Plastics Decorating - July/August 2019

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Bright Future for Digital Inkjet Printing on Cylindrical Containers Evaluating Appearance of Decorative Parts Bonding Bioplastics Using Adhesives

2019 PRIN TING Unite d Previ ew



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Contents July/August 2019


page 8

Inkjet Decoration of Plastics: A Bright Future

As more of the world goes digital, the plastics industry can capitalize on digital inkjet as an enabling technology.


Equipment Highlight

page 32


page 34

Tech Watch

page 38


page 46


page 48

Calendar Marketplace Supplier Quick Links

page 55 page 57 page 58

Printing on Cylindrical Shapes

FEATURES Ask the Expert

Q&A: Screen Printing for Cylindrical Containers

page 6

When it comes to cylindrical containers, screen printing continues to be a popular decorating process. However, other processes are gaining momentum.

2019 PRINTING United Preview Assembly


Bonding Bioplastics Using Adhesives

page 16 page 18

(Standard Machine’s SMI 6090 Inkjet Printer)

As use of bioplastics becomes more common, it’s worth considering how these materials will bond with certain adhesives.


Evaluating Appearance of Decorated Parts

page 26

Plastic parts are subject to high standards for function and appearance. As such, it is crucial to have accepted industry standards for inspection criteria.


page 36

Personalization and Promo Markets Drive Advances in DTO Printing With the growing demand for personalized products, more advanced printing techniques are needed for companies to remain competitive.


Thermoplastic Materials for UV Inkjet and Laser Marking

page 40

Deciding between inkjet or laser marking for a given application depends on a number of variables.


Prepare for Supply Chain Pressures

page 50

Read Plastics Decorating at or download the Plastics Decorating app.

Supply chain problems can occur at any stage of production. It is vital for manufacturers to be proactive.

July/August 2019 3

VIEWPOINT Summer temperatures have hit with a vengeance, and the air conditioning can hardly keep up. Here at the Plastics Decorating offices, we’re counteracting the heat by thinking about fall! Specifically, we’re looking forward to our first Plastics Decorating-sponsored event: The Surface Summit. The Surface Summit is a one-day educational opportunity, taking place Nov. 5 in Dearborn, Michigan. The event will offer a full day of technical papers and workshops targeting surface treatment and curing technologies for molded plastics in a variety of end-use markets. Our friends at RadTech International North America will be joining us, hosting that association’s Fall Meeting on the day prior to the Surface Summit. Attendees of both events will receive valuable industry insights and technical knowledge to improve the use of surface pretreatment, cleaning and curing methods in their own facilities. More information can be found at For those not able to join us in Dearborn, this issue of Plastics Decorating provides its own educational opportunities! Articles include insights on printing on cylindrical objects, a consideration of how certain bioplastics react to bonding adhesives, the importance of establishing industry standards for plastic decorating and much more. The markets we work within are changing rapidly. Consumers are demanding customization of all products – electronics, appliances, vehicles – at a level not seen before, and the decorating and assembly industries are dealing with the technical challenges that accompany that demand. Sharing knowledge with others in our industry is the key to success, and Plastics Decorating is proud to do its part through the magazine, the website and the new oneday Surface Summit. P.S. If you’re planning to attend PRINTING United in Dallas, stop by Booth #11834 to see us!

Dianna Brodine, managing editor,

ISSN: 1536-9870

July/August 2019

Published by: Peterson Publications, Inc.

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

Website: Email: Editor-in-Chief Art Director Jeff Peterson Becky Arensdorf Managing Editor Graphic Designer Dianna Brodine Kelly Adams Editor 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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ASK THE EXPERT A resource sponsored by SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division

Q&A: Screen Printing for Cylindrical Containers by Scott Frey, chief executive officer, OMSO North America


creen printing is a natural choice when it comes to printing on plastic parts – particularly for cylindrical containers. However, other processes – such as digital and flexo printing – are gaining in popularity as the market shifts, technology advances and customer needs change. For instance, the increase in demand for containers with photorealistic images has created a niche for flexo printing to thrive. Plastics Decorating sat down with OMSO North America CEO Scott Frey to consider the advancements in screen printing technology as it applies to cylindrical containers, as well as how it can be utilized alongside other technologies to the benefit of manufacturers and their customers. What are the advantages of screen printing vs. flexo vs. digital inkjet for cylindrical cups and containers? The screen printing process lays down a significantly thicker ink film, allowing for superior opacity compared to flexo. This is an advantage when printing on darker color substrates. Meanwhile, digital can lay down a significant ink film but tends to have a translucent appearance due to the use of process color inks. Digital also lacks crisp edge definition when compared to screen printing. What features have been introduced for screen printing, specifically for cylindrical cups and containers, that have helped automate the process? The most significant advancements in screen print technologies are the affordability of servo drives and advancements in the software controlling them. With equipment of the past, changeovers and all the adjustments to the machine or process were done with knobs, wrenches, gears and tooling. With servo technology, these adjustments are made with the push of a button and quick-change “toolless” fixtures. Human interaction with wrenches, knobs and tools is a thing of the past. With the push of a single button, something as simple as a flood bar or as advanced as UV LED power settings are programmed and saved for recall, and the SKU is scheduled. This results in changeover time reduced to mere minutes instead of entire shifts. Is there equipment on the market today that combines digital and screen printing in a single machine? The introduction of combination machines is on the horizon.

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Photo courtesy of OMSO North America

The screen printing process is a natural choice for printing text, ingredient blocks, UPC codes and those images requiring excellent edge definition. Digital, meanwhile, is a natural process for detailed pictures and high-resolution, photo-like images. The two processes on the same machine platform is a fantastic combination. What new applications are being developed for printed cups and containers? What specific industries have seen growth? Recently there has been a significant increase in the demand for photorealistic direct printing on taper sidewall containers. Stadium cups, yogurt cups and the like have seen a need for alternatives to in-mold labeling. High speed (indirect) flexo also has gained popularity in these markets. This technology uses a blanket in between the flexo plate and the cup, much like offset printing. This allows for the resolution of flexo with the flexibility of offset on containers with less than perfect sidewall thickness and distribution. The final key

is the method of printing each color and drying it before the next color is applied. Even on dark-colored substrates with extremely accurate 7-color presses, hexachrome printing can be utilized. Hexachrome goes a step beyond 4-color process printing. Fundamentally, hexachrome adds two additional colors to format of cyan, magenta, yellow and black by adding orange and green. Process printing essentially becomes 6-color process printing, which greatly expands the achievable color palette. With indirect flexo and hexachrome printing, a near photorealistic image is attained with much less cost than inmold labeling. How has the introduction of UV LED technology changed screen printing inks? Screen inks have changed dramatically in the past five years. The introduction of new UV LED photoinitiator packages has allowed the use of UV LED emitters in place of mercury or metal halide UV curing systems. The advantages are numerous, and safety is enhanced. For example, UV LED is very safe and efficient with no ozone, heat, microwave, mercury, stray light, exhaust fans, hot surfaces, little noise and no roof penetration for ducting. Savings on

