching departments use L*a*b* values to measure a color. This results in a set of three numbers that represent a color. In order to easily compare the values of the two colors, mathematical formulas are used to simplify them into a single number. This is the number of change (or delta) between the two and is commonly referred to as delta e. There are four different mathematical formulas that can be used to produce these delta e numbers. Unfortunately, while a person may specify that two colors must be within a delta e of two or less for it to be considered a match, they will rarely specify which specific formula should be used to determine these values. This would be similar to being told to store beer at 40 degrees – without mentioning Celsius or Fahrenheit. In the same way 40 degrees Fahrenheit is preferable for the beer, CIE 2000 is preferable as the best method for calculating delta e. Veteran color matchers will say that some colors measure very close numerically with an expensive spectrophotometer, yet do not appear similar visually, and vice versa. There are other factors that influence color appearance. The spectrophotometer sees a color through a tiny round window with none of the outside influences that occur when observing a color. Slight differences in a color are seen due to overall differences in

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texture and gloss, as well as the influence of surrounding colors that most instruments do not see. It also does not include any individual color perception biases, which may be an asset or a hinderance. Spot colors are simulated in two primary methods For most printing processes, spot colors are made in one of two ways. One is to mix up a color from separate ink components that are printed as one color. The other option is to simulate a PANTONE color as a build from percentages of CMYK inks. The first method allows for the most accurate simulation, as there is usually a wider range of colored components available to make up the color. This is how the PANTONE formula guide colors are made. Simulating a spot color from CMYK inks as a build can be limiting – there is only so much four colors can do. This method only allows a close simulation of 50% to 60% of the PANTONE formula guide. These limitations are easy to observe when using the PANTONE bridge book, which offers a mixed ink PANTONE spot color printed side by side with the closest CMYK build of that color. This limitation in printing the full range of PANTONE colors with CMYK inks can be improved by using the hexachrome set of process colors, which adds a process orange and green to extend the CMYK gamut. Using this method allows for simulation of up to 90% of PANTONE colors.

Continuing Our Tradition of Servicing the Plastics Decorating Industry With over 100 years of combined industry experience, Die Stampco’s tooling design and fabrication specialists can customize a solution to meet your requirements. Image 3. The PANTONE Bridge shows the CMYK build of a mixed ink spot color. Note how the orange colors are not very similar.

The Die Stampco Difference • 24 hour turn-a-round on most silicone rubber dies and sheets

Using CMYK inks as a build to simulate PANTONE colors on non-white substrates is only an option if white can be printed under the color. As part of the subtractive color system, CMYK inks are designed to be transparent and very specific in color, subtracting light reflecting off of the white substrate to create a full gamut using only four colors. As such, they must be printed on a white substrate or a layer of white ink to subtract the color from the white color beneath reflecting back to the observer. Simulating spot colors on non-white substrates Most spot color matching systems are built around a set of 12 to 16 colors that are designed to simulate the cleanest and brightest spot colors and, therefore, need to be printed on a white substrate or layer of white ink. Unfortunately, this is not always an option. If the spot color cannot be printed on top of white, the next step is to increase the ink deposit or opacity. This is analogous to applying another layer of paint to the wall in a house to cover up a previous color. However, printing two layers of the same color is not a common practice. More commonly, the inks or the ink deposit are modified to create a more opaque ink layer. This can be as simple as using other colors in a particular ink system that are not part of the mixing system colors, used because they are designed to be more opaque. An example would be to use Fire Red instead of PANTONE Warm Red or Lemon Yellow instead of PANTONE Yellow in a color match.

• State-of-the-art graphics department • “Make it Right” Guarantee: When we take on a project, we will do whatever it takes to make it right

Die Stampco Services • Custom hot stamp tooling • Flat and contoured silicone rubber dies • Magnesium, steel and brass hot stamping dies • Prototype and production contract decorating

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t p. 17

STRATEGIES lower the delta e number, the more opaque the ink. Simple, yet effective. Once that has been done, it is possible to rate all color components on an opacity basis, so when matching colors on colored substrates printers know which colors will combine to give the most opaque color match. Once this work has been done, printers may find there is one area in the color spectrum without enough opacity to be consistent with the other colors.

Image 4. This image demonstrates the opacity differences in two colors as they are printed on black as compared to white.

Another option is to have a special color matched that is more opaque. This could require having a special color match made by the ink manufacturer with additional pigment or other opacifiers added to the ink. This is very common in the screen, pad and flexo print processes. Though beneficial, these changes can result in some compromises in ink performance, appearance or even cost, illustrating why a balanced approach must be taken when creating special color matches. When it comes to doing color matches on colored substrates, it is best to know which colors in the ink system are the most opaque to be used as components in opaque color matches. A simple way to rate the opacity of colors is to perform drawdowns of all the colors in an ink system on Leneta cards that have black and white printing areas on them. After taking a measurement of the color on white as the standard, a comparison measurement of the color over black is made to get a delta e reading. The

It would then make sense to have a special, highly pigmented color made to fill that color gap. This is often a red, orange or yellow ink. Modifying these particular colors usually results in higher cost inks. It is generally true that using more opaque inks will result in less clean and vibrant colors. That is mainly evident when the color is printed on a white substrate. When an opaque color is printed on a colored substrate, it may very well appear clean and bright due to the contrast the eye perceives between the color and the background it is printed on. A yellow ink that prints on a blue plastic and still looks yellow won’t look all that bright and clean if printed on white plastic. Once printers move away from white paper, the goal is to simulate, not to match. When it comes to simulating any color on a colored substrate, it is always best to provide press proofs or lab proofs if time will allow. Digital and soft proofing cannot simulate the true effect of one color on top of another.

Image 5. This chart demonstrates how the opacity measurement can be used to select the most opaque colors for color matches.

18 April/May 2019

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Multi-color fully servo-driven machine for decoration of multi-format plastic and glass containers Announcing OMSO ServoBottle 8 with 8 chuck groups up to 4 color screen Servo-driven axis movement – Prints up to 4 colors with accurate registration on multi-shape containers Quick change tooling – Eight station machine allows changeover from one bottle to the next in under 30 minutes. UV LED technology – Fast curing at up to 50% energy savings Rotary design – Add or remove printing heads for possible future digital or hybrid integration.

The SERVOJET machine is the new digital solution for tube decoration with innovative features which enhance quality, reliability and efficiency. Features include: • Version for soft and rigid tubes, full height print, up to 7 colors • Full digital system, advanced inkjet technology for 3D container • Precise surface treatment, full LED UV and final curing • Compact footprint, easy installation and operation

OMSO North America, Inc. 1420 Jamike Ave • Erlanger, KY 41018 USA Office (859)-282-OMSO (6676) • Fax (859)-282-9976 •

Est. 1952

t p. 18

STRATEGIES Even the common ink drawdown can be misleading as to how well the ink will cover a colored substrate. This is especially true when the final print will be type or fine lines making up an image. The large drawdown will always appear less opaque. It is best to use color isolators to view just a smaller portion of the color and the colored substrate to predict how the final image will appear. There are many ways to simulate a spot color on a colored substrate. The best first step is to be sure to use the most opaque inks in a current ink system instead of using the colors designated as PANTONE matching colors. The second is to view the color isolated from the surrounding background that may have a negative influence on the color when comparing to any target color that is printed on white paper. The next step is to modify an ink with additives, if available, that will help the ink appear more opaque.

Image 6. This is an example of a press proof to demonstrate actual opaque ink on a dark bottle.

20 April/May 2019

If these steps are not providing acceptable results, there is always a possibility that an ink supplier can make a special color match that may incorporate more pigment or other powders to improve the ink’s opacity. This may require milling or grinding the pigment into the ink. Many ink manufacturers can make use of opacifiers, flattening agents and powders that can be mixed into an ink to create diffusion of light, which

Custom Tooling for Decorating & Assembly th

-- .f ft anniversary


Image 7. The use of a color isolator (shown in the bottom photo) can be helpful to remove outside influences when comparing two colors critically.

appears as more opacity. Note: These modifications require the re-evaluation of adhesion and finishing characteristics, which may be compromised when adding more powders to an ink.

1879 - 2019 Proudly serving our customers for 140 years .

