Plastics Decorating - April May 2018

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Importance of Machine Approval IMD/IML Test Methods Ultrasonic Staking for Joining Plastics Plasma Surface Pretreatment

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Contents April/May 2018

COVER STORY Strategies

The Importance of Machine Approval

page 26

Neglecting to perform a thorough machine approval prior to purchase can result in greater loss of time and money in the long run.



page 6

IMD/IML: Common Performance Considerations and Test Methods

Reduced labor content, simplified supply chain and overall design impact are just a few reasons IMD/IML is commonly used for applications.

Ask the Expert

page 10

Plastic Part Decoration Evolves to Meet Marketplace Challenges

Chris DeMell offers his expert insights on current and future trends in the industry.


Staking by Ultrasound – Strong Joints in Short Cycle Times

page 18

When it comes to joining plastics and dissimilar materials, ultrasonic compressive staking enables bonding between new types of sophisticated material combinations.


A Look at the Powder Coatings Market

Viewpoint Product Association Process Highlight

page 46 page 14 page 22 page 24

Industry Tech Watch

page 38 page 42

Calendar Marketplace Supplier Quick Links

page 55 page 56 page 58

Hot Stamping/Heat Transfers

(KURZ’s IMD/IMR Technology)

page 32

Used for a wide variety of applications, powder coatings provide a hard finish that is often tougher than most conventional liquid coatings.


Plasma Surface Pretreatments of Polymers for Improved Adhesion Bonding

page 44

One of the most common methods of adhesion, plasma surface pretreatment is safe and cost-effective.


Be a Customer Service Contender

page 52

Despite recognizing service issues, companies often fail in their efforts to solve the problem. Developing a service mindset can help companies win the service game.

Read Plastics Decorating at or download the Plastics Decorating app.

April/May 2018 3

VIEWPOINT In this issue of Plastics Decorating, readers will find an array of intriguing articles, including features on IMD/IML performance consideration and test methods, ultrasonic staking for joining plastics and the importance of machine approval, as well as a look into plasma surface pretreatments of polymers for improved adhesion bonding. Especially interesting is this issue’s Ask the Expert feature with Chris DeMell, which discusses the reasons that many decorating and assembly projects are finding their way back to the US vs. being molded and decorated offshore. I don’t want to give away the article, but Chris does a great job of pointing out why this is happening, including better control of quality, quicker turnarounds and less inventory. The reality is that manufacturing in countries such as China simply isn’t as inexpensive as it once was. Chris’s article focuses mostly on the reasons why we are seeing a lot of plastics decorating coming back to the States, but many of these reasons cross over into plastics molding and other manufacturing industries as well. I recently read an article on the Design News website ( that discussed why we are seeing this. It pointed out how advanced technologies and automation, as well as a lack of skilled workers, are making it harder to have manufacturing done overseas. It also noted that wages have increased significantly in countries such as China, and offshore manufacturing brings an enormous amount of logistical challenges. Today, the customer wants shorter and shorter delivery times. That all bodes well for having the manufacturing done in the US. This is just a taste of what you will read in this issue. As I write this, we are nearly three weeks out before NPE 2018. I hope to see many of you at the show. If you plan on attending NPE, be sure to stop by our Plastics Decorating exhibit (Booth S32089) and say hi. We would love to see you. Thank you, as always, for your support of Plastics Decorating.

Jeff Peterson, Editor-in-Chief,

ISSN: 1536-9870

Complete Corona and Plasma Treatment Solutions 3DT offers: • Powerful, consistent adhesion and bonding • A complete line of surface treatment systems • Custom-engineered systems include product handling and automation • Proven, smart, cutting-edge technology • Customer-centered sales, design and service • Made in the USA utilizing 25+ years of experience

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April/May 2018

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.


IMD/IML: Common Performance Considerations and Test Methods by Dave Schoofs, product development, Central Decal Company


ver the past 30 years, in-mold decorating and labeling has become a common method of providing labeling, sig nage and user interface on many durable and consumable products. There are a few common benefits to IMD/IML and in-mold foils, including permanency of the graphic, reduced labor content, simplified supply chain and an overall impact on product design.

Considering why IMD/IML is used, the assumption of permanency and/ or improved performance as compared to other decorating methods may not always be accurate. In addition, the IMD/ IML performance requirements may not always be defined and/or verified for end use, specifically the colorfastness, durability and the overall adhesion of the IMD/IML to the molded resin. Yes, many companies have developed engineering specifications and include measurable requirements and test methods. Other companies may reference specifications for traditional decorating methods or reference industry/market standards. These may include accelerated weathering, thermal cycle and chemical tests that require no appreciable loss of adhesion, fading, cracking or blistering. A common subjective test to evaluate a bond is to cut an “X� through the IMD/ IML insert and slightly into the molded resin. Then use a knife to attempt to peel the insert from the resin. Photo courtesy of Central Decal.

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When developing a performance specification for IMD/IML, what should one consider? IMD/IML performance On a macro level, there are several attributes to evaluate before and after molding. As with any printed graphic, the printing technology, type of pigment and film deposit all affect color retention. In addition, an overprint clear or the face film may provide additional protection to UV degradation, oxidation, chemicals and abrasion. Next consider the adhesion, not only of the IMD/IML to the molding resin but also consider the adhesion of the various layers within the IMD/IML. For IMD/IML, it is recommended to test the inks and coatings before and after molding, as the molding process can affect the performance of the inks and coatings on the IMD/IML. Evaluating permanency or adhesion First, it’s always a good idea to review the common IMD/IML constructions. • First-surface IMD/IML – the image is printed on the face or “first surface” of the film. There are two variations to this version, with a printed clear or an over laminate.

Inks and coatings – printed image Base film of film insert Molded resin Laminate Bonding agent/adhesive Inks and coatings – printed image Base film of film insert Molded resin • Second-surface IMD/IML – the image is printed on the back or “second surface” of the film. This type of IMD/ IML is considered very durable, as the inks and coatings are sandwiched between the base film and molding resin.

Base film of insert Inks and coatings – printed image Molded resin Why does an IMD/IML adhere to the molding resin? For first-surface IMD/IML, the heat of the molding resin melts the rear surface of the IMD/IML base film and the two materials

bond to one another. For second-surface IMD/IML and in-mold foils, a very similar process occurs, and the final printed layer or coating will melt and fuse with the molding resin. In either case, when the resin cools, the two materials are basically fused together. This bond is often described as a chemical/thermal bond, as the two materials have melted together and become one. Testing and evaluating bonds When it comes to testing and evaluating adhesion to determine if a permanent bond has been achieved, there are quantitative and subjective test methods. Whichever method is selected, molders should consider testing the adhesion shortly after molding and again after environmental tests. A common subjective test to evaluate the bond is to cut an “X” or a rectangular strip through the IMD/IML insert and slightly into the molded resin. Next, use the end of the knife to attempt to peel the insert from the resin. In the case of a quantitative test, typically a rectangular strip would be cut and the peel value measured. Some companies benchmark and require peel values in the 2.5 to 3.5lbs/inch range, similar to the required peel values for pressure-sensitive adhesives. Consider performing the adhesion test near the gate as well as away from it. Why? Knowing that heat is required to achieve the bond, keep in mind that gate design, part geometry and wall thickness can affect how the resin flows and cools within the tool. In addition, test the bond or adhesion of the printed coating to the IMD/IML with either a tape test or traditional cross-hatch test. It is recommended that the test be conducted, at minimum, one to two hours after the molded part is cool to touch and again after accelerated weathering, thermal cycle, chemical or immersion tests are complete. The molding process can affect the IMD/IML. Test results Common test results for first-surface printed IMD/IML: • If the IMD/IML does not delaminate with effort or “chips” from the molded resin, then a permanent bond has been achieved. • If the IMD/IML delaminates from the molded resin with little effort, the resin and IMD/IML may not be compatible, or there is an issue related to the resin temperature. • If the IMD/IML does not delaminate near the gate but does delaminate away from the gate, there may be a potential temperature-related issue. • If IMD/IML bubbles after time or thermal cycling, then there are issues related to the IMD/IML compatibility and/or the molding process.

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Common test results for second-surface printed IMD/IML are similar to the first-surface test results; however, there are a few added considerations to those listed previously. • If the printed image adheres to the molding resin but peels entirely from the base film, this indicates ink and base film issues. • If the printed image adheres to the base film but peels easily from the molded resin, this indicates a potential compatibility issue. • If IMD/IML bubbles after time or thermal cycling, several issues may be related to the IMD/IML as well as the molding process. The root cause of this failure can be different to the same type of failure for a firstsurface IMD/IML. • For metallic coatings and other large pigments, the base film may delaminate from the resin. This condition can be considered acceptable if metallic coating or pigment is present on the IMD/IML and the resin. Are the test methods and anticipated results the same for a formed as a flat insert? The short answer is yes. Additionally, it is possible to encounter what has been described as a mechanical bond or friction bond

whereby the insert is held in place by the geometry of the IMD/ IML and the molded part. There also may be partial adhesion. If a weak bond is present, it may be possible to observe “oil canning” of the insert, where the insert is flexing or moving independent of the molded resin. It is recommended to verify the adhesion in numerous areas of a formed part. Furthermore, it is important to focus evaluations on the areas where the parts are stretched during forming, as the inks and coatings may crack and create a potential failure. Regardless of the application, identify the performance requirements and verify that the IMD/IML meets those performance requirements. Don’t assume; always verify. n Dave Schoofs has more than 35 years of experience providing durable printed solutions to a wide variety of end markets including automotive, appliance, lawn and garden, marine, sporting goods and handheld electronics applications. His current responsibilities include supporting product development at Central Decal. For more information, visit



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Plastics Part Decoration Evolves to Meet Marketplace Challenges by Chris DeMell, North American medical marketing manager, ITW Industrial Decorating Solutions


t’s a common belief that overseas production is more costeffective than manufacturning in the US. However, when it comes to the plastics industry, more and more product decoration is being brought back to the US. Furthermore, trends such as increased automation and other technologies are offering new challenges and opportunities for the industry. Plastics Decorating sat down with Chris DeMell of ITW to discuss the most recent ways in which the industry is growing and acclimating to the global marketplace.


Product decorating has increasingly returned to the US as opposed to being done overseas. How do you account for this shift? We have been seeing the “reshoring” trend for several years to some extent; however, this has been growing in scope and intensity over the past few years. Product decorating follows the lead of core manufacturers, assemblers and molders. Customers mention a variety of drivers for bringing back business from overseas. Controlling quality, maximizing time to market turns, reducing WIP inventories and gaining control over the entire production process are some of the prominent Illustration courtesy of ITW Industrial Decorating Solutions

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drivers. Additionally, the shipping costs require parts decorated overseas to be bought and shipped in bulk, which typically indicate small, inexpensive items.


Are some decorated products more suited to production in the US vs. overseas? This really depends on the end goal of the manufacturer. In the medical industry, for example, we see parts produced in local geographic markets for quicker turnaround to support local supply chains. China is still a very low-cost producer, and there are certain criteria people consider to determine if they will continue to use overseas sources for their decorated products or to keep that focus here. Part size is certainly one area that will determine this. For example, you have been seeing more of the larger and even medium-sized parts for the automotive and appliance industries being decorated here in the States, where businesses have found it more economical, rather than incurring shipping costs. Also, the value of the part itself can be a consideration for some customers. Items such as industrial containers, automotive dashboards, medical devices and electrical components are all being reshored for local decoration and production.