electrical absorption is a whopping 65%, and no heat means less scrap. The market transition to UV LED is imminent. What are the latest automated vision inspection systems contributing to the market? Most notable are increases in print quality delivered to the end user. PC-based inspection units don’t become fatigued or make mistakes like human line inspectors do. The quality is controlled to a software-based quantification; there are no judgment calls on quality criteria. The consistency of quality print is drastically improved. Second is the labor savings. The quality is automatically quantified when automation, such as robotic case packers, can be utilized. n For more than 65 years, OMSO SpA has been designing and manufacturing advanced machines to print on objects and containers that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. OMSO focuses on four basic processes: dry-offset printing, flexographic printing, digital printing and screen printing. In support of growing demand, OMSO North America Inc. was incorporated in 2005. For more information, visit



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July/August 2019 7


Inkjet Decoration of Plastics: A Bright Future by Alvin Keene, president, IMI


t’s hard not to notice that the world is going digital, and that increasingly applies to manufacturing – including industrial printing and decoration. Leading market forecaster I.T. Strategies estimated the global digital industrial and production print retail revenues to print providers growing from just over $35 billion in 2017 to more than $42.5 billion in 2021. This includes applications such as décor, product and surface decoration, deposition and incorporation of functional materials into products, complex multi-process 3D product manufacturing applications, security printing, packaging and labeling. While plastics decoration is only a small percentage of this total, each of these application areas includes printing on plastic substrates and represents additional opportunities for the plastics decoration industry.

plastics industry to expand its expertise to better understand inkjet technology’s capabilities and the opportunities that it provides for expanding production capabilities and increasing profitability.

Whether companies have already implemented digital inkjet printing or plan to in the future, there is a need for the

Inkjet technology has been commercially available since the mid-1970s. Successive improvements have enabled its

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While inkjet has been called a disruptive technology by some, it also can be called an enabling technology. As defined by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen in his 1997 best-selling book, Innovator’s Dilemma: Management of Innovation and Change, a disruptive technology is a new, emerging technology that unexpectedly displaces an established one. He defined new technologies as either disruptive or sustaining (well-known technologies that undergo successive improvements), which better describes inkjet technology.

progression from simple marking and coding applications to today’s applications ranging from full-color production print to product decoration to 3D product printing/production to bioprinting and more. Clearly, the future of inkjet technology is bright in a wide array of industries and applications, including plastics de cor at ion a nd ot he r pr i nt i ng applications on plastic substrates.

Inkjet is a system Grayscale

Inkjet printing is commonly being utilized for decorative printing on many plastic substrates in various forms. All the basic inkjet technology categories are being utilized for a wide variety of plastics decoration and plastics substrate printing with a variety of printheads, ink chemistries and plastic materials. The largest applications are printing on various rigid and flexible plastic substrates for graphic arts, signage, POP displays, vehicle wraps, packaging, direct-to-object, etc. The recent introduction of inkjet print systems offering printing onto cylindrical and other typical container/product shapes is hastening inkjet’s adoption in plastics decoration applications. Typically, UV inkjet is the most prevalent technology of choice utilizing either conventional or LED lamps. Custom designed inkjet systems utilizing customized ink developments, robotics for product positioning, pre- and post-print treatments, etc. are becoming more common and result in expansion of the plastics decoration applications. Understanding the fundamentals is a prerequisite to any development. All users – current and potential – must understand the basic theory of all the diverse types of inkjet technology in use today. They must learn how the printheads work, what materials are used in their fabrication and the theory of operation, as well as learning about inks and media, how they are formulated and the supply/support systems necessary for successful implementation. Regardless of the products being decorated and personalized (aircraft/automotive components, containers, flooring, home décor, packaging, printed electronics, promotional products, etc.), basic surface parameters, ink properties, drying/curing, print quality/durability, product handling, data handling, workflows, etc. must be evaluated and optimized for each application. Thorough understanding of these crucial system aspects is essential for overcoming the challenges of inkjet to achieve successful implementation of inkjet systems in the diverse product decoration landscape.

Why inkjet? Many factors stimulate the interest in and conversion to inkjet technology for plastics decoration of all types, including: General attributes of inkjet: Inkjet is a proven, fully digital technology that has evolved from its basic marking and coding roots of the 1970s to current sophisticated systems that provide non-contact, reliable implementations on a wide variety of plastic substrates supporting a wide array of ink chemistries. Economics: Inkjet is typically more cost-effective than analog decorating systems when including all factors such as smaller hardware size and space, less makeready time and materials, reduced materials consumption, fully digital workflow, lower inventory and warehouse space, etc. Customization and personalization: Inkjet provides the opportunity to create products and perform operations that provide increased value to the customer and result in more profit for the manufacturer but simply could not be done with analog technologies. With the overall trend toward the ultimate “Market of One,” inkjet technology offers the appeal of providing realization of this holy grail. As with any sophisticated technology, selection and implementation of inkjet technology does require careful evaluation and testing for each specific application. Because most plastic decoration applications involve unique product characteristics, performance requirements, production environments, etc., a thorough qualification process must be conducted prior to implementation.

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Each inkjet system involves the complex interaction of many components to provide a reliable long-term solution (see graphic on page 9). Each of these interactions requires specific technical skills: Chemistry: Inks/fluids/substrate factors and interactions Electronics: Drivers, sensors, control loops Engineering: System design, motion control, mechanical control, housekeeping and product feed/ positioning/finishing Fluid dynamics: Ink systems Software: Data flows, printhead control, compensation While some of the smaller, less sophisticated inkjet systems are essentially prequalified for specific inks and substrates, potential users should have sample trials conducted by the system manufacturer, conduct print quality/durability testing on the resultant printed samples and perform a detailed economic evaluation on the entire system prior to purchase and installation. For larger and more sophisticated production environment inkjet systems, system evaluation generally needs to be much more extensive and may well require the utilization of an experienced inkjet integrator.

