Plastics Decorating January/February 2020

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Pad Printing for Medical Devices Dry Ice for Plastics Decontamination Processes for Difficult Appearances Laser Welding for Clear Plastics

Buye rs Guid e Issue

Where Pad Printing Meets Automation!



(800) 272-7764



January/February 2020


Photo courtesy of Centese, Inc.



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Pad Printing for Medical Devices

When it comes to pad printing for medical devices, printers need to be aware of some unique challenges.


Choosing the Best Options for Difficult Appearances – Metallic and Piano Black

In order to achieve difficult appearances, such as piano black, there are many variables that determine which process is the best for any given application.


Mass Complexity – Areas Where Pad Printing Continues to Shine

While there is no denying that pad printing has its limitations, it always will have an important role to play in the industry.

Ask the Expert

Utilizing Dry Ice for Decontamination of Plastic Parts

Suitable for a variety of substrates, dry ice for decontamination of molded plastic parts is worth exploring.

2020 Plastics Decorating Buyers Guide


2 μm Lasers: Revolutionizing Welding of Clear Plastics

Innovations in laser technology now allow applications such as medical and consumer products to benefit from laser welding.

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One-on-One Meetings Matter More Than You Know

Holding regular, one-on-one meetings offers many benefits for managers and employees alike.


Inkjet Printing for Flexible and Wearable Plastic

UV LED-curable flexible inks represent one of the newest innovations for industrial inkjet technology.

DEPARTMENTS Viewpoint...........................................................................6


Equipment Highlight......................................................12


(Pad Printing Machines)

Industry............................................................................20 Product.............................................................................30

Marketplace.....................................................................65 Supplier Quick Links......................................................66

Tech Watch......................................................................33 (Inkcups’ Revolution)

Read the latest articles from Plastics Decorating or download a digital edition at

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t’s our anniversary! The first issue of Plastics Decorating was published in January 2000 – 20 years ago. While I haven’t been around quite that long (this year marks my 15th year), the magazine has reached a significant milestone.

Twenty years ago, we were all relieved to find the world didn’t end with Y2K. The Motorola Razr – that sweet little flip phone with the circle logo – was all the rage. Playstation 2 came onto the market, the International Space Station welcomed its first crew members and gas prices averaged $1.36 per gallon. The first few issues of Plastics Decorating included information on choosing the best dies when screen printing polypropylene, the basic principles of ultrasonic welding and a review of the in-mold decorating technologies demonstrated at NPE2000. Today, smartphones are ubiquitous, capacitive touch sensors are utilized on everything from automobiles to refrigerators and the range of materials to be joined through assembly processes continually expands … but, some things remain the same. Screen printing, ultrasonic welding and in-mold decorating still find their way into the pages of the magazine as new technologies and methodologies are developed. We’ll start to see even more of those technology introductions this year as industry suppliers ramp up for NPE2021, which will be held in Orlando, Florida, in May 2021. Watch these pages for updates. To help you get a jump on the new year, this issue of Plastics Decorating focuses on pad printing with articles exploring pad printing for medical devices, as well as current and future trends. Also featured are articles on knowing which process to choose when dealing with difficult appearances for applications, using dry ice to decontaminate molded plastic parts and much more. Thank you for your support and readership as we celebrate 20 years of covering the plastics decorating and assembly industries. We appreciate each and every one of you!

Dianna Brodine, managing editor,

ISSN: 1536-9870

January/February 2020

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 Vice President Brittany Willes Gayla Peterson National Sales Director Assistant Editors Braden Dimick Nancy Cates Lara Copeland Circulation Manager Brenda Schell 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.

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Pad Printing for Medical Devices by Keith Ekenseair, president and CEO, Pad Printing Technology


ad printing in the medical device industry has similar complications with pad printing in other industries. However, it has some unique challenges, as well. This article will focus primarily on the unique challenges of contract pad printing providers. Before diving into the pad printing complications, it is useful to first take a brief look at the industry. Medical device market Medical technology represents an international industry in which the US is the largest medical device market, estimated at $156 billion and expected to grow over $200 billion by 2023. The medical device indust r y consists of instruments, apparatuses and machines that are used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease, or measuring, restoring, correcting or modifying functions of the body for health purposes. It is a highly competitive industry and typically requires developers to make multiyear investments into research and development to fulfill their purpose of making life-changing innovations. Given the healthy American economy with solid corporate growth, low employment and positive GDP growth, innovation is thriving in the US. Pad printing for medical devices requires pad printers to be specialists to ensure markings are consistent and repeatability is achieved. Pad printing providers print on a wide variety of medical devices including catheters, tubes, shafts, clips, syringes, handles, adapters, housings and connectors. When pad printing services are performed, they are typically part of a larger manufacturing process. Therefore, the pad printing providers must work within the limitations established by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with high quality and precise tolerances. Benefits of pad printing include: Photo courtesy of Centese, Inc.

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Variables that create problems are extensive and include common issues such as ink cup maintenance and ink leakage, clichés quality, poor image quality, pad quality and ink adhesion. Adhesion is the number one challenge in the pad printing industry. Permanent ink adhesion is necessary, as complicated substates are often used to which very little will adhere. The solutions often require the pad printer to have adequate knowledge of proper ink selection, surface tension, and energy and pretreatment solutions. Thus, selection of the proper ink for maximum adhesion, post treatment, curing and print durability testing are critical processes for pad printing in the medical device industry.

Photo courtesy of Solace Therapeutics

• Printing on complicated substrates • Printing on irregular shapes and surfaces • Greater versatility • Processes proven for decades • Popularity across a variety of industries • Product topography Pad printing is often cost-effective over other printing methods, including digital, particularly with high volume, limited colors and small parts that require microscopic printing while maintaining high quality and tolerances. As devices become more complex, rapid innovation in the additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies can now offer highly functional and durable components that are production-ready. This has increased innovation in the medical industry, resulting in new products, more affordability and an ideal method for low-volume niche applications and on-demand manufacturing. Pad printing on complex materials has evolved into more of an art than a science. The medical industry is difficult to enter if a product or process already exists. Changes in providers, materials, inks or processes can result in devices that are required to be requalified with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which can consume a lot of effort.

Using proper ink and additives affects the manipulation of solvent evaporation and pad printing efficiency. Issues can include too much or too little thinner – as thinners have different evaporation rates – and hardeners. Contamination from residual oils from upstream processes, mold-release oils and even perspiration from human hands can act as a barrier to efficient ink adhesion. Often, cleaning parts prior to applying the ink is required. To a great degree, ink adhesion depends on the surface energy of the substrate, which must be greater than the surface tension of the ink. Polyolefins, such as polypropylene and polyethylene, are typically below the minimum and need to be pretreated to raise the surface energy. Use of plasma and flame pretreatment of the surface to promote ink adhesion, quality and efficiency is often required. Proper post-curing processes must be applied, which often require 72 hours or more for typical nonUV curing processes, UV LED curing of 24 hours or more, using air blowers to aid transfer efficiency and following ink manufacturers’ drying and curing recommendations. Pad printing challenges Some additional complexities for pad printing in the medical device industry include quality, safety, traceability and regulatory requirements. Quality images and precise tolerances are required in the medical device industry. ISO certification is typically required, the latest of which is 9001:2015 and ISO 13485 for pad printing providers. Adequate systems of quality control are a must to have proper plans of manufacturing, process controls and CAPA, among other aspects. Additionally, quality control must ensure that markings are tested to guarantee high adhesion, print durability

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and the ability to withstand sterilization techniques. Attention to detail involves the optimum ink selection, surface preparation techniques, process controls and inspection programs. Quality is not only achieved through proper plans of manufacturing and testing, but also based upon years of experience. Safety is the most important factor in terms of labeling medical products. Printing inks must be sterilization-resistant, must follow specified guidelines of sensitive products and ingredients must not migrate into the human body. Therefore, selection of suitable inks for medical products is critical. Medical graded inks that are widely used on catheters, tubing, syringes and other surgical instruments must comply with FDA standards for products coming in physical contact with the human body. Safety often will require the use of facilities with cleanroom environments that are ISO certified. Cleanrooms allow production to take place in a controlled environment to ensure that medical device manufacturing cleanliness standards are achieved, and quality is consistently monitored. Production areas are required to have proper airflow for ventilation, and operators must be gowned in cleanroom attire. Contamination is another important safety concern. For example, suppliers must maintain processes to prevent certain

IML/IMD solutions When it comes to medical products, safety is paramount. The selection of suitable inks for printing on medical products is crucial.

materials from coming in contact with the device. Contact material lists, along with safety data sheets for all contact materials, are often required by the OEMs. A Restricted Substance List and Substances of Very High Concern are available on the European Chemicals Agency website. Traceability is a critical aspect to the medical device industry. This may require the use of unique device identification and labeling. Full traceability is required for all aspects of the medical production process. Process control programs for devices are required to identify all aspects of the manufacturing process, including the specific ink and additives used in the pad printing process. In the event of product recalls, this information is most critical to identify the source of the contamination or other concern.

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Regulations for medical pad printing As mentioned previously, a contract manufacturer must maintain a system of quality control that meets or exceeds the standards set out by ISO to ensure the quality, safety and

Adhesion is the number one challenge in the pad printing industry. Permanent ink adhesion is necessary as complicated substates are often used to which very little will adhere. efficiency of products, services and systems. These standards apply to any organization, regardless of its type or size, or the products and services it provides. ISO 13485 represents the requirements for a comprehensive quality management system for the design and manufacture of medical devices. In the medical device industry, one must understand the FDA regulations impacting medical device manufacturers. Medical devices must go through complex compliance and regulatory procedures to protect the effectiveness of the medical device and the humans affected by them.

toward compliance, since this regulation may require medical devices currently on the market to go through a mandatory recertification process. This regulation has created concerns in the medical device industry. Even with the challenges of the medical device industry, strategic and smart manufacturers believe the growth opportunities of this market are very appealing. n Keith Ekenseair serves as CEO of Pad Printing Technology, located in Bradenton, Florida. Pad Printing Technology is a specialized contract ma n ufa ct u re r th at prov ide s pa d printing and laser marking for the medical, automot ive, aerospace, commercial molding and industrial industries. For more information, visit


And if the FDA wasn’t enough, the European Union has established a new Medical Device Regulatory system effective May 2020. Affected companies should be working

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Pad Printing Machines DECO TECHnology Group, Inc. 800.300.DECO or 714.639.3326

Apex Machine Co. 954.566.1572 Apex Machine Company, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has redesigned the C-400. The C-400 now delivers high-quality, multi-color 360° shaft decorating along with the ability to print inside the cups of golf tees. This C-400 is designed to help reduce the need for manufacturers to handle their golf tees twice. Additional benefits of the system include production speeds ranging from 80 to more than 140 parts per minute; turnkey options, such as feeding and bagging; ability to print in up to four colors; and quick-change features to reduce downtime caused by artwork, color or part changeover.

Automated Marking Solutions, LLC 512.593.7100 The EKN Universal series of pad printers from Automark of Lakeway, Texas, can be fully converted from 1-color to 2-color and from 90 mm to 120 mm ink cups using the same machine base. Using Festo cylinders, Siemens controls, INA bearings and other industrial-quality, highly reliable components, the EKN series offers an affordable, higher-end solution from lower-end models that lack the flexibility, quality, accuracy and dependability customers look for today.

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The ML-500E from Deco Tech, Orange, California, is an all motor-driven, programmable pad printing system. This machine’s linear X and Y-axis motors and Z-axis servomotor give programmable control over image pickup and placement onto parts. A programmable stall mode and optional servo linear pad slide allow for striping 360° graphics around a catheter tube. The system can print from eight colors with 56 mm ink cups to three colors with 140 mm ink cups. An outer ring of magnets inside MicroPrint ink cups provides excellent doctoring and less ink leakage. An optional pneumatic cup pressure system further reduces ink cup leakage. Diversified Printing Techniques, Inc. 704.271.4999 The Turbo series of pad printing equipment from Diversified Printing Techniques of Charlotte, North Carolina, is robust machinery with engi neered feat u res p r ov i d i n g p r e c i s io n , speed and accuracy. PLC controls with touchscreen allows for simple operator interfacing. Stationary cups with in /out plate movement increase speed a nd t h r o at . I n clu d e d G- cups with reusable liners reduce cleaning time. Automatic viscosity control (AVC) keeps ink stable during production. Large tape clean, located under the print plates, is a great programmable feature. Standard versions are pneumatically operated and can be upgraded to servo motion. The Turbo series is available in one color and multicolor designs.

table, perfect for handling and registering artwork on larger parts. As an added bonus, the ICN-200 has an extended forward stroke, which enables it to print 11.8" (300 mm) to the print area. This robust machine is perfect for industrial parts and plastic molded pieces. Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. 905.940.8539 Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc., Markham, Ontario, Canada, offers a wide range of green printing solutions from standard to industrial models as well as a wide variety of customized systems for various applications such as golf balls, car parts and promotional items. Affordable PP21N (1- and 2-color shuttle setup), diligent PP150 (2- to 6-color setup) and heavy duty industrial PP150-IDS and KIPP200IDS (2- to 6-color setup) with PLC control can be equipped with either magnetic linear servo or servo motor shuttle for each application’s needs. Engineered Printing Solutions 800.272.7764 Pad printing meets 21st-century automation at Engineered Printing Solutions, East Dorset, Vermont, with the XE Robot automatic pad printer. This system boasts optical error detection, three 6-axis robotic arms, and two clichÊ and print stations, with each print station consisting of three pads and an automatic pad cleaning device. With one robot loading parts onto fixtures and the other two marking parts, this machine is designed to mark two chainsaw engine shrouds at a time on the top and both ends of the part.