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With more decorating jobs being done stateside, how can decorators minimize labor and other costs? Decorators are following the same trend that the rest of the manufacturing community is embracing by automating jobs as much as possible. Several factors contribute to the decorating cost, including labor rates, throughput efficiency, scrap rates, shipping cost and consumable costs. Business left the US marketplace due to the huge discrepency in labor rates that such countries as Mexico and China afforded. In order to compete, a new approach had to be taken to level that playing field. Automations were typically done only for the high-volume jobs that did not vary significantly from part to part. Today, customers are looking for systems that will allow for automatic loading of parts, pre-/post-treating stations (if needed), decoration technology, inspection systems and off-loading – even for small and medium-sized runs. Entire production runs, handled by only one or two operators, would have required significant labor resources in the past. In many cases, these systems are placed right next to molding machines. Production plants are being optimized to reduce the number of touches a product receives, eliminate WIP inventories where possible and get product out the door as quickly as possible. This in-lining approach is growing in acceptance and significantly lowering costs for manufacturers.

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The benefits of automation are clear; however, there are challenges being faced by the decorators, as well as the decorating equipment manufacturers who support them. The initial investment for fully automated systems is significantly higher than obtaining a stand-alone workstation for hot stamping, pad printing or screen printing, for example. The standard return on investment for equipment that would typically stretch from 18 to 24 months now has been squeezed down to six to 18 months in some cases. To make that work, costs must be eliminated wherever possible. Labor can be further reduced through robotic load and unload stations. Another challenge can be the operators themselves. Operators must understand the decoration technology and system maintenance, while at the same time maintaining the overall automation. This requires more highly skilled personnel and much more training than we have seen in the past. As a provider of product decoration equipment, we have seen the percentage of projects requiring either full automation, or partial/semi-automation grow at exponential rates these past several years. This has put pressure on companies to focus on new equipment that meets high-speed production rates while at the same time minimizes maintenance and operator interaction. Quick change, modular components have allowed customers to adapt quickly to a changing marketplace. Technologies such as digital printing, digital heat transfers, in-mold labeling and

other in-mold decorating processes are allowing decorators to target small-run applications with the efficiencies once only obtained by long-run, analog systems.


What specific trends are you seeing in the decorating marketplace? Direct to surface, digital inkjet remains the most prominent “innovation” in decoration; however, there is still a long road to go to see this as a full replacement for traditional technologies such as pad printing, hot stamping, heat transfers and/or labels. Companies have been searching for more functional products that can become interactive for the consumer, such as heat-sensing coatings, reactive environments and other ideas the automotive industry has been focusing on in recent years. Looking forward, several areas can impact the overall decoration industry. Regulation is certainly an area of interest. For example, the Food and Drug Administration is significantly increasing the tolerance demands for dosage markings; the EU requires strict recycling restrictions for products; and the food industry is looking to adopt the more rigorous regulations of the Nestlé standard for food-grade products. All of these will present challenges to the molders and decorators to ensure they can meet these requirements and still meet the demands for finished decorated products. Other factors, such as growing automation in developing nations, will continue to place pressure on labor costs. Political implications of the new tax laws for companies, along with looming tariffs, need to be monitored to see what the fallout will be – whether good or bad. Product decoration will continue to evolve and adapt to the global marketplace with new challenges as well as new opportunities. Both molders and decorators should fully expect a vibrant future and be excited about the possibilities. n Chris DeMell is the North American medical market manager for ITW Industrial Decorating Solutions. The Industrial Decorating Solutions division provides customers around the world with a broad array of application equipment, value-added products and innovative solutions – all from one partner – creating customer-focused DeMell products for a wide array of markets, including appliance and household goods, consumer and industrial containers, cosmetics and personal care, electronics, medical and health care, and sporting goods, as well as transportation. Learn more at www.


FOBA Introduces Products FOBA Laser Marking + Engraving, headquartered in Selmsdorf, Germany, has introduced new products. The new Y.0201-DN marking laser operates up to 50 percent faster than comparable products on the market. The large marking field and the high-processing precision and edge sharpness result in higher throughput rates, which increase productivity. Additionally, FOBA has new 10W and 30W laser marking systems, C.0102 and C.0302. These lasers mark a broad range of materials with highly variable contents. Over 20,000 available system configurations with three optional wavelengths make the FOBA CO2-laser markers versatile. Easy-to-use mechanical components allow for a smooth setup within existing production facilities. The laser head is protected against dust and humidity due to its IP65/IP54 cover and a powerful fume extraction unit. The marking field size has been enlarged to a maximum size of 32.2x41.9". The marking speed has been increased to 2000 characters or up to 3,000 feet per minute. For more information, visit Polyplastics Offers Broad Slate of Engineering Thermoplastics for Laser Welding Polyplastics, Tokyo, Japan, unveiled its extensive range of engineering thermoplastics that facilitate laser welding of housing components for the automotive and e l e c t r i c a l /e l e c t r o n i c s industries. Materials such a s DU R AC ON ® P OM and DU R A N EX ® PBT a re h ig h ly compat ible with laser welding and are finding broader end-use applications. Polyplastics’ slate of laser welding grades includes DURANEX PBT, a cost-balanced resin that exhibits heat resistance, moldability and electrical properties for housings. The company has optimized its DURANEX PBT family by reexamining the rubber content, together with its compounding agents, to develop DURANEX PBT 730LW, enabling laser welding of workpieces as thick as 2mm. Polyplastics has released DURACON POM M90LP, which uses pigments that do not inhibit laser transmissibility. For more information, visit Rinco Ultrasonics Unveils Products Rinco Ultrasonics USA, Inc., Danbury, Connecticut, launched

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two new products. The AGM Pro ultrasonic generator is designed to be built into automation lines and special- purpose machines for controlling ultrasonic components. The digital, Industry 4.0-capable AGM Pro is an upgraded version of Rinco’s current AGM ultrasonic generator and is suited for semi-automated and automated applications, mostly for the automotive, packaging and food cutting industries. The redeveloped ultrasonic generator boasts a narrow design, has smaller dimensions and is almost 50 percent lighter. Rinco also launched its new Electrical Motion ultrasonic welding machine. The welding system enables users to finely regulate the weld, using precise positioning of the horn, along with the applied welding force to the welding rate. The system has a high-performance, industry-type PC that can be operated via a 12" adjustable touchscreen, with the welding process triggered through an ergonomically designed two-hand operation. For more information, visit

Siemens Introduces Servo Drive System With its Sinamics S210 converter designed specifically for use with the newly developed Simotics S-1FK2 motors, Siemens Industry, Inc., Elk Grove Village, Illinois, revealed a new servo drive system in an initial offering from 50 to 75W. The converters come with integrated safety functions and enable rapid engineering via motion technology objects in Simatic S7-1500 controllers. They are connected to higher-level controllers via Profinet and are quickly and easily programmed by automatic motor parameterization and one-button tuning. Typical uses for this new drive system include packaging machines, handling applications such as pick-and-place, wood and plastics processing, as well as life sciences and digital printing. For more information, visit

ToolTex Inc. Announces SimpleStake Division ToolTex, Grove City, Ohio, recently announced a new division for its impulse staking plastic welding equipment, SimpleStake. Impulse staking is a process that creates heat on-demand for staking plastic bosses of various sizes. The process is ideal for sensitive electronics, medical, lighting and automotive parts where excessive heat and pressure may cause damage to visible areas. Impulse staking applies much less pressure on the part and provides a clean and string-free method of staking. For this process, little to no maintenance is required. For more information, visit Forward Technology Releases Fully Automatic Quick-Change Hot Plate Plastic Welding System Forward Technology, Cokato, Minnesota, in collaboration with

KLN Ultraschall of Heppinheim, Germany, a company within t he u mbrella of T he Crest Group Company, announced the development of a Germaneng i nee red a nd A me r ica nbuilt, fully automatic and semiautomatic quick-change hot plate plastic welding system based on the KLN TOOLMASTER series of hot plate welders. The ability of the machine to exchange a hot plate welding tool set in approximately 90 seconds sets it apart from conventional tool changeover techniques. This machine appeals to high-volume manufacturers who require frequent weld tool changeovers to meet the rigorous demands of daily production. For more information, visit Roland DGA Launches World’s First Laser Foil Decorator Roland DGA, Irvine, California, launched the world’s first laser foil decorator – the DGSHAPE LD-80. Engineered to enhance items with text, logos and graphics with a variety of metallized and holographic foils, the LD-80 makes it easy to

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personalize and add value to small, off-the-shelf products such as pens, cellphone covers, stationery and cosmetic accessories. Users can choose from a selection of gold, silver and other metallized foils, or even holographic foils, to produce a broad range of vivid, eye-catching designs. The LD-80 comes bundled with a user-friendly software package that makes product personalization and customization simple. For more information, visit 3M Releases New Composite Spray Adhesive 3M, St. Paul, Minnesota, designed 3M™ Hi Tack Composite Spray Adhesive 71. The new spray adhesive features several benefits for industrial, marine, transportation and composite manufacturers, including quick-to-tack formula, visual control and little to no intrusion during the resin infusion process. The specialized formula facilitates effective lay-up of fiber sheets with low soak-in for quick bonding times and turnarounds. The





RELEASE • 614.539.3222 A ToolTex Company

16 April/May 2018

adhesive also is built with high-adhesive solids content, so the product lasts longer and less is required. In addition to clear, the adhesive is available in green, allowing operators to ensure the appropriate amount is applied. The formula will work with most resin systems, including polyester, vinyl ester and epoxy. It also bonds fiber, fabric, wood, laminate or metal, and its strong tack is ideal for a variety of composite production applications. For more information, visit Apex Machine Reveals Four Systems/Printers Apex Machine Company, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, along with its sister companies, Desco Machine and Capex Corporation, released several new machines. The C-400 Cylindrical Part Printing System is the most versatile print system in the Apex portfolio, serving varying industries including medical, pharmaceutical, automotive, stationery, marker/pen barrel, sporting goods and just about any cylindrical component. The C-9 is packed with enhancements to offer superior print quality and ease of operation while simultaneously delivering consistent speed and reliability. It handles and prints cylindrical parts, such as centrifuge tubes and syringes, in a vertical fashion. The DRCP-4 Rotary Style system is designed to maintain print concentricity at speeds over 4,000 parts per minute, and it is completely gear driven. For more information, visit Simco-Ion Unveils SCV Cleaning Table Simco-Ion, Hatfield, Pennsylvania, introduced the new SCV Cleaning Table, a high-performing, aggressive particulate agitation system featuring active monitored static elimination and a powerful vacuum to clean medical trays and other critical parts. The SCV Cleaning Table is available for single or double-sided cleaning. The lower hood on all tables features Simco-Ion’s exclusive Clean Capture Technology, designed with powerful dual vacuum slots and three IQ Power High Efficiency Nozzles to capture particulate. The built-in monitoring dashboard is composed of a tamper-resistant filtered air regulator, an IQ Power LPS power supply and a magnehelic gauge for indication of airflow and filter status. The upper hood of the double-sided design showcases a medical-grade stainless steel Neutrovac, which includes an IQ Power static neutralizing bar to electrostatically debond particles and move debris through a stainless-steel air tube to the vacuum slot for ultimate cleaning. For more information, visit n


Staking by Ultrasound – Strong Joints in Short Cycle Times by Thomas Fischer, head of application development, Herrmann Ultraschalltechnik GmbH & Co. KG; Eric Brßckner, Institute of Conveyor Technology and Plastics (IFK); Dr. Michael Gehde, head chair for plastics, IFK


novel version of ultrasonic staking for joining plastics and dissimilar materials utilizes a tubular rivet that it shapes into a form-fitting bead. This new process, termed ultrasonic compressive staking, is characterized by short joining times and high breaking tension.