Whether companies have already implemented digital inkjet printing or plan to in the future, there is a need for the plastics industry to expand its expertise to better understand inkjet technology’s capabilities and the opportunities that it provides. For custom systems, development efforts can be substantial, particularly if the customer requires nonstandard inks and/ or substrates and if unique product shapes require specially designed product feed/positioning/handling to enable successful product printing. Common design requirements for custom production systems include detailed printhead evaluation, ink development, surface pretreatments, post processing, robotics product handling, etc. A typical system development approach (as presented in an IMI Inkjet Innovation Academy course by Integrity Industrial Ink Jet Integration) includes three stages: Feasibility, development and implementation. Each stage needs to be customized to meet the customer’s specific needs and the technological variables specific to the application (see graphic on page 12). Inkjet printing and decoration systems already have proven to be economical, reliable and profitable for a variety of plastics decoration and printing applications. Current products are increasingly being used, and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. However, there are new and exciting opportunities being identified based on changing societal factors and developments. What does the future hold? Several technologies and trends have been identified as drivers for increased inkjet decoration and production, thus potentially providing opportunities for inkjet technology to expand its role in plastics decoration and production.

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3D printing 3D printing is a commonly cited disruptive technology that can utilize plastics as the printing material, and inkjet 3D systems can use polymers as the jetting fluid to build products. However, based on current 3D printing systems and shortterm projected developments, limitations on the decorative features/quality of 3D printed plastic products will restrict this alternative. What is more likely is that 3D-printed plastic products will be decorated by inkjet technologies as a post-

Booth 4108

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processing step utilizing custom-designed robotics systems to position the products for final decoration.

offer inkjet decorated products customized to an individual user’s preferences and needs.

Functional materials The utilization of functional materials (materials that possess native properties and perform specific functions) in printing systems provides significant opportunities for valueadded products. Providing new functionalities within the product decoration (DNA, environmental sensors, graphene, pharmaceutical, printed electronics, security features, smart labeling/packaging features, track/trace, etc.) will all provide increased opportunities for plastic decoration and substrate printing. Adding such functionalities will offer inkjet technology opportunities to achieve its full value proposition plus increased product value and profitability.

Reshoring Reshoring (return of manufacturing operations to the US from another country) is a topic of much discussion and is reportedly a recent trend in the manufacturing sector. Motivations for companies to reshore include improved quality control, stronger IP protection, reduced transportation/supply chain costs and increasing labor rates in countries where manufacturing is typically offshored. The true understanding of the total cost of ownership (TCO) is fostering the reshoring movement, which offers new opportunities for inkjet technology in domestic US product decoration markets.

Market of one The “Market of One” concept is defined as “the level of customization and customer service that makes a customer feel as if they are being treated exclusively or are being given preference by the firm.” Utilizing technologies such as smartphones, high speed internet and social media, companies can more easily learn their customers’ likes and desires. This information can be used to

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Robotics Industrial robots consist of jointed structures in various configurations. The structures are achieved by the linking of several rotary and/or linear motions or joints. Each of the joints provides motion that can position the robot structure, or robot arm, into specific positions. To provide the ability to position a tool or product mounted on the robot to any position at any angle requires six joints, or six degrees of freedom, commonly known as six axes.

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Allied Market Research forecasts the global industrial robotics market (valued at nearly $38 billion in 2016) to reach over $70 billion by 2023. Robotics have already been implemented into customized inkjet systems for product decoration and with improving robotics technologies and the growing interest in directto-shape printing applications. Many new plastics decoration systems can be expected to incorporate robotics technologies. Sustainable materials Sustainable materials are materials used throughout the consumer and industrial economy that can be produced in required volumes without depleting nonrenewable resources and without disrupting the established steady-state equilibrium of the environment and key natural resource systems. Such materials vary enormously and may range from bio-based polymers or highly recyclable materials, such as glass, that can be reprocessed indefinitely without requiring additional mineral resources. There is much interest in bio-based products of all types, including plastics. Bioplastics are plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, cornstarch, straw, wood chips, food wastes, hemp, etc. With the growing global interest in sustainable materials, plastic products made from sustainable bioplastics and decorated with eco-friendly inkjet inks will become increasingly popular. Continued ink and fluids development is considered by many to be the most essential component for inkjet’s continued applications diversification and market growth. In summary, inkjet technology is currently an active participant in the field of plastics decoration with steady growth rates. With expected continued inkjet hardware and materials developments coupled with advances in supporting technologies, societal trends and changing marketing techniques, the future for inkjet decoration of plastic products and substrates is sure to be bright. n Al Keene founded IMI, Carrabassett Valley, Maine, in 1988 and has served as president since then, organizing nearly 1,000 conferences and courses worldwide focused on digital printing and advanced materials technologies, markets and applications. He is an internationally recognized expert on digital printing technology developments, trends and strategies. For more information, visit

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PRINTING United Coming to Dallas


t PRINTING United, which will be held Oct. 23-25 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, the learning is endless. This brand-new tradeshow was built on the foundation of the SGIA Expo. It will feature the latest technologies and innovations on the show floor with educational sessions, halfday intensives and luncheons taking place in the meeting rooms. This newly relaunched event will continue to provide access to the latest solutions for apparel, graphics/wide-format and functional printing applications, while also extending into the commercial, packaging and in-plant printing segments. The following PRINTING United exhibitors may be of interest to Plastics Decorating readers: A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. Booth 2005 Manufacturing durable, reliable screen printing machinery, ancillary equipment and supplies. In business for 40 years, the company offers manual and automatic textile printers, manual and automatic graphics printers, 3D and cylinder presses, dryers and curing units, exposing units and screen cleaning systems, and premium screen printing supplies.

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Comdec Booth 819 Opening its doors in 1982, Comdec, Inc., is a contract printing specialist. SMI, its machine division, is the originator of the building block approach for pad printing equipment. Comdec also is the exclusive North American importer of RUCO inks, which are used successfully in nearly all industrial printing applications.

Diversified Printing Techniques, Inc. Booth 4108 Showing pad printing solutions, including samples of automated systems. Also showing a machine that features patented G-cups with liners, videos and examples of the standard equipment, and the automation that Diversified Printing can offer. Samples of the supplies needed to successfully pad print will be available.

Nazdar Ink Technologies Booth 8627 Manufacturing a comprehensive range of ink solutions in UV, UV LED, water-based and solvent-based technologies for the printing industry. Whether it is for graphics or industrial, inkjet, screen or flexographic, Nazdar has an ink to meet any application need.

Engineered Printing Solutions Booth 2612 Demonstrating a range of printing solutions, Engineered Printing Solutions is excited to discuss product marking challenges and opportunities with manufacturers in all sectors. In addition to pad printing demonstrations, EPS will highlight the opportunities for cost savings and product differentiation that industrial inkjet provides.