Trans Tech 630.752.4000

Inkcups 978.646.8980 The ICN-200, a 1-color pad printing machine from Inkcups, Danvers, Massachusetts, is capable of printing a 7.5" (190 mm) diameter image onto hard goods up to 11.7" (299 mm) tall. This heavy-duty pad printer features a large, 200 mm sealed cup ink cup, a sturdy base cabinet assembly and an XYR tooling

The new SealCup Express, from Trans Tech, Carol Stream, Illinois, offers reliability and durability, combined with cost and time savings. Trans Tech responded to popular demand in bringing back the beloved SealCup pad printer. In addition to the size, performance and reliability expected, the SealCup Express features pad stroke adjustment, patented ExpressLinersTM and ExpressPadsTM. The new printers are capable of generating over 25% cost savings and up to 86% time savings, while providing up to 30% less downtime and 50% greater durability than traditional pad printing systems. n

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Choosing the Best Options for Difficult Appearances – Metallic and Piano Black by Paul Uglum, president, Uglum Consulting, LLC


ll plastic decoration requires skill and knowledge, together with the correct choices of materials and processes. This is particularly true when the desired outcome is a metallic appearance or piano black appearance. The issue is not that the processes themselves are difficult – many are well understood – but there are many variables that determine what the right choice is for any given application. The right choice is not the same for every given appearance and application, but also will depend upon the volume, geometry and economics of any given opportunity. First steps These appearance choices are so complex because there are many options, each with a different set of advantages and disadvantages. The correct choice depends upon the target design (geometry), appearance (color and gloss) and performance requirements. The first step, regardless of the desired part, will be to determine the target appearance and performance. This will define the constraints to limit the selection process. Each process has a range of capabilities, and when a process is pushed to the extremes of its capabilities there will be issues with manufacturability or cost. I n a dd it ion to ot he r considerations, some processes are very scalable from low to high volumes while others work best only in high volumes. Finally, do not assume all the answers are known. Even in mature processes, new capabilities have emerged that might have been assumed to be impossible at one time.

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It is important to be involved early enough in the design process to guide the designers to the best solution for their intended outcome. To do this, it is important to understand the capabilities and limits of all the alternatives. If the options have not been researched lately, it is worth reviewing any assumptions. Piano black appearance Piano black is a high-gloss black currently very popular in automotive interiors, telecommunications and computers. It is often used with best effect with low-gloss black as a contrast or with various chrome details. The primary issues with piano black are that small defects are very visible, fingerprints show up on parts that are touched often, and cleaning can lead to micro scratches that damage the appearance. There also is an issue with making piano blacks match each other. Even within a given technology, there are many dyes and pigments available, and they create visibly different appearances. The most desirable piano black surfaces create the appearance of depth by using translucent or clear coatings over opaque black substrates or coatings. This makes it difficult for single instrument measurements to fully capture the appearance differences. As a result, when using piano black parts from differing technologies in the same application,

The first step, regardless of the part, will be to determine the desired target appearance and performance. This will define the constraints to limit the selection process. or matching standards produced by a different technology, visual comparison is more reliable than color instrument measurements alone. Several options exist for producing piano black. Some of the most common are as molded plastic, reverse-printed clear plastic, two-shot plastic, various paint and clear coat combinations, and various in-mold decoration technologies. Piano black options As molded plastic, piano black is the lowest cost for applications that are not frequently handled or cleaned. The best results are obtained when the tool is highly polished and dynamic

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temperature control is used when molding. If the tool is selectively textured, a part with both high- and low-gloss regions can be made in a single shot. The primary drawback to molded plastic is that plastic surfaces are soft, compared to the other options, and are, therefore, easier to damage in use or when cleaning. The depth of image is generally poor compared to other options. Clear plastic – with the reverse side decorated, either by painting or printing – can create a nice piano black appearance. It is most often used in combination with other processes to apply protected graphics or metallic appearances to the same part. With the increased use of displays in appliances and vehicles, this method is used to create a piano black surround, sometimes including hidden until lit graphics as well. The addition of clear, hard coating improves the durability of the display lens in high-touch applications.

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Molded, two-shot, clear-over-black also creates a piano black appearance. Although this is not the lowest cost option, it allows the integration of functional structure into parts designed for lighting or display applications. Like reversepainted clear plastic, the primary issue is the scratch resistance of the plastic. A single layer of paint on plastic is the most common way to achieve a piano black surface when a durable, chemically resistant surface is needed. Various options exist, but the trend is toward using dual cure systems because they provide a better resistance to micro scratches caused by repeated cleaning. Although painting is the most common solution, process yields remain a significant issue. Cleanliness is critical, and the best painters use extra care in cleaning parts prior to painting. Also,

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due to the surface energy of drying paint, a fat edge effect can occur if the design and process are not carefully managed. Multilayer painting is much the same as a single layer of paint, other than it consists of a first layer of black conventionally cured paint with a clear coat applied over the first layer. The use of a two-layer system allows the application of graphics by pad printing between the layers. The translucent or clear coating also gives a superior depth of image. The clear coating is often UV cured or dual cured to provide the expected durability. In-mold labeling consists of insert molding a decorated film. The film can be formed prior to molding or in the molding process. Films have been developed with hard coatings curable after molding, improved haptic and optical properties, and that are easier to clean. This allows not only piano black surfaces, but surfaces that include other decoration and back lighting features. In general, in-mold decoration works best when the part volumes are higher or when it is necessary to make several different appearances in the same geometry. As with other methods, it is critical to understand and follow the design standards for each set of materials and process. In-mold decoration is similar to in-mold labeling in that the process takes place within the molding tool. The primary difference is that only the ink systems are transferred to the plastic part. Systems that include UV-cured hard coatings have increased the range of capabilities. The design constraints are generally tighter than with in-mold labeling, and the piano black generally has less apparent depth. Metallic appearances Metallic surfaces can be very reflective, specular or have a more diffuse, matte finish. They also can be textured, have a brushed appearance or be tinted to add color. In addition, they also can have a wide range of functional properties. They can either shield radiated emissions or can be clear to them, both important properties for telecommunications applications. Metallic finishes can be “cold” to the touch, or in the case of as-molded, feel much warmer when touched. As with piano black there are many options, so it is important to understand the design limits and capabilities of each option to select the best for any given application. Metallic options As-molded metallic appearances can be the lowest cost but are severely limited by part design constraints. Any knit lines orient the pigments, creating very visible lines. Still, this solution is widely used in packaging and consumer products. It is occasionally used, when the geometry permits, in automotive and appliance applications. As with piano black, the surface of as-molded plastic is softer and more sensitive to damage than the other options.

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Metallic surfaces can be very reflective, specular or have a more diffuse, matte finish. They also can be textured, have a brushed appearance or be tinted to add color. Painted metallic appearances work best when the target appearance is a matte finish. Metallic paints can be single layer or multilayer systems. One popular option is a multi-layer system that creates an anodized appearance. It is possible to get a very reflective painted surface, but this involves a multi-layer paint system with a very thin metallic layer, which allows the metallic pigment to lay flat. Because of the processes and materials, it is a high-cost solution and is used mostly in specialty applications. Painting or printing the reverse side of clear plastic can be used to create a metallic appearance. This is most often used in combination with other appearances in applications. Hot stamp foils can produce many metallic appearances ranging from very reflective to matte. Traditionally this has not been considered a very durable surface, but advances in technology have dramatically increased the useful range of capabilities. Hot stamp has been developed for high-end automotive interior applications, developed the capability to hot stamp on some level of 3D surfaces and has successfully developed hot stamp materials that are capable of surviving harsh automotive exterior applications such as grilles. The main constraint is that – for the most part – fairly flat surfaces with a sharp radius at the edge are needed for the best results. In-mold labeling or in-mold decorations both are capable of incorporating metallic appearances in a wide range of appearances. Physical vapor deposition (PVD) has gained favor for having a significantly smaller waste stream than plated plastic. It involves a wide variety of processes, ranging from evaporation of materials like aluminum to sputtering of metal alloys. The amount of metal deposited is quite small, so in most applications the metal is then protected with a clear coating. The clear or tinted surface coating also serves the purpose of adjusting the color, and/or gloss to create a matte finish if required. Hidden until lit and lit chrome appearances can be produced by first applying a thicker metallic layer, removing some of the metal with laser ablation and then applying a thinner metallic layer to provide a uniform daylight appearance that can be backlit as needed. PVD coatings have been developed that do not require clear hard coatings for many applications. Electroplated plastic, also known as galvanic process, is still widely used to create metallic finishes on plastic parts. A

wide range of appearances is available, from highly reflective to matte finishes with a variety of specialty colors, including a black chrome appearance. The metallic surface has a pleasant, cool feel to the touch and with two-shot technology backlit chrome details are possible. The primary weakness is separation from the plastic substrate during temperature shock or cycling if the incorrect plastic or process is used. The best way to determine the current available chemistries and appearances is to discuss the options with the major plating chemistry suppliers. REACH-compliant (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals-) solutions that involve no hexavalent chromium-free and perfluoro octane sulfonate (PFOS) are now available. Recent innovations have greatly expanded the range of appearances to include complex textures. Some companies have taken advantage of advanced lasers to create complex textures and appearances in tool steel. This technology allows both textures previously not possible as well as exact reproduction cavity to cavity. Additionally, developers have created a plating process that more uniformly deposits the metal on the plastic so the texture is replicated without washing out the appearance. Real metal – either applied or with molded-in plastic – also is an option. The differential expansion coefficients make in-mold metal difficult to execute successfully and can lead to field failures, depending upon the end-use environment. Generally, larger parts are produced with applied metal and smaller ones with insert molding. For example, complex and distinct textures can be produced on surfaces for both the automotive and appliance industries. Final notes This is just a short overview of the primary processes available to produce piano black and metallic options. When deciding to include them in products it is important to take a deeper dive into the limits and advantages of each option. Start early in working with the customer or designer to optimize the design for both durability and manufacturability. Finally, combinations of processes to achieve specific appearances and performance are not only possible but sometimes desirable. Combining technologies can both add value and reduce the long-term risks for failure in the field. n Paul Uglum has 43 years’ experience in various aspects of plastic materials, plastic decoration, joining and failure analysis. He owns Uglum Consulting, LLC, working in the areas of plastic decoration and optical bonding. For more information, send comments and questions to

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INDUSTRY Diversified Plastics’ White Paper Explores Previously Unmakeable Parts Diversified Plastics, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, released a new white paper titled “Design and Manufacture the Impossible.” This white paper details how Carbon® Digital Light Synthesis™ (DLS™) technology allows engineers and manufacturers to explore what has been previously impossible to produce using conventional manufacturing. Some of the design possibilities discussed include articulating structures, sharp corners, complex lattices, consolidation of multiple components into one and new surface textures. Unlike other traditional 3D printing technologies, Carbon DLS is not just for prototyping. Engineers now can design complex end-use parts that can be manufactured without tooling in small- to largevolume production runs. The paper discusses generative design tools, geometries, lattices and materials. For more information, visit IMDA Announces 14th Annual Awards Competition The In-Mold Decorating Association will accept entries for its 14th Annual IMDA Awards Competition from Feb. 1 through April 15, 2020. The 2020 competition recognizes the indust r y’s best inmold labeled packaging and in-mold decorated durable products. Winning entries are chosen based on creativity in design, engineering and innovation. This competition is open to companies involved in any form of in-mold labeled packaging, in-mold decorated durable products and in-mold electronics. The IMDA Awards Committee has restructured and condensed this 14th annual competition into the following five categories: Best Part Design, Best Label Design, Best In-Mold Decorated Package, Best In-Mold Decorated Durable Part and Best

Technical Achievement. Winners will be honored at the 2020 IMDA Symposium dinner. For more information, visit www. or contact Ron Schultz at 480.993.9818.

Innovative Digital Systems Offers In-House Decorative Services Pad printing is an ideal method for applying ink to complexshaped goods. Innovative Digital Systems of Indian Trail, North Carolina, has more than 30 years of industrial product decoration experience, utilizing the latest technology to pad print, silkscreen, digitally print, hot stamp or laser engrave products. The company utilizes this technology to provide premium contract decorating services. Its in-house engineering and tool shop allow it to provide custom print solutions for hardto-print jobs as a just-in-time service. For more information, visit Chase Plastics Announces Winners of 2019 Giving Card Campaign Stocking distributor Chase Plastics, Clarkston, Michigan, awarded donations totaling $7,500 to three charities in its 2019 Giving Card Campaign. Hero Dogs, Inc., places service dogs with veterans and first-responders in Washington, DC, free of charge. The organization also places skilled home companion dogs with veteran and first-responder families and facility dogs with qualified clinicians. Because There Is Hope aids cancer

NEW FACES Diversified Plastics Welcomes Robert Kieval to Board of Directors Diversified Plastics, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, appointed Robert Kieval to its board of directors. He will provide leadership and strategic guidance and serve as an adviser to the CEO and executive team.