The increasingly common substitution for classic metal applications by plastics has resulted in the increased use of hybrid material constructions (e.g. metal-plastic, thermoplasticthermoset or incompatible thermoplastics) and multi-component systems. These fields of application entail constantly toughening product requirements in terms of mechanical and optical properties and, therefore, require new processing strategies that enable high bonding strength together with short cycle times. Staking processes have become established as methods for joining components made from thermoplastics with components made from dissimilar materials where coalesced joints cannot be achieved by welding. During the staking process, the protruding head or dome of the stud is warmed, plasticized and shaped by applying pressure to it, so a form-fitting bond is created between the joined parts. Traditional staking methods have not always been successful in obtaining the strength and functionality for certain applications (Fig. 1). When the proper strength has been achieved, the length of the joining time becomes a problem. A new approach – ultrasonic compressive staking A new process has recently been developed for ultrasonic compressive staking for plastics parts. This process replaces the classic process of shaping the stud. Instead, it utilizes a semitubular stud with a bore whose diameter varies with the stud diameter, the material and the thickness of the part to be staked.

Translations of the German terms used in the figures can be seen on page 21.

Figure 1. Partially inadequate bonding of the staked head to the shank can be a problem with classic staking (figures: KT-Chemnitz)

In the first processing step, the tubular stud is plasticized internally by ultrasound from a suitably fitting sonotrode tip, thereby creating a melt cushion. In a second step, the partially warmed stud is compressed by the sonotrode shoulder. The stud bead thus created forms a high-quality form-fit bond (Fig. 2). Depending on the material involved, compressing can be performed with or without applying ultrasound. Sophisticated plastics in tests with multifarious parameters The investigations primarily focused on PA66-GF30 (manufacturer: BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany), a construction material used industrially for numerous different applications. The low melt viscosity and high melting temperature make severe demands on the staking process.

Figure 2. New method of ultrasonic compressive staking: 1. warming, 2. plastification, 3. shaping by compressing

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Additional investigations were positively undertaken using the materials ABS-PC, POM, PBT-GF30, PC-GF20 and PMMA in order to attest the applicability of the process to a wide range of applications. The investigations were performed on a Hermann Ultraschall HiQ DIALOG SpeedControl 1200 ultrasonic welding machine (system frequency 35 kHz). The machine has a digital ultrasound generator for variable amplitude control, and the HMC pneumatic drive concept provides precise joining force control, thus combining the advantages of pneumatics with the dynamics of an electric drive. Consequently, the machine is characterized by precise recording and evaluation of relevant process parameters, such as amplitude, joining path and joining force curve. New geometries of the staking stud and sonotrode The experimental investigations were based on a specimen for which variable tubular geometries could be created during injection molding with interchangeable insets in the mold. A rivet with a 3mm defined outer diameter and variable internal geometry sits on a base body measuring 60x60x4mmÂł. Geometry 1 is a partially hollow stud whose bore ends just above the joining partner (Fig. 3). Geometry 2 has a stepped bore that narrows down to the rivet bottom (Fig. 3). The joining partner used was a 3mm thick steel u-shaped profile with an edge length of 30mm. As schematically shown in Figure 3, the sonotrodes are equipped with a spike on the bottom that is designed and configured to fit into the bore in the tubular rivet.

Optical and mechanical assessment of staking quality The performed analyses focused on determining the particular fracture force in tensile tests at a testing speed of 5mm/min. Microsections were used to assess the external and internal formation of the stud bead via macroscopy and microscopy. The investigations showed that the join quality depends strongly on the design of the tubular stud. Both geometries achieved maximum fracture strength of approximately 460N. Differences showed in the micro- and macroscopic properties of the rivet bead and in the processing window. The fracture strength of geometry 1 determined in the uniaxial tensile test indicated dependence on joining force during parameter optimization. Loss of fracture strength was recorded with rising joining force at constant amplitude. This behavior was exhibited across the entire available amplitude window. As amplitude and joining force rose, the joining time required to create a bond fell due to the higher specific energy input. During parameter optimization, geometry 1 often exhibited material budding from the bead (Fig. 4, left), with negative

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Figure 3. Newly developed stud geometries and the sonotrode adapted to them

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effect on optic properties and resulting in lower strength. The melt pressure developing within the tubular rivet due to material displacement by the sonotrode tip has a critical effect that leads to budding, especially when low viscosity materials, such as PA66, are used. Due to the higher viscosity of the base material, reshaping can proceed without budding only when low amplitudes and high joining forces (e.g. amplitude 10µm, joining force 600N) are used. The higher percentage of cold reshaping, however, can cause microcracking in the compressed bead. In addition, the resulting joining times rise sharply under these parametric combinations. Further optimization of the tubular stud was achieved by a staggered bore inside the stud, which created additional volume for the material displaced by the sonotrode tip, thereby preventing budding from the bead (Fig. 4, right).

amplitude of 20µm, a joining force of 300N, as well as 460N achieved fracture force. The joining time required lay within a very economical range at 1.5s. Comparison with other staking processes The results show that the ultrasonic compressive staking method can fulfill high technological and economical requirements. Figure 5 shows the maximum fracture strain achieved with ultrasonic compressing compared to that of three thermal staking methods (hot forming, hot stamp staking, hot air staking), as well as classic ultrasonic melt staking. Two DVS-standard solid stud geometries with various size heads, one DVS-standard tubular stud geometry, and the newly developed tubular geometry developed for ultrasonic compressive staking were considered. When assessed for mechanical properties, the geometry of the new ultrasonic compressive staking process has to be considered as a tubular stud. The process achieves a maximum strength of 87 ± 3MPa. To be sure, this lies below the strength achieved for long DVS solid rivet geometries under hot forming. However, when compared directly as applied, it lies clearly above the strength of the DVS tubular stud geometry achieved by hot stamp staking with a maximum of only 63 ± 5MPa. Advantages and limits Ultrasonic compressive staking exhibits clear advantages in point of joining time when compared with thermal staking methods. In the case at hand, this amounts to 1.6s, whereby an additional process holding time of one second has to be considered. Thermal staking methods typically require clearly longer joining times, 10s to 20s, without even taking into consideration the required stamp warm-up time and the recommended cooling cycles. The design limits of the new process currently lie in the minimum stud diameter of 3mm. Plastification in the center of the tubular stud requires sufficient material volume and/or adequate diameter. Reduction of the remaining supernatant above the rivet bead is the object of current investigations. At the moment, this remains a disadvantage compared with classic DVS rivet geometries that exhibit lower fracture forces, on the one hand, but also require less space.

Figure 4. Microscopic and macroscopic image of the sample rivet: high melt pressure within the simple tubular stud (geometry 1, left) causes budding. Optimized geometry 2 with volume adapted for resulting melt avoids budding and achieves an optimum bead shape.

Since the load-bearing cross-section of the tubular stud remains unchanged, the new internal shape has no negative influence on the achievable fracture strengths. The new geometry 2 enabled optically perfect bead shaping within a larger processing window. For PA66-GF30, the optimum was reached at an

20 April/May 2018

Conclusion Ultrasonic compressive staking is relevant for a wide range of materials and enables bonding between new types of sophisticated materials combinations. The know-how here lies in rivet and sonotrode design, whereby the stud has a tubular shape and is characterized by a variable bore depth varying with and adapted to the application. Budding can be eliminated via the bore depth. The finely adjustable parameterization inherent in ultrasound enables targeted energy input as well as adaptation to part tolerances, such as can occur with multiple studs. With this innovative shape of workpiece and tool,

the ultrasonic input is almost entirely uncoupled, thereby sparing sensitive parts. In addition to high strengths, the joining times of maximum three seconds for the staking process, including holding time, lie clearly below the double-digit seconds required by other thermal staking methods. Practical opportunities for using the new method could include staking PCBs or boards, magnets, sheet materials, etc. n Acknowledgments Herrmann Ultraschalltechnik would like to thank the Forschungsnetzwerk Mittelstand AiF (ZIM) for their support and friendly assistance with the basic project. Herrmann Ultraschalltechnik explores pioneering solutions for ultrasonic welding, sealing and bonding of thermoplastic parts and materials. The company develops, produces and sells premium ultrasonic systems and components.

Figure 5. Strength/fracture strain. Comparison between the staking methods common in the market and ultrasonic compressive staking shows high fracture forces along with short joining times.


The following are ranslations of the German terms from the figures used in this article: Mikroskopie = microscopy Makroskopie = macroscopy Tragende KopfhĂśhe = load-bearing head height Warmumformen = hot forming Nietgeometrie = stud geometry Bruchspannung = fracture strain Heizstempelnieten = hot stamp staking HeiĂ&#x;luftnieten = hot air staking Ultraschall-Schmelznieten = ultrasonic melt staking Ultraschall-Stauchnieten = ultrasonic compressive staking DVS-lang Vollniet Form B = DVS short solid stud, shape B DVS-kurz Vollniet Form A = DVS short solid stud, shape A DVS-hohl Hohlniet Form G = DVA full-tubular stud, shape G Bezieht sich auf die abweichende Hohlnietgeometrie beim Ultraschall-Stauchnieten = Based on the divergent tubular stud geometry in ultrasonic compressive staking

April/May 2018 21

ASSOCIATION Letter from the Chair It is almost time for the National Plastics Exposition and the Society of Plastics Engineers Annual Technical Conference. Every three years there is a joint meeting of SPE ANTEC and the NPE. More than 65,000 professionals from over 128 countries will be in attendance. It is the best place to learn what is new, how things work and what is available for immediate application to your business. It also is the place to be to develop contacts and to network. Where else is there 1.2 million square feet of exhibition floor space with 2,150 exhibitors? Where else are there hundreds of leading-edge technical papers on all aspects of plastics (and, in our case, the secondary operations of plastics joining and decorating)? If you have not signed up yet, it is not too late. It may be the most important move you can make for your company and for your career. Knowledge, and the ability to apply it, is our greatest value, to ourselves and our companies. The Decoration and Assembly Division will have a technical session, TH5, on Thursday morning. Papers will cover a wide variety of topics. Digital Printing Direct to Object, Laser Marking, Robotic Pad Printing, Low Energy Ebeam Curing, Carbon Black Selection to Optimize Laser Welding, and the Effects of Surface Treatment on Adhesion are just a few of the papers. As valuable as papers are, of greater value is the opportunity to meet the industry leaders who are doing this leading-edge work. Neither you nor I can predict what the next business opportunity or production problem will be, but if we know the best people to ask, the solution will come much faster. Looking past the 2018 ANTEC to next year, the Decoration and Assembly Division is planning a Topical Conference. The

TopCon will be a two-day conference focused on papers and workshops exclusively on plastics decoration and assembly. This would be a good time to consider writing and presenting a paper if you have a new technology or improvement in a current technology. Participation in either or both conferences will provide you with a high level of visibility with an audience of those who are interested and working in the field. There will be a call for papers soon, so if you are interested, now is the time to begin to identify topics and start writing. Papers on new and emerging technologies and materials are always welcome. Topics such as problem solving, innovation and cost reduction are also welcome. You would have the opportunity to present the paper both at the TopCon and the 2019 ANTEC, which, since it will be located in Detroit, will give you great access to the North American automotive industry. Finally, if you are not already a member of SPE, you should consider joining. Membership gives you access to the largest collection of technical papers on all aspects of plastics. Recently, SPE has expanded the opportunity to network and to seek help with specific problems. The organization has created a networking platform, THE CHAIN, specific to the plastics industry. Go to the SPE web page at and learn more about SPE and the many advantages of membership in the society and its divisions. Looking for ward to seeing you at ANTEC/NPE. Paul Uglum Technical Fellow, Aptiv Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Uglum

Decorating & Assembly Division to Host ANTEC Session The SPE Decorating & Assembly Division will be sponsoring a full session of papers at the upcoming ANTEC Orlando – The Plastics Technology Conference that will take place during NPE 2018. The slate of programming will occur from 8-11 a.m. Thursday, May 10, in Room S322. The lineup includes topics on the latest technologies in plastics decorating and assembly. To see the full line of ANTEC programming and to register, visit The following are the scheduled papers: n 8-8:30 a.m. “Digital Printing Technologies for Plastics” – Focus on Color Inkjet and Laser Marking (ID 228) – Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group, Inc. n 8:30-9 a.m. “Robotic Use in Pad Printing” (ID 685) – Micah Swett, Diversified Printing Techniques n 9-9:30 a.m. “Digital Inkjet for Direct to Object Printing” (D 227) – Ben Adner, InkCups n 9:30-10 a.m. “Applications for Low Energy Ebeam Curing