OMSO North America Inc. Booth 11064 Manufacturing world-class printing equipment. Printing on containers of differing shapes, dimensions and materials for the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries is OMSO’s primary focus. With the use of highly automated technologies, OMSO satisfies an increasing spectrum of deeply diversified decoration needs.

GPE Ardenghi A srl Booth 216 Manufacturing screen printing machines and offering its services to the market since 1945. Today, GPE is present in all areas where marking and personalization are needed (promotional, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, automotive and industrial), providing semiautomatic and automatic equipment for the most complex screen printing automations.

OWOSSO Booth 7958 Celebrating 70 years of plate making, OWOSSO has been providing specialty dies like thermal kisscutting and membrane switch overlay dies to SGIA members for more than 31 years. In addition, OWOSSO offers a full range of foil stamping, embossing, debossing, intaglio, letterpress, other specialty dies and makeready supplies.

Graphic Parts International, Inc. Booth 2103 Maintaining an extensive inventory of screen printing parts and accessories, including replacement parts for foreign and domestic equipment. G.P.I. offers vacuum tables and vacuum motors, squeegees and floodbars, pallets and specialty pallets, infrared panels and UV dryer components, rubber blankets, and electrical and electronic components.

Plastics Decorating magazine Booth 11834 Reaching a targeted audience involved in plastics decorating and assembly processes through print, digital and mobile distribution. Each issue features the latest technology in hot stamping, pad printing, screen/offset printing, heat transfer, in-mold decorating and plastics assembly methods. Free subscriptions available.

Inkcups Booth 2011 Displaying a range of machines and offering demonstrations of digital printers, pad printers and laser plate-makers.

Roland DGA Booth 4616 Showcasing Roland’s latest digital technologies. In addition to unveiling several exciting new products, Roland DGA will be displaying its recently launched TrueVIS VG2 printer/cutters, VersaUV LEF2-200 UV flatbed printer, Texart RT-640M multi-function dye sublimation printer, DGSHAPE DE-3 rotary engraver and other innovative devices.

LogoJET Booth 2622 Offering LogoJET UV printers featuring industrial-strength components and high-performance RICOH print heads to deliver its fastest print speeds ever. The customizable ink system offers CMYK, White, Clear Gloss and Primer inks to produce full-color and textured imprints on virtually any product or substrate. Stop by LogoJET’s booth for live demonstrations. Marabu North America LP Booth 5021 Developing and manufacturing top quality products backed by responsive customer service and complete technical support. Marabu’s core products include liquid laminates (clear coatings) and inks for large and grand format digital printing, as well as screen and pad printing inks. Marabu’s coatings are formulated for sign, vehicle/fleet graphics, digital printing, fine art printing and more.

Trotec Laser Booth 11763 Featuring Trotec’s SP2000, the fastest, largest and most powerful safety class two laser system on the market. Processing speeds up to 6.5 ft/sec, laser power up to 400 W and a working area of 66x98". Yupo Corporation America Booth 10959 Offering recyclable, waterproof, tree-free synthetic paper with attributes and properties that make it the perfect solution for a variety of marketing, design, packaging and labeling needs. For more than 50 years, people have been “Doing it on YUPO.” Come see why. n

July/August 2019 17


Bonding Bioplastics Using Adhesives by Zachary Sayah, application engineer, and Wenlai Feng, application engineer, Henkel Corporation


ith the growth in the use of bioplastics, questions continue to arise on how they can be used and how they will react to processes such as adhesives, welding, decorating, etc. This article will summarize a recent study that was performed on Eastman Trēva™ – a highperformance bioplastic and how it reacted to specific bonding adhesives.

Eastman Trēva™, referred to throughout this study as the testing sample, offers high performance and reduced environmental impact, as well as being chemically resistant and dimensionally stable with excellent flow and low birefringence. It is derived from cellulose sourced from sustainably managed forests – meaning it can help reduce reliance on fossil fuels without putting extra strain on global food supplies. The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Biopreferred® program has certified the testing sample of engineering bioplastic GC6021 with a bio-based content of 42%.6 The bioplastic offers the following benefits: • Chemical resistance allows it to stand up to some of the harshest chemicals, including skin oils, popular sunscreens and household cleaners.4 • Flow characteristics allow it to be used with complicated parts, including filling thin walls. This improved flow enables design freedom, allowing designers to innovate with confidence when molding or extruding.4 • Low birefringence eliminates the rainbow effect some plastics experience with polarized light. Expect great optical performance in electronic devices or retail displays.4 Due to these attributes, the testing sample is a suitable material for applications in many markets. Because of the potential for the testing sample to be a universal material, it is important to explore and document adhesive options that adhere well to the testing sample products as well as other substrates. Different adhesives require different bonding processes. For example, light cure products require light of specific wavelength to start the reaction. Without the right wavelengths and intensities, the adhesives do not cure. Other adhesives may require two mixed components to form a bond. While there are several more types of adhesive cure processes, understanding the adhesion of different chemistries is essential for understanding the potential of the testing sample to be used in engineered assemblies.

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Specimens of Trēva™ and other products are shown in this screenshot from an Eastman Chemical Company video.

The adhesives used to bond the specimens of the testing sample in this study are thermosetting plastics. All these adhesives are designed to provide permanent, lasting bonds. However, the correct chemistry is highly dependent on the demands of the application. Light cure acrylic (LCA) adhesives are unique because they do not have specific open times before they start to automatically cure. On the contrary, their open time is infinite, and the cure is only ever started after exposure to a light source of the right wavelength (nm) and intensity (W/cm2). The cure is almost immediate, and the adhesive bond is instantly at its full strength. The main drawback to this adhesive technology is that the proper equipment is required. The photoinitiators in the LCA only begin the curing process if it is exposed to the proper wavelength. Other adhesive technologies slowly build strength over their cure schedule and usually will not reach their full strength for several hours, or even days. Cyanoacrylates (CAs) are most commonly known as super glue. They are known for their rapid fixturing and high initial strength. They cure through ambient moisture. This cure schedule may be sped up with CA primers. In this study, LOCTITE® 7701™ Primer was chosen. Considerations for this technology include low impact resistance, low peel resistance and the fact that it requires a small gap to cure. Uncured excess CA will “bloom” or “frost” nearby surfaces due to an evaporation reaction.