AWT Hires New VP William (Bill) Denzen joined AWT Labels & Packaging, Minneapolis, Minnesota, as vice president of operations. His duties include operations management, business strategy development, support of sales and marketing strategies, and continuous improvement efforts. Kieval

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treatment patients coming to northern Washington, Idaho and Montana by providing lodging for the patient and caregiver to relieve the burden of travel and accommodations during the treatment process. Toms River Field of Dreams is building a park and playground in the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, that will benefit children and adults with special needs. For more information, visit RUCO Druckfarben Focuses on Growth INX International, headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois, announced the acquisition of RUCO Druckfarben, A.M. Ramp & Co. GmbH. A cor responding purchase agreement was signed at the end of December 2019. The agreement is part of the future strategy of the long-established German company, and it secures the succession of the current owners, the Menke family. The transaction is expected to be completed by summer 2020. In the area of flexible packaging, both companies want to jointly expand their capacities and, thus, better meet an increasing demand. For more information, visit

Mimaki USA Celebrates Grand Reopening of New Jersey Technology Center Mimaki USA, headquartered in Suwanee, Georgia, a manufacturer of wide-format inkjet printers and cutters, held a grand reopening on Dec. 5, 2019, to celebrate the expansion and remodeling of its New Jersey Technology Center in the greater NYC metropolitan area. The center includes all lines of Mimaki products that cater to sign graphics, textile and apparel, industrial products and 3D markets. For more information, visit n


Special semiautomatic screen printing machine for cylindrical and slightly conical BOTTLES and DRINKWARE equipped with electronical axis - 2 screens - LED dryer.

TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION MADE IN ITALY, SINCE 1945 GPE Ardenghi Srl is located in northern Italy, close to Milan. With our network of agents and technical assistance, we are well established globally and have supplied equipment throughout the world for over 70 years.

22 January/February 2020


Mass Complexity – Areas Where Pad Printing Continues to Shine by Brittany Willes, editor, Plastics Decorating


n a world that is constantly upgrading to the latest technologies, the old saying “out with the old, in with the new” has never seemed so relevant. However, as many in the plastics decorating industry can attest, the newest technology or process is not always the best choice when it comes to specific applications. Pad printing technology is certainly not new, and while processes like inkjet are taking on some roles previously filled by pad printing, that doesn’t mean the older process has become obsolete by any means. Pad printing has – and likely always will have – a very important role to play when it comes to decorating plastic applications. Limitations and benefits There is no denying that pad printing (like all processes) has its limitations. One of the biggest is when it comes to color printing with multiple solid colors. For example, “If the printed image is a solid rose using all red colors, it will be difficult to actually print that solid color very clearly with a smooth tone image

24 January/February 2020

using pad printing,” remarked Engineered Printing Solutions President of Commercial Services Julian Joffe. “For situations like that it is better to screen print.” Furthermore, pad printing is not well suited for applications that require variable data, as explained by Pad Print Pros President John Kaverman. “Since a cliché (printing plate) must be made for each unique image, it is not cost effective to print serial numbers or ‘each one’ codes, names, etc.,” he stated. Given the push to incorporate more robotics and automation into production processes, it might be tempting to think that automation would allow pad printing to be more cost effective when it comes to part variety. However, this is not necessarily the case, as Kaverman explained. “Typically, people don’t understand that a fully automated system is dedicated to a part, or a specific family of parts,

having similar geometries,” Kaverman stated. “They think you can build an ‘automation’ to do a dozen or more completely different part geometries; and we can, but it becomes substantially more expensive when we employ camera systems and multiple axis robots capable of picking up a specific part from a variety of parts, orienting it as required and loading it to the system.” Thus, while pad printing is great for mass production of products bearing the same image, producing large quantities of truly customized, one-of-a-kind products is not a realistic option. In that situation, something like inkjet again becomes the better option. Despite its limitations, pad printing is still a solid platform and it does have its own advantages over other processes. For instance, when it comes to printing smaller, high-resolution images, pad printing still has an edge over other processes such as inkjet. “Whether printing smaller monochrome or even multicolor images, pad printing will produce a beautiful image,” said Joffe, “whereas other processes tend to be a little less qualityfocused. Even something like offset or screen printing will not necessarily render the same quality that pad printing will.”


There are other issues beyond image quality to consider as well. While a process such as screen printing is capable of performing some of the same functions as pad printing, that doesn’t necessarily make it the better option. As Joffe explained, “Screen printing turnkey has an open screen, so unless UV inks are being used, screen printing with a solvent-based ink becomes problematic. The screens don’t last as long; they tend to become damaged after 2,000-3,000 cycles. Also, the ink viscosity changes dramatically over time. Pad printing doesn’t have these kinds of issues.” In terms of reliability, consistency and ease of set up, pad printing is one of the best processes available, he stated. Complexity is the key “Pad printing can provide superior color spot reproduction and image resolution compared to most other decorating process,” said Kaverman. “Especially where more complex part geometries are involved.” The ability to print on unusual and complex shapes is perhaps the area where pad printing shines the most. From golf balls to automotive switches to light bulbs to colonoscopy tubes, pad printing is the go-to process for high-quality images, whereas something like inkjet does not lend itself well to complex shapes.

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January/February 2020 25



Custom Tooling for Decorating & Assembly

t p. 25


The automotive industry in particular relies heavily on pad printing rather than inkjet. “For automotive producers doing any kind of decorating, pad printing is essential for keeping their customers happy,” remarked Joffe. “The surface can be a little rough and you can still get a very high-quality image. For many of those applications that are curved or concave, the quality is just not there with inkjet.” For products like golf balls that are curved with indentations, achieving a quality print with inkjet is nearly impossible. Due to the nature of the process, accuracy is lost and image resolution suffers. Furthermore, when it comes to monochrome products – whether oddly shaped or not – pad printing will likely be the more efficient and cost-effective solution. Looking ahead When it comes to the sale of pad printing systems, Joffe and EPS have been keeping close tabs on which systems are the most in demand. Overall, the sale of smaller, single-color systems has been in decline in recent years. Despite this, EPS’ sales revenue has continued to climb due to the increased demand for more sophisticated, multicolor machines.

Silicone Bonded to Metal Hot stamping dies

Heat transfer dies Silicone sheets & rollers Vacuum plates End effectors/ Grippers Bottle tools Decorative sonotrobe engraving

“While inkjet has been eating into some of the pad printing market share, pad printing is certainly not declining,” said Joffe. “We’ve been watching pad printing sales very carefully since 2014 to gauge trends, and revenue continues to go up each year. Pad printing is here to stay. There’s no doubt about that.” Joffe is not the only one noticing some distinct trends emerging in the pad printing market. Kaverman noted: “We have been doing a lot more applications where we are transferring functional materials – conductive and dielectric inks, radioopaque materials, adhesives and lubricants. We’ve also been integrating more systems with flexible feed systems (visonguided robots) and vision inspection systems.” Thus, while full automation is not yet realistic for most pad printing systems, there are areas where it is being utilized more and more as the technology becomes more sophisticated. This should come as no surprise. Automation, like pad printing, is here to stay.

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“There is always going to be a demand for pad printing,” said Joffe. “Particularly when it comes to mass production of monochrome products or products that are oddly shaped.” Even as processes like screen printing or inkjet compete for market share, there is no doubt that pad printing will always have a place in the industry. n

ASK THE EXPERT A resource sponsored by SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division

Utilizing Dry Ice for Decontamination of Plastic Parts


hen it comes to the impor tant process of removing contaminants from molded plastic parts, there are a variety of different methods available. However, as society becomes more and more concerned with environmental protections and sustainable practices, it’s worth exploring those processes that do not make use of chemicals or abrasive materials. One such process utilizes dry ice, which can be used to remove contaminants from a variety of surfaces and substrates. Plastics Decorating sat down with Steve Wilson, global business unit manager for Cold Jet, LLC, to discuss the dry ice cleaning process and the advantages it offers compared to other processes.

Automated environmental cleaning and surface preparation of automotive bumpers.

How does the dry ice cleaning process remove contaminants from molded plastic parts? There are three principles involved in the process of cleaning with dry ice. The acronym I.C.E. helps to explain the process. 1. Impact – While dry ice particles have little hardness – around 1.5 to 2.0 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness – when accelerated, they create what is called the Kinetic Energy Effect. Kinetic energy is measured one-half mass times velocity squared. Both of these variables (mass/dry ice particle size and blast velocity) are controlled and adjustable by the user, depending on the nature and amount of contaminant, as well as the hardness of substrate being cleaned. Dry ice particle sizes are selected via the machine controller and can vary from nearly snow (micro particles) up to 3.0 mm in diameter but generally do not exceed 1.0 mm in most surface preparation solutions. The velocity of the dry ice particles is

28 January/February 2020

created via the dry ice cleaning system’s nozzle and is controlled by an adjustable blast pressure chosen by the user. Stand-off distance and angle of impingement can also have an influence on kinetic energy and are controlled via the programmed robot path. 2. Cold – Dry ice is very cold: -109°F. Unique to dry ice cleaning, the cold particles cause the various contaminants to embrittle (shrink) and to lose their bond strength with the various substrates. Essentially, it’s the coefficient of expansion and contraction principle between the two different materials (substrate and contaminant). 3. Expansion – The last contribution to the cleaning process is another unique principle of dry ice cleaning. Upon impact the dry ice particles will sublimate, expanding volumetrically upwards of 700 times in size, as multiple micro explosions occur on the substrate. These micro explosions on the surface lift the contaminants from the substrate.

user no longer needs that large dryer, which consumes lots of plant footprint and energy to operate. The operating cost of a dry ice cleaning system is generally around 50% of traditional aqueous systems. Another advantage of the process is the ability for the user to manufacture the dry ice just in time. This is especially useful for automated, turnkey systems. There is no need for bulk dry ice storage and manual loading into the system. Users simply have a local gas company install a liquid CO2 tank in their facility and produce their own CO2 as needed from that liquid. Furthermore, CO2 has a lower surface tension than many aqueous f luids, so it can clean very small and complex geometries of various parts. When dry ice sublimates (“E”), it leaves no solvent residue behind. When working with a new part design, parts no longer require weep holes needed with aqueous cleaning methods.

Automated environmental cleaning and surface preparation of automotive mirrors.

In summary, I.C.E.: Micro crack the contaminant with some impact, embrittle the contaminant with cold and blow it off with the expansion of the dry ice particles. Is the dry ice method limited to certain applications? The principles of the ice cleaning process itself remain constant. But the process is very adaptable, largely dependent upon the amount of kinetic energy that is needed to remove any given contaminant. That is where the process itself is adapted for certain applications. Contaminants can come in many forms, such as fingerprints, dust, mold release agents, etc. The dry ice cleaning process is adapted to each level of cleaning requirement needed and the nature of the substrate itself. For example, contaminants, i.e. dust, have a very weak bond strength, while some substrates have a lower Rockwell hardness than others. In such an application, smaller dry ice particle sizes will be utilized at lower blast pressures. When contaminants are stubborn, the dry ice cleaning process can be adapted to meet those requirements, whereas other cleaning methods are not so easily adjusted. This is how the dry ice cleaning process can be best for a variety of applications. What are the advantages of using dry ice over other process to remove contaminants? The biggest advantage of using dry ice is the fact that it is dry. It eliminates aqueous and solvent-based methods and the associated costs that go along with those other methods – reclamation, scrap from incomplete parts drying, etc. The

Dry ice cleaning systems also easily integrate into existing paint lines, utilizing existing robotic systems. The automation and consistent delivery of dry ice particles provide a repeatable cleaning performance. Dry ice cleaning systems also are Industry 4.0 ready with Cold Jet CONNECT™ capability, to connect into existing plant monitoring systems and for remote predictive maintenance. Finally, users of dry ice cleaning systems also can utilize their manufactured dry ice pellets to clean their JIG’s. With the use of a stand-alone blaster, dry ice pellets can be used to clean JIG’s on-line, on an as-needed basis. There is no need to maintain multiple sets of JIG’s and coordinate their removal and reinstallation from the paint line for off-site cleaning. Furthermore, there is no more need to deal with large amounts of paint build-up on the JIG that causes part handling issues. n Steve Wilson is the global business unit director-plastics, rubber and composites for Cold Jet, LLC. As a former plastics business owner, he has over 35 years of experience in injection and compression molding, extrusion, blow molding, thermoforming and rotational molding. He began his career at Milacron’s plastics machinery division, serving in Wilson manufacturing, product line management and a variety of sales/marketing roles. Wilson has written numerous white papers on dry ice solutions for various applications, many of which have been published in industry magazines. He is a member of SAE, the Rubber Division of ACS and currently serves as president for the Ohio Valley Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cedarville University and an MBA from Xavier University. For more information, visit

January/February 2020 29

PRODUCT smaller than current models. With the VW6000 series, Dukane extends its Melt-Match® technology to the vibration welding process. Melt-Match® is a Dukane-patented plastic welding process to repeatedly detect melt transition from solid to molten state, then accurately control the melt flow of a thermoplastic material during the weld and transitioning from the molten to solid state. For more information, visit

FOBA Introduces TitusTM Fiber Laser Head FOBA, Selmsdorf, Germany, recently introduced a new Vector Scan laser marking head, TitusTM. With a small format and tubular shape, easy mounting and optional supply line up to 10 meters long, the Titus™ marking head can be easily integrated into a wide range of production lines. Its flexibility is enhanced by an optional straight or inclined by 90° exit angle of the laser beam and the ability to adjust the marking field size to the application requirements. For more information, visit

Dukane Unveils VW6000 Series with Melt-Match® Technology Welder manufacturer Dukane, St. Charles, Illinois, has introduced the VW6000 series with Melt-Match®, a new line of servo-driven vibration welding technology. The VW6000 series is designed to simplify the vibration welding process, provide faster cycle times driven by high-speed servo motors, and improve weld quality and consistency with a precision welding process. The VW6000 series vibration welder provides a larger welding table in the industry’s smallest footprint, 25%