Customized products create special results Screen printing legend Richard Greaves once said that the guy that wins the race is the guy that has modified his car more than the other racers. Otherwise his performance would be just like all the other racers. This is true when wanting to do outof-the-ordinary printing. Consider how to modify the process and the products used to get the best results. n Bruce Ridge is the director of technical services at Nazdar Ink Technologies, where they manufacture inks for the inkjet, screen, flexo and pad printing processes. Nazdar Ink Technologies is a specialty ink manufacturer with extensive color matching and technical support departments. Ridge is a member of the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Ridge Technologies. For more information, send comments and questions to


Silicone rubber, brass, copper and steel hot stamping dies

41 Benham Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06605 203.330.2750

ASSOCIATION Letter from the Chair

We are all very excited about the upcoming SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Topical Conference (TopCon). We also are excited that the In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) will be partnering with us again for its IMDA Symposium. The event will take place June 3-4 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs outside Nashville, Tennessee. One of the great additions to TopCon has been the workshops where attendees can break out into smaller groups and discuss various topics related to plastics decorating, assembly/joining and in-mold decorating/labeling. Every workshop is limited to around 25 attendees and includes designated leaders to help steer the conversation and answer questions. Make sure you check out the complete lineup of workshops on page 7 or at In addition to all of the quality papers and workshops, there will be ample time for attendees to network with industry suppliers at the Supplier Trade Fair. The Trade Fair will be open in the morning before sessions, during breaks and an extended lunch, and during an evening reception on the first day of the



SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Welcomes New Board Members David Givens is a market and customer activation manager for Henkel’s General Industrial Adhesives business in North America. Givens has been with the organization since 2017, with roles in the automotive aftermarket and OEM segments. Givens holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and marketing from Western Connecticut State University. He also is a passionate advocate for STEM education and serves as a planning committee member of the New England FIRST Robotics Competition. Danny Allen is currently a principle advanced manufact ur ing engineer in plastics at GE Appliances, a Haier Company. Allen works in development of plastic molds and processes overseeing two-shot, over molding and molded parts

22 April/May 2019

event – June 3. This will be a combined event with IMDA, so it will include a large array of exhibitors for plastics decorating, assembly/joining and in-mold processes. When it comes to attending conferences, I often hear people make comments such as, “I can get the information from a webinar or online.” My response to that is that you can’t put a value on the time spent at an event like TopCon – visiting and networking with fellow attendees and suppliers. Networking and conversation time that takes place during the Supplier Trade Fair and with the interactive workshops doesn’t happen on a webinar or when looking up something online. I hope our Plastics Decorating readers will seriously consider joining us for the upcoming TopCon and IMDA Symposium. It is going to be a great event in a great place. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Peterson Publications if you have any questions on the event or other questions about the SPE Decorating & Assembly Division. I hope to see you at TopCon! Jeff Peterson President, Peterson Publications, Inc. Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division


development for all GEA US-based manufacturing sites. His experience includes hot stamping, pad printing, in-mold labeling, gas assist molding, laser etching, hot plate/I.R/vibration/ultrasonic welding and automation as it is applied to these industries. Allen looks forward to contributing as an SPE Board member in the Decorating & Assembly Division. SPE Partners with PLASTICS Industry Association SPE-Inspiring Plastics Professionals, Bethel, Connecticut, announced a licensing agreement with PLASTICS Industry Association for its This is Plastics ® program. SPE members soon will have access to this program’s positive messaging about plastics-related topics, such as sustainability, safety and environmental issues. Resources include articles, images, videos and interactive quizzes with topics on Plastics 101, safety, economic impact, environment and innovation. For more information, visit ThisIsPlastics. n

IMD Technology / Film Insert Molding

Innovative Inks & Functional Lacquers

The proven and tested NORIPHAN® HTR N ink system from Proell is used worldwide for film insert molding applications and dial printing. Thanks to permanent product development further ink systems have been developed, such as the formable two-component ink systems NORIPHAN® XMR and NORIPHAN® XWR. Both of these ink systems can be used as a washout barrier during the injection molding process while

showing excellent adhesion in compound and long term durability in the final part. The black color shades of the ink systems NORIPHAN® XMR and XWR can be used for back printing of conductive pastes in functional IMD/ FIM parts due to their high electric resistance.

1 Tactotek injection molded structural electronics panel (IMSE)

screen printed film

2 Smart HVAC panel

formed film 3

trimmed film Motorcycle fairing – PP-IMD


back molded part 3D formed speedometer panel

Mercedes-Benz C + E-Class HVAC panel

Ink System:


Injection Resin:






XWR + NoriPress® PP

films PC films (<125µm), PET films PC and PET films PC and PET films PA films PLEXIGLAS® films PET films PicoFORM – PP films

NoriPress® SMK, NoriPress® PP (solvent-based) and AquaPress® (water-based) are bonding agents for IMD/FIM technology. AquaPress® can be back molded with PC, ABS, and PMMA resins. NoriPress® SMK can be back molded with PA as well as the previously mentioned resins. These products can be used as an overprinting adhesion primer to enhance the bonding of IMD inks with various low melting point resins as well as laminating different film types. NoriPress® PP is available for back molding with PP resin. Norilux® DC, a broad range of formable, abrasion, and chemically resistant dual cure lacquers, can be used to protect first surface decoration or polycarbonate surfaces with various matte and glossy finishes. Proell, Inc.


2751 Dukane Drive


St. Charles, IL 60174-3343 USA


Phone 630-587-2300


PRODUCT Comdec Introduces SMI 6090 Comdec, Newburyport, Massachusetts, introduced the SMI 6090 digital UV industrial inkjet printer from Standard Machines, Inc. It features a three-print head design, a continuous ink supply system, economical reservoirs and ink dampening with degassing valve. Head cleaning can take place during operation, and ink recirculation prevents print head clogging. The SMI 6090 is a 16-channel, 8-color system CYMK, W, LC, LM and V. It automatically adjusts height to prevent print head damage caused by hitting the product. Because it is an active UV curing system, the ink is cured during the print operation. For more information, visit Dow Introduces DOWSIL™ EA-4700 CV Adhesive Dow, Midland, Michigan, launched DOWSIL™ EA-4700 CV adhesive, a next-generation silicone solution for transportation assembly that is capable of room temperature curing at faster speeds while maintaining the performance advantages expected from silicone ad hesives. This new assembly solution bonds at room temperature to traditional metals and plastics used in electronics assembly. DOWSIL™ EA-4700 CV Adhesive also offers low levels of volatile condensable materials to support its use near sensitive electronic components. For more information, visit Inkcups Unveils New Rotary Printer Inkcups, Danvers, Massachusetts, announced its latest directto-object technology. The Helix is designed to print single or multicolored images for straightwalled and tapered cylinders – for drinkware, cosmetic and industrial industries. The Helix minimizes part set-up time with a single, advanced quick-change tooling fixture designed for cylinder or tapered parts. Prepress and screen making are eliminated by this alldigital process. Simply import the image, choose the quantity for production and print directly to the product with user-friendly software. The Helix rotary inkjet printer achieves a balance between speed and image quality due to its patented Helix software. For more information, visit Clariant Additive Technology Facilitates Laser Welding of Medical Devices Specialty chemicals company Clariant, based in Muttenz, Switzerland, has introduced new MEVOPUR polymer

24 April/May 2019

materials formulated to improve laser-welding performance in medical devices. Clariant developed two different formulations to achieve laser transmission in one and absorption in the other so that they can be reliably welded together. The new, laserfriendly materials are manufactured at a dedicated facility in Lewiston, Maine, and in Sweden and Singapore. All three plants have been certified compliant with ISO13485-2016, the latest quality management system for medical devices. The MEVOPUR brand assures device manufacturers that, from USP Class VI, ISO10993 pre-tested raw material ingredients to final product, the Clariant processes are controlled, consistent and compliant. For more information, visit DowDuPont Launches Soft Skin Adhesive for Medical Devices DowDuPont Specialty Products Division, Wilmington, Delaware, introduced the DOW CORNING™ MG 7-1020 Soft Skin adhesive, adding to the company’s portfolio of solutions for skin-adhered medical devices. Based on advanced silicone technology, the product delivers a high degree of penetration into the skin surface, strong adhesion and extended wear, and design and manufacturing flexibility – while eliminating skin irritation and removal discomfort. MG 7-1020 Soft Skin adhesive can be used with fabric backing and addresses the healthcare industry’s growing focus on biologic drugs that call for innovative delivery mechanisms, such as patch pumps. The new product is suitable for wearable monitoring devices, medical tape and medical device attachments. For more information, visit

Meteor Inkjet Launches Printhead Waveform Development Services Meteor Inkjet, Cambridge, United Kingdom, launched a tiered collection of services for ink characterization, print reliability analysis and printhead waveform development and optimization. Customers can now choose from an extensive menu of waveform optimization services that include realtime evaluation of drops in flight; process mapping of drop volume and velocity response to drive voltage and frequency; visualization and image capture of drop and ligament formation; analysis of a fluid’s rheology; determination of printhead open time and latency; assessment of jetting reliability, fluid buildup and misting; and print reliability testing, using both standard images and customer-provided, application-specific images. For more information, visit n


Inkjet Printing and Adhesion of Low Surface Energy Polymers by Scott R. Sabreen, president, The Sabreen Group Inc.


ong before the first ink drop is jet ted onto a plastic product, designers make key decisions that predetermine whether ink printing will be easy or difficult. Adhesion is essentially a superficial phenomenon, depending as it does upon interactions between the liquid ink and the surface of the substrate. Principal factors affecting adhesion are polymer selection (including colorants, fillers and additives), molding process, surface conditions, and storage and handling. Inkjet printing is highly complex, involving many interdisciplinary fields. First and foremost is ink-polymer substrate compatibility. This article will examine the selection of polymers and primary processing to achieve robust ink adhesion. This approach, designed for manufacturing, provides valuable insights and offers fieldproven solutions that prevent adhesion failures.