Light cure cyanoacrylate (FLASHCURE®) adhesives are hybrids between CAs and LCAs. Both cure mechanisms (light and moisture) may be used to cure them. The first main benefit to this dual cure is that the CA cure will help fixture the part before the full cure is brought by light exposure. The second main benefit to this dual cure is that the blooming phenomenon experienced with CAs is eliminated by curing excess material. Light cure silicone (LCS) adhesives are similar to LCAs. However, they polymerize to form flexible silicone thermoset material when exposed to the correct wavelengths. They have all the inherent benefits and considerations of LCAs. However, the main difference is that they require outdated bulb-based light sources to cure and will not fully cure with LED light sources. Cyanoacrylate-structural hybrids (hybrids) are twocomponent adhesives. One component is CA, and the other component is either an epoxy or an acrylic (structural). The CA component provides speed of cure and high initial strength, while the structural component provides depth of cure. A concern of this technology is that it requires proper mixing through a static mix nozzle. Epoxy, methyl methacrylate and urethane adhesives are all considered structural due to their high strength, as well as

Different adhesives require different bonding processes. For example, light cure products require light of specific wavelength to start the reaction. Without the right wavelengths and intensities, the adhesives do not cure. their resistance to peel forces and impacts. These products can be either one-component or two-component and have varying properties including (but not limited to) fixture time, bond strength, hardness and elongation. These products typically do not cure as readily as CA or light cure adhesives but are usually more structurally robust. Whereas most light cure products are tailored to bond plastics and glass, structurals are designed to bond all materials (including metals) and to provide higher resistance to applied loads on bonded assemblies. For this study, popular adhesives from each of these key technologies have been selected for testing in order to give a

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diverse bond strength profile for the testing sample. Many of these adhesives are ISO-10993 certified for use in medical applications.5 Definitions Bioplastic – Plastic that is biodegradable, has bio-based content or both.6 Birefringence – A double-refraction phenomenon in which an unpolarized beam of light is divided into two beams with different directions and relative velocities. (ASTM F1241)3

ASTM D31631 Chemistry classification

CA-Structural hybrid

Load at failure – The maximum breakaway load recorded during the test.1 Shear strength – The maximum average stress when a force is applied parallel to the joint (ASTM D907-15).2 Shear – Stress, strain or failure resulting from applied forces that tend to cause adjacent planes of a body to slide parallel in opposite directions (ASTM D907-15).2 Thermoplastic – Monomer, polymer or copolymer, which readily changes state between solid and liquid depending on thermal conditions.2 Thermoset – Monomer, polymer or copolymer, which, when cured, changes into a substantially infusible and insoluble product.2


Methyl methacrylate Urethane

Specimens were cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, wiped clean and allowed to flash off for at least five minutes. Then, adhesive was applied to one of the clean substrate faces. A second substrate then was placed over the first, forming a quarter-inch overlap. Squeeze-out from this process was cleaned using sterile cotton-tipped applicators. The specimens were allowed to cure for the specified amount of time. Specimens bonded with cyanoacrylate, epoxy, methyl methacrylate and urethane adhesives were given 24 hours at standard lab conditions to cure. Light cure acrylic adhesives were cured with a 405 nm LED light source with an intensity of 1 W/cm2 for 10 seconds. Specimens bonded with light cure silicone adhesive were cured with a D Bulb (Part No. 983469) with an intensity of 1 W/cm2 for 90 seconds.

20 July/August 2019

Standard deviation (psi)

























Table 1. Shear strength results for hybrid and structural adhesives

Standard lab conditions – Regulated temperature and humidity to an environment to 70 ± 2℉ and 50 ± 10% relative humidity. Analysis Specimen preparation Eastman provided Henkel with specimens of the testing sample specially molded into “flex bars” roughly 5" x 0.5" 0.125". These bars would be used to measure shear strengths of bonded lapshear assemblies.


Average shear strength (psi)

ASTM D31631 Chemistry classification

Light cure acrylic

Light cure cyanoacrylate Light cure silicone


Average shear strength (psi)

Standard deviation (psi)






















Table 2. Shear strength results for light cure adhesives

ASTM D31631 No Primer

Bonded with Primer LOCTITE® 7701™

Average shear strength (psi)

Standard deviation (psi)

Average shear strength (psi)

Standard deviation (psi)

LOCTITE® 4011™










LOCTITE® 4902™





LOCTITE® 4541™










CA Product

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Table 3. Shear strength results for cyanoacrylate adhesives (with and without 7701™ Primer)

Methods ASTM D3163: Adhesive bond strength is determined by stressing a single adhesive overlap joint with the application of a tensile force parallel to the bond area and to the major axis of the test specimen (plastic-to-plastic). The specimens were pulled to failure at a speed of 0.08"/min. A force transducer measured load at failure for each of these lapshear specimens. This force was then divided by the bond area (the overlap between the two lapshear faces) to calculate the shear stress. The failure modes also were recorded, indicating how the adhesive joints failed.1 Models Shear stress was determined by the following equation: σ = F/A Where σ is shear strength in psi, F is the peak force recorded by the transducers (lbf), and A is the bond area shared between the two flex bars, measured in square inches. This was measured by taking calipers to each side of the overlap. If the two measurements were not the same, the average value was used.1 Adhesives Cyanoacrylates, light cure acrylics, light cure cyanoacrylates, light cure silicones, hybrids, epoxies, methyl methacrylates and urethanes.

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t p. 21


Figure 1. Shear strength data for lapshear assemblies bonded with structural and hybrid adhesives

Figure 3. Shear strength data for lapshear assemblies bonded with cyanoacrylate adhesives. This chart also demonstrates how shear strength is affected by the use of 7701™ Primer.

Results and discussion The tables and graphs present the finding of the laboratory studies. These results are the averages of 10 replicates tested per adhesive. The results are an indication of how assemblies bonded with certain adhesives will perform under shear loading. Conclusions The finding of this study will be extremely valuable for future applications of the testing sample bioplastic in several industries. This study focused on ISO-10993-approved products because the testing sample is expected to be used broadly in the medical industry. However, the findings of this study should not only reflect the performance of the testing sample for needle bonding, tube bonding or other medical applications. They can be used as a guide to what else the testing sample may be capable of.5 Figure 2. Shear strength data for lapshear assemblies bonded with light cure adhesives

For example, this study revealed that urethanes and hybrid adhesives tend to bond the testing sample better than MMAs or epoxies. Because of this, it is known that the testing sample would be a suitable material for many structural applications, but not those that require epoxies or MMAs. This study also showed that 7701™ Primer increases the bond strengths of most of the CAs tested, but not all. This could have major implications for anyone trying to design a production process for these products.