30 January/February 2020

Boston Industrial Introduces Ink Series Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc., Woburn, Massachusetts, introduced Natron™ EK series inks, a one-component pad printing ink for plastics. The Natron™ EK pad printing inks are easy to use. The EK series features high-density standard colors and mixing colors that dry quickly. The EK series adheres onto 97% of all plastics and is weather-resistant. This ink will work on a variety of substrates made with polycarbonates, acrylics (plexiglas or perspex), polystyrene, rigid PVC (Cobex), ABS, CAB, ABS, SAN, cellulose acetate butyrate, paper, corrugated board, polystyrene and polycarbonate, polyester foil, polyethylene, polypropylene (pretreated), soft and hard PVC, wood, bamboo, polyurethane, etc. For more information, visit

Comdec Launches SMI A Plus Industrial Inkjet Printer Comdec, Newburyport, Massachusetts, recently launched the SMI A Plus benchtop industrial inkjet printer from Standard Machines, Inc. The printer is equipped with a continuous ink supply system, 500 ml ink reservoirs with auto stirring,

circulation and auto level detection. It has three Epson XP600, micro piezo print heads and is able to automatically adjust height to prevent print head damage caused by hitting the product. The system offers uni-direction and bi-direction single pass printing in addition to head cleaning, auto flush and keep-wet technology. It also features an active UV curing system with water cooling. For more information, visit Mimaki Announces Metallic Ink for UJF-7151 Plus Benchtop Flatbed Printer Mimaki USA, Suwanee, Georgia, announced new metallic UV ink for its UJF-7151 Plus benchtop UV LED flatbed printer. With this new ink, the UJF-7151 Plus printer can directly image a surface without the need for added glitter or a foil transfer process. Gloss and matte finishes and an emboss effect are available. Metallic color effects can be created using metallic ink and RasterLink6 RIP software, which includes a swatch palette of 648 metallic colors that are easily selectable from Illustrator ® software and can be utilized in a near-endless combination of custom colors. Mimaki MUH-100 Metallic Silver ink is packaged in a 200 ml bottle and is available for order now. The UJF-7151 Plus printer is a multipurpose model that can print on a variety of substrates including plastics, metal, wood, leather and glass. For more information, visit 1.877.343.4321

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Roland DGA Reveals New DGSHAPE LD-300 Laser Decorator Roland DGA, Irvine, California, a maker of printers and CNC milling machines, announced the launch of the new DGSHAPE LD-300 laser decorator – a larger, more robust version of the company’s LD-80, which was introduced in March of 2018. In addition to featuring all the capabilities of its predecessor, the next-generation LD-300 boasts an expanded 12" x 9" workspace that allows for precision foil decoration on larger three-dimensional items, plus the ability to imprint directly onto natural leather. The LD-300’s workspace makes it easy to decorate objects up to 1.9" thick with a variety of metallic and holographic foils. The bed can be easily removed to accommodate product packaging and other objects up to 11.8" in size. For more information, visit n

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PRESSES Table-Top Stand-Alone Up to 12 Tons Custom Fixtures Parts Accessories

January/February 2020 31


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 440 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 SABREEN’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.



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Inkcups’ Revolution by Lara Copeland, writer, Plastics Decorating


s a supplier and manufacturer of inkjet printing equipment, pad printing equipment, laser plate-makers, inks and all corresponding supplies, Inkcups, based in Danvers, Massachusetts, recently introduced a new printer. Inkcups founder and CEO Ben Adner said, “When Inkcups was brainstorming its next printing system, we wanted to leverage the print quality of the successful Helix® machine, but with an increased production volume.” The result was a high-speed digital cylinder printer aptly named the Revolution. The Revolution prints 360° seamless graphics on a wide range of cylindrical objects and open-ended tapered vessels. Common applications include stadium cups, pint glasses, stainless and plastic tumblers, cosmetic jars, glass and plastic bottles, beer cans, oil filters and many more. The Revolution is fast enough to produce significant volume, flexible enough for quick changeover, offers outstanding print quality and is priced competitively. It also offers production efficiency – one of the top advantages that manufacturers seek. The printer’s automatic loading/unloading and pre-treatment capabilities save operator time, drive higher volume and give users the flexibility to print multiple vessel types on one machine. The Revolution is Inkcups’ latest innovation and most advanced system to date. Adner said, “Its most significant capability is printing high-quality, full-color graphics at approximately 600 parts per hour.” This quality-to-speed ratio is driven using Inkcups’ patented helical technology. This differs from traditional printing methods, as it interlaces the inkjet droplets rather than laying each down in a line. Helical technology enables this machine to rapidly and repeatedly produce smooth, seamless and long images. The Revolution also easily integrates into a production workflow. Parts are automatically loaded onto 12 vacuum mandrels and adjusted using a servo-driven angle adjust feature. This component is best for conical shapes where the machine learns the precise angle of the part and stores it for future use. The Revolution also features an integrated deionizer, pre-treatment (corona or plasma) and an exit conveyor. Among the challenges that the Revolution helps solve are the complexities of printing processes, such as pretreatment and loading and unloading a machine. This machine’s integrated pretreatment system uniformly and consistently pretreats each part as it rotates around the machine. If the Revolution does

not detect a part, it will not pretreat that station nor will it print on that station. Another challenge the Revolution addresses is loading and unloading products. While the machine’s conveyor will need to be loaded either by a person or a robotic system, the Revolution’s indexing conveyor slides each part onto the vacuum mandrel. After rotating through the machine, the part is unloaded onto an exit conveyor and either dropped directly into a box or hand-picked, if fragile. Overall, these upgrades and new features make the Revolution much faster. The Revolution was thoroughly tested in a real production facility before launch and delivered consistent, high-quality imaging. During this time, Inkcups showcased the machine at the recent PRINTING United in Dallas, where the company received a great amount of interest due to the demand for helical printing at a larger production volume. It is currently available in North America and will be rolled out globally this year. Technical details The Revolution is 107 x 47 x 74" (2724 x 1200 x 1883 mm). It can print images up to 8.66" (220 mm) tall on a part length of 3" to 12" (76 to 305 mm), with a diameter of 2.5" to 4.37" (63.5 to 111 mm). The system’s printhead technology can cover the full length of a part up to 8.66" (220 mm) without additional printhead requirements, resulting in better image quality without stitching. n

January/February 2020 33

2 0 2 0

TopCon & Symposium June 16-18 Ypsilanti, MI

Where durables meet packaging.

Join us in Detroit! Learn about the latest technologies in plastics decorating, assembly and in-mold decorating processes. More than 20 Presentations • Workshop Sessions • Networking • Supplier Trade Fair • IMDA Awards Dinner Expected presentations and workshop topics will include: • Digital inkjet technology • Pad printing and automation • Coatings and painting trends for automotive • Medical decoration opportunities

• Laser welding of plastics • Surface treatment and cleaning • UV and UV LED curing of coatings and inks • Latest in-mold decorating and labeling technology

Visit for details and to register. Presented by:

Sponsored by:

2020 Buyers Guide Products/Services Offered..................... 38 Supplier Directory.................................. 42 Products/Services Offered Index A Adhesives/Sealants...................................................38 Assembly/Welding Equipment.................................38 C Contract Decorating..................................................38 D Decorating/Assembly Consulting and Training.........38 Digital Inkjet.............................................................38 F Flexographic Printing Presses...................................38 H Heat Transfers...........................................................38 Hot Stamping Dies....................................................38 Hot Stamping Foils...................................................39 Hot Stamping/Heat Transfer Presses........................39 I In-Mold Decorating..................................................39

O Offset Printing Presses..............................................39 P Pad Heat Transfer......................................................39 Pad Printing Presses..................................................40 Pad Printing Supplies................................................40 Paints/Coatings.........................................................40 S Safety Products.........................................................40 Screen Printing Equipment/Supplies........................40 Screen Printing Presses.............................................40 Static Control Systems..............................................41 Sublimation Equipment............................................41 Substrates (Materials)...............................................41 Surface Treatment Equipment/Supplies....................41 U Used Equipment........................................................41 UV Curing Equipment..............................................41

L Labels/Decals............................................................39 Laser Etching/Marking Equipment...........................39

January/February 2020 37

2020 Buyers Guide PRODUCTS/SERVICES OFFERED Adhesives/Sealants Functional Inks, Inc. Henkel/LOCTITE

Assembly/Welding Equipment

Thermal Press International, Inc.

341 Stealth Ct. Livermore, CA 94551 Phone: (925) 454-9800 Fax: (925) 454-9810 Website: 1. Electromagnetic 2. Hot Plate Welding 3. Induction 4. Infrared Welding 5. Laser Welding 6. Spin Welding 7. Staking 8. Thermal Assembly 9. Ultrasonic Welding 10. Vibration Welding Automark 5 Dukane 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Emerson Assembly Technology 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Herrmann Ultrasonics, Inc. 9 Schwerdtle Technologies 6, 7, 8, 9 Sonics & Materials, Inc. 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Thermal Press International, Inc. 2, 4, 7, 8, 9 Trekk Equipment Group, 7 tributek 9

Contract Decorating 1. Digital Inkjet 2. Hot Stamping/Heat Transfers 3. In-Mold Decorating 4. Laser Marking 5. Offset Printing 6. Pad Printing 7. Painting/Coating 8. Screen Printing 9. Shrink Sleeving 10. Surface Activation 11. Vacuum Metallizing

Advanced Decorative Systems 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 Apex Machine Company 1, 5 CDigital 2 Central Decal Company, Inc. 3 Comdec, Inc. 2, 6, 8 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 2, 6, 8 Die Stampco Inc. 2 Digital Decorations, LLC 2 DuraTech Industries 3, 8 Encres DUBUIT 1, 6, 8 Harco Enterprises, Ltd. 2 Hot Stamp Supply Company 2, 6, 8 1, 2, 6, 8 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 4, 6, 8 Innovative Digital Systems 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) 1, 2, 8 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 2, 3 Laserax, 4 North Pacific International, Inc. 2, 3, 11 Pad Print Pros 6 Serigraph, Inc. 1, 3, 5, 6, 8 Simco-Ion 3 Unique Assembly & Decorating, Inc. 1, 2, 6, 8

Decorating/Assembly Consulting & Training

Trekk Equipment Group 70 Midwest Dr. Pacific, MO 63069 Phone: (636) 271-1391 Website:

AWT World Trade Apex Machine Company CER Diversified Printing Techniques Herrmann Ultrasonics, Inc. Innovative Digital Systems KURZ Transfer Products, LP Mountain Graphix LLC North Pacific International, Inc. Pad Print Pros Sabreen Group, Inc., The Trans Tech Trekk Equipment Group tributek Uglum Consulting LLC United Silicone

38 January/February 2020

Supplier Directory begins on page 42. Digital Inkjet


310 Andover St. Danvers, MA 01923 Phone: (978) 646-8980 Website:

1. Digital Transfers 2. Equipment 3. Fixtures 4. Inks 5. Software 6. Systems Integration Apex Machine Company 2, 4, 6 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 2, 4, 5 CDigital 1 CER 1 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 2, 4, 6 Encres DUBUIT 4 Engineered Printing Solutions 2, 3, 4, 6 1, 2, 3, 4 Inkcups 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Innovative Digital Systems 2, 3, 4, 6 Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) 2, 4 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 1 Marabu North America 4 Nazdar Ink Technologies 4 OMSO North America, Inc. 2 Roland DGA 1, 2, 4, 5 Standard Machines, Inc. 2 United Silicone 1 Webtech, Inc. 1

Flexographic Printing Presses Apex Machine Company OMSO North America, Inc.

Heat Transfers


2529 Washington Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21230 Phone: (410) 646-7800 Fax: (410) 646-7786 Website:

1. Digital 2. Flexographic 3. Roto-gravure 4. Screen Printed AutoTran, Inc. CDigital 1 CER 1, 2, 3, 4 Comdec, Inc. 1 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 1, 4 Digital Decorations, LLC 1 Hot Stamp Supply Company 1 1, 3, 4 Innovative Digital Systems 3 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 1, 3, 4 Mountain Graphix LLC 4 North Pacific International, Inc. 1, 4 Preco Corporation 1, 3, 4 Roland DGA 1 United Silicone 1, 2, 3, 4 Webtech, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4

Hot Stamping Dies

Schwerdtle Technologies 41 Benham Ave. Bridgeport, CT 06605 Phone: (203) 330-2750 Fax: (203) 330-2760 Website:

1. Art Services 2. Brass 3. Copper 4. Magnesium

5. Silicone Rubber 6. Steel 7. Tooling AutoTran, Inc. CER 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 Die Stampco Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 h+m USA 2, 5, 7 Hot Stamp Supply Company 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Innovative Digital Systems 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 Mountain Graphix LLC North Pacific International, Inc. Schwerdtle Technologies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Thermal Press International, Inc. 7 Trekk Equipment Group United Silicone 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 Universal Engraving, Inc., a UEI Group Company 2, 3 Webtech, Inc. 5

Hot Stamping/ Heat Transfer Presses

1. Gloss Pigment 2. Holographic 3. Matte Pigment 4. Metallic 5. Multicolored CER 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Custom Foils Co. 1, 3, 4 Die Stampco Inc. Hot Stamp Supply Company 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Infinity Foils 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Innovative Digital Systems 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Mountain Graphix LLC North Pacific International, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Roland DGA 2, 4, 5 United Silicone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Webtech, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Laser Etching/ Marking Equipment 1. Direct Marking 2. Laser Material Additives 3. Paint and Laser 4. Platemaking

Thermal Press International, Inc.