22 April/May 2018

Technology in Consumer Product Flexible Packaging Applications” (ID 721) – Anthony Carignano, ebeam Technologies n 10-10:30 a.m. “Carbon Black Selection for Successful Through Transmission Laser Welding and Joining” (ID 491) – Avraham Benatar, Ohio State University, and Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group, Inc. n 10:30-11 a.m. “Effects of Surface Treatment on Hard-to-Bond Plastics” (ID 722) – Matthew Miner, Henkel Corp. n

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Hot Stamping/Heat Transfers Apex Machine Company 954.566.1572 The S- 40 hot foil system from Apex Machine Company, Fort L a u d e r d a le, F lor id a , provides many benefits. It features four servocontrolled decorating stations, quick part changeover, quick change die holders and quick change foil rewinder units. The S-40 is high speed and has a fully automated flat part hot stamping system. The Apex Group of Companies, including Apex Machine Company, Desco Machine Company and Capex Corporation, meets decorating needs, spare parts, consumable products and a multitude of related services, including graphic arts. CDigital 410.646.7800 Since 2001, CDigital, Baltimore, Ma r yla nd , has focused on developing and producing full color 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 turn times. By utilizing a combination of one of its nine different film 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 setups. CER + 33 (0)47.473.2600 US 716.288.7636 CER, Oyonnax, France, an nou nces the Nor th American launch of the Ultimax-2M2N hot stamp/ heat transfer machine for cosmetic applications such as lipsticks, jars, caps and airless pumps. The Utlimax-2M2N earned wide success in Europe due to its market-leading high performance, quality control and durability. The system features a throughput of up to 7,000 units per hour. An

24 April/May 2018

incorporated camera vision system provides 100 percent quality control. Durability and reliability are both enhanced by a unique, intelligent and patented design with fewer moving parts for quick changeover. CPS Resources, Inc. 704.628.7678 The CP-470-Auto from CPS Resources, Indian Trail, North Carolina, is a fully automated hot stamping machine that i nt eg r at e s w it h mold i ng machinery. Parts are loaded directly onto the machine’s conveyer by a programmed robot and placed on the rotary table. When positioned on the table, the part’s raised area is hot stamped at a rate of 60 parts a minute. The now decorated pieces go through a vision inspection system. After passing inspection, they are loaded onto another conveyor for further processing. Designed to be 100 percent automated, the CP-470Auto runs without operation assistance, completely in sync with the molding machine. Hot Stamp Supply Company 877.343.4321 Ho t St a m p S u p ply C o m p a ny, 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 perfect for 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 and is perfect for small or large prints. This is enabled by full control of the pressure, heat and dwell time to achieve the preferred print. Infinity® Foils, Inc. 913.888.7340 Infinity ® Foils, Inc., Lenexa, Kansas, offers premiere foils for stamping plastics, including Nakai foils. The company has multiple foil releases that allow customers to find the perfect

solution for their plastic application. Its foil products cover the range of hard to soft plastics and provide ideal adhesion-, abrasion- and scratch-resistance characteristics. In addition, Infinity’s plastics foils are available in the most popular shades, including foils for second-surface applications. Infinity® Foils, Inc., has no foil order minimum, is competitively priced and can be ordered online 24/7. Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. 704.927.3700 Digital Heat Transfer technology from Kurz Transfer Products, L.P., Charlotte, North Carolina, provides customers with all the benefits that digital printing offers, including unlimited design capabilities, high-quality printing, wide workability window and more. One of the key advantages to customers and consumers is the ability to incorporate variable data directly into the heat transfer artwork. Adding QR codes, serial numbers, custom barcodes and other unique variable information now is possible, creating a personalized experience with the decoration. Mountain Graphix LLC 630.681.8300 The L100 Heat Transfer label product line f rom 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. North Pacific International, Inc. 909.628.2224 T he ult ra h ig h-speed hot stamping/heat transfer application mach i ne ( M H ser ies) f rom North Pacific International, Inc., Chino, California, is for largescale decorating operations for customers in North America. Unlike common machines with a single head, the MH series configures two or three heads

in a single unit, achieving high-speed decoration without straining the original foil character. The MH series also features optional “visual camera” and “data management” systems controlled by the newest OMRON PLC NX1P2 for Wi-Fi connection to the plant’s central control station for real-time production data. MH series will be a perfect fit for plants seeking a new way of decoration and management with full automation. Trekk Equipment Group 636.271.1391 Trekk Equipment Group, Pacific, Missouri, offers a wide range of standard and custom-designed hot stamping and heat transfer decorating equipment packages, all of which include an industrybest five-year warranty. The equipment lines provide the capability to address all types of vertical press, peripheral and roll-on decorating applications. Equipment packages may be designed to include bulk style infeed systems, slide tables, rotary tables, high-speed servomotor control packages, material handling systems, customdesigned equipment features, fully automated production cells and real-time product vision inspection with accept/reject part separation. 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

April/May 2018 25


The Importance of Machine Approval by John Kaverman, president, Pad Print Pros


he importance of machine approval at the manufacturer’s facility often is ignored due to timing or budgetary constraints. This is unfortunate, because neglecting to conduct a thorough approval can end up costing a lot more time and money than what was saved by not traveling to the supplier to approve the machine before it shipped. True, for those who’ve printed before and are just buying a simple machine without any application-specific tooling, options or accessories, it might be possible to get away with forfeiting the approval. But even then, for those not familiar with all of the features of the new machine, end users may utilize only a portion of its features and production capacity. Modern pad printing machines have evolved in the past two decades: Programmable electric motors have replaced pneumatic drives; multiple axis part conveying has significantly reduced the number of setups required; on-board memory has minimized changeover times; and the list goes on. It is highly recommended that buyers consider conducting a thorough approval at their supplier’s facility if they are purchasing a new piece of equipment when any of the following is included in the scope of the project: Part-specific tooling Regardless of whether buyers are purchasing part-specific nesting fixtures or jigs with a new system, or making them themselves, it is imperative that they ensure it all works as intended. This is especially true in applications where multiple versions and rapid changeover of part-specific tooling are required. Fixtures need to be easy to load and unload without interfering with mechanical or photo-electric safety barriers and must ac-

26 April/May 2018

On-site approval for automated systems is essential. Conducting an approval at the supplier's facility can catch little programming glitches that might otherwise be missed during the supplier's standard de-bugging. curately locate production level parts for processing throughout the entire cycle. Once the machine is in the facility, it is too late to say, “Oops, we wanted the part in this orientation.” Obviously, if buyers are making the nesting fixtures, they need to share their plan for orienting the part on the system so the supplier can orient the images correctly on the clichés. Additionally, buyers need to be prepared to ship their tooling and an adequate number of production-level parts to the supplier’s facility for use during the approval. Pre-treatment If pre-treatment equipment (plasma, corona, flame) is being integrated, buyers will want to verify that the results of the pre-treatment are within specification for required dyne level. Treatment area dimensions, offsets (distance from the treatment head or flame ribbon to the surface of the part), travel (when the pre-treatment has to actuate) and treatment (dwell) times all need to be addressed. Assuming the supplier has all of the necessary components and tools required to make any revisions, it is easier to do it with the buyer standing there than to try to coordinate it all over the phone.



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Post-treatment Drying and curing equipment needs to be verified to ensure it attains the desired level of adhesion, as well as mechanical and chemical resistance for the printed image. In the case of either pre- or post-treatment equipment, buyers must also ensure that their production representative parts are clean (not contaminated), and that the ink has been mixed, applied (i.e. cliché depth recommendations), dried and cured per the ink manufacturer’s recommendations. After all, if the ink wasn’t mixed correctly, was applied to a contaminated part using a cliché that was the wrong depth, and the ink wasn’t allowed to complete its chemical/physical curing schedule, the result can’t be blamed on the pre- and/or post-treatment equipment. Programming On-site approval for automated systems is essential. Automation involves programming of either proprietary controls or commercial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to synchronize loading and unloading, pre- and post-treatment, as well as part conveying accessories and, in some cases, the printing cycle itself. Conducting an approval at the supplier’s facility can catch little programming glitches that might otherwise be missed during the supplier’s standard de-bugging. Once the system is in the facility, revisions to programs can be difficult, especially when the printer has proprietary software. Remote location When the facility is in a geographically remote location, service by the supplier’s technician can be extremely expensive. For example, an installation was done in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the nearest airport had one flight in and out per day, and the nearest big box hardware store was two hours away. Luckily, that customer visited the manufacturer’s facility for a thorough approval weeks before the machine was due to ship to their facility. While the revisions that were identified as being necessary during the approval were simple to complete in the facility, they would have been significantly more difficult to make once the machine was in the buyer’s plant. Who should attend approval? The decision of whom to send to the supplier’s facility for approval is an important one. There is little benefit in sending people other than those who: 1. Know what is expected of the machine in production. System throughput and image quality need to be addressed. That doesn’t mean buyers need to send an engineer, an operator and a representative of their QC department. It simply means the person attending the approval should be knowledgeable of the requirements. 2. Can understand the electrical and mechanical functions of the machine. Again, this doesn’t

28 April/May 2018

Photo courtesy of Pad Print Pros

necessarily mean having to have someone from engineering and maintenance in attendance, but buyers should endeavor to send someone with basic electrical/mechanical aptitude. 3. Have a least a functional knowledge of pad printing. If buyers are combining approval with operator training, they need to send an operator or at least someone qualified to train their operators once the system is in their facility. 4. Are empowered to make a final decision. The person attending approval doesn’t need to be a member of management but should be able to communicate effectively with management while on site. What to bring to approval The person or persons attending approval at the supplier facility should bring a digital camera or smartphone to take photos and video of the machine, the printing cycle and the resulting printed product. They also should bring quality, production representative samples (if they exist) for comparison, as well as master color samples for when custom colors are part of the package. Alternatives to approval In a perfect world, buyers have the right person, the time and the budget to make the trip to their supplier for a thorough approval. But, what do they do if/when their pick for approval has a scheduling conflict or they’re having difficulty justifying the cost of the trip? First, consider the potential cost of not sending someone for approval. How tight is the timeline? Is it better to sacrifice a day or two for the technician to visit the supplier for approval, or potentially lose several days (or weeks) of production if the machine arrives and something isn’t right?

If buyers are convinced that for some reason they can’t justify sending someone for approval, make a list of all of the points the supplier needs to address before the machine ships. Ask the supplier to go over the list point by point, preferably on video. Ask for photos and video of the system functioning and/ or physical samples of the printed product for evaluation for making the decision to ship. Get trained Regardless of whether buyers elect to conduct a thorough approval at their supplier’s facility, they should not neglect to obtain adequate training. Assuming buyers are sending someone with the technical aptitude required, training can be conducted in conjunction with the approval. That person doesn’t need to be the operator but should be able to go back and train the operators. Recording the training on video is always useful. When not conducting approval at the supplier’s facility, have the supplier travel to the buyer’s facility for installation and training.

already exists in the facility. Even when switching from one brand of equipment to another, there are going to be features on the new machine that might go unnoticed without training. Get trained to ensure that the new machine is being utilized to its full potential. Summary The importance of machine approval (and operator training) cannot be overstated. This is true for pad printing machines, as well as any other type of decorating equipment. n John Kaverman is president of Pad Print Pros LLC, an independent consulting firm specializing in pad printing. Kaverman has 28 years of combined industrial screen and pad printing process experience. He can be reached via email at or through his website, Kaverman

Skipping both the approval and training is a huge gamble, unless all that’s being purchased is a duplicate of a system that




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A Look at the Powder Coatings Market by Kerry Pianoforte, editor, Coatings World Editor's Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Coatings World. To read the original article, please visit https:// powder-coatings-market-.


owder coatings, unlike some traditional liquid coatings, do not require solvents in their formulation and are considered to be 100 percent solids. Powder coatings are typically applied electrostatically and then oven-cured. The end result is a hard finish that is often tougher than most conventional liquid coatings. Powder coatings can be used for a wide variety of applications and end-use markets, such as automotive parts, outdoor furniture, home appliances and metal furniture and architectural metal.