 22 July/August 2019

t p. 22


It also was found that the FLASHCURE® products showed similar bond strengths to LCAs, whereas the light cure silicone showed a much lower bond strength. This indicates that rigid bonds produce much higher strengths than flexible bonds with the testing sample. In conclusion, the information gathered by this study will serve as a guide for anyone intending to implement the testing sample into their design using adhesives. n References 1. ASTM D3163-01, Standard Test Method for Determining Strength of Adhesively Bonded Rigid Plastic LapShear Joints in Shear by Tension Loading. ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014. 2. ASTM D907-15, Standard Terminology of Adhesives, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2015. 3. ASTM F1241, Standard Terminology of Silicon Technology, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2000. 4. Eastman Chemical Company, Eastman Trēva™ Engineering Bioplastic. Kingsport, TN, 2019. https:// aspx 5. ISO 10993-1, Biological Evaluation of Medical Devices, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2018. 6. USDA, Biopreferred® Catalog, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 2019. Acknowledgements Special thanks to Ian Barron for producing the shear strength test data contributing to this paper. TRĒVA is a trademark of Eastman Chemical Company, and BIOPREFERRED is a registered trademark of the United States Department of Agriculture. All other marks used are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Henkel and its affiliates in the US and elsewhere.

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Henkel, and its LOCTITE® brand, is a world leader in adhesives, sealants and surface treatments. Engineers and manufacturers rely on LOCTITE® solutions to tackle some of the most extreme design challenges. For more information, visit For a full list of LOCTITE® adhesives used in this study, visit


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Evaluating Appearance of Decorated Parts by Paul Uglum, president, Uglum Consulting, LLC


ecorated plastic parts are everywhere in consumers’ lives. They are an important part of people’s cars, phones, homes and packaging for many of the products consumers purchase. Because the appearance is so important, plastic parts are subject to high standards, not only for the function of the parts but also for the appearance.

Recent postings to the Society of Plastics Engineers web-based discussion tool, The Chain, highlighted this issue. The discussion started with a simple question: Is there an accepted industry standard for inspection criteria for cosmetic and functional standards of molded parts in the medical industry? The discussion that followed was wide ranging and contained quite a bit of useful information, as well as some discussion of why it is so important to have agreement on standards with the customer or supplier. For example, one of the issues was a customer’s new quality engineer, who did not have realistic expectations. This article will focus on critical aspects of the discussion as well as provide some additional guidance. These issues impact both internal costs and customer relationships. How to set visual standards for cosmetic issues and what tools are available to establish these standards are important but not the entire story. Establish an inspection program One way to control the quality of the appearance is visual inspection of the parts. The objective is preventing quality issues from reaching the customer once production starts. Visual inspection is not the most reliable quality control method; however, because of the variety of potential issues and the importance of the entire appearance, it is important. While individual aspects can be measured with vision systems, people are still more flexible and more capable of seeing the part in its totality and observing what might be an unexpected anomaly.

When it comes to inspecting appearance, people are still the most capable of detecting anomalies in parts. Photo courtesy of Uglum Consulting, LLC.

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There are three parts to ensuring a robust inspection program. The first is clearly defined standards used by both the manufacturer and the customer. The second is an understanding of how best to define and evaluate the appearance of parts. For this it is helpful to understand what tools and standards are available. Last is the need to evaluate and maintain the visual inspection process. In order to have a robust system, all three parts must be in place. Setting realistic tolerances requires both knowledge and expertise. Unfortunately, many prints and specifications are

vague or poorly written. It is important when quoting new business to review the documentation and quote exceptions to unachievable requirements. It is also a good time to recommend appropriate and achievable standards and to begin a dialogue on an agreement between manufacturer and customer. Care should be taken to avoid immeasurable requirements on prints, such as “no surface defects allowed.” This is especially true when no viewing conditions are defined. A far better route would be to require no visible surface defects when viewed for a specified time under carefully controlled conditions. Clearly a part that has an obvious defect is unacceptable both in manufacturing plants and with customers. The standard, as with color matching, should be for the defect to only be visible under defined conditions that represent the actual use environment. What constitutes acceptable and unacceptable varies with the type of product and how it is used and viewed, so final standards will not be the same for all parts made using the same processes. Tools for establishing standards Resources that help in establishing standards can include industry standards and customer-specific standards. If none exist in a specific industry, look to some of the well-established documents from industries using the same production

technologies. The processes used to make the parts are often identical and so are all the issues inherent in them. Furthermore, experienced quality and manufacturing engineers are an important resource because of their understanding of customer expectations and the capabilities and limits of the production processes chosen to make the part. Make sure there is a common language with the customer and across the business. People have a tendency to look at the same defect and call it by different names. In order to communicate about the defect, a common language is critical. If a defect is given a name, it must be one understood by everyone from the inspector through to the final customer. Incorrectly named defects can lead to confusion. Physical limit samples, showing actual defects, are the best communication tool and can be useful for both training and maintaining a consistent standard of inspection. Workmanship standards are important tools for documenting the standards, as are Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PFMEA) and Quality Plans. The name of the document is not as important as the content. There are a number of documents that can be helpful in developing clear standards with customers, and it is useful

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t p. 27


to look at what other industries are doing as well. One very useful document from the automotive industry is VDA 16 Quality Management in the Automotive Industry, “Decorative surfaces of accessories and functional parts in the exterior and interior areas of automobiles.” It covers evaluation conditions, feature definitions and the approach to defects and acceptance criteria. The current edition is the third revision, dated 2016, and it includes more on developing a common coordination between the supplier and the customer. The previous edition, volume two, has a CD with examples of various defects and is still useful for that reason. As for molded surfaces, the SPI AQ-103 “Cosmetic Specifications of Injection Molded Parts” 1994 edition is very well constructed and contains information on viewing conditions, acceptance criteria and a glossary of terms for typical cosmetic defects in molded plastic. Since molded defects can read through to decorated parts, it is important to understand this specification. Many customers will already have their own proprietary documentation that include definitions for what defects are and what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable parts. If there are conflicts between industry and customer specifications, they will need to be resolved with the specific customer. The Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry produces several useful documents and tools, such as the TAPPI size estimation transparency, which allows for estimating the size of given defects or inclusions. Some of the most difficult to characterize parts are the high gloss surfaces such as “piano black.” High gloss black finishes are particularly problematic, both because small defects are very visible and the smoothness of the finish is critical. Fortunately, the ACT laboratories has produced a set of Orange Peel Standards that provides a set of visual references on a scale of one to 10 for waviness of the surface. Setting the standards for quality Evaluation conditions including position of the part, lighting, distance from the inspector, length of observation and background should be controlled. Of course, good eyesight is an important factor in the choice of inspectors. The typical position would be that in which it is normally used. Lighting should be about 1,000 lumens at the part, and parts should be held at about 20 to 25 inches from the inspector – approximately arm’s length. The length of time observing the part should be limited and increase with the size of the part. Five seconds would be typical for a small, quarter-sized part. The best backgrounds do not distract or distort the observation. A low gloss neutral gray or black provides the best results for opaque parts. For parts that are transparent or have transparent sections, a black and a white background are best to identify possible inclusions or visual distortions. Finally, it is best to isolate the inspectors