341 Stealth Ct. Livermore, CA 94551 Phone: (925) 454-9800 Fax: (925) 454-9810 Website:

Trekk Equipment Group Hot Stamping Foils

In-Mold Decorating

70 Midwest Dr. Pacific, MO 63069 Phone: (636) 271-1391 Website:

1. Digital 2. Peripheral 3. Roll-on 4. Servo 5. Vertical Apex Machine Company 1, 5 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 CER 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 2, 3, 5 Die Stampco Inc. 5 Digital Decorations, LLC 3 Hot Stamp Supply Company 1, 2, 3, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Innovative Digital Systems 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) 1, 3, 4, 5 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Mountain Graphix LLC North Pacific International, Inc. 3, 4, 5 Preco Corporation 3, 5 Roland DGA 1 Thermal Press International, Inc. Trekk Equipment Group 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 United Silicone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Webtech, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

DuraTech Industries 3216 Commerce St. La Crosse, WI 54603 Phone: (608) 781-2570 Fax: (608) 781-2540 Website:

1. Diecutting 2. In-Mold Electronics 3. In-Mold Inserts 4. In-Mold Label Substrates 5. In-Mold Labels 6. In-Mold Transfers 7. Inks 8. Multi-Color Flocking Apex Machine Company 5 Central Decal Company, Inc. 1, 3, 5 DuraTech Industries 2, 5 Fiberlok 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 5, 6 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 2, 3, 5, 6 Marabu North America 7 Nazdar Ink Technologies 7 North Pacific International, Inc. 3, 5, 6 Preco Corporation 5, 6 Proell, Inc. 2, 7 Serigraph, Inc. 3, 5, 6 Simco-Ion 3, 5 Sun Chemical 7 Yupo Corporation 4, 5

Labels/Decals 1. Domed 2. Outdoor Durable 3. Pressure-Sensitive 4. Shrink Sleeves Central Decal Company, Inc. 1, 2, 3 DuraTech Industries 1, 2, 3 Mountain Graphix LLC Roland DGA 2, 3, 4 Serigraph, Inc. 1, 2, 3 Yupo Corporation 3, 4

Apex Machine Company 1, 4 Automark 1, 4 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4 Diversified Printing Techniques 4 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 1, 3, 4 Inkcups 4 Laserax 1, 3 Roland DGA 1, 3 TNT Distributors, Inc. 1, 4

Offset Printing Presses 1. Dry Offset 2. Laser Printing Presses Apex Machine Company 1, 2 Automark 2 OMSO North America, Inc. 1

Pad Heat Transfer


2529 Washington Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21230 Phone: (410) 646-7800 Fax: (410) 646-7786 Website:

1. Heat Transfers 2. Machinery 3. Pads AWT World Trade 2 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 3 CDigital 1 CER 1, 2, 3 Die Stampco Inc. 3 Digital Decorations, LLC 1, 2 1, 2, 3 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 1, 2 Mountain Graphix LLC 1 Trans Tech 2, 3 United Silicone 1, 2, 3

January/February 2020 39

2020 Buyers Guide Pad Printing Presses

Deco Technology Group, Inc.

749 N. Main St. Orange, CA 92868 Phone: (714) 639-3326 Fax: (714) 639-2261 Website:

1. Automated Systems 2. Dryers 3. Manual 4. Open Ink Well 5. Rotary 6. Sealed Cup AWT World Trade 2 Apex Machine Company 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Automark 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 5, 6 Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 1, 5, 6 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 Diversified Printing Techniques 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 Engineered Printing Solutions 1, 2, 5, 6 1, 2, 6 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Inkcups 1, 2, 5, 6 Pad Print Pros 1, 2, 6 Standard Machines, Inc. 3, 4, 5, 6 TNT Distributors, Inc. 1, 4, 6 Trans Tech 1, 2, 5, 6

Pad Printing Supplies

Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc.

165 New Boston St., Ste. C Woburn, MA 01801 Phone: (781) 281-2558 Fax: (781) 810-0170 Website:


310 Andover St. Danvers, MA 01923 Phone: (978) 646-8980 Website:

Paints/Coatings 1. Painting/Coating Equipment 2. Plasma Coating 3. Powder Coating 4. Solvent-Based 5. UV-Curable 6. Water Based Apex Machine Company 1 Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 4, 5, 6 Engineered Printing Solutions 4, 5, 6 Functional Inks, Inc. 4, 5, 6 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Inkcups 4 Pad Print Pros 2, 4, 5 Proell, Inc. 4, 5, 6 RUCO USA Inc. 5 Trans Tech 4, 5

Safety Products AWT World Trade

Screen Printing Equipment/Supplies

1. Ceramic Rings 2. Cliches/Plates 3. Ink Cups 4. Inks/Thinners 5. Pads Automark 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 1, 2, 4, 5 Comdec, Inc. 1, 2, 4, 5 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Diversified Printing Techniques 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Encres DUBUIT 4 Engineered Printing Solutions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Functional Inks, Inc. 4 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Inkcups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Marabu North America 4 Nazdar Ink Technologies 4 Pad Print Pros 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Proell, Inc. 4 TNT Distributors, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Trans Tech 1, 2, 3, 4

40 January/February 2020

1. Dryers 2. Inks 3. Screens/Screen Making Equipment 4. Tooling 5. UV Dryers 6. Vacuum Tables AWT World Trade 1, 5, 6 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 2 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Diversified Printing Techniques 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Encres DUBUIT 2, 3 Functional Inks, Inc. 2 GPE Ardenghi srl 3 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Inkcups 1 Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) 1, 5 Marabu North America 2 Nazdar Ink Technologies 2 Proell, Inc. 2 RUCO USA Inc. 2 Sun Chemical 2 TNT Distributors, Inc. 2, 3

Screen Printing Presses

Deco Technology Group, Inc.

749 N. Main St. Orange, CA 92868 Phone: (714) 639-3326 Fax: (714) 639-2261 Website:

1. Containers 3D 2. Flat Sheet 3. Inspection Systems AWT World Trade 1, 2 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2 Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 2 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 1, 2 Diversified Printing Techniques 1, 2 Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) 1, 3 OMSO North America, Inc. 1, 3 TNT Distributors, Inc. 1, 2

Static Control Systems Industrial Pad Printing Supplies Simco-Ion

Sublimation Equipment Roland DGA

Substrates (Materials)

Used Equipment

1. Hard Coated Polycarbonate Film 2. Hard Coated Polyester Film 3. In-Mold Plastic Films 4. PC Film 5. TPU Film North Pacific International, Inc. 1

Surface Treatment Equipment/Supplies 1. Air Plasma 2. Chemical 3. Cold Gas Plasma 4. Corona 5. Dyne Testing Supplies 6. Flame 7. Plasma 8. Reactive Gas 9. Surface Conditioning 3DT LLC 4, 5, 7 Apex Machine Company 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 Automark 4 AutoTran, Inc. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 1, 2, 6 Diversified Enterprises 5 Diversified Printing Techniques 4, 6, 7 Enercon Industries 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 4, 5, 6, 9 Inkcups 4, 6 Innovative Digital Systems 6, 9 Trans Tech 2, 4, 5, 7

Thermal Press International, Inc.

341 Stealth Ct. Livermore, CA 94551 Phone: (925) 454-9800 Fax: (925) 454-9810 Website: 1. Assembly 2. Hot Stamping 3. Offset Printing 4. Pad Printing 5. Screen Printing 6. Ultrasonic 7. UV and Air Dryers AWT World Trade 5, 7 Apex Machine Company 3 Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 4, 5 CER 2 Deco Technology Group, Inc. 2, 4, 5 Die Stampco Inc. 2 2, 4 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 4, 5 Innovative Digital Systems 2 KURZ Transfer Products, LP 2 North Pacific International, Inc. 2 OMSO North America, Inc. 3, 5 Thermal Press International, Inc. 1 Trans Tech 4 Trekk Equipment Group 2 tributek 6 United Silicone 2

UV Curing Equipment AWT World Trade Apex Machine Company AutoTran, Inc. CER Deco Technology Group, Inc. Industrial Pad Printing Supplies Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) Roland DGA Trans Tech

The 2020 Buyers Guide will be available online all year at

January/February 2020 41


Boston Industrial Solutions, Inc. 3DT LLC

N114 W18850 Clinton Dr. Germantown, WI 53022 (262) 253-6700

165 New Boston St., Ste. C Woburn, MA 01801 (781) 281-2558 Fax: (781) 810-0170

AWT World Trade 4321 N. Knox Ave. Chicago, IL 60641 (773) 777-7100 Fax: (773) 777-0909 Advanced Decorative Systems 4705 Industrial Dr. Millington, MI 48746 (989) 871-4550 Apex Machine Company 3000 NE 12th Terr. Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334 (954) 566-1572 Fax: (954) 563-2844

Deco Technology Group, Inc.


2121 Lohmans Crossing Rd., Ste. 504-394 Austin, TX 78734 (512) 593-7100 Fax: (512) 593-7101

749 N. Main St. Orange, CA 92868 (714) 639-3326 Fax: (714) 639-2261

2529 Washington Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21230 (410) 646-7800 Fax: (410) 646-7786

Die Stampco Inc. Central Decal Company, Inc.


Custom Foils Co. 185 Foundry St. Newark, NJ 07105 (973) 344-1434 Fax: (973) 589-1617

6901 High Grove Blvd. Burr Ridge, IL 60527 (800) 869-7654 Fax: (630) 325-9860

2269 Carroll Rd. Bay City, MI 48708 (989) 893-7790 Fax: (989) 893-7741

Digital Heat Transfer Solutions


85 rue Castellion Oyonnax, France 01117 +33 (0)4 74 73 26 11 / (716) 288-7636 (USA) Fax: +33 474732601

Digital Decorations, LLC 2 Fanaras Dr., Unit 2B Salisbury, MA 01952 (978) 463-0416 Diversified Enterprises 101 Mulberry St., Ste. 2N Claremont, NH 03743 (603) 543-0038 Fax: (603) 543-1334

AutoTran, Inc.

1466 Rail Head Blvd. Naples, FL 34110 (239) 659-2515 Fax: (239) 659-2519

Comdec, Inc.

25 Hale St. Newburyport, MA 01950 (978) 462-3399 Fax: (978) 462-3443

42 January/February 2020

Diversified Printing Techniques

Enercon Industries W140 N9572 Fountain Blvd. Menomonee Falls, WI 53051 (262) 255-6070 Fax: (262) 255-7784

13336 South Ridge Dr. Charlotte, NC 28273 (704) 583-9433


2900 Dukane Dr. St. Charles, IL 60174 (630) 797-4900


1 Henkel Way Rocky Hill, CT 06067 (800) 562-8483

Engineered Printing Solutions 201 Tennis Way East Dorset, VT 05253 (802) 362-0844 ext. 227

Herrmann Ultrasonics, Inc. 1261 Hardt Cir. Bartlett, IL 60103 (630) 626-1626 Fax: (630) 736-7514

Hot Stamp Supply Company DuraTech Industries 3216 Commerce St. La Crosse, WI 54603 (608) 781-2570 Fax: (608) 781-2540

Fiberlok Technologies, Inc. 811 Stockton Ave. Fort Collins, CO 80524 (970) 221-1200

Functional Inks, Inc. 150 Front St., Ste. 2 West Springfield, MA 01089 (413) 363-0770

Emerson Assembly Technology

GPE ARDENGHI srl Via Pagazzano 20 Treviglio, Italy 24047 +39 036349796

41 Eagle Rd. Danbury, CT 06810 (203) 796-0400

141-2 Marcel Dr. Winchester, VA 22602 (877) 343-4321 Fax: (877) 448-1001 29 Foremast Dr. Salem, SC 29676 (256) 566-1342

Industrial Pad Printing Supplies 703 N. Clark El Paso, TX 79905 (915) 875-1020

h+m USA


1 rue Isaac Newton, Zl Mitry-Compans Mitry Mory, France 77290 +33 1 64 67 41 60

2020-I Starita Rd. Charlotte, NC 28206 (704) 599-9325 Fax: (704) 599-3857 Harco Enterprises, Ltd. 675 The Parkway Peterborough, Ontario, Canada K9J 7K2 (705) 743-5361 / (800) 361-5361 Fax: (705) 743-4312

Infinity Foils, Inc.

9090 Nieman Rd. Overland Park, KS 66214 (913) 888-7340 Fax: (913) 888-7397

January/February 2020 43

2020 Buyers Guide Inkcups

310 Andover St. Danvers, MA 01923 (978) 646-8980

INNOVATIVE Digital Systems 2000 Innovation Dr. Indian Trail, NC 28079 (704) 628-7679

Mountain Graphix, LLC 226 S. Westgate Dr. Carol Stream, IL 60188 (630) 681-8300 Fax: (630) 681-8686

Nazdar Ink Technologies 8501 Hedge Lane Terr. Shawnee, KS 66227 (913) 422-1888 Fax: (913) 422-2296

Proell, Inc.

2751 Dukane Dr. St. Charles, IL 60174 (630) 587-2300

Roland DGA

15363 Barranca Pkwy. Irvine, CA 92618 (800) 542-2307 Fax: (949) 727-2112

North Pacific International, Inc. Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) 235 Heritage Ave. Portsmouth, NH 03801 (978) 463-0050

KURZ Transfer Products, LP 3200 Woodpark Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28206 (704) 927-3700 Fax: (704) 927-3701

Laserax 101-2811 Watt Ave. Ouebec City, QC, G1X 4S8 (855) 469-1233 Fax: (418) 656-6565

5944 Sycamore Ct. Chino, CA 91710 (909) 628-2224

RUCO USA Inc. 915 N. Central Ave. Wood Dale, IL 60191 (866) 373-7912

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

Pad Print Pros 329 Woodside Dr. Onsted, MI 49265-9475 (517) 467-5340 Preco Corporation Chiyoda Annex Bldg. 8th Fl., Utsubohonmachi Nishi-ku, Osaka City, Japan 550-0004 +81-6-6443-0039 Fax: +81-6-6443-0040

Marabu North America 2460-A Remount Rd. Charleston, SC 29406 (843) 886-0094/(888) 253-2778 Fax: (843) 886-3701

44 January/February 2020

Sabreen Group, Inc., The 5799 Sibley Ln. The Colony, TX 75056 (972) 820-6777


41 Benham Ave. Bridgeport, CT 06605 (203) 330-2750 Fax: (203) 330-2760

Serigraph, Inc.