According to Chemark analysts, powder coatings 2015 revenue at $7,951MM in 2015 grew at 3.7 percent to $8,248MM in 2016. Powder coatings manufacturers that Coatings World spoke with reported growth for 2017. “The powder coatings market has continued to see substantial growth in 2017,” said Michael Cash, president, Industrial Coatings, Axalta Coating Systems. “We attribute this to a strong global economy and the ongoing desire to use the most sustainable and environmentally safe coating solutions. Continued advancements in technology have increased customer confidence in powder coatings, as they prove competitive to liquid solutions in color, design and durability, as well cost of application.

While aggregating all types of global coatings together, it grew from $125.5 million in sales revenue in 2015 to $126.5 million in 2016, only a 1.1 percent AGR.

“Powder coatings comprises a meaningful part of Axalta’s overall business and has proven to be one of our fastest growing segments,” Cash added. “Our sales growth in powder has remained at around twice the market rate consistently over the past four years. This year we’ve had the privilege of supplying powder coatings for monumental, global projects such as the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic torches and the sound barriers installed on Shanghai’s new Metro Line 17.”

Conversely, powder coatings increased its SOM by 1 percent (from 6 percent in 2015 to 7 percent in 2016) and grew at 3.7 times the remainder of the coatings industry rates, at 3.9 percent.

Sherwin-Williams saw continued demand for powder coatings globally in 2017 with growth levels above GDP, and expect that this trend will continue throughout 2018.

According to Chemark Consulting Group, powder coatings continue to take small, meaningful SOM (share-of-the-market) chunks of the global coatings market segment real estate.

From left to right, photos courtesy of Sherwin-Williams, AkzoNobel and Sherwin-Williams.

32 April/May 2018

Sophie M. – Expert in Applications Development

“This demand is in part driven by all the advantages that powder coatings can offer to the finishing marketplace,” said Tabitha McLeish, global marketing director-Powder, General Industrial Coatings, The Sherwin-Williams Company. “As customers continue to push the capability envelope on improved appearance of finishes; the ability to cure at lower temperatures or at much faster cure rates; extended durability for color, gloss and corrosion; thinner films; and greater metallic color space, powder coatings continue to step up to meet the challenge.” Powder vs. liquid Powder coatings often have an advantage over liquid for a number of reasons. “In suitable applications, powders provide excellent coverage, especially on corrosion-vulnerable edges,” said McLeish. “They also can deliver higher film thicknesses; up to 99 percent of powders can be recycled or reclaimed; and the ability to oven-cure induces the chemical reaction that provides a smooth finish.” “Powder coatings are traditionally applied at a lower cost and are better for the environment, emitting zero or nearly zero volatile organic compounds (VOC),” said Cash. “Overspray can be recycled, eliminating product waste in contrast to liquid waste which can be more energy intensive to recycle and/or dispose of. Powder also has some aesthetic advantages, such as specialty effects like textures, veins and hammertones being easier to achieve than with other coating processes.” Chemark reports that Asia-Pacific region continues to dominate in size at 43 percent SOM in 2015 and moved up a point to 44 percent SOM a year later in 2016. Western Europe follows at 25 percent for both years, with North America third but losing an SOM point at 16 percent in 2016, down from 17 percent in

Tarick W. – Ultrasonic Welding Expert

Connect with the Experts at NPE Emerson technology and applications experts in the automotive, medical, electronics, packaging, and industrial markets will be available to meet with attendees at NPE Booth #W3763. Our global team of Emerson market specialists will be on hand to answer questions and explain how Branson material joining technologies are uniquely capable of responding to today’s market trends such as miniaturization, more delicate materials, embedded sensors, and complex part geometries. Stop by Booth #W3763 and take advantage of unrivaled expertise in product design, applications engineering, and joining technologies.

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The Emerson logo is a trademark and service mark of Emerson Electric Co. © Branson Ultrasonics Corporation 2018.

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2015. The remaining regions combine for a total of 14 percent in 2015 and remaining at 14 percent in 2016. According to McLeish, the heavy equipment market has been strong in both Asia and South America due to the comeback of the construction market in Asia and a stronger agricultural equipment market in South America. “Growth in these regions is expected to continue,” she stated. “Although the military market had been experiencing flat growth, that market is beginning to rebound, and some nice growth is anticipated. The US Department of Defense budget increases under the new administration are resulting in contract awards specific to asset protection programs requiring paint for durability and corrosion resistance. Environmental compliance will drive continued powder growth.” Cash noted that he sees North America following the trend in Europe and China of using more powder coatings in the architectural extrusion market. “For example, in Philadelphia we’ve been constructing our Global Innovation Center using Axalta products throughout and have found, whether it be in extrusions for the building, windows and doors, or lab furniture, that it’s logistically

In suitable applications, powders provide excellent coverage, especially on corrosion-vulnerable edges. They also can deliver higher film thicknesses; up to 99 percent of powders can be recycled or reclaimed; and the ability to oven-cure induces the chemical reaction that provides a smooth finish. and economically beneficial to coat most of the building components with our powder coatings,” he added. “Automotive and Agricultural, Construction and Earthmoving equipment (ACE) are two other markets in which we see strong potential for growth. While powder has been a part of these markets historically, we’re finding businesses in these segments becoming more confident in the durability and performance of powder, using it on more parts and larger surfaces, including priming the exterior of vehicles.” New products Sherwin-Williams recently launched POWDURA 4000 Super Durable Polyester Powder TGIC-free line of products, for metal building product OEMs and job shops needing to provide AAMA 2604 level of performance. They are designed to address resistance to abrasion, impact, scuffing and scratching, and deliver a finish with long-term durability for a broad range of architectural applications. Most popular colors are available in stock, and available in 48 hours. “It has long been recognized that although super-durable polyester TGICs are very robust systems, there are limitations in their flexibility, especially at higher film thicknesses or in multi-layer scenarios,” said McLeish. “To overcome this gap, Sherwin-Williams has developed a line of flexible super-durable TGIC coatings that will be launching in 2018. These coatings are formulated to have great flexibility at those higher film builds and in multi-coat applications, without sacrificing the appearance and durability characteristics our customers have come to expect from our products. We also continue to be excited about the acceleration of our One Cure systems.” In January 2017, Axalta launched Alesta Lync, an innovative Dry-on-Dry (DOD) powder coating application system with an energy-efficient process, excellent edge corrosion protection and the ability to provide two paint layers with only one cure cycle. The result is a reduction of process time, carbon output and capital investment while increasing productivity.

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smart. d . surface. es1gn.

A Quantum Leap in Plastic Decoration

inspire create decorate KURZ is your global design and creative partner for extraordinary surface decoration, from initial design concept through series production. Our full range of Heat Transfers – digital, rotogravure and screen print – are customized for your exact aesthetic, functional and application requirements. And the breadth of our hot stamping foil portfolio is without parallel! We would like to thank you for visiting our exhibition stand at the 2018 NPE show! Let us know how we can assist you in bringing your concepts to market.

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FOCUS This year Axalta also launched NapGard 7-0015 internal pipe coatings, a good option for customers who need a flexible coating that provides corrosion protection in severe downhole environments up to 105°C (221°F) and Alesta non-slip powder coatings, which hold up to heavy traffic and harsh chemicals to provide an excellent solution for hazardous slip-prone areas on heavy duty equipment and platforms. Other notable additions have been its next generation powder coatings for automotive coil springs, allowing enhanced chip stone resistance in a single coat application, and a string of new Plascoat thermoplastic technologies designed to protect substrates like battery trays, park furniture, and the undercarriages of military vehicles in the harshest of environments. “In addition to new products, Axalta introduced the ICONICA collection in Europe, an assortment of 40 new metallic colors from our Alesta Super Durable powder coatings portfolio that represent modern dynamics of nature and humanity,” said Cash. “The ICONICA launch was synchronized with the world’s leading f ur nit ure and design fair in Milan, and visitors were encouraged to interact with and explore the outdoor installation of 40 colors under constantly changing light.” Cash said that Axalta has a full pipeline of new technologies for a wide array of markets set to launch in 2018. “We remain heavily focused on developing powder coatings to both make a difference in our customers’ businesses and lead the market in producing cutting edge technology,” he said. “For instance, we’ve invested heavily into our new generation of bonded

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By the Numbers Chemark Consulting breaks down the six powder segments in the following order: • General Metals/Job Shops remains the largest at $2,614M (32% SOM) in 2016, moving from $2,607M (33% SOM) in 2015; • Automotive/Transportation is second at $1,624M (20% SOM) in 2016 and $1,487M in 2015 (19% SOM); • Appliance is third at $1,176M in 2016, from $1,153M in 2015 (14% SOM); • Architectural is fourth at $1,054M (13% SOM) in 2016, moving from $1,009M (13% SOM) in 2015; • Metal Furniture is fifth with $998M in 2016 (13% SOM), moving up from $955M (12% SOM) in 2015; and • Agriculture/Construction is sixth at $782M (10% SOM) in 2016, from $740M (9% SOM in 2015).

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metallics, which will be an exciting addition for us in the first quarter of next year.

• Magnesium, steel and brass hot stamping dies • Prototype and production contract decorating

“We also expect to launch powder coatings that can be applied successfully to plastic and fiberglass composites, powder products with leading crevice coverage properties for extreme faraday cage challenges, a new range of powder products for electrical wire encapsulation, and the next generation Ultra Durable architectural product line for AAMA 2605 applications,” he continued. Axalta also plans to continue to leverage popular technologies and expand them globally, such as working with its manufacturing facilities in North America and China to produce the ICONICA collection and rolling out Alesta ZeroZinc Primers globally. “With the cost of zinc on the rise, we’ve seen increased demand in these primers, which provide performance, cost and environmental benefits,” Cash said. n

Contact us for a quote on your next project. (989) 893.7790 | Fax: (989) 893.7741

INDUSTRY OSHA Increases Penalties The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), headquartered in Washington, D.C., announced an increase in penalties. Civil penalties for violations of OSHA standards and regulations increased to adjust for inflation. OSHA penalties for other-than-serious, serious and failure to abate violations increased by $319 from $12,615 per violation to $12,934 per violation. The penalty for willful and repeat violations increased from $126,749 to $129,336, an increase of $2,587. The new penalty increase will apply to any citations throughout the remainder of 2018. The penalty increase applies to federal OSHA states, however, OSHA expects that states operating their own occupational safety and health program will align penalty structures with federal OSHA, so that such programs are equally effective. For more information, visit Sun Chemical and DIC Corporation Acquire Luminescence Holdings Ltd. Sun Chemical, Parsippany, New Jersey, and its parent company, DIC Corporation, have acquired Luminescence Holdings Ltd., a manufacturer of currency, tax stamp, passports, ID cards, secure documents and brand protection inks for the security market. The acquisition allows Sun Chemical to increase its market share in the securities market. By combining Luminescence’s portfolio of products with Sun Chemical’s global reach, customers will benefit from a new global player. The acquisition creates a growth platform for Sun Chemical in the $2.7 billion security ink market. For more information, visit

professionals using real-world digital fabrication hardware and software. For its printing, cutting and milling equipment, Blue Ridge chose Roland DGA, Irvine, California. Included with the equipment were Roland DGA’s Project Based Learning (PBL) modules, which make it easy for students to learn through hands-on, step-by-step projects. The Blue Ridge 4-H facility will serve as Arizona’s main 4-H Fab Lab, with smaller “minilabs” planned in other locations throughout the state. Each Fab Lab will utilize the existing 4-H youth development network and programs. For more information, visit or Grewal Becomes President/CEO for Plasmatreat North America Starting in January 2018, Hardev Grewal assumed the position of president and CEO for Plasmatreat North America, US headquarters in Elgin, Illinois. Grewal got an early exposure to international business during his college education at the University of Applied Science Munich Grewal with assignments at ABB in India and Applied Materials in California. Applied Materials sponsored his research work and recruited him to permanently join the company in Silicon Valley, where he quickly advanced his career to director of global product management. Grewal joined the M+W Group in 2010, and soon thereafter he was promoted to vice president, global sales and business operations. In joining Plasmatreat, he continues his presence in Silicon Valley. For more information, visit Yupo Joins SGP Community as Silver Patron The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), Sayville, New York, announced Yupo Corporation America is the latest SGP Patron at the silver level. Through patronage, Yupo Corporation America, along with other industry leaders dedicated to promoting sustainability, support SGP and keep costs low for certification of print facilities. For more information, visit