28 July/August 2019

from distractions, such as extraneous light, bright clothing and foreign objects. Define evaluation zones based on visibility, with immediately visible having the highest standard and those surfaces with obstructed views (not normally visible) a somewhat lower standard. Surfaces that are concealed after manufacturing or that are never seen do not need to be evaluated and should be excluded unless the defect impacts the function of the part. Of critical importance are both training of inspectors and inspection process monitoring to make sure that process remains consistent over time. Training should be frequent and use actual samples with and without defects. Evaluate the inspection performance using attribute agreement analysis. These are pass/fail decisions, and the best way to evaluate is to have a representative group of inspectors evaluate 30 visual defects and then repeat the evaluations at least once. In addition to matching their own conclusions, the inspectors should agree with each other. Inspections should be done using the Kappa, a statistic that estimates the level of agreement in data beyond what would be expected by chance. A Kappa agreement of greater than 0.9 is excellent and 0.7 to 0.9 is good. Minitab provides a useful tool in completing this evaluation. Current best practice involves inspectors reviewing test samples every two weeks to measure and maintain their capability. This is not testing the ability to find a defect but to determine if it is a pass or fail part. More than one set of parts should be used on a rotational basis. Finally, track and use the information. If a sudden change in yields based on visual inspection is seen, either an increase or decrease, take action. Review the parts and process the data to determine why. It is typical for inspectors’ standards to drift over time. Collecting data, including the location of defects, also can have the additional benefit of providing a tool for process improvement. If quality is fluctuating, make sure actual parts are used in communicating the issue. Pictures and verbal descriptions often are not enough. Many tools exist to help establish and maintain a successful visual inspection system. Understanding them and using them will lead to improved quality and relationships between the manufacturers and customers of decorated plastic parts. 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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Printing on Cylindrical Shapes 3DT LLC 262.253.6700 The UltraDyne from 3DT, Germantown, Wisconsin, is a new system developed to meet the needs of cup printing press operators wanting to replace older corona generators due to other companies’ discontinued models and the scarcity of spare parts for these models. 3DT’s UltraDyne corona generator is easy to use, compact and affordable. It produces consistent, high-quality corona surface treatment for high-speed cup and decoration lines. This system can corona treat and leak test (also called pin hole test) at the same time. It is remotely controlled by an external device or the printing press, providing simultaneous operation. UltraDyne has an internal high-voltage transformer in a single compact unit. As with all 3DT surface treatment systems, UltraDyne is designed, manufactured and supported in the US. Apex Machine Company, Inc. 954.566.1572 The versatile, turnkey model C-500 decorating system from Apex Machine Company, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, delivers high-quality multicolor printing with fast changeovers for inks/ artworks, minimizing expensive downtime. It is designed for greater product diversity, high production rates and built-in quality check systems. It is configured for most cylindrical and container-style parts, such as cups, containers, tubes, syringes and more. The C-500 supports both flexible and rigid parts and has added functionality, such as inline assembly, capclosure application and various integrated options for packaging decorating and downstream handling. A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. 773.777.7100 The AM-180 from A.W.T. World Trade, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, is a press for screen printing on 3D objects. It has redesigned features with laser registration and intuitive touchscreen controls. Laser registration improves image repeatability and allows users to print multicolor images and on 3D objects

32 July/August 2019

without a registration notch or ramp, improving production quality and opening new markets. The new touchscreen allows users to set, adjust, monitor and control all important process parameters with precision and ease. It delivers high-quality results when printing on cylindrical, spherical, elliptical, conical and tubular items, as well as flat surfaces. The AM-180 registers equally well on both solid and clear items. Desco Machine Company 954.566.1572 The DHSP Cup and Container printer from Desco Machine Company, Twinsburg, Ohio, is an efficient and economical system for 6-color printing on cylindrical parts. It features a maximum print height of 9.25" and comes standard with running registration, anti-backlash helical gears, swing-away color heads and much more. The DHSP offers 6-color printing at speeds of several hundred parts per minute based on part size. GPE Ardenghi +39.0363.49796 T he new sem iautomat ic screen printing machine for drinkware, made by GPE Ardenghi, Treviglio, Italy, can print two colors at the same time with registration. With electronic registration and LED irradiator, the machine also features 400 pcs/hr when printing two colors with LED and 700 when printing one color with LED. The wide range of machines gives GPE Ardenghi the versatility to service every aspect of the screen printing industry. Inkcups 978.646.8980 The Helix® Hi-Fi, a cylindrical digital printer from Inkcups, Danvers, Massachusetts, is capable of high-speed single- and

multicolored prints on a variety of applications, most commonly drinkware. The Helix ® is a 360-degree digital printer for full-coverage prints on straightwalled and tapered cylinders, such as sports bottles, mixing glasses, bar ware, candles, stainless steel tumblers, plastic and glass cups, squeeze bottles and more. The Helix® has been a market success since its launch in 2018, reproducing highquality, durable text and images with mirror print – which allows the image to be seen from all angles – and contour print, which offers a textured 3D effect. The machine prints full CMYKWW+V. Designed for the personalization market, the Helix® supports one-offs as well as larger volume print orders. Innovative Digital Systems 704.628.7679 The Revolution 360° T from Innovative Digital Systems, Indian Trail, North Carolina, is a UV LED-curable inkjet rotary printer engineered for direct digital pr inting on cylindrical flat-walled and tapered/conical objects. Innovative Digital offers custom tooling for products up to 180 mm (length) and 120 mm (diameter). Print on stainless steel, plastic, glass and more. Equipped with an efficient UV LED curing system and high-speed printheads, this machine can print a full wrap print in 15 seconds. Highquality images print with a resolution up to 1200 x 900 DPI. Innovative’s engineering and tech support services increase productivity and expand print personalization capabilities. ISIMAT 704.927.3700 T h e n e w I SI M AT I Series from ISIMAT, a KURZ company based in Ellwangen, Germany, offers a complete package of individual printing and decorating with real foil. Using the inLINE FOILING® process, products like thin wall glasses, bottles or plastic holloware can be finished quickly, easily and economically without the need for pressure or heat. Reach up to 100 parts a minute with up to eight printing stations with the I Series. This series also extends decoration possibilities to