Figure 1. Interdisciplinary fields of inkjet printing of polymers

Inkjet printing is far more complex and delicate than analog printing. Ink-jetting of polymers is intrinsically difficult, since there often are substantial chemical and physical differences between plastics – even within the same polymer family. Printing on contoured geometries by inkjet adds further complications, unlike pad and screen printing solventborne ink formulations with naturally lower surface tensions that wet readily to polymer substrates. Thermoplastics The type of thermoplastic selected to be printed significantly affects the entire inkjet process. In a thermoplastic material, the very long, chain-like molecules are held together by relatively weak Van der Waals forces. Thermoplastics are divided into two subcategories, amorphous and crystalline (see Figure 2). Generally, amorphous polymers possess better adhesion properties than crystalline. The term “amorphous” means to have no defined shape or an easily altered shape. “Crystalline” implies that there is a regular, defined pattern to the molecular aggregates. Amorphous resins exhibit random, spaghetti-like structures. They do not greatly dampen energy introduced into the materials. As heat is

26 April/May 2019

applied, they soften and do not have a sharply defined melting temperature. Crystalline resins have orderly patterns (see Figure 3). They also have well-defined melting temperatures. In a polymer, these two states coexist with adjacent section polymers packing into tight crystalline bundles held together by secondary attraction forces, while other sections of the same molecules are unable to physically move into the crystalline lattice and remain amorphous. The probability of a particular polymer segment being crystalline or amorphous is mostly a random event, controlled by the dynamics of the crystallization process. Semicrystalline materials have a highly ordered molecular structure with sharp melt points. They do not gradually soften with a temperature increase; instead, semicrystalline materials remain solid until a given quantity of heat is absorbed and then rapidly change into a low-viscosity liquid. Amorphous polymers have a randomly ordered molecular structure that does not have a sharp melt point. Instead, amorphous materials soften gradually as the temperature rises. These materials change viscosity when heated, but seldom are as easy flowing as

LSE polymers that are difficult to inkjet – polyamide (PA) and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS):

Figure 2. Amorphous and crystalline thermoplastics

semicrystalline materials. Amorphous polymers lose strength quickly above their glass transition temperature (Tg). Ink-polymer substrate compatibility Among the most challenging polymers to inkjet print include: acetals (POM), polyamides (nylon), polyolefins, polyester (PET), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), polyetheretherketone (PEEK), polyetherimide (PEI), polyimide “Kapton” (PI), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and polyurethanes (PUR). Designers select these low surface energy (LSE) materials for their lightweight metal replacement, stiffness and strength, chemical resistance and physical properties at elevated service temperatures. For in kjet pr inting to be successful, it must achieve long term adhesion to the polymer surface. Adhesion depends largely upon surface phenomena, i.e., the elevated temperature ink must easily Figure 3. Structure jet from the printhead and of amorphous and semicrystalline thermoplastics appropriately interact with the substrate. The ink must be able to make intimate contact with the surface of the polymer substrate. This intimate contact is termed wetting or wetting out the surface and refers to the ink’s ability to spread over the surface. Most polymer surfaces are naturally hydrophobic and resist being wetted. Characteristically, these plastics are chemically inert, nonporous surfaces with low surface energy, which makes printing adhesion nearly impossible. Surface energy is the excess energy that exists at the surface (as opposed to the bulk) of a solid. This excess energy exists because molecules at the surface cannot interact with as many like neighbors as molecules in the bulk are able to do; therefore, they have excess interaction energy.1 Primary processing is critical in order to achieve the stated properties of the polymer material. For example, examine two

Polyamide, commonly known as nylon, is a semicrystalline polymer. The two most common grades are Nylon 6 and Nylon 6/6. Nylon polymers are inherently difficult to bond because they are hydrophobic, chemically inert and possess poor surface wettability (i.e. low surface energy). Further, nylons are hygroscopic and will absorb moisture in excess of 3% of its mass of water from the atmosphere. Moisture, in and of itself, creates adhesion problems. Proper drying procedure of nylon resins is critical to processing and part performance. Most noteworthy, the hydrophobic behavior of nylon is a surface property, and the hydrophilic behavior is a bulk property. Since nylon is an organic polymer, it has a relatively low surface energy. This is a consequence of the surface chemistry and surface physics of polymers and other organics. However, the amide groups in the nylon chain attract water, and they give rise to the hydrophilic behavior of this material in regard to bulk absorption of water. Thus, in the bulk, nylon can behave as a hydrophilic material, but on the surface, it can exhibit hydrophobic behavior. Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) offers the broadest resistance to corrosives of any advanced engineering plastic. PPS products are not hygroscopic and, therefore, do not experience dimensional expansion problems like nylon (polyamides). Yet it is important to use dry resin in molding parts. Moisture, in and of itself, is problematic. High moisture levels can create voids, which could adversely impact part performance, affect adhesion and alter aesthetics. The time between drying and processing should be as short as possible. PPS should be dried in dehumidifying hopper dryers. Hot air ovens are generally not recommended. To achieve a fully crystalline state, mold temperatures of at least 275 to 300°F are required. When PPS is molded below 275°F, the moldings are amorphous, or semicrystalline, and remain in this state until they are exposed to higher service temperatures (including heat curing). If the service temperature exceeds the molding temperature, the parts will become more crystalline, resulting in dimensional and property changes. For example, the heat deflection temperature (HDT), @264 psi (1.8 MPa), of 40% glass-filled PPS molded in a noncrystalline state is only 350°F but increases to >500°F (260°C) in the crystalline state. Further, mold temperature has a dramatic effect on the surface appearance. To suitably clean nylon and PPS surfaces and remove LMWM (low molecular weight materials), use toluene, xylene, acetone

 April/May 2019 27

t p. 27


or MEK. Alcohol is a weak solvent and only removes superficial dirt but not hydrocarbon contaminates. Proper technique must be used at all times, including using lint-free cloths and wearing powder-free protective gloves. Excess solvent creates weak boundary layers of unremoved chemicals, leaving a haze buildup that will inhibit bonding.2 Printing processes should be performed as soon as possible following molding operations, or package parts tightly in non-poly bags such as polyester. Nylon and PPS bonding applications often require plasma pretreatment, such as electrical corona discharge, electrical atmospheric plasma, electrical air plasma, flame plasma and low-pressure RF cold gas. Clean substrate surfaces Low molecular weight materials – such as silicones, mold release, anti-slip agents and process additives – inhibit the ink’s ability to flow and achieve intimate contact essential for adhesion. Certain soluble or nonsoluble compound agents used in pigment and dye colorants can adversely affect adhesion. Chemical makeup of the molded surface, texture and porosity significantly affect ink flow and adhesion. The degree or quality of treatment and adhesion are affected by the cleanliness of the plastic surface. The surface must be clean to achieve optimal pretreatment and subsequent ink adhesion. Surface contamination – such as silicone mold release, dirt, dust, grease, oils and fingerprints – inhibit treatment. Material purity is also an important factor. The shelf life of treated plastics depends on the type of resin, formulation and the ambient environment of the storage area. Shelf life of treated products is limited by the presence of low molecular weight oxidized materials (LMWOM), such as antioxidants, plasticizers, slip and antistatic agents, colorants and pigments, and stabilizers, etc. Exposure of treated surfaces to elevated temperatures increases molecular chain mobility – the higher the chain mobility, the faster the aging of the treatment. Polymer chain mobility in treated materials causes the bonding sites created by the treatment to move away from the surface. These components may eventually migrate to the polymer surface. Mold tool design and surface texture Designers can improve adhesion by adding texture to the mold surface(s). Texture introduces peaks and valleys, providing mechanical interlocking adhesion. Texture can be accomplished within the mold tool or manually using a Scotch-Brite pad and solvent cleaning. Molded-in texture is preferred because it maintains surface characteristics at no additional labor/chemical costs. For example, NTMA mold cavity Finish “40-Diamond buffed 1200 Grit” likely will improve bond strength vs. Finish “10-Fine Diamond 8000 Grit” (0 to 3 micron range). Reference Figure 4 SPI Mold Surface Finish. Even slightly textured surfaces are beneficial. For recessed-hole applications, like connectors, etched core pins in the mold are highly effective. In summary, to achieve robust ink adhesion and/or highstrength adhesion bonding of polymers, the following items