Roland DGA Provides Equipment for 4-H Lab The Blue Ridge/University of Arizona 4-H Fab Lab, the first public school Fab Lab established in Arizona and the first 4-H Foundation Fab Lab in the US, held its grand opening ceremony in Lakeside, Arizona, in January 2018. The cutting-edge facility, located at Blue Ridge High School and funded by the University of Arizona, is designed to train the next generation of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math)

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LogoJET Donates Direct-to-Substrate Printer to SGIA LogoJET, Fairfax, Virginia, has donated a UV2400 UV-LED direct-to-substrate model printer to SGIA for testing and usage. The UV2400 produces full-color imprints on virtually any substrate, including most materials, colors, and flat and dimensional products. It also allows operators to print a white underbase, build texture and utilize other printing techniques with clear and primer inks. SGIA will use the printer to learn more about UV ink adhesion by printing on unique substrates using a variety of printing techniques. SGIA will share that information with the printing industry through a comprehensive instructional program. For more information, visit www.

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Gardere Achieves Verdict for Inhance Technologies The Texas 1st District Court of Appeals ruled that two former Inhance Technologies LLC executives were in violation of the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA), upholding an injunction to prevent them from conducting business in the future plus awarding damages to the company. The matter originated after Inhance learned that its former chief administrative officer, David Molthen, and vice president of engineering, Paul Banks, established a plant using an electrochemical process Inhance developed for the plastics industry. Furthermore, the company Molthen and Banks founded, TMRJ Holdings, built its plant in an area where Inhance recruits its employees and develops business. By misappropriating Inhance’s technologies and engaging in unfair competition, Molthen and Banks were in violation of the act. For more information, visit tributek Announces New Web Store tributek, Elburn, Illinois, announced its original ultrasonics web store,, will be retiring in a few months. The new site,, only runs in secure mode, and it suggests companion products. The blog posts are still available and searchable, and the entire site is designed to be user-friendly. The company will continue to offer credit card and PayPal payment and feature UPS shipping. The new cart interface

allows for “membership” or “guest” checkout. The company now also offers US Postal Service as a shipping method for US ship-to addresses. The other web channels (, ebay and Amazon) continue to operate unchanged. For more information, visit

FRIMO North America Announces Expansion in Plastics Welding FRIMO, Wixom, Michigan, hosted a plastics welding “Lunch & Learn” for its customers on March 1 near Detroit. The casual event offered attendees the opportunity to receive a market overview and learn more about infrared, ultrasonic, hot plate and heat stake welding. FRIMO’s Global Head of Welding Technology Detlev Boel attended the luncheon to mingle with visitors and answer technical questions. Jeff Daily, president of FRIMO’s operations in North America, and Tobias Kruemberg, head of FRIMO North America Plastics Welding and sales director at FRIMO Mexico, as well as other FRIMO welding experts, gave presentations. Ultrasonic welding technology was one of the main focuses of the luncheon, as FRIMO recently started designing and building ultrasonic welding equipment in North America. For more information, visit The Sabreen Group Launches Websites The Sabreen Group Inc., The Colony, Texas, launched its new websites, and These websites have extensive searchable technical libraries containing state-of-the-art white papers about secondary plastics manufacturing processes. New papers are added weekly, and readers are invited to suggest new topics. The Sabreen Group, Inc., is an engineering consulting company specializing in Secondary Plastics Manufacturing processes – surface pretreatments, bonding, decorating and finishing, laser marking and product security. For more information, call 972.820.6777 or visit, or MIGS Hosts Special Event The team from Mold In Graphic Systems (MIGS) hosted 18 customers and 10 companies at its first Training & Certification Program. The three, one-day events were hosted at the Mold In Graphics Campus in Clarkdale, Arizona. During the eight-hour

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training event, attendees received extensive product knowledge and hands-on training for every item in the company’s product line. This included MIGS’ entire range of surface enhancement products and the Polyfuze Graphic for injection molded parts. The day concluded with each attendee becoming Certified Labelfreaks. The MIGS Training & Certification program featured companies from around the world and included representatives from Yeti Coolers, Montgomery Design, MOD Roto, Hardigg / Pelican, Groupo CIPSA, Canyon Coolers, Stern Companies, Sealite USA and Cabela’s. For more information, visit or Plastics Leaders Rally for Better Recycling Infrastructure Priorities The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), Washington, D.C., and 11 partner associations recently delivered a letter to Capitol Hill, calling on the house majority and minority leaders to develop and advance an infrastructure investment package to address the nation’s need for better recycling efforts and innovation. The urgent call for discussion cites recent decisions – and ultimately, disruptors to US recycling programs – by China to reduce or end the import of scrap material from other nations, coupled with the loss of valuable feedstock for American manufacturing when material that isn’t recycled ends up in landfills. According to the 2016 Environmental Protection Agency’s Recycling Economic Information Report, in one year recycling and reuse in the US accounted for 757,000 jobs, $36.6 billion in wages and $6.7 billion in tax revenue. The letter outlines several priorities to prioritize recycling in the US, including retrofitting Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) with advanced sorting equipment that can identify and properly handle a wider range of packaging forms and quicker MRFs, plastics recycling facilities and conversion technology facilities that create valuable chemicals and energy products. The signatories represent public and private sector associations and organizations. For more information, visit n

The Team: Tammy




• Personalized Customer Service • In-house Testing • Experienced Technical Support • Contract Stamping • Internal Graphics Department • Free Foil Samples




*New* Low Pressure Transfer Technology Available (allows full color photos/graphics)



KURZ’s IMD/IMR Technology Edited by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Decorating


URZ, Charlotte, North Carolina, offers a broad portfolio of IMD/IMR transfer foils that affords great flexibility in design, enabling flexibility in aesthetic design via a wide range of effects, such as piano black, high-resolution four-color process graphics, engineered patterns and woodgrains (in continuous patterns or single image designs) and backlighting.

In-Mold Decoration, or IMD (also referred to as In-Mold Roll, or IMR), is a process of decorating plastic parts during the injection molding process, eliminating the need for post-decoration processes. The IMD/IMR process is utilized globally across a variety of industry sectors, including automotive, consumer electronic, medical and white goods, among many others, enabling unique and contemporary surface designs. IMD foil is composed of decorative and functional coatings applied to a polyester carrier. The foil is fed into the injection molding tool and is precisely positioned within the cavity. The coatings, including multicolor print layers, are then transferred to the surface of the molded plastic part during the injection molding process. IMD/IMR is frequently confused with In-Mold Labeling (IML), but these are two very different processes. IMD/IMR is commonly utilized in higher-value applications requiring mid- to long-range product life, such as automobiles, appliances and electronics, and in which stringent functional requirements are needed, such as chemical- and abrasion-resistance properties provided by custom-engineered coatings layers. IML is generally associated with disposable packaging applications or products with minimal functional characteristics and shorter lifecycle requirements. The breadth of applications in consumer electronics, automotive and white goods sectors attests to the versatility of IMD. IMD/ IMR technology also can be used to implement functional elements by equipping the foil with conductive or non-conductive layers or tactile properties, including metallization in multiple variants. The IMD/IMR process offers substantial efficiency and cost effectiveness vs. alternative decoration media, especially

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for high-volume production. As the decoration of the part is integrated into the injection molding process, downstream application of decorative images is not required, providing significant savings in labor, work-in-process and time. Multiple aesthetic design elements can be replicated easily, as changing the graphic image in the IMD process is as simple as changing a roll of foil on the machine. Additionally, the IMD/IMR process is environmentally friendly, as the coating layers that are transferred are extremely thin. IMD/IMR offers advantages in flexible design enhancement, quality, cost, time-to-market and differentiation. The process has proven to be highly cost effective in low-volume applications through screen printing, and in high-volume applications through rotogravure printing. IMD/IMR provides high flexibility in forming geometry and is a low-cost and lean process providing broad coverage of OEM decorative and functional requirements. IMD/IMR offers real flexibility in design variants, from a silky soft touch to tactile surfaces, and can be integrated with innovative backlighting, for example, for interior panels in automobiles. IMD/IMR effectively combines molding and hot stamping into one working operation. By the complete decoration of plastic parts during the injection molding operation, production efficiencies are high, costs and in-process inventories are reduced, and downstream operations can be eliminated. n


The Sabreen Group is an engineering consulting company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing operations. When Failure Is Not An Option – Since 1992, SABREEN has solved critical plastics problems for over 420 companies in 33 countries. We have earned a reputation of excellence for our rapid response and detailed problem-solving. Many of today’s most recognizable products are manufactured using The Sabreen Group’s game changing technologies. SABREEN’S engineering contributed to the award winning Ortho Pharmaceutical Personal Pak Contraception Case inducted into the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.



• • • •


972-820-6777 ENGINEERING@SABREEN.COM • • 5799 Sibley Ln. The Colony, TX 75056 USA (972) 820-6777


Plasma Surface Pretreatments of Polymers for Improved Adhesion Bonding by Scott Sabreen, president, The Sabreen Group, Inc.

Abstract Polymeric adhesion bonding problems are pervasive throughout the plastics industry. Two- and three-dimensional products often include joining plasticto-plastic, plastic-to-metal and plasticto-composite. Many plastics have a poor tendency to bond to other materials because of their inherent chemical structure and, therefore, require pretreatment. Plasma surface pretreatments are used to promote adhesion between difficultto-bond plastic substrates and adhesives, coatings, inks and paints. This article discusses plasma science and the interaction mechanisms between a plasma and a polymer surface and further debunks common mythologies. Introduction “Gas-phase” plasma su rface (modification) oxidation is the most common modification method and is proven to be highly effective, economical and environmentally safe. The selection of which method to utilize on any given application can be challenging, in part due to misconceptions and confusing terminology. Commonly known processes are electrical corona, remote-cold gas plasma, f lame and UV/ozone (combinations). There are PolyDyne Pro Treater System – ball electrode generating corona discharge plasma. significant cost implications associated Photo courtesy of 3DT LLC. with bonding failure, including poor product field performance, scrap/ rework, production inefficiencies and increased quality control performance properties are ideal for part designers who seek inspection. Through understanding the basic science of contact such properties, they are the nemesis for manufacturers needing angles, surface wetting and chemical activation, virtually any to bond such materials. Robust adhesion bonding usually bonding problem can be successfully solved, even when using necessitates “hydrophilic” surfaces. For optimum adhesion to the most tough-to-bond polymeric and elastomeric materials. occur, an adhesive (coating, ink or paint) must thoroughly “wet out” the surface (adherend) to be bonded. Contact angle, surface energy and wetting The underlying reasons why many plastics are difficult to “Wetting out” means the liquid flows and covers a surface to bond are because they are hydrophobic non-polar materials, maximize the contact area and the attractive forces between chemically inert and possess poor surface wettability – i.e., the adhesive and adherend bonding surface. For a liquid to low surface energy. While these hydrophobic (repel water) effectively wet out a surface, the surface energy of the adhesive

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must be as low or lower than the surface energy of the adherend to be bonded. Alternatively, the surface energy of the substrate must be raised.

manufacturing production operations are more realistically dynamic conditions, not static. Thus, the dynamic contact angle (DCA) is important to understand (Figure 2).