non-round articles. Obtain individual configurations thanks to the modular design – screen printing, hot stamping and, soon, digital printing with a quick-change system. Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) 978.463.0050 The Kammann K22 from Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US), headquartered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, offers the latest ge ne r at ion C NCcont rolled ser vo d r ive t e ch nolog y enabling highquality decoration of any article shape, whether round, oval, angular, flat or handled articles. The machine can be configured with direct-to-shape inkjet, screen printing stations or a hybrid combination of both. A robust framework provides stability and dampening characteristics, enhancing print quality and productivity with more space available to accommodate print stations or other equipment. Training and demonstrations will be available once a K22 is installed at the New Hampshire headquarters. OMSO North America, Inc. 859.282.6676 The ServoBottle from OMSO North America, Erlanger, Kentucky, has directly evolved from the proven technology of other OMSO servobased platforms. The automat ic “se r vo driven” machine has electronically controlled movements and can de cor at e pla st ic or glass objects of various shapes and sizes in up to eight colors UV LED. Rotary in design and compact, OMSO ServoBottle offers leading-edge technology to the screen printing industry. The electronically controlled movements, processed after the profile of a sample has been acquired via laser, allow for continuous 360° print on symmetrical ovals, as well as cylinder without overlap blemishes (the leading edge of the print is already dry upon squeegee lifting). This approach reduces the need for mechanical adjustments of the machine and achieves a total changeover time of 30 to 40 minutes guaranteed. n

July/August 2019 33

ASSOCIATION Letter from the Chair

I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who participated in our recently held SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Topical Conference (TopCon) that was co-located with the In-Mold Decorating Association and its IMDA Symposium – either through attending and/or exhibiting. The conference took place in early June in an exciting location – Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. Although our overall attendee numbers were down a little bit from our previous TopCons, we had a very engaged group that created a great deal of networking throughout the two-day event. I have said this before, but it is worth reiterating: Webinars, podcasts and other forms of digital communication cannot replace person-to-person interaction and networking. So many great ideas come from others who are involved with similar types of work or businesses. The programming and presentations are important, but the combination of this along with the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with the tabletop exhibitors and other attendees is what sets a conference apart from any other type of event or online program.

Looking ahead, we have already finalized next year’s TopCon and IMDA Symposium. It will take place June 17-18, 2020, at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest, in Ypsilanti, Michigan – just outside Detroit. We are very excited about this and hope that many of you will join us for the event. Other upcoming events will include ANTEC® that will run March 30-April 2, 2020, in San Antonio, Texas. Our division will be working on sponsoring at least one session for ANTEC on the latest technologies in plastics decorating and assembly. Be sure to mark your calendar for both our TopCon and ANTEC in 2020. If you have any questions on SPE and our Decorating & Assembly Division, do not hesitate to contact me at jeff@ I am honored to be the current chairman and would be glad to help anyone with any questions. Thank you for all your support. Jeff Peterson President, Peterson Publications, Inc. Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division


TopCon and IMDA Symposium Success in Franklin Once again, the jointly conducted SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Topical Conference and the In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) Symposium was a great success. The combined event brought in more than 120 attendees and 28 tabletop exhibits to the Supplier Trade Fair. “This year’s TopCon was a great event,” remarked SPE Chairman Jeff Peterson. “We’ve built a truly irreplaceable community devoted to sharing knowledge and tackling challenges that have arisen in the industry. This is an event that is not to be missed.” The event boasted a wealth of opportunities for attendees to gather, share and collaborate on common and new issues affecting the industry. General session paper presentations were given on topics covering all fields of plastics decorating, assembly and in-mold decorating/labeling. This year also saw the return of the popular interactive workshops where smaller groups were able to interact with their fellow attendees in a more intimate setting. Participants were able to choose two workshops to attend each day, thereby allowing them to engage with a variety of topics. Subjects for workshops

34 July/August 2019

ranged from curing technologies for plastics applications to discussions of surface treatments for decorating and joining. “The interactive workshops are one of the best parts of TopCon,” said Peterson. “The variety of topics and number of sessions we’re able to offer attendees is just one of the things that makes TopCon such a unique, worthwhile event. We had a great event this year and look forward to many more.” More information will be available on the Plastics Decorating website ( regarding next year’s TopCon and Symposium in early 2020. n

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Personalization and Promo Markets Drive Advances in DTO Printing by Jessica Makrinos, marketing manager, Inkcups


o d a y’s d i r e c t- t o - o b j e c t (DTO) cylindrical printing systems serve a handful of modern printing needs. Growing demand f rom promotional and retail/personalization markets is driving the need for more advanced, higher-quality printing techniques on cylindrical items such as drinkware. DTO printing makes great strides DTO cyli nd r ical pr i nt i ng has traditionally been done using screen printing methods. Screen printing has the advantage of a large installed equipment base and a well-practiced technique, but is disadvantaged in labor time, material costs and the need for additional production steps. DTO digital offers three main advantages over conventional DTO screen printing: it can produce multiple colors and/or design effects in one pass; it has the ability to print short runs with customization; and it delivers significant time and cost savings. Some of the strengths of today’s newer DTO cylindrical digital machines include:

With today’s advanced printers, such as the Helix® printer from Inkcups (pictured above), direct-to-object digital printers are capable of printing on a variety of products, from drinkware to personalized cosmetics.

36 July/August 2019

• Design techniques, such as mirror prints, tone on tone, stained glass, contouring and etching • Built-in programmable tilt to reduce changeover time and eliminate the need to optimize print recipes for each SKU change • Seamless, 360° printing • Image resolution of 1,200 dpi These machines also can print full color, including varnishes and specialty inks, enabling a wide

Personalization is everywhere. People are proudly wearing shirts with their dog’s face, sipping beer from a pint glass with their spouse’s photo and appreciating the ambience of a candle with a favorite wedding photo. spectrum of design techniques. This provides the print customer with the opportunity for considerable personalized creativity. When researching the best machine to fit specific needs, some key considerations are printable diameter, length of the object and depth of the largest contour. Users also should take into account the composition of the item to be printed on, as certain inks can only properly adhere to specific substrates. The markets: Promotional and retail/personalization Look around – personalization is everywhere. People are proudly wearing shirts with their dog’s face, sipping beer from a pint glass with their spouse’s photo and appreciating the ambience of a candle with a favorite wedding photo. With the advanced DTO digital printers on the market today, personalization just got a huge upgrade from single-color logos to full-color facial image replication. The abundance of applications is a strong point of digital DTO printing. These machines can print on an almost limitless variety of products, including glass and barware, stainless steel and plastic sports bottles, candles and candle holders, industrial tubes, disposable cups, beer and spirit bottles, measuring cups, event-based products (i.e., water bottles for bicycle races), personalized items and cosmetics. Printable materials include glass, coated metals, stainless steel, plastic and paraffin wax candles. Just don