28 April/May 2019

SPI Finish A-1 A-2 A-3 B-1 B-2 B-3 C-1 C-2 C-3 D-1 D-2 D-3

Guide Grade #3 Diamond Buff Grade #6 Diamond Buff Grade #15 Diamond Buff 600 Grit Paper 400 Grit Paper 320 Grit Paper 600 Stone 400 Stone 320 Stone Dry Blast Glass Bead #11 Dry Blast #240 Oxide Dry Blast #24 Oxide

Figure 4. SPI mold surface finish

are recommended. None of these items add cost and, in fact, offer cost-savings. • No internal or external silicones. Minimize processing additives. • Mold texture. • Properly dry the resin before molding. • Surfaces must be clean. • Avoid using excess solvent that creates weak boundary layers of unremoved chemicals. • Package molded parts tightly in non-poly bags with a desiccant or use polyester bags. • Conduct the printing process as soon as possible following molding. n References 1. Innovations in Bonding to Low Surface Energy Surfaces, 3M Technical Guide 2. Best Practices for Bonding Semi-Crystalline Thermoplastics, The Sabreen Group, January 2015 Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc., an engineering company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes – product security, laser marking, surface pretreatments, bonding, decorating and finishing. Sabreen has been pioneering technologies and solving manufacturing problems for Sabreen over 30 years. He can be contacted at 972.820.6777 or by visiting



THE SOLUTION TO YOUR SUSTAINABILITY DEADLINE Include YUPO® as part of your package design future with recyclable, liner-free YUPO IML, which becomes part of your blow-molded bottle. Think of your brands “end-of-life” and “Do it on YUPO IML.” • Design for a circular economy • Design for proper collection and sorting • Design for recyclability • Design for efficiency – no liner waste




YUPO and the YUPO logo are registered trademarks of Yupo Corporation. YUPO3004

SILICONE DIES FOR PLASTICS DECORATION. Foil decorated products enhance its perceived value and often creates the decision to buy. In the plastics industry, foil decoration often provides brand identity and makes your product unique and special.

Many products are enhanced with foil decoration: • • • • • • •

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April/May 2019 29


A resource sponsored by SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division

Q&A: UV LED Curing for Plastics Decorating

by Jennifer Heathcote, technical and commercial consulting adviser-UV curing, Eminence UV


LED curing is becoming a more popular option for plastic parts molders and decorators. To find out more about this evolving technology, Plastics Decorating sat down with industry consultant Jennifer Heathcote of Eminence UV.

What are some advantages of using UV LED curing for inks and coatings on plastic parts? UV LED technology offers numerous curing, process control, operating and economic advantages. The single biggest benefit related to plastic decoration is that UV LED curing systems result in less heat transfer to parts, substrates and machine components. This means less scrap, less part warpage and less wear and tear on material handling equipment, as well as more immediate post-cure part processing and the ability to use thinner walled parts and lower gauge substrates. Less heat transfer, however, does not mean no heat transfer. While LED output contains none of the heat-generating infrared wavelengths found in mercury lamps, ultraviolet light is still energy. Whatever energy does not go into the photopolymer reaction will transfer to the parts and surrounding machine components as heat. A little heat is acceptable and promotes crosslinking within the chemistry. Additional unwanted heat can be managed by operating systems within the optimal

32 April/May 2019

irradiance and energy density windows for the formulation and machine speed. An optimal combination of the two will generate the desired cure while minimizing heat transfer. UV LED curing systems can be switched on and off instantly. The total number of starts and stops has zero impact on system life and performance. LED heads do not require shutters or warm-up and cool-down cycles. As a result, powering LED systems only when the line is running with parts moving further reduces heat transfer to sensitive plastic materials. What are some challenges with using LED curing on plastic parts? For UV LED clear coatings, achieving a hard, scratch- and chemical-resistant surface cure without yellowing has long been the primary challenge. This is because the chemistry of conventional UV coatings relies on shorter wavelengths for sufficient cross-linking at the surface. Current short wavelength UVB and UVC LEDs do not yet satisfy output, cost, reliability and life requirements and lag development compared to longer UVA LEDs. Nevertheless, delivering the optimal irradiance and energy density, coupled with adjustments to the formulation, generally has been found to resolve surface cure and yellowing

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t p. 32


issues for LED-formulated graphics coatings. For more challenging formulations, such as functional and industrial hard coatings, ongoing development work is being done in an attempt to close the gap. When is more conventional UV curing, as opposed to LED, still the best option? There are two areas where conventional mercury lamps are still needed. They include industrial hard coats and applications that require lamps to cure across distances of several inches or more. Industrial hard coats include those coatings applied to raw plastic stock during the original manufacturing process, spray coatings applied to formed parts and pre-coatings on films that are cured after forming but before the IML or IMD molding process. These coatings are based on chemistry that requires UVC and UVB wavelengths to fully cross-link the surface and prevent yellowing. UVC and UVB LEDs are not yet viable options. For parts with drastic or deep profiles – as well as UV curing ovens where a wide range of parts and sizes are typically transported and often rotated on overhead conveyors, chainon-edge conveyors or racks – UV LED curing systems have not yet been optimized to deliver sufficient irradiance and energy density across the distance that separates the lamps and the

cure surface. Conventional mercury arc and microwave lamps are more effective. There is growing interest in LED for these spaces, but these applications require modifications to both the lamps and the chemistry, as well as development commitment from suppliers. How are commercially available UV LED curing systems different from UV LED formulations? UV LED curing systems are characterized by wavelength (nm), irradiance (W/cm 2) and energy density (J/cm 2). Most LED companies promote their products based on wavelength and irradiance and do not discuss energy density. Energy density is critical to both curing and maximizing machine speed. Many LED systems on the market have similar wavelength and peak irradiance. Where they differ is in the key component of energy density, which is total energy delivered over time. UV LED systems are inherently longer lasting than conventional lamps and degrade much more gradually. UV LED life, however, is also not an absolute. When manufacturers overdrive and/or under-cool LEDs and end users ignore basic housekeeping, lamp life is compromised. Not all UV LED system suppliers currently offer designs that meet the highest established lifetimes in excess of 20,000 hours. The better designed and maintained systems will last beyond 20,000 hours, and the inferior systems will suffer performance losses within much shorter windows. Conventional UV formulations must be modified by suppliers to cure with UV LED technology. Suppliers new to LED chemistry tend to formulate to a higher irradiance. Further optimization often results in chemistry that can typically cure at lower irradiance levels – provided there is sufficient energy density delivered by the LED system. Many formulators are also making UV LED offerings backward compatible so that they work with both conventional and UV LED lamps. This reduces the inventory that must be carried when both technologies are used by a company during a transition period. Are there advantages of using UV LED curing for digital inkjet applications? Digital inkjet benefits from LED in all the same ways other printing and coating technologies benefit. Digital inkjet printing, however, was a very early adopter of UV LED technology for three key reasons. 1) Digital inkjet is typically a slower print speed than analog. This enables energy density to build through a longer lamp exposure time or multiple passes of the lamp. Digital presses did not need the energy density to be emitted all at once, as is the case with higher speed processes. 2) The close proximity of the inkjet print heads to the print surface enabled the UV LED curing heads to also be located within 10 mm of the cure surface. Irradiance decreases as the distance between the lamp and cure surface increases, and LED systems do not have a 50 mm (2") focal length, as is common with conventional lamp heads. Machine builders have

34 April/May 2019

historically utilized the focal distance to place the lamp heads out of the way of machine mechanics. With digital printers, this wasn’t a requirement and meant that lower powered lamps could be utilized. 3) UV digital inkjet was still relatively new when LED technology entered the market. Many OEMs were releasing new printers annually and were very keen to adopt technology that gave them an advantage over competitors. This facilitated a rapid adoption of LED technology compared to other markets.