Consider a single liquid fluid droplet on a flat solid surface at rest (equilibrium). The angle formed by the solid surface and the tangent line to the upper surface at the end-point is called the contact angle; it is the angle (θ) through the liquid between the tangent line at the contact point and the horizontal line of the solid surface. The bubble/droplet shape is due to the molecular forces by which all liquids, through contraction of the surface, tend to form the contained volume into a shape having the least surface area. The intermolecular forces that contract the surface are termed “surface tension.” Surface tension, a measurement of surface energy, is expressed in dynes/cm (SI N/m). The higher the surface energy of the solid substrate relative to the surface tension of a liquid (water, printing inks, adhesives/ encapsulation, coatings, etc.), the better will be its “wettability” and the smaller will be the contact angle (Figure 1). As a rule, acceptable bonding adhesion is achieved when the surface energy of a substrate is approximately 8 to 10 dynes/cm greater than the surface tension of the liquid.

Figure 2. Dynamic contact angles θR and θA

Contact angles generally are affected by both changes in surface chemistry and changes in surface topography. The advancing contact angle is most sensitive to the low-energy (unmodified) components of the substrate surface, while the

Figure 1. “Surface wetting” with hydrophilic vs. hydrophobic surfaces

For many applications it may only be necessary to examine the static equilibrium contact angle using dyne solutions in accordance to a documented test procedure. Application kits or “dyne pens/solutions” provide useful information, but they are not precise measurements of surface tension. Surface tension measurements can vary considerably by individual (technique) and the interpretation of the “center” liquid behavior. Dyne pens/solutions are known to be directional indicators of significant differences in the surface tension and capable of identifying “good” and “bad” bondable surfaces at economical pricing. Bottled dyne solutions can be preferable instead of pens because of contamination issues due to multiple usage. Dynamic contact angles (DCA) Testing the fluid behavior of only the static contact angle can lead to misinterpretation of the liquid/solid interface results and the resolution of bonding problems. This is because industrial

April/May 2018 45

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receding angle is more sensitive to the high-energy, oxidized groups introduced by surface pretreatments. Thus, the receding angle actually is the measurement most characteristic of the modified component of the surface following pretreatments, as measured using dyne solutions. Therefore, it is important to measure both the advancing and receding contact angles on all surface-modified materials. When a droplet is attached to a solid surface and the solid surface is tilted, the droplet will lunge forward and slide downward. The angles formed are respectively termed the advancing angle (θa) and the receding angle (θr). ASTM D724 describes methods for measuring DCAs using advanced equipment (optical tensiometers and goniometers) to analyze advancing and receding contact angles based on drop shape analysis and mass. Chemical surface activation There is a strong tendency for manufacturers to focus only on contact angles or other wettability measurements as the sole predictor for bonding problems and for conducting routine surface testing. Chemical surface functionality is equally important, whereby hydrophobic surfaces are activated into bondable hydrophilic surfaces. Gas-phase, “glow-discharge,” surface oxidation pretreatment processes are used for chemical surface activation. These processes are characterized by their ability to generate “gas plasma,” an extremely reactive gas consisting of free electrons, positive ions and other species. Plasmas often can be described as a fourth state of matter. As energy is supplied, solids melt into liquids, liquids vaporize into gases, and gases ionize into “plasmas.” In the science of physics, the mechanisms in which these plasmas are generated are different, but their effects on surface wettability are similar. The basic chemical and physical reaction that occurs is free electrons, ions, metastables, radicals and UV generated in the plasma can impact a surface with energies sufficient to break the molecular bonds on the surface of most polymeric substrates. This creates very reactive free radicals on the polymer surface that, in turn, can form, cross-link, or in the presence of oxygen, react rapidly to form various chemical functional groups on the substrate surface. Polar functional groups that can form and enhance bondability include carbonyl (C=O), carboxyl (HOOC), hydroperoxide (HOO-), and hydroxyl (HO-) groups. Even small amounts of reactive functional groups incorporated into polymers can be highly beneficial to improving surface chemical functionality and wettability. Also, chemical primers/ solvents and mechanical abrasion (including mold tool texture) can be utilized alone or in conjunction with pretreatments. Commonly known processes are electrical corona discharge (also known as a dielectric barrier discharge), electrical atmospheric plasma, electrical air plasma, flame plasma, low-pressure RF cold gas and ultraviolet irradiation/ozone (combinations). Each method is application-specific and possesses unique advantages and potential limitations.

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“Through understanding the basic science of contact angles, surface wetting, and chemical activation, virtually any bonding problem can be successfully solved, even when using the most tough-to-bond polymeric and elastomeric materials.” Examination of the polymer (amorphous or semi-crystalline), plasma process, bonding agent and manufacturing process require careful examination and testing. One important study conducted on polypropylene found that flame treatment appears to be the “shallowest” – that is, the oxygen incorporated by the treatment is most concentrated near the outer surface of the film. Corona and plasma treatments appear to penetrate somewhat deeper into the polymers. At the other extreme, the UV/ozone treatments reach farther into the bulk of the polymers. Discharge conditions such as humidity effects are also important.1 It is known that certain pretreatments, and how they are applied, can deleteriously affect downstream manufacturing operations, e.g., delamination of toothpaste tubes during heat-sealing. Factors influencing adhesion and aging (shelf life) The degree or quality of pretreatment for robust adhesion strength is affected by the cleanliness of the plastic surfaces. The surface must be clean to achieve optimal pretreatment and subsequent adhesion. Contamination sources on product surfaces that inhibit treatment include: dirt, dust, grease and oil. Low molecular weight materials such as silicones, mold release and anti-slip agents are particularly deleterious for bonding. Material purity is also an important factor. Further, certain soluble or nonsoluble compound agents used in pigment and dye colorants can adversely affect adhesion. The shelf life (treatment aging degradation) 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, stabilizers, etc. Exposure of treated surfaces to elevated temperatures increases molecular chain mobility. The higher the chain mobility is, the faster the aging of the pretreatment. Plasma-treated surfaces age at different rates and to varying extents relative to factors with the surrounding environment. Aging characteristics and their storage shelf life are essential to manufacturing process

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operations. Activated surfaces may have a shelf life of hours, days, months or longer. It is recommended to bond, coat, paint or decorate products as soon as possible following pretreatment. Plasma surface pretreatments Classical electrical corona discharge (dielectric barrier discharge) is obtained using a generator and electrode(s) connected to a high-voltage source, a counter electrode at potential zero and a dielectric used as a barrier. That is, a high-frequency, highvoltage discharge (step-up transformer) creating a potential difference between two points requiring earth ground 35+kV and 20-25kHz. Custom electrode configurations allow for treating many different surface geometries – flat, contoured, recessed, isolated, etc. One application example is a corona discharge treating system for electrical connectors in which a combination of pin and ball electrodes concomitantly treats 3D small diameter holes and flat exterior surfaces, US Patent US5051586 (1991)2. Ozone is produced in the plasma region as a result of the electrical discharge. Corona discharge has been found to be reasonably effective at cleaning the invisible hydrocarbon materials present after, e.g., solvent or detergent washing. Myth: Atmospheric plasma is a low-cost replacement technology for corona discharge.

MultiDyne Pro Treater System – split hook electrodes. Photo courtesy of 3DT LLC.

substrate, but not most silicones and slip agents. New research indicates fine etching of the surface can create new topographies for increased mechanical bonding. Ozone formation is negligible. Myth: Atmospheric plasma is electrically potential-free. Fact: Atmospheric plasma is better characterized as "low potential" unless definitively proven to be zero on any specific application. There are performance differences among equipment manufacturers.

Fact: Corona discharge often is more effective for treating larger surface areas and at greater surface depth. In fact, many atmospheric plasma systems are more expensive. Electrical “air plasma” is a corona discharge spot treatment (also termed blown air plasma/forced air corona/blown arc). This treatment head consists of two hook electrodes in close proximity to each other connected to a high-voltage transformer generating an electric arc of approximately 7 to 12kV, and lower frequency 50 to 60 cycles/sec (relative to electrical corona discharge). Then using forced air, a continuous electric arc produces a corona discharge, “plasma.” No positive ground is needed. This pretreatment process has virtually no cleaning capabilities. Ozone is produced. Myth: Corona discharge spot treatment yields longer shelf life than flaming. Fact: Scholarly studies show flame plasma on polyolefins produces longer post-treatment shelf life due to its relatively shallower depth of treatment. Atmospheric plasma or electrical blown ion plasma (also termed focused corona plasma) utilizes a single narrow nozzle electrode, powered by an electrical generator and step-up transformer, and high-pressurized air in which intense focused plasma is generated within the treatment head and streams outward. This pretreatment process can clean dirt, debris and some hydrocarbons from the

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PlasmaDyne Pro Treater System – narrow focused or rotating head for wide treatment. Photo courtesy of 3DT LLC.

Flame plasma treatment uses the highly reactive species present in the combustion of air and hydrocarbon gas (to create the plasma). While flame treatment is exothermic, heat does not create the chemical functionality and improved surface wetting. Flaming will clean dirt, debris and some hydrocarbons from the substrate. Flaming will not remove silicones, mold releases and slip agents. Flame treatment can impart higher wetting, oxidation and shelf life than electrical pretreatments due to its relatively shallower depth of treatment from the surface, 5 to 10nm. Ozone is not produced. When procuring flame treatment burners, compare ribbon vs. drilled port and the benefits of zero balanced regulators. Myth: Flame treating is unsafe. False criticism arises from competitive equipment manufacturers. Fact: For decades, flame treating has been used as a safe and effective technique across many industries.

Laminar flame profile. Photo courtesy of Flynn Burner.

Pyrosil® is a newly evaluated pretreatment technique recently optimized for plastics (and metals) by Applied Surface Technologies LLC and The Sabreen Group Inc. The Pyrosil process is a proprietary flame technology developed by SURA Instruments GmbH 30 years ago and is highly effective for pretreating glass and ceramics. Recently, Sabreen has independently advanced the process for plastic applications that require adhesive bonding, UV inkjet adhesion, decorative and functional coatings. The results on many products were excellent and, in some instances, outperformed traditional electrical discharge and flaming methods. Process control of the primer application and flame combustion is critical for optimal adhesion bonding.

The Pyrosil process is a combustion chemical vapor deposition technology leading to an amorphous silicate layer on the treated substrate. The surface is treated with the oxidizing part of a gas f lame, which contains the precursor, an organosilicon compound. The precursor is pyrolysed (thermal decomposition) during the process and the formed “ash” is deposited as amorphous silicate on the surface, leading to an ultra-thin (20 to 40nm), strongly adhering coating. In other words, a chemically highly reactive glass-like layer is formed. By evaporating a proprietary chemistry, which is mixed with propane and then burned – SiOx (silicon dioxide) is deposited onto substrates. SiOx creates high surface tension for improved hydrophilicity (wettability). Pyrosil is different than standard flame treatment. Easily scalable production systems can be custom built. Myth: Pyrosil process is the same as traditional flame treatment. Fact: The Pyrosil technology is different than flame treatment. It is a deposition process mixture of gas and silicone compounds.