3801 E. Decorah Rd. West Bend, WI 53095 (262) 335-7200

Thermal Press International, Inc. 341 Stealth Ct. Livermore, CA 94551 (925) 454-9800 Fax: (925) 454-9810


2257 N. Penn Rd. Hatfield, PA 19440 (800) 203-3419 Fax: (215) 822-3795 Sonics & Materials, Inc. 53 Church Hill Rd. Newtown, CT 06470 (800) 745-1105 Fax: (203) 270-4610

2550 Wisconsin Ave. Downers Grove, IL 60515 (630) 241-4300 Fax: (630) 241-4300

United Silicone TNT Distributors, Inc. 1107 Wonder Dr., Ste. 101 Round Rock, TX 78681 (512) 310-7880 Fax: (512) 310-7885

Trans Tech

Standard Machines, Inc.

Unique Assembly & Decorating, Inc.

475 N. Gary Ave. Carol Stream, IL 60188 (630) 752-4000 Fax: (630) 752-4467

4471 Walden Ave. Lancaster, NY 14086 (716) 681-8222 Fax: (716) 681-8789

Universal Engraving, Inc., a UEI Group Company 9090 Nieman Rd. Overland Park, KS 66214 (800) 221-9059 Fax: (913) 541-8172

25 Hale St. Newburyport, MA 01950 (978) 462-4999 Fax: (978) 462-3443

Trekk Equipment Group 70 Midwest Dr. Pacific, MO 63069 (636) 271-1391

Sun Chemical

135 W. Lake St. Northlake, IL 60164 (708) 236-3798 Fax: (708) 562-0580

tributek PO Box 8025 Elburn, IL 60119 (630) 448-2295 Fax: (630) 268-8845 Uglum Consulting LLC 926 Queensbury Dr. Noblesville, IN 46062 (317) 417-5596

WEBTECH, INC. 108 N. Gold Dr. Robbinsville, NJ 08691 (609) 259-2800 Fax: (609) 259-9311

Yupo Corporation 800 Yupo Ct. Chesapeake, VA 23320 (888) 873-9876

January/February 2020 45

ASSOCIATION Letter from the Chair

Decorating/Assembly Session at ANTEC® 2020 The SPE Decorating & Assembly Division will sponsor an afternoon of sessions at the upcoming ANTEC® 2020, March 29-April 2, in San Antonio, Texas.

The SPE Decorating & Assembly Division is starting off 2020 with a lot of activity. First, our division will be sponsoring a session at ANTEC® 2020 (details below), scheduled for the afternoon of Monday, March 30. We also are working on another educational webinar sponsored by our division. Our plan is to have another webinar by the end of February. Look for emails and more information on the Plastics Decorating website. A great deal of preparation now is being made for the upcoming SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Topical Conference (TopCon) and In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) Symposium. We will have an exceptional lineup of presentations on the latest decorating, assembly and in-mold decorating technology. We also will continue our interactive workshops where attendees can discuss topics in smaller groups and learn from one another. In addition, the event will have a Supplier Trade Fair for attendees to network with leading suppliers to the industry. Please check the Plastics Decorating website for further details soon. Our plan is to have the schedule and registration up by mid-February. I hope that those who read my chairman letter will look at joining us for one of our upcoming events and/or educational webinars. There is a lot of new technology and processes, especially in the field of decorating. Even if you are not currently looking at adding machines or services, it is important to keep up to date on what is out there and what potentially will become a competitive process to what you might be offering. Again, I encourage you to be more involved in 2020, to develop relationships with both your peers and suppliers in person, and to stay in touch with what’s happening in the plastics decorating/assembly industry and what is coming up in the future. Jeff Peterson President, Peterson Publications, Inc. Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division


46 January/February 2020

A new program format will be introduced for ANTEC this year, including four keynote speakers each day and more than 300 concurrent sessions. Pre- and post-conference workshops also will be offered. ANTEC will include exhibits where attendees can network with many of the leading suppliers in the plastics industry. The SPE Decorating & Assembly Division presentations will take place Monday afternoon, March 30, in Room 16. The presentations will include: • Global Innovations in Coatings – Biao Lu, Akzo Nobel • Anticorrosion Coatings Based on Polyimide/ Zirconium Phosphate Nanocomposites – Guan-Hui Lai, Texas A&M University • Developments in Adhesion Promotion Using Flame Plasma Surface Treatment – Joe DiGiacomo, Flynn Burner • Advanced Laser Ablation and Laser Marking on Plastics – Faycal Benayad-Cherif, FOBA Laser • Fatigue Resistance of Structural Adhesives – Matt Miner, Henkel To register for ANTEC and the SPE Decorating & Assembly Division session, visit and select “Events.” Join Us for TopCon/IMDA Symposium in Detroit The SPE Decorating & Assembly Division will once again partner with IMDA for the upcoming TopCon/IMDA Symposium. The event will take place at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest, Ypsilanti, Michigan, June 18 and 19. “We are extremely excited to partner with Ron and Myra Shultz at IMDA on this event again this year,” stated Paul Uglum, Uglum Consulting and TopCon program chair. “We are confident that this it is going to be our best set of presentations and workshops that we have ever had.” Topics that will be covered with both presentations and focused workshops will include: digital inkjet; coatings/painting trends; pad printing and automation; laser ablation and marking; surface treatment and cleaning; UV curing technologies; laser welding; adhesives for plastics; and much more. Additionally, IMDA will have an entire program with the latest in in-mold decorating/labeling technology. “What makes this combined event so special for attendees is for them to have the ability to choose between both tracks and go back and forth as they wish,” stated Jeff Peterson, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division chair. Look for more details on the schedule and registration soon at n

Kent’s PFD technology elevates your brand’s merchandise to new heights. Combines foil decoration and multi color pad printing. All in one go. The result is unique and breathtaking.


2µm Lasers: Revolutionizing Welding of Clear Plastics by Josh Brown, global sales manager-laser plastic welding, Dukane


ntil recently, laser plastic welding had a serious disadvantage: the inability to bond clear parts. While laser plastic welding has been aggressively adopted in a wide range of commercial applications for decades, adoption of this technology is driven by the obvious benefits over other joining methods like particulate-free joints, precision and incredible strength. Bonding clear parts posed a big problem for medical device and consumer products that not only need the precision advantages of laser welding but also often require fully clear assemblies. With new innovations in laser technology, applications from microfluidics and catheters to water bottles and earbuds are reaping the benefits of laser welding.

With the majority of the 1μm laser radiation transmitting or passing through the plastic, light energy cannot be transformed to thermal energy in the upper layer to create melt or a bond. Creating a bond with a 1μm laser requires the transmitted radiation to be absorbed at some point to create thermal energy. This absorption is achieved in the base component layer. The base component must have absorptive properties, which is easily achieved by adding carbon black to the resin or, alternatively, a special laser absorbing additive. The light radiation, once absorbed by the base layer, turns to heat and fuses both the upper (transmissive) and lower (absorbing) layers.

How 2μm lasers changed laser plastic welding To understand how this new laser technology can help bond clear-to-clear applications, it is important to first understand how the original 1μm laser welding process works, and how it differs from the newer 2μm approach. Rather than utilizing a laser with wavelengths near the 1μm spectrum, as was the case in the past, this new technology makes use of higher wavelength lasers near the 2μm range.

Technical Term 1μm

through-transmission laser welding (TTLW)


transparent laser plastic welding (TLPW)

Actual Laser Wavelengths Used 815 nm1,064 nm ~1,700 nm2,050 nm

Table 1. Difference in laser wavelengths between 1µm and 2µm

The originally developed process for laser plastic welding is known as through-transmission laser welding, often referred to as 1μm or “one micron” laser welding. In a 1μm welding process about 95% or more of the laser radiation introduced to an optically clear thermoplastic will transmit through the plastic. While less optically translucent plastics – such as PBT or plastics with glass fills – have a lower transmittance rate, they are still weldable if some of the laser energy can pass through the upper layer.

48 January/February 2020

Image courtesy of Dukane

2μm laser welding primarily differs from 1μm welding based on how the higher wavelength laser interacts with clear or natural plastics without additives. The shift to a 2μm wavelength laser significantly changes the way a laser interacts with thermoplastics. With a 1μm laser, the majority of light energy is transmitted through clear plastics, whereas a 2μm laser still transmits some energy through the plastic, but a more significant amount of energy is naturally absorbed into the plastic – even if the plastic is optically clear. This is what makes all the difference. The graph (page 49) shows transmission rates for common, optically clear plastics at different wavelengths. The vertical blue bar covers the transmission rates at or near the 2μm wavelength. Notice the transmission is lower in this area than the transmission at or near the 1μm wavelengths. This is the “Goldilocks Zone” for 2μm welding where there is just enough absorption to allow for a strong bond at good production speeds.

and create concerns with biocompatibility and slight color changes. By switching to a 2μm process, companies can avoid additional material costs, maintain perfect clarity and decrease the number of steps and complexity in production lines. Along with the ability to weld clear plastics without additives, 2μm laser welding comes with all the other highly desired advantages of standard through-transmission laser welding: • Ultra-fine weld seams: beam spots of <0.3 mm can be achieved • Repeatability: +/- 5 microns • Various joint styles: excellent for lap joints, curved parts or radial joints (i.e., tubing, catheters, etc.) • Sensitive applications: noncontact or light contact processing Transmission rates for common, optically clear plastics at different wavelengths For most naturally colored or clear thermoplastics, a 2μm laser will transmit about 70% to 85% of the laser energy and will absorb and retain the remaining 15% to 30% of the energy, without any additives. This absorption creates volumetric heating and melt throughout the joint interface.

Also, in recent years innovations in laser technology have allowed for significant increases in available wattages for 2μm lasers. Originally 2μm laser output was in the low double or even single digits watts. Now there are stable 200W sources available, resulting in drastically shorter cycle times and higher throughput.

Polarized cross section showing volumetric heating of joint (polycarbonate joint: 2.2 mm thick upper layer and 2.06 mm wide weld joint) Why choose 2µm? By now the primary advantage should be obvious. 2μm allows for the bonding of clear plastics without additives, but it’s worth understanding why this is important. Technically 1μm laser welding is capable of welding clear plastics, but it requires expensive and difficult-to-apply absorbers that increase costs

January/February 2020 49

t p. 49

ASSEMBLY Which applications are best suited to 2μm welding? While 2μm lasers are being used in a broad range of industries – including automotive, general industrial, films and packaging – the majority of 2μm welding demand is coming from the medical industry. Typical applications include microfluidic devices, tubing, bags, connectors, catheters, on-body devices, diagnostic cassettes, fluid chambers and tanks, filtration devices and more. Microfluidics, diagnostic cassettes and assays often require components to be transmissive in either the visible or UV spectra for analysis. Because of this, absorbers or colorants need to be avoided, often disqualifying 1μm welding. Many microfluidic devices, such as the one at top left, utilize COC due to its low fluorescence, which can improve hyperspectral imaging and analysis.

Polarized microscope view of a microfluidic channel (COC: upper layer thickness of 0.38 mm, weld width 0.2 mm)

Other applications, including bags, tubing and connectors (at bottom left and page 52), often need to be clear so the end user can see the fluids inside or traveling through these devices. The consumer products industry also is picking up on 2μm laser welding. Typical applications include water bottles, kitchenware, earbuds, cellphone microphone housings, battery housings, sensor enclosures, wearables, ink jet cartridges and hearing aids. While the requirements for consumer products aren’t held to the same strict standards as medical devices, products are getting smaller, and aesthetic requirements are getting more stringent. Also, marketing teams often have as much, if not more, say in the selection of plastics and product colors as do the engineering teams – making it increasingly important that options are available for welding

Clear-clear radial weld of tubing application

50 January/February 2020

January/February 2020 51

t p. 50

ASSEMBLY Recall that 2μm welding relies on a small percentage of the laser energy being volumetrically absorbed into the plastic, typically 15% to 30% energy absorption is ideal. What is needed is a “Goldilocks Zone” of just enough transmission to absorption to allow for a strong bond at good production speeds. If the transmission rate is too high, not enough energy will absorb to create a bond quick enough for most production processes. Alternatively, if the transmission rate is too low it can be difficult to weld through thicker components and get enough energy at the joint interface.

Connectors often need to be clear so the end user can see inside. all colors and styles of plastics while retaining all of the clear advantages of laser plastic welding. When is 2μm laser welding right for an application? There are a number of factors that play into making this decision, but primarily – if the application requires all of the benefits that laser welding provides (clean joints, precision, repeatability, high-throughput) and for both joining components to be clear or optically transmissive – then it is on the right track for 2μm laser welding. There are a few additional things to be aware of when exploring clear-clear laser welding. Transmission v. optical clarity It is important to note that laser transmission and optical clarity are not the same. When it comes to 2μm welding what is needed is transmission of IR radiation in the ~2,000 nm spectrum, not the visual spectrum. This means the parts do not necessarily have to be optically clear; however, this is typically the desired color format. It is possible to bond colored plastics, even black plastics, if the materials do not contain absorbing compounds (i.e., carbon black). Typically, most inorganic dyes of all color types will allow for enough transmission to bond with 2μm laser welding. Choosing the right plastics Most natural thermoplastics will have some level of proper transmission-to-absorption and work with 2μm laser welding. However, some plastics are more difficult or impossible to weld. This is primarily a function of the transmission rate of the plastic at these wavelengths.

52 January/February 2020

Most amorphous and/or optically clear plastics like ABS, COC, COP, PET, PP, PMMA, PS and PC work well with this process. Even PC, due to its high transmission rate at 2,000 nm, can cause issues – although these can typically be overcome with proper design of the part. Less optically clear plastics – such as PA, TPU/TPE and PE – can work as well but will have a lower transmittance, which can affect the thickness at which parts can be designed. Semi-crystalline polymers also can be more difficult to weld due to the way the light energy scatters, making absorption more difficult. Some semi-crystalline materials, like PP, are weldable with 2μm, but materials such as PBT, PEEK and LCP are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to weld. Part dimensions Most laser welding applications rely on a galvanometric scanner to control the path of the laser beam. This allows for flexibility in weld patterns and part shapes. One major drawback of the 2μm process is the smaller working fields a scanner is capable of when outputting a laser in this wavelength. In order to achieve very small beam spots (<1 mm) working fields are typically limited to less than three to four inches. Larger working fields can be achieved, but beam spot size and accuracy are sacrificed, which is often not an option for larger microfluidic cassettes or applications. To circumvent this issue, welding systems have been developed with a hybrid scanner plus servo driven XY stage. Using proprietary software, the scanner and XY stages can be synced to deliver the beam to the part with the flexibility of a galvoscanner but also with the increased working field of a highprecision XY stage. In doing so, working fields of up to 490 mm2 (19.3 in2) can be achieved, allowing for large part sizes or the processing of multiple parts in a single cycle. Is 1μm or 2μm welding better for more applications? The laser plastic welding market has matured significantly over the past few decades and is still on a sharp growth trajectory thanks, in part, to innovations like 2μm welding and new color additives from material suppliers and compounders but not strictly because of them. So which process is better?

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Truthfully, it just depends. While clear-clear requirements in medical devices and consumer products are leading a new charge for laser welding in these industries and opening new doors for applications previously out of reach for 1μm, the 1μm market still holds the lion’s share of applications. Each application is different and has its own unique set of requirements, optical clarity being just one of them. The real benefit here is that the limitations for transmissive plastics in laser bonding applications are dwindling quickly. What are the common steps to success? While there is a growing amount of information available online about 2μm laser welding, the technology is still relatively new, and there are many applications that have yet to be explored. It is highly recommended that before settling on 2μm, potential customers should consult an expert who can help determine viability and a path to success. Typical steps should include: • Discovery and data gathering • Materials evaluation • Design reviews • Material sample or chip weld tests • Prototype samples and proof of concept • Equipment and production solution evaluation The more information provided, and the earlier a welding expert is involved, the better. Answers to the following questions should be at least partially known to receive the best feedback and support: • What materials or range of materials is to be welded? • Are there color requirements? • Will the materials have fillers or additives? • Are CAD or drawings available for review? • Is there flexibility in the part design? • Why choose laser welding? Have other bonding methods been explored? • What are the requirements of the weld and the assembled part in general (i.e. hermetic seal, bond strength, pressure or leak rating, light transmission, etc.)? • What are the expected annual production quantities over time? • Is there a cycle time target? n Established in 1922, Dukane is a diversified global manufacturer of advanced technology products. The company designs and manufactures plastic welding products for different manufacturing operations around the world. Among the many markets served by Dukane’s products are the automotive, medical, food and packaging industries. A privately held corporation for more than 95 years, Dukane’s principal manufacturing and distribution facility is located in the western Chicago suburb of St. Charles, Illinois. For more information, visit


One-on-One Meetings Matter More Than You Know by Kate Zabriskie, Business Training Works, Inc.


here are only two of us in my department. Why should I bother with a formal meeting? We sit right across from each other. I tried meeting individually with my direct reports, but they had nothing to talk about. Besides, we’re all adults. We know what we’re supposed to be doing at work. I see my direct report about once a month, and that’s usually at a larger meeting or when we’re passing each other in the hallway. I have no idea what he does. At review time, I rely on other people to tell me. Without trying too hard, it’s easy for many managers to compile a long list of reasons not to meet with the people they supervise. But, guess what? The volume of reasons does not outweigh the value and importance of a regularly scheduled conversation with a direct report. Benefits of regular one-on-one meetings If used correctly, managers and employees can enjoy many benefits by meeting one on one. • Visible appreciation: Time is currency. If managers carve out time for their people and are prepared when they meet, they show they value their direct reports. • Better thinking: Regular one-on-one meetings give managers and employees space to step away from the urgent and immediate and to think more holistically and strategically about work, goals and development opportunities. • Stronger results: Accountability tends to improve when people have an opportunity or a requirement to report on their progress. The perfect one-on-one Once a manager has bought into the value of one-on-one meetings, the next step is to execute them in a way that works for the manager and the employee. Good one-on-one meetings are not one-size-fits-all activities. That said, there are a few guidelines that can make these meetings successful.

• Pick a schedule and stick to it. One-on-ones shouldn’t disappear from the calendar simply because something else suddenly comes up. • Choose a frequency that makes sense. For some people, meeting once a month may be enough. For others, meeting weekly may be more appropriate. Every relationship is different. Furthermore, circumstances evolve. Depending on what’s happening inside and outside of the organization, an employee’s needs could change drastically. Meeting frequency should be evaluated at least annually. • Follow a written agenda. Well-run meetings are not free-for-all conversations. They follow an agenda, just as any other good meeting does. A one-on-one meeting agenda might include such topics as current projects, progress on yearly development goals, workday challenges and so forth. • Put employees in the driver’s seat by having them manage and document the agenda. The manager may create the initial agenda format. But, once done, employees should take ownership of the documents. Troubleshooting One-on-one meetings rarely go from nonexistent or dysfunctional to perfect overnight. For that reason, managers should prepare to overcome a variety of obstacles.

 January/February 2020 55

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Obstacle 1: Employees question the new meeting. Solution: Reduce the surprise factor. If a manager has never held one-on-one meetings, they might come as an unpleasant surprise to employees. To avoid feelings of uncertainty, confusion or worse, socialize the idea before loading the calendar with dates. “This year, I would like to focus more on individual development. Within the next week or two, please expect to see a meeting request from me on your calendar. I believe we will all benefit if I spend time with each of you individually at regularly scheduled intervals. How often we will meet will depend on each of your needs and what we decide together.” Obstacle 2: An employee doesn’t take charge of the meeting. Solution: Show them how. A good agenda can go a long way toward making the conversation flow. Although employees should have ultimate responsibility for keeping the agenda, this may take time. In the beginning, managers may have to model what they want to see. “For our first few meetings, I’ll prepare the agenda. Once we’ve found our groove, my plan is to turn it over to you to own. This means you’ll add to it between meetings and bring a copy for you and me when we meet.”


Regular one-on-one meetings give managers and employees space to step away from the urgent and immediate and to think more holistically and strategically about work, goals and development opportunities. Obstacle 3: An employee gives short or general answers to questions. Solution: Get specific. The more focused a manager’s questions are, the better the conversation tends to be. For example, instead of asking “What are you working on?” a manager might say, “Tell me about the project that is going best right now and why that is.” Obstacle 4: An employee seems unresponsive. Solution: Leverage silence. When managers don’t get immediate feedback, they sometimes mistake silence for non-responsiveness. It’s important for managers to remember they already know the questions. The employee is hearing them for the first time and may need some time to digest and think about what’s being asked. Instead of rephrasing questions that don’t produce an immediate answer, managers need to get comfortable with letting silence sit in the room. Re-evaluate Like anything, one-on-one meetings can get stale. It’s important to look at the format and frequency from time to time and to solicit feedback regarding what’s working and what isn’t. If the organization has fallen out of the habit of holding regular oneon-one meetings or if employees are not getting all they could from them, now is the time to take another look. n Ka te Z a b r i s k ie i s th e p re si d e n t 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 Zabriskie

Call: 517.467.5340 e-mail: padprintpro@gmail 56 January/February 2020

Multi-color fully servo-driven machine for decoration of multi-format plastic and glass containers OMSO ServoBottle is the only all Servo machine and is offered in two models, SB12 up to 8 color screen or 7 color plus automated inspection and SB8 in up to 5 colors or 4 colors plus automated inspection.

Servo-driven axis movement – From the main drive to the flood bar, ServoBottle is truly the only all servo-driven screen-printer. Quick change tooling – Change-over from one bottle to the next in under 30 minutes, Guaranteed. UV LED technology – Fast curing at up to 50% energy savings Rotary design – Add or remove printing heads for possible future digital or hybrid integration.  90% of ServoBottle customers are return customers and have multiple ServoBottle machines. OMSO North America, Inc. 1420 Jamike Ave • Erlanger, KY 41018 USA Office (859)-282-OMSO (6676) • Fax (859)-282-9976 •

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Inkjet Printing for Flexible and Wearable Plastic by Scott R. Sabreen, president, The Sabreen Group, and Dene Taylor, founder, Ph.D. SPF-Inc.


LED-curable flexible inks for color printing of flexible/stretchable and wearable plastics products is one of the newest advancements in industrial inkjet technology. Customizable vivid images and two-dimensional codes are jetted onto a variety of flexible polymer products such as polyolefin bottles, athletic exercise stretch bands and elastomeric/rubber wearables without cracking or distorting the printed image with high percentage stretch elongation. This breakthrough incorporates a new proprietary full-color gamut UV LED flexible ink that is toxicity and biocompatibility certified for specific applications. Demand for customized wearables The terms “wearables,” “wearable devices” and “wearable technology” all refer to electronic technologies or computers that can be worn by a consumer and often include tracking information related to health and fitness. Swimming caps, exercise stretch resistive bands, headgear, hajibs, sweat bands, cycling/running gear, wristwear, glasses, gloves, armwear, legwear, footwear, skin patches, exoskeletons and e-textiles are involved, and the device business is enormous. Products can be rigid or flexible. The demand for customization drives sales, whether it’s health and fitness performance products, smartwatches or the hundreds of alternative interactive band products. Leading market research company IDTechEx claims that wearable products are thriving with a total market worth over $50 billion in 2019, having more than doubled in size since 2014. Bain & Company states “by providing customization, brands raise loyalty at a time when it’s more important than ever. Sellers are discovering the value of letting customers create their own unique products.” Retailers like Amazon use big data to present a personalized set of products to its customers. Now, brands are taking personalization a big step forward into mass customization. Companies that offer customization can use consumers as merchants, continuously gaining insights from customized designs and fine-tuning products in a feedback loop that helps companies stay ahead of the competition. Total process solutions Piezoelectric drop-on-demand UV inkjet printing is far more complex and delicate than analog printing. Inkjet requires the nozzles to fire precisely sized drops with exact accuracy. Highquality inkjet printing systems must simultaneously integrate printheads, fluids, controllers, pretreatment and cure. Safety

58 January/February 2020

Flexible polyolefin water hydration bottles with excellent adhesion, scratch/mar and chemical resistance

certification of inkjet fluids and cure is critical. To achieve robust printing on temperature-sensitive, flexible polymer materials, users must incorporate matching UV LED flexible inks and an LED cure system. Application substrates include nitrile, vinyl, PVC, polyolefins, thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), cast polyethylenes (CPE), latex, polyurethanes and neoprene. Additional applications are flexible packaging films, flexible printed electronics and stretchable interconnects.

UV LED cure ink, consumer safety certification A new UV LED cure inkjet ink, Apollo FTX Ink series, has been formulated and qualified to be safe for adults and children (contact with human skin) per ASTM D 4236 (LHAMA - 16 CFR 1500.14). More than just another ink, this chemistry is precisely matched to specific UV LED cure specifications. This ensures robust final cure properties and aesthetics, not under-cure (tacky) or over-cure (brittle). The challenge in the design of inkjet inks stems from the importance of developing ink in synergy with a specific printhead. The fluid chemistry and physics of jetting each ink drop must behave precisely and consistently to run under extreme conditions, which is necessary for drop-on-demand printing operations. This new ink demonstrates high consistency of flow (stable rheological behavior) and exit contact angle of the ink leaving the nozzle (consistent jet break-up). This new ink possesses exceptional substrate wetting and adhesion and intermolecular adhesion between white ink (base layer) and full gamut colors. Surface pretreatment is not necessary on some low-energy substrate materials that have traditionally been difficult to print, e.g., nitrile rubber and latex. These features allow for high-speed, in-line, single-pass inkjet printing. Dispersing pigments to a precise particle size and maintaining separation is critical for jetting performance and print quality. UV-curable inks consist of four components: monomers, oligomers, pigments and photoinitiators. Particles that are too large or agglomerated would compromise jetting accuracy, resulting in unacceptable print quality. The greater part of any dry ink is the binder – it traps the color in place, protects it from abrasion, and bonds to the surface. The binder typically is a polymer. UV ink printing differs from other types because the polymer is formed during curing by chain reaction of monomers and oligomers. Monomers are lowviscosity liquids, so they also function as the liquid ink carrier and eliminate the need for water or solvent – that is why UV cure inks are 100% solids and ideal solvent ink alternatives. Oligomers – larger reactive molecules – have multiple chemical functionalities and are critical to properly building the binder.

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LED vs. traditional UV curing UV inks and LED cure must be matched systems. There must be a definitive specification for factors including wavelength, irradiance, energy density, working distance and cooling mechanism. Not all UV LED systems are created equal. Unfortunately, an abundance of UV LED systems and vendors claim similar product features and capability of curing all UV inks. Apollo FTX ink is engineered to cure using LEDs, an alternative to UV arc systems. UV LED is unlike mercury vapor curing

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t p. 59


systems in that it is not focused nor does it use reflectors. The light directed at the substrate is diffused. For UV LED systems, the emitted wavelengths are relatively monochromatic, represented by narrow, normal curve distributions with nominal peak irradiance at 395 nm and, in general, with a tolerance range of +/- 5 nm. Note, 98% of the power is emitted in the range between 377 nm to 422 nm. With the introduction of 4+ watts and 395 nm UV LED light sources, inks can effectively be cured at fast processing speeds typical for screen and digital printing. Systems that are below 4 watts would require a thinner ink deposit, lower pigmented ink, closer distance between the lamp and the printed ink and slower scanning/belt speed when curing. UV LED lamps require cooling at the lamp and electronics to run efficiently and effectively. A good cooling system should have a lamp life of 20,000 or more hours of continual usage. UV LEDs

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Inkjet printheads, print resolution, single/multi-pass machine Ink chemistry and LED curing systems alone do not ensure printing success, adhesion or quality. There are several factors to consider, including print resolution DPI, speed printing and ink considerations for multi-pass vs. single pass. The greatest number of installations for printing plastic products are small flatbed UV cure inkjet printers with at least the four primary colors (RGBK), commonly also white (W) and clear (Cl or over-varnish), and, on occasion, with an extended color gamut set (CMYRGBK). These gantry-type printers are generally inexpensive and so unit cost for individual items is making many new markets profitable. Demand, however, is growing rapidly for greater productivity. Robotic loading and unloading reduces the changeover time from loading and unloading the platforms. However, as with graphic arts, throughput cannot match systems in which the print product is passed continually under fixed heads. Scale up from flatbed to continuous in-line would, at first consideration, seem to be straightforward. However, from the ink deposition and curing perspective there is a substantial difference. Flatbed “gantry” printers have reciprocating printheads with lamps on leading and trailing ends. For economy, given that UV cure ink-capable printheads are costly, on the basic printers only a single row of nozzles is available for each ink color.

60 January/February 2020

Consider a 300-dpi system: The volume of ink needed to cover the unit 300 x 300 dpi pixel is large, wasteful and by itself visible. Multiple passing in steps of ¼ the head width, increased native resolution to 1200 dpi. When in both directions, the single 300 dpi pixel becomes a 4 x 4 matrix of smaller squares. On each pass the printer will deposit, for each color, ink in four of those positions. This gives better visual appearance and less ink usage. Additionally, the layer of ink to cure with each pass is relatively thin. With each pass, the other colors will be applied not on top of wet ink, but where there is no ink, or the ink is cured. Only a small amount of wet-on-wet ink is needed. Cure is straightforward and each layer is exposed several times. On continuous heads, all the ink from any color is applied from a single print bar – an assembly of print heads end-to-end for the full print width. If assembled from 300 dpi nozzles, two rows give 600 dpi and four rows 1,200 dpi equivalence. For full-color density the larger pixels need commensurately more ink. Grayscale (variable drop volume)-capable printheads are the norm, thus low density contains small dots in each pixel, not the occasional large dot. With all heads in sequence, the inks are laid wet-on-wet, thus the thickness to be cured is as much as most intense color – perhaps as high as 250%. Incompatibility of the layer surfaces can lead to microscopic separations – like oil on water – which at best are minor visual artifacts but also can lead to interlay failure. Ink surface chemistry needs to be processed based on sequence. Thorough cure to the ink adjacent to the substrate is typically achieved with higher intensity lamps and with more effective photoinitiator packages. It is for this reason that scaleup from flatbed to continuous printing must, in some ways, be a restart of seeking or modifying a formulation. With continuous printing from fixed heads, it is customary to have the process color print heads close together with curing of all at the end. On graphic arts web presses, heads may be further spaced, with a low power cure unit to thicken or pin the ink may be between them. Web control, so that registration is maintained at the equivalent of 1,200 dpi, is common. With parts that are not tightly held on conveyors or chains, even minor vibrations will change dot position from color to color. Close packing minimizes this. White ink is handled differently from process colors for three reasons. First, it is frequently the base coat applied to hide a colored substrate or to make a translucent material opaque. For back-side printing on clear substrates, it will, of course, be last and a separate pass. Secondly, white inks and coatings depend on light scattering, not absorption. They are less efficient than any of the colors, and they must be applied more thickly. Third, colors mixed with white are pale. Separation is avoided if white is at least partly cured before other wet ink is deposited. Finally, white pigments are dense and prone to settling. It is necessary to

continually circulate the ink through the print head. If the printer is to be shut down, white ink should be purged from the head. One of the key attributes of print quality is print resolution. This is examined from two viewpoints. First, for fine text, lines and clear boundaries between solid colors, deviations from straight lines and curves need to be finer than the smallest feature visible to the human eye. The basis for this is the pixel count or native resolution. This is based on nozzle separation in one direction and head or substrate steps in the other. Grayscale capability, so that small dots can be used in between the larger, will give an apparent improvement in resolution from a lower resolution head. The second element of resolution is the avoidance of hard features in areas of smooth transition or light colors. For example, a small population of cyan or black dots from a 300-dpi print bar will be readily seen in a pastel area. Again, grayscale print heads allow several small, dispersed dots to replace a single, larger visible dot. Related to resolution is registration of the different colors to themselves and to the object being printed. On a flatbed, the item can be tightly constrained. These machines are engineered to ensure vibrations etc., are smaller than allowed variation

The demand for customization drives sales, whether it’s health and fitness performance products, smartwatches or the hundreds of alternative interactive band products. in droplet position. For fixed head machines, where parts placed on the conveyor are not held firmly and are subject to vibration from the conveyor, more latitude for registration may be warranted in the initial specification or the additional cost for advanced material handling included. Up to this point, software has been a background issue. Obviously, process speed has been continually increased to stay ahead of industry demands to print great quantities in shorter times. But software is now effective in other ways. There is less tolerance for the artifacts observed with curved surfaces forming, for example, leading or trailing edges. The resultant image density differences can be ameliorated by using the grayscale feature. In other instances, the structure

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of the electrical pulse that produces the ejection of the dot can be adjusted in just a part of the image to again address local artifacts that can arise from surface topography. This is an advance on the capability of the best color management systems to not just adjust the pulse for a color – or for individual nozzles, during calibration – but to use it in a dynamic mode. Another technological advance of incorporating into a highvolume, wide, single pass, two-side web printer is dynamic registration of the print to match variable features in the deformable substrate, based on cameras only inches before the printer. Obviously, aligning the whole print onto an object haphazardly placed onto a conveyor is, by comparison, straightforward. On the other hand, software and vision systems play a central role in the robotic printers for 3D parts, such as automotive components. With these, the distance between the head and the substrate varies so that the nozzles used to print must be selected and drop ejection adjusted for throw distance. Tracking the printed areas and avoiding artifacts from adjacent passes at different angles is another challenge being addressed. Contributing to the spread are new monomers for the polymer network, photoinitiators that have ethylenic bonds, which can be bound to the final polymer, with finer pigments of purer color and more effective dispersants. The printing and coating industries using UV cure have benefitted by the considerable effort that has gone into additive manufacturing and 3D modeling, for which formulations that can emulate traditional extrusion polymers have become available. These new polymers are providing combinations of physical chemical properties not attained in the original graphic arts formulations. For example, flexibility can be provided over a much greater range of tensile strength for the same thickness. In the wearables market, a great proportion of items are highstretch materials, such as disposable gloves, exercise stretch resistance bands and swimming caps. These products elongate up to 50 to 200%. Historically, pad and screen printing have been used to print such products, but – being analog stop/start – it was relatively low productivity compared to continuous single pass inkjet. Multiple colors for commodity items are nearly cost-prohibitive. The successful deployment of UV cure inkjet has been enabled by high-stretch formulations that originated in the automotive vinyl market. However, wearables demand more, as they must have the flexibility and stretch over wide temperature ranges. A second factor that needed resolution for high-stretch products is adhesion. Nitrile and other TPE rubbers are commonly used for stretchable products. Weaknesses arise with ink-to-ink bonding, especially color to white, and within the ink itself. White, being thick and highly pigmented, is especially prone to cohesive failures. Inter-ink bonds are dependent upon the chemicals that accumulate at the interface. The ability to create some direct bond formation between the layers is necessary.

62 January/February 2020

Nitrile gloves, Apollo FTX UV Ink toxicology certified as safe ASTM D 4236 (LHAMA - 16 CFR 1500.14) Further, when assembling or printing layers, there should be a regular gradation in the properties. For example, in analog weton-wet printing, ink viscosity will be decreasing in sequence, so splitting is always with the topmost ink. Inkjet, being noncontact, does not have this requirement for wet ink, but it needs to have a similar sequence of internal and interlayer bond strength when cured. Industry experts know how to manage the formulation sequence, beginning with the white. During development and scale-up, experts recognize the artifacts and root causes. For example, with loss of adhesion, what is the failure mechanism? Where has the failure occurred? The answer may be different from where it is most visible. With increased complexity of formulation comes more selectivity within the polymerization reaction. Different monomers have different diffusion characteristics and bond energies, so if there are variations in viscosity, for example because of temperature, polymer properties can vary. Temperature also influences the

CALENDAR mobility of the photoinitiator fragments, and this can influence chain transfer to the different moieties. The responses discussed here are not so much from the jetted ink, because for successful drop ejection and droplet formation the printheads and ink supplies have precise temperature regulation. From the temperature of the substrate or the item, the ink is so thin that the temperature changes between deposition and lamp. This effect is an important difference between printing for graphic arts, which is where the technology originated, and printing on plastic articles upon which extended durability is expected. Conclusion UV LED-curable flexible ink for color printing of flexible/ stretchable and wearable plastics products is one of the newest advancements in industrial inkjet technology. With the complications and interrelationships among factors, optimizing productivity and end-use performance should not be considered as a series of linear studies. Rather, it should be looked at as a full process system of formulation, ink deposition, curing, speed and temperature, where any change in one factor will probably interfere with other outcomes and require additional changes in process of materials. This is how the leading OEMs developed inkjet solutions for graphic arts where there were only a few substrates. With wearables, there are a great number of substrates, shapes and requirements of complex engineering solutions to achieve productive and profitable operations. n Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc., an engineering consulting company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes – inkjet print ing, laser mark ing, sur face pretreatments, bonding, decorating and finishing and product security. Sabreen has been developing pioneering technologies and solving manufacturing problems for over 30 years. He can be contacted at 972.820.6777 or by visit ing w w w.sabreen .com or


Dene Taylor, Ph.D., founded SPF-Inc. in 2000 to serve the printing and packaging industries, with a focus on adapting digital printing for new markets and Taylor applications. A nanochemist by training, about half of his 25 US patents are related to digital printing. He is a member of SGIA, TAPPI and RadTech. He can be reached at


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Contact us now at: 978.463.0416 2B Fanaras Dr., Salisbury, MA 01952

(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. January/February 2020 65

SUPPLIER QUICK LINKS Assembly/Joining Equipment

Hot Stamping Dies/ Tooling

Yupo Page 25

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 47

Emerson-Branson Page 19

Die Stampco Inc. Page 59

Laser Marking

OMSO North America, Inc. Page 57


h+m USA Page 11

Central Decal Page 10

Decorating Services

Hot Stamp Supply Company Page 31

Comdec Decorating Division Page 65

IDS Division (ITW United Silicone) Page 53

Digital Decorations LLC Page 65

Schwerdtle Page 26

Digital Inkjet Equipment & Supplies

Hot Stamping Foils/ Heat Transfers

Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover

CDigital Page 21

Inkcups Pages 34-35

CPS Resources Back cover

Innovative Digital Systems Back cover

Custom Foils Company Page 49

OMSO North America, Inc. Page 57

Hot Stamp Supply Company Page 31

Standard Machines, Inc./ Comdec, Inc. Inside back cover

Infinity Foils Page 15

Hot Stamping/ Heat Transfer Equipment CPS Resources Back cover Hot Stamp Supply Company Page 31 IDS Division (CER) Page 53 IDS Division (United Silicone) Page 53 North Pacific International, Inc. Page 3

Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 17 North Pacific International, Inc. Page 3 Webtech, Inc. Page 61

In-Mold Decorating/ Labeling Central Decal Page 10 Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 17 North Pacific International, Inc. Page 3

66 January/February 2020

Sabreen Group, Inc., The Page 32

Pad Printing Equipment & Supplies Diversified Printing Techniques Page 7 Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover Inkcups Pages 34-35

Surface Treatment Diversified Printing Techniques Page 7 Enercon Industries Page 6

Tradeshows/ Associations/ Publications

IDS Division (ITW TransTech) Page 53

2020 SPE's Decorating & Assembly Division TopCon and IMDA Symposium Page 36

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 47

RadTech 2020 Page 64

Pad Print Pros Page 56

SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division Page 63

Standard Machines, Inc./ Comdec, Inc. Page 51

Printing Inks Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) Pages 23, 51 Marabu North America Page 54 Proell, Inc. Page 27

Screen Printing Equipment & Supplies Diversified Printing Techniques Page 7 GPE ARDENGHI Page 22 Inkcups Pages 34-35

A guide to this issue’s Plastics Decorating advertisers.