Precision Welding For Critical Plastic Components

Digital inkjet has been able to utilize UV LED technology for more than ten years in sign production and part decoration. The technologies are an ideal fit and continue to evolve. Label printers are increasingly considering UV digital inkjet. A few digital label presses are already 100% LED, while others are still using LED for pinning and mercury lamps for the final cure. Ink formulation changes are necessary for hybrid label printers to switch to 100% LED. What the industry has learned in digital inkjet regarding chemistry and lamp design has facilitated development in the analog markets. There is now a greater understanding of how the technologies work together, and this is paving the way for new analog LED applications as well as digital inkjet uses in applications outside of signage and direct-to-part printing. What do you see for the future for UV LED curing for plastics? As both UV LED lamps and the chemistry continue to evolve in ways that make them even more compatible and versatile, LED technology will be a suitable alternative for all plastic decorating processes that currently use conventional mercury arc and microwave curing systems. This is a natural progression of the technology. The real opportunities, however, lie in applications that will harness LED output to create new plastic part designs that cannot be done today or to enable better ways of processing and decorating plastic parts. The industry needs manufacturers with big imaginations and a willingness to understand the nuances of LED technology and how it is very different from conventional curing. Those that do will capitalize on opportunities and shape the future of plastics decoration. n Jennifer Heathcote serves as a subject matter expert in UV curing, providing services and guidance to converters, manufacturers, OEMs and others in the UV curing supply chain. She provides assistance in decision-making processes, shortcuts, development timelines and helps companies navigate the challenges a s so cia te d w ith ne w U V c u r ing purchases, retrofits and development programs. For more information, contact her at

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Methods of Polymer Weld Quality Evaluation by Miranda Marcus, applications engineer, EWI


valuation of the quality of polymer welds is essential to the development and production maintenance of a welding process. However, it can be challenging to select an evaluation method due to the wide variety of options.

A comparison of some popular weld quality evaluation methods is discussed in this article, as well as the preparation procedures for each and what can be learned from each method. There are many methods available to evaluate quality of polymer welds. Traditionally, these methods are categorized as destructive or nondestructive. Additionally, the types of information provided by a testing method can be important selection criteria for process development and maintenance. Quantitative tests that provide numerical quality attributes for weld evaluation include: • Pressure decay leak testing • Tensile testing • Shear testing • Peel testing • Push-out testing • Bend testing • Torsional testing • Creep testing • Fatigue testing • Dimensional analysis Additionally, a variety of imaging methods can be applied, which can provide a great deal of additional information about the weld characteristics, although usually not quantifiable information. Some of these methods include: • Cross-sectional analysis • Computerized tomography (CT) scanning • Microtome slicing • Visual inspection • X-ray • Ultrasonic testing • Fractography This work examines a select few of these evaluation methods, the preparation and equipment required for each, as well as what can be learned from each method. Pressure decay leak testing, tensile testing, cross-sectional analysis, microtome slicing and CT scanning were the selected methods for comparison.

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Figure 1. Laserline 980-nm laser and tooling

Literature review Several standards exist to guide the analysis of polymers and plastic welds. The American Welding Society Specification for Standardized Ultrasonic Welding Test Specimen for Thermoplastics describes both the design of standard I-beam samples and the method by which they should be tensile tested [1]. However, in previous research, these I-beam specimens have proven inconsistent in molding, fixturing and testing. Challenges included achieving proper leveling and alignment with no alignment features included in the design, sink marks and warp leading to a non-flat joint, and the tendency for one end of the part to break first during tensile testing, leading to a zipper effect. These observations led to the development of a new standard test part that has been used for this work [2]. American Society for Testing and Materials standards detail methods for pressure decay leak testing and sectional analysis of polymers that can be applied to welded joints [3, 4]. Guidelines for cryotome preparation of polymer slices can be found in the book, Compositional and Failure Analysis of Polymers: A Practical Approach, by John Scheirs [5].

Materials Dukane ISTeP™-style standard test parts were u sed , wh ich ca n be evaluated via several met hod s i nclud i ng pressure, tensile and torsional testing. These parts are available with a variety of joint designs. For ultrasonic welding, p olyc a r b on at e ( PC) and polybut ylene tere pht halate ( PBT) materials were used. T he PC par ts had a 90-degree energy director and the PBT parts had a 60-degree energy director. For laser Figure 2. Tensile test tooling welding, 15% glass-filled polyamide (PA) was used, with a flat joint. Equipment Assemblies were welded via two joining processes: ultrasonic and laser. The ultrasonic welds were made using a 20-kHz, pneumatic ultrasonic welder with weld-by-distance capability. The amplitude of the transducer-booster-sonotrode stack was measured using a displacement gauge. The laser welds were made using a 980-nm ND:Yag laser mounted to an XY table for motion control and a small pneumatic press to apply pressure. The laser output was controlled via voltage, and the power output in Watts was measured using an Ophir energy monitor. Pressure decay leak testing was performed using a Cincinnati Test Systems Sentinel C28 air decay leak tester. CT scans were made using a Nikon XTH 225 CT System with 130 kV and 30 W of power, and a rotating target. Cryomicrotomes were made using a Leitz Kryostat 1720 cryomicrotome. All images were taken using an Olympus BX51 microscope with reflective lighting for the sections and transmissive lighting for the cryomicrotome slices. Tensile testing was performed on an Instron machine using tensile test tooling designed specifically for use with Dukane ISTeP™ parts, as shown in Figure 2. The welded assemblies were pulled at a speed of 2.5 mm/minute. Experimental procedure A total of 32 assemblies were welded. Twelve PBT assemblies, 10 PC assemblies and two assemblies with a PC cap and PBT

body were welded via ultrasonics. Eight PA assemblies were welded via contour laser welding. Several intentional defects were created, such as over welding, under welding, insufficient amplitude, insufficient power, insufficient pressure and insufficient collapse. Notches were cut into the bottom halves of two assemblies – those to be CT scanned from Sets B and D. Of the 32 welded assemblies, 14 were analyzed. These assemblies were made in pairs so that two assemblies each were made with seven material, process and parameter combinations, as described in Tables 1 and 2. All 14 were pressure decay leak tested. One of each pair, a total of seven, then were CT scanned and tensile tested. The remaining seven were cross-sectioned and cryomicrotome sliced.

Weld Settings Set


Amplitude (µm)

Collapse (%ED)

Force (N)


























Table 1. Parameters for ultrasonically welded assemblies

Where %ED refers to the percent of the designed energy director height. Therefore, the Set A assemblies were overcollapsed to over twice the designed height of the energy director, while the Set D assemblies were under collapsed.

Weld Settings Set


Power (W)

Speed (cm/min)

Force (N)











Table 2. Parameters for laser-welded assemblies

The cross sections were prepared using the following process. First, the assemblies were cut in half on a band saw, then cut again on a diamond blade saw for a smoother cut. The sectioned assemblies then were placed cut side down in a mold and cold mounted in epoxy.

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The sectioned assemblies were progressively polished per ASTM guidelines [3] starting with 320-grit sandpaper using water to remove debris and particulate. At this grit, the sections were polished in 30- to 45-second increments until planar. This step was followed by polishing with 400-grit, 600-grit and 800-grit sandpaper, each in 30-second increments with water flowing. Next, low-napped, synthetic rayon cloth using diamond and colloidal silica polishing compounds were used to polish to the desired finish. The sections were polished in this way in one- to two-minute increments, progressing from 9-μm diamond to 3-μm diamond to 1-μm diamond suspensions. Finally, the sections were finished using a colloidal silica polish for three to four minutes. The timing and repetition of each of these steps requires analysis of the progress and determination whether to move on or repeat at the same polishing intensity. The sections were photographed using an optical microscope. After taking an image of the sections in the as-polished condition, the sections were then heat treated by passing a hot air gun at a height of about 10 mm over the surface of the sections for five to 10 seconds incrementally, viewing the section after each treatment to determine if more heat needed to be applied.

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A Model HG-301A, 120 VAC, 60-Hz, 12-Amp hot air gun, with a temperature range of 149°C to 260°C was used. This process allows the polymer chains on the surface of the section that have been smeared during cutting and polishing to relax, revealing additional information about the weld quality. Figure 3 shows an example of the change in the appearance of the cross section from the as-polished condition to the heattreated condition. Heat treating can be a powerful tool to reveal details of not only the flow and bonding area in the weld, but also details of the molding process. As can be seen in the heat-treated section in Figure 3, there is a variation in the polymer between the outer edge of the molded component and the interior, which indicates a different temperature history between the outer and inner areas. However, if not done carefully and incrementally, heat treating can distort the plastic and cause a loss of detail. Very little variation in heating time and distance from the hot air source can account for significant differences in appearance. The cryomicrotome samples were prepared by first cutting a small piece out of the weld, approximately 2 mm cubed. Care was taken to ensure that the top and bottom surfaces were perpendicular to the weld and parallel to each other. The piece was then placed on a mount in a small dab of Tissue-Tek

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ASSEMBLY Results and discussion Table 3 summarizes the results of the pressure decay leak and tensile testing. Note that the CT-scanned assemblies from sets B and D had been intentionally notched in the joint area, which resulted in a major leak during pressure decay leak testing. The assemblies from sets A and C both leaked profusely. However, this was due to damage in the center of the top part, not due to a weak weld.

Figure 3. XZ plane cross-section of a Set A weld, before (left) and after (right) heat treating

optimum cutting temperature compound that hardens when cooled to -10°C and below. The sample was placed so that the weld line was perpendicular to the slicing direction. If the weld is parallel, additional stress can be induced during slicing that may weaken or fracture a weld. The cryomicrotome was set to -40°C, and the mounts were left to harden for several hours before slicing. The thickness was set to 10 μm. Once sliced, the thin sections would curl up. Tweezers were carefully used to unfurl the rolls so they could be sandwiched between two slides for inspection. If not careful, the tweezer can mark the cryomicrotome slices in the area of interest, ruining the sample. Care was taken to clean the slides and slices of dust and debris. For CT scanning, the assemblies were scanned as a whole. Because no sectioning was required, these assemblies could be tensile tested after imaging. A 180kV transmission x-ray source was used with an applied voltage of 120 kV and a current of 30 W. The sample was positioned as close to the source as possible to optimize voxel resolution, while ensuring complete stability to prevent any part movement during scanning. Additionally, the assembly was tilted to mitigate artifacts that can be associated with CT scanning procedures.

During tensile testing, both the Set A and Set C assemblies failed in the base material, indicating a much stronger, more cohesive weld than some of the more leak-tight assemblies (i.e., Set B and Set D). Failure in the base material is a limiting factor of mechanical testing methods like tensile testing creating an artificial maximum above which the weld strength cannot be quantified. While the same settings were used for the PC cap to PBT base as were used for Set C, the strongest of the sets tested, the tensile strength was greatly reduced, as shown in Figure 4. This result is to be expected when dissimilar materials are welded, as the mismatch in melt viscosity and melting temperatures can make it difficult for intermolecular diffusion to occur. Neither of the laser-welded sets resulted in ductile fracture. However, Set F, which was welded with greater pressure and power than Set G, provided a leak-tight seal, per Table 3. The cross sections of the Set A and Set B assemblies show more compression in the Set A welds and more pushed out flash, Figure 5. This result correlates with the fact that the Set A assemblies were collapsed to over twice the depth than the Set B assemblies were during welding. Both the Set A and Set B welds are free of voids, unbonded sections, and have an even, consistent appearance across the

Leak Rate (cm³/min)


Max Tensile (N)


CT Scanned














Major leak













Major leak

Major leak Major leak

Table 3. Tensile and leak test results

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Figure 4. Tensile test data for PBT/PC assemblies 1.877.343.4321

Figure 5. XZ plane cross sections of heat-treated Set A weld (left) and heat-treated Set B weld (right)

width of the joint. This correlates well with the leak-tight joint provided by Set B, although the pressure decay leak rate of Set A could not be measured due to damage in the middle of the top of the cap. While the same type of damage occurred on Set B, it did not create a hole, Figure 6. This damage is most likely due to diaphragming of the cap, leading to strong amplitudes of vibration in the center and melting.

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It can clearly be seen from the cross sections that the Set D assemblies were under welded, Figure 7. Additionally, the section shows a distinct lack of adhesion between the melt that was pushed out of the weld and the surface of the cap where it makes contact. The Set C weld, however, shows a complete and even weld across the entire joint surface. This correlates well with the greater tensile strength demonstrated by the Set C assemblies. The cross section of the Set E assemblies, the PC cap to the PBT body dissimilar material weld, shows poor adhesion between the two parts. While both materials melted and flowed, there is still a distinct line of separation through the weld where the polymer chains from each original bulk material pulled away from each other, indicating little intermolecular diffusion occurred. The cross sections of the laser welded assemblies, sets F and G, show very poor welding, Figure 8. Heat treating of these parts did not reveal any additional detail, as the voids and flaws in the weld can be clearly seen in the as-polished condition. Considering the uneven appearance of the Set F weld and the visible porosity, it is surprising that this weld was leak tight, per Table 3. The cryomicrotome slices provide a slightly different view of the cross sections of the assemblies, Figure 9. The slice of the Set B assembly shows the same amount of collapse and uniform flash as the cross section, but also shows that there is a very thin region between the weldment and the base material that

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Photo at left: Figure 6. Damage from ultrasonic vibrations in Set B cap. Photo at right: Figure 7. XZ plane cross-sections of heattreated Set C weld (left) and heat-treated Set D weld (right)

is more optically transparent than either. This result is likely a remnant of a quenched skin layer, as this more transparent line can be seen on the edges of both molded parts. The cryomicrotome slice of the Set C assembly indicates a complete weld, correlating with the cross section and tensile test for this same set. On the Set C slice and on the Set F slice, a slightly darker area can be seen on the right side of the cap, just above the weld. These areas are where the slice was not completely unfurled after cutting and has left a small fold. The cryomicrotome slice of the Set E assembly shows the difference between the two dissimilar materials more clearly than the cross section did. The slice of the Set F assembly shows porosity in even the welded right side of the joint (as shown in Figure 8), which is enlarged in the image in Figure 9. Creating a cryomicrotome of an assembly with a poor weld like this can be quite challenging due to the tendency for the thin slices to break at the joint.

The CT scans of the Set C and Set D assemblies are equally informative, Figure 11. The notch is again very clear in the top-down view (identified by an arrow). The scan is accurate enough to see the curve of the pushed-out melt in the Set D weld on the side view. The CT scan of the Set E assembly shows where the cap cracked during welding, as well as the melt formation during welding, Figure 12. The CT scans of the Set F and Set G assemblies both show the excessive porosity in these welds and in the flash generated during these welds. This result correlates very well with the cross sections of these assemblies.

ď ľ

The CT scans of the Set A and Set B assemblies show very similar structure to the cross sections and cryomicrotome slice, Figure 10, including the excessive flash present due to the significant meltdown of the joint used for that parameter set. An additional feature that is revealed, however, is the notch that was cut into the Set B assembly, which can be seen when taking a top-down view of the joint.

Figure 8. XZ plane cross-sections of as-polished Set F weld (left) and as-polished Set G weld (right)

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Figure 9. XZ plane cryomicrotome of Set B weld (upper left), Set C weld (upper right), Set E weld (lower left) and bonded zone of Set F weld at higher magnification (lower right)

t p. 42


Figure 10. CT scans of Set A (top) and Set B (bottom) assemblies in the XY plane (left) and XZ plane (right)

Conclusions The testing illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of each evaluation method and what can be learned or missed from any one testing method. Tensile testing correlates quite well with overall weld quality but cannot account for discrete gaps or inclusions in the weld that might affect only a small area. Pressure decay leak testing is very good for detecting minute and inconsistent weld flaws, but does not correlate well to overall weld quality, as even very weak welds that have good wetting in the melt flow can be leak tight. Cross-sectional analysis gives a very good indication of the overall weld quality but will almost never reveal a discrete flaw due to the ability to see only one small section of the weld at a time. CT scanning is not adept at checking for quality of fusion but can be used to identify and locate discrete flaws very well. Cryomicrotome slicing gives less information on whether intermolecular diffusion has occurred than a cross section but does allow the opportunity to evaluate relative crystallinity. Depending on the material, spherulite formation in the crystalline region can even be observed using polarized lighting.

Figure 11. CT scans of Set C (top) and Set D (bottom) assemblies in the XY plane (left) and XZ plane (right)

Acknowledgements EWI would like to thank Branson for providing the welding press and Dukane for the donation of the ISTeP™ parts, without which this work would not have been possible. Additionally, a great deal of appreciation goes to EWI technicians Wayne Papageorge for expertise in polymer crosssection preparation, Daniel Kmiotek for CT scanning and Steve O’Mara for tensile testing of the samples. n Miranda Marcus is responsible for leading EWI’s technical expertise for all plastic and composite welding technologies. She has extensive knowledge of plastic welding technologies, their advantages and limitations, including ultrasonic, laser, spin, hot plate, vibration, thermal staking, radio frequency and infrared. Marcus

EWI empowers industry leaders to overcome complex manufacturing challenges and integrate new processes to bring products to market more quickly and efficiently. For more information, visit or call 614.688.5000.

For the full list of references, view this article at

Figure 12. CT scans of Set E assembly in the XY plane (left) and XZ plane (right)

44 April/May 2019


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INDUSTRY AWA Recognizes Excellence in Sleeving AWA Alexander Watson Associates, Amsterdam, Netherlands, launched International Sleeve Label Awards five years ago to reward quality and originality in the design, production and end-use of all types of sleeve labels. Winners received their awards at a ceremony during the recent AWA International Sleeve Label Conference and Exhibition in Amsterdam. Corey Reardon, president and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates, made the presentations. For more information, visit

Sonics® Celebrates 50 Years of Manufacturing Sonics & Materials, Inc. celebrated its milestone 50th anniversary on April 5 at its headquarters in Newtown, Connecticut. Started in 1969 in Danbury by Robert S. Soloff (founder and ongoing CEO), the company has been located in Newtown for the last 21 years, with a worldwide network of distributors and representatives, many of whom traveled from as far as China and South Africa to partake in the celebration. Soloff announced that his daughter, Lauren Soloff, who joined the company in 1995 and is currently executive vice president, will be assuming the office of president, effective immediately, while he will be continuing in his role as chief executive officer. For more information, visit

Henkel Adhesive Technologies Opens New OEM Application Center Henkel Adhesive Technologies announced the opening of its new OEM Application Center in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The lab incorporates audiovisual and interactive telepresence systems, which enable more rapid collaboration and virtual demonstrations with OEM customers, distributors and process

46 April/May 2019

operators. This helps to further bolster productivity and increase awareness and knowledge of new applications. The OEM Application Center in Rocky Hill is the third lab of its kind for Henkel and was modified to meet the diverse customer needs of the region. For more information, visit Sun Chemical’s Danny Rich Receives Godlove Award Sun Chemical, Parsippany, New Jersey, announced Danny Rich, Ph.D., was honored recently by the Inter-Society Color Council (ISCC) with the prestigious Godlove Award. The Godlove Award honors current or former ISCC members who have made long-term contributions in the field of color. A member of the ISCC for 43 years, Rich currently is a member of the board of directors. He accepted the award at the annual business luncheon of the ISCC during its joint Rich meeting with the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA) annual technical conference. For more information, visit MS Plastic Welders Welcomes Polymer Systems Solutions MS Plastic Welders, Webberville, Michigan, announced Polymer Systems Solutions of New York as the exclusive sales representative firm for MS Plastic Welders soniTOP bench top and inline servo driven ultrasonic welding equipment. Polymer Systems will cover the states of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia for all MS soniTOP welding applications. For more information, visit Inkcups Wins a Best Booth Award at InPrint There were more than 260 exhibitors from 12 countries looking to connect with customers during the 2019 InPrint USA exhibition. During the show, Inkcups, Danvers, Massachusetts, was awarded one of two Best Booth Awards. Plastics D e c o r a t i n g E d i t o rin-Chief Jeff Peterson presented Inkcups VP of Sales James Burns with the award and gift basket. Th roughout the show, Inkcups showcased a range of products including four digital printers, three pad printers, a laser platemaker and its newest product – MagiCoat, a water-based primer. For more information, visit

Schwerdtle Stamp Company Celebrates 140 Years The Schwerdtle Stamp Company, Bridgeport, Connecticut, is 140 years old (1879-2019) this year. Currently it is owned and operated by Kathy (Schwerdtle) Saint and her brother, John Schwerdtle. While Schwerdtle is primarily known for its plastic decorating and hot stamping tools, an increasing part of the business is coming from custom plastics assembly and automation applications. In addition to the hot stamping dies, bottle decorating tools, heat transfer dies and rolls used by decorators, Schwerdtle manufactures silicone sheets and rolls, heat sealing dies, heat staking tools, custom gripper fingers (end effectors) and decorative 3D CNC engraving for sonic welding applications used by the assembly and automation industries. For more information, visit

Future,” will address packaging waste, marine litter and climate change, as well as resource conservation, energy efficiency and recycling. For more information, visit

K 2019 Trade Fair Fully Booked K 2019, the trade fair for plastics and rubber, is fully booked. More than 3,000 exhibitors from more than 60 countries will occupy some 1.8 million sq. ft. of net exhibit space. More than 200,000 trade visitors from all over the world are expected to attend. The event, which takes place every three years, will be held at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany, Oct. 16-23, 2019. K 2019 will address current challenges in the industry, especially regarding plastics for sustainable development and circular economy. A special exhibition, “Plastics Shape the

SGIA Launches New Website SGIA, Fairfax, Virginia, announced its new website with a refreshed design. The new website features community segments for finding the most relevant information, the ability to connect with peers in the industry and up-to-date information about upcoming events and programs. For more information, visit n


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In-Mold Label Coatings: A Small Part of the Label with Great Effect by Andre Soterio, segment manager-labels Europe, ACTEGA Terra GmbH


n the global label market, in-mold labeling (IML) has a small size and value compared with other decoration techniques, such as pressure sensitive, glue-applied labels or shrink sleeves, but it is quite an innovative market. There are not many players, as the production of IML labels is quite complex, technically speaking. In Europe, the market consists mainly of injection-molded products – margarine tubs, yogurt and ice cream cups, and paint pails – and is a mature market. In North America, extrusion blow-molded products, such as detergent bottles, dominate the IML market, but injection molding is quickly expanding. IML is often considered as a standard product, as it is widely used in many applications, but still a few players dominate the market with a lot of know-how accumulated over the years. The production of in-mold labels is a very technical process, although the labels may not seem complicated. All the technical details need to fit perfectly with each other so that the labels will work trouble-free at the injection molder or at the filling line. Substrate, inks and coatings must perfectly interact, or the results turn into a complete disaster.

Figure 1. An example of coating thickness

Coatings for IML The coating is a very small part of the IML label. It is only three microns in thickness, in comparison with the IML film substrates with 50 to 70 microns. However, the coating has several functions in the IML process, and it plays a very important role – starting with the design of the labels, to the printing and diecutting of the labels, at the injection company, at the filling and packaging file, through the transport to the wholesaler and up to the product use by the consumer. A look behind the scenes Many IML labels are printed using a water-based coating. These coatings are made of polymers, dispersions, waxes, silicone, ammonia and water. Each of these raw materials is responsible for a specific role during one of the stages to which the IML labels are exposed. During printing, the coating dries with the press infra-red dryer with heat and airflow. Airflow plays a very important part during the coating drying, as heat can damage the IML film substrate. Water and amine in the coating evaporate, leaving only resins and the other additives that give all the special properties to IML coatings. Although the labels feel dry, they must rest for at least 24 hours or longer (depending

48 April/May 2019

Table 1. Water-based coatings composition

on the type of inks used) before the printed sheets or rolls are converted to final labels. Many companies use UV coatings. Slightly different than the water-based coatings, UV coatings are made of monomers, acrylates, photoinitiators and additives. The curing process requires a UV lamp to polymerize the coating layer. There are also other types of cured coatings – HUV, LED and EB – but UV is still the most popular type of coating for the IML process. Although the inks and coatings are completely cured after printing, it is advised to wait at least 12 hours between printing and diecutting, as humidity, shrinkage of

the film and other factors can influence the flatness of the final IML labels. Functionalities of IML coatings Contact with coatings occurs a thousand times every day, although it is not seen. For example, car paint has several layers of coating, the cereal box at breakfast has a coating and so on. Coatings in daily usage have the main function of protecting inks that are underneath. IML coatings basically will have the same function, but it goes beyond that. At the design of the product or the label, IML coatings play an important role. Which type of finish does the designer want to have for the final product? The substrate used is very important, of course, as it defines whether the label appearance will have an orange peel (cavitated film), solid, transparent or metallic appearance. Nevertheless, the coating being outside will help to improve the desired appearance, as there are many options of coatings with special effects. When using a transparent substrate, an important point is to also use a clear coating to highlight this feature. Another good example is the usage of dull matte coating to highlight product contents or to create a matte/gloss effect with spot gloss coating.

When using matte/gloss effects, the use of strike-through (drip-off) coatings creates an astonishing effect for IML labels and is being used more to catch the consumers’ attention. Many finishing options can be discussed with the printer to utilize the best effect in combination with the final product design or even the product inside the IML package. One important point to consider is that, during the injection process, the effect of some of these special features can be reduced due to shrinkage of the films or the injected plastic. During printing, the IML coating will protect the inks from abrasion and scratches and will help to improve productivity, as the press can run faster and with fewer stops. The fast drying of the IML coatings will enable a faster transition to diecutting. During diecutting, the coating again plays an important role protecting the ink and, at the same time, reducing the static for a faster diecutting process. If the labels are punched, the coating will prevent the labels from blocking. At the injection molder, the coatings have several special functions. First, the labels must lie flat. This is achieved through

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t p. 49


Figure 2. Water-based coating composition and drying process

the coating in combination with the substrate and the correct storage and acclimatization of the labels. Second, the labels should not generate any static during picking at the magazine, but at the same time, they must charge with electrostatic when placed inside the mold. This is the main secret of the IML coatings.

After the injection, the injected products will be stacked and transported to the filling line. Again, the labels should resist abrasion, and a very important role of the coatings comes into play. As most IML applications are for food products, the IML coatings must not migrate or transfer into foodstuff.

During injection, the mold will be filled with hot plastic at more than 400ยบF (204ยบC) and a heat-resistant coating is needed. At the same time, there might be condensation inside the mold and the coating must be water-resistant as well.

Although the labels are outside the packaging, the so-called offset transfer can occur during the transport of the IML containers as the tubs or cups are stacked together and the outside of the label (coating side) will face the inside of the

Figure 3. UV coatings curing process

50 April/May 2019

• Gloss/matte degrees • Printing properties • Drying • Curling • Adhesion to substrate • Scratch resistance • Heat resistance • Static load • Wet block resistance • Water resistance

• Gloss/matte degrees • Printing properties • Drying • Curling • Adhesion to foil • Scratch resistance • Wet block resistance

• Curling • Adhesion to foil • Scratch resistance • Heat resistance • Static load

• Scratch resistance • Heat resistance • Wet block resistance • Water resistance

or cleaning products). The coatings should be resistant to all these substances. After all, the main objective of the coating is to guarantee that when the consumer goes to a store, the labels have an impact to sell the product, the printed images resist all the processes and keep all the information for the consumer, and they do not change any characteristics of the packaged product. IML coatings seem quite complicated and very technical, but it is a proven application with several companies using it successfully all over the world. n

Table 2. UV-based coatings composition

packaging where the food will be in direct contact with it. For this reason, IML coatings are extensively tested for migration, transfer and extraction into different types of foods to be sure that the whole process is safe for consumers. At the filling line and packaging line, the coatings must again resist scratches during transport on the conveyor belts. Sometimes the packages are submitted to a pasteurization process or a hot water bath before filling – another resistance issue for the IML coatings. Some products are hot-filled. After the filling some products are stored in freezing temperatures, and some products are quite aggressive (for example detergents

ACTEGA de velops and produce s specialty inks, coatings, adhesives and sealing compounds with a focus on the packaging, printing and pharmaceutical industries. Products offered by ACTEGA provide high-value visual appearance to materials such as paper, films, board, plastics or metal. Moreover, these products provide defined functionalities, Soterio such as a high chemical resistance and end-use durability. ACTEGA is one of the four divisions of ALTANA.

April/May 2019 51


Proell’s Inks and Functional Lacquers Edited by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Decorating


roell, Inc., the US subsidiary of Proell KG based in Germany, is located in St. Charles, Illinois, and first opened its doors more than 20 years ago. However, over 80 years ago, Proell began producing high-quality inks and functional lacquers for innovative industrial applications and graphic printing. Pad printing lends itself well to printing 2D and 3D objects, even those with difficult shapes. Kayla Donegan, sales representative at Proell, said the company offers one- and two-component pad printing inks covering a wide range of printable materials. “Our solvent-based, quick drying universal and customized pad printing inks are available in high opaque color shades and process inks, which can be used in both open and closed cup pad printing machines.” Various substrates are available on the market, and the same ink system will not meet industry adhesion standards for each material. “As a result, we must offer a diverse selection to meet our customers’ stringent requirements, and we also must consider the constant emergence of new plastics, which requires a diverse selection of pad printing inks as well.” Additionally, Proell provides inks for IMD/FIM technology. After collaborating with Covestro AG to develop its original IMD ink, Proell has since gone on to develop even more.

With film insert molding technique, various films are backprinted using the screen-printing process, formed threedimensionally with high pressure forming process and then injection molded with plastic resin on the screen-printed side. The IMD screen printing ink NORIPHAN® HTR N and the adhesion promoter NoriPress® SMK make up a combination of durable, attractive products for automotive interiors, telecommunications and panels for household appliances. “Proell’s inks for IMD/FIM technology are able to withstand the forming process without cracking, are highly opaque and have extreme washout resistance during injection molding,” said General Manager David Haas. “IMD/FIM allows the user to produce durable, attractive products with graphics that will withstand the test of time.” Since the graphics are trapped between various plastic films and the injection molding resin, they will never degrade. New concepts often include Proell’s chemical- and abrasionresistant lacquers, such as Norilux® DC. “These lacquers further allow customers to screen print numerous effects, such as haptic brush effects, and they are able to offer high-end design,” said Haas. Proell offers additional value in its inks as each system is backed by a highly experienced research and

52 April/May 2019

Proell’s IMD screen printing inks allow for durable, attractive products for automotive, telecommunications and household items.

development team. “We offer full technical support that allows our inks to be processed at optimal levels and offer custom solutions if we are not able to achieve customer requirements with our standard ink systems.” Proell recognizes its customers’ commitment to using environmentally friendly ink systems and fully supports their desires. “With inks that are REACH compliant, TSCA approved for the US – as well as meet the requirements for numerous European-based regulations – Proell's customers appreciate the significance the company places on the environment,” Haas explained. “Proell has been developing tailor-made solutions for our customers for over 80 years,” said Donegan. “It’s visible when you work with our team in the US, China and Germany.” n

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April/May 2019 57

SUPPLIER QUICK LINKS Assembly/Joining Equipment

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 5

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 5

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 33

Emerson-Branson Page 35

Hot Stamping Dies/ Tooling

Yupo Page 29

OMSO North America, Inc. Page 19

MS Ultrasonic Technology Group Page 38

Die Stampco Inc. Page 17

Laser Marking

Static Charging


h+m USA Page 29

Sabreen Group, Inc., The Page 54

Simco-Ion Page 13

Pad Printing Equipment & Supplies

Surface Treatment

Central Decal Page 4 Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 34

Decorating Services Comdec Decorating Division Page 57 Digital Decorations LLC Page 57 Production Decorating Co. Inc. Page 57

Hot Stamp Supply Company Page 41 Schwerdtle Page 21

Hot Stamping Foils/ Heat Transfers CDigital Page 45 CPS Resources Back cover

Digital Inkjet Equipment & Supplies

Hot Stamp Supply Company Page 41

Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover

Infinity Foils Page 49

Inkcups Pages 30-31

Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 39

Innovative Digital Systems Back cover

Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 34

Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) Inc. Page 25

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 5

OMSO North America, Inc. Page 19

Webtech, Inc. Page 11

Hot Stamping/ Heat Transfer Equipment

In-Mold Decorating/ Labeling

CPS Resources Back cover

Central Decal Page 4

Hot Stamp Supply Company Page 41

Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 39 Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 34

58 April/May 2019

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 53 Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover Inkcups Pages 30-31 Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 33

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 53

Tradeshows/Associations Printing United Page 55 SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Page 56

Standard Machines, Inc./ Comdec, Inc. Page 20, inside back cover

Printing Inks Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) Pages 10, 43 Marabu North America Page 47 Nazdar Ink Technologies Page 16 Proell, Inc. Page 23

Screen Printing Equipment & Supplies Diversified Printing Techniques Page 53 Inkcups Pages 30-31 Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) Inc. Page 25

A guide to this issue’s Plastics Decorating advertisers.