April/May 2018 49

t p. 49


Propane flame (left) and Pyrosil flame process (right)

Cold gas plasma, also termed “Low Pressure Cold Gas Plasma,” is conducted in an enclosed evacuated chamber, in comparison to atmospheric (air) surface pretreatment methods. Industrial-grade, 100 percent oxygen gas (O2) commonly is used, as well as other gases and combinations of gases. Gas is released into the chamber under a partial vacuum and subjected to an RF electrical field. It is the response of the highly reactive species ge ne r at e d w it h t he Pyrosil® process is a combustion polymers placed in the deposition. plasma field, on inner conductive electrode aluminum shelves or cage, breaking molecular bonds that results in cleaning and chemical/physical modifications (including an increase in surface roughness, which improves mechanical bonding). A significant benefit of cold gas plasma processes is the removal of hydrocarbons, thereby eliminating solvent cleaning. Atmospheric pretreatments do not remove/clean all poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, so solvent cleaning (prior to pretreatment) may be necessary. Myth: Cold gas plasma batch processing is too slow compared to inline treatment methods. Fact: Large volumes of parts often can be pretreated (batch) and fed into automated assembly operations, thereby no additional processing is needed. Cold gas plasma-treated parts tend to demonstrate the highest quality treatment and longest shelf life. Criticism arises from competitive equipment manufacturers. Selecting a plasma surface pretreatment Recognize that each surface pretreament method is application-

50 April/May 2018

Top: View of cold gas plasma chamber (plasma inside) system. Bottom: Schematic of cold gas plasma.

specific and may possess unique advantages and potential limitations. For robust results, consider the following factors: • Polymers react differently to oxidation processes. The type of polymeric substrate and its enduse performance requirements are critical in determining the selection of pretreatment method. • Is the substrate (product to be treated) conductive? For example, unassembled plastic electronic connector bodies – without metal contact pins – can be treated electrically, whereas assembled connectors may experience electrical arcing problems. • Part geometry: Flat surfaces are more easily treated compared to deep recesses, extreme tapers and other shape irregularities. Wetting tests are difficult to conduct in small areas and on heavily textured surfaces. • Material handling automation: Conductive belts and chains may cause electrical arcing with classical electrical corona discharge and spot treaters. Alternatively, consider using flame, cold gas plasma or low potential atmospheric plasma. • Avoid overtreatment. Excessive plasma-oxidized surfaces may deleteriously affect downstream assembly processes such as heat sealing/welding. • All pretreatment equipment is not created equal. Examine the quality of constructed systems in action. For electrical treatment processes, observe the uniformity of the plasma discharge; for flame treatment, consider the differences between ribbon vs. drilled port burners and combustion system components; for cold gas plasma, examine the quality of the chamber construction, electrode shelves and particularly the manufacturer of the vacuum pump.

Polymeric bonding problems are widespread and not limited to adhesives. Significant cost implications are associated with adhesion bonding failure. Plasma surface pretreatments are the most common modification method, cost-effective and safe. The selection of which method to utilize on any given application can be challenging, in part due to misconceptions and confusing terminology. Through understanding the science of contact angles, surface wetting, and chemical activation, virtually any bonding problem can be successfully solved, even when using the most challenging polymeric and elastomeric materials. n The Sabreen Group offers comprehensive onsite education and training on adhesion bonding processes, plasma pretreatment and advanced manufacturing techniques. Pretreatment equipment demonstration is conducted in-house, using actual production parts and real-time testing. Guaranteed Results.

laser marking, surface pretreatments, bonding, decorating and finishing, and product security. Sabreen has been developing pioneering technologies and solving manufacturing problems for more than 30 years. He can be contacted at 972.820.6777 or by visiting or www.plasticslasermarking. com. References and acknowledgements

1. Mark Strobel, Mary Jane Walzak, Josephine M. Hill, Amy Lin, Elizabeth Karbashewski & Christopher S. Lyons (2012) A comparison of gas-phase methods of modifying polymer surfaces, Journal of Adhesion Science and Technology, 9:3, 365-383, DOI: 10.1163/156856195X00554 2. Scott R. Sabreen, The Sabreen Group, Inc., “Surface Wetting Pretreatment Methods,” Plastics Decorating magazine, 2002


Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc., an engineering company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes –

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April/May 2018 51


Be a Customer Service Contender by Katie Zabriskie, president, Business Training Works, Inc.


oo often, organizations recognize they have a service issue, yet their efforts to address shortcomings fail to solve the problem. In the worst cases, customer service initiatives backfire and motivate people to do less. So, what’s going on? Usually, a few things are to blame. Typically, there’s an organizational mindset misalignment, a lack of commitment from the top, an absence of recognition for giving great service or a combination of all three. In contrast, legendary service organizations have a service mindset, commitment and reward great performance. Service mindset Great service companies eat, sleep and breathe extraordinary service. They don’t pull people off the phones for a few hours and expect magic. They use the following techniques: 1. They have a service mission, and it does more than sit in a frame on a wall in some conference room. It’s top-of-mind throughout the organization. People know it and live it through their daily interactions with customers and each other. 2. They design processes with the customer’s best interest in mind. Think about that well-known airline, so full of love for its customers it allows them to cancel flights for full credit on a future trip. Clearly, they believe most of their customers won’t book travel they don’t need, and those who must make a change eventually will choose to fly with them again. 3. They hire people who genuinely love service and are proud to live the brand. 4. They constantly retool the customer experience, because they know what worked well in earlier years is long overdue for a makeover. 5. They educate, educate and then they educate some more. They want to make sure that the people who represent the brand understand what the brand experience is and how to deliver it. Commitment Great service companies involve everyone in their service culture and improvement efforts. They invest in their employees and trust them to do what’s right by engaging employees in the following ways: 1. Their management team models service-centric behavior and holds others accountable for doing the same. 2. Their leaders participate in education efforts, often

52 April/May 2018

introducing workshops, wrapping them up and actively taking part during sessions. 3. They commit to and believe in their staff. Because they’ve chosen their employees well and trained them appropriately, they treat staff members as the adults they are and give them latitude when solving service problems. Reward Great service companies reward service-centric behavior. They don’t ignore great work or punish people for taking initiative. They commit to honoring their employees in the following ways: 1. They value their employees and recognize that without them there is no customer service. 2. They reward employees by trusting them to do what’s right. 3. They encourage people to find new ways of solving problems. 4. They recognize that a paycheck alone is not enough. When thinking about everything that the greats do, it’s easy to get discouraged or think your business or department will never achieve true service success. The good news is you’re wrong. While it won’t happen overnight, you can take a page or two from the masters to elevate your approach. What to do when you realize you’re not great Start by thinking about your purpose. What is it that your

organization does? Articulate your purpose. Everyone needs to understand your core reason for existing and how the actions they take related to service support that mission. Next, think about your processes and how customers interact with you. Do you have your customers’ best interests at heart? If not, what changes can you make to remedy those shortcomings? This step has an added benefit. When your organization’s and your customers’ goals are in harmony, you will have happier customers. Furthermore, it is less likely your people will find themselves dealing with the unhappy, disappointed or disgruntled. Model what you want to see. People work for people. If you supervise others, they are watching and learning from you. If you are disengaged, they probably are too. On the other hand, if you embody the spirit of service, you probably see elements of yourself in their performance. Teach your staff what to do and how to do it. You can’t expect people to deliver great service if they don’t know how. Furthermore, you can’t expect them to care if no one at the top does. Take employee development seriously. This means being a champion for training, participating in education and coaching for new skills after the fact. Eventually, your people

will be able to do more, make better choices and solve problems more imaginatively. Hire for service skills. The next time you have an opening, think about what makes someone great at service in your organization and seek those attributes. Don’t settle. You’ll be sorry later. Reward. Even if you have no budget, you can reward employees for giving great service. Start with a sincere “Thank you.” Heartfelt appreciation can work wonders. Finally, put your continuous improvement hat on. Systematically evaluate where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going. None of these steps is necessarily difficult. The trick is to take them. In other words, to win the service game, you’ve got to be in it. What will you do better today? n Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit

April/May 2018 53


• InPrint Industrial Inkjet Conference, May 1-2, The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, • RadTech 2018 Technology Expo and Conference, May 7-9, Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Chicago, Illinois, • ANTEC® 2018, May 7-10, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, • NPE2018, May 7-11, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, • Luxe Pack New York, May 16-17, Pier 92, New York, New York,


• PLASTEC East, June 12-14, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, New York,

Become a member of SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division n

• HBA Global, June 12-14, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, New York, n


• Labelexpo Americas 2018, Sept. 25-27, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, Illinois,



• PACK EXPO International 2018, Oct. 1417, McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois,


• IMDA Symposium, Nov. 11-13, Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, California,


Access to 25,000 technical papers and presentations Discounts on SPE conferences Network with 15,000 members around the world Online access to THE CHAIN, a networking platform specifically for the plastics industry


For Marketplace advertising, email

Advertise Your Decorating and Assembly Services Here, in the Plastics Decorating Marketplace. (For decorating and assembly service providers only – not available for suppliers to the industry.) To learn more about how to place an advertisement in this section, call Gayla Peterson at 785.271.5801. 56 April/May 2018

Video Vault Plastics Decorating has created a place on its website to allow the magazine’s advertisers to display their most current videos featuring equipment and/or products.

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To receive a print subscription or view a free digital version, visit April/May 2018 57

SUPPLIER QUICK LINKS Assembly/Joining Equipment

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 27

Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 40

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 39

Emerson-Branson Page 33

Hot Stamping Dies/ Tooling

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 27

Inkcups Pages 30-31

Simple Stake Page 16

Die Stampco Inc. Page 37


h+m USA Page 51

Central Decal Page 45 Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 40

Hot Stamp Supply Co. Page 41

Decorating Services

IDS Division (ITW United Silicone) Page 5

Comdec Decorating Division Page 56

Schwerdtle Page 13

Digital Decorations LLC Page 57

Hot Stamping Foils/ Heat Transfers

Digital Inkjet Equipment & Supplies

CDigital Page 47

Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover

CPS Resources Back cover

IDS Division (ITW Trans Tech) Page 5

Hot Stamp Supply Co. Page 41

Inkcups Pages 30-31

IDS Division (ITW United Silicone) Page 5

Innovative Digital Systems Back cover

Infinity Foils Page 15

KBA-Kammann USA Page 23

Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 35

Mimaki USA Inside back cover

Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 40

Hot Stamping/ Heat Transfer Equipment

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 27

CPS Resources Back cover

Webtech, Inc. Page 12

Hot Stamp Supply Co. Page 41

In-Mold Decorating/ Labeling

IDS Division (ITW United Silicone) Page 5

Central Decal Page 45

58 April/May 2018

Yupo Page 8

Laser Marking Sabreen Group, Inc., The Page 43

KBA-Kammann USA Page 23 Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 11

Surface Treatment

Pad Printing Equipment & Supplies

3DT Page 4

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 39

Corotec Corporation Digital edition

Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 39

IDS Division (ITW Trans Tech) Page 5

Inhance Technologies Page 57

Inkcups Pages 30-31

Plasmatreat USA, Inc. Page 21

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 11


Pad Print Pros Page 19 Standard Machines, Inc./ Comdec, Inc. Page 53

SGIA Expo Page 54 SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Page 55

Printing Inks Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) Pages 9, 49 Marabu North America Page 29 Proell, Inc. Page 17

Screen Printing Equipment & Supplies A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. Page 34

A guide to this issue's Plastics Decorating advertisers.

Create Outside the Box The Mimaki UJF-7151 plus UV-LED tabletop flatbed offers high precision imaging, faster speeds and a larger table to print onto media up to 20” x 28” and 6” thick. LH-100 UV inks are versatile for use in various applications from hard surfaces to flexible media. Geared to on-demand printing at industrial production levels of output, this model utilizes state-of-the-art technology to deliver a powerful and reliable digital alternative to traditional screen print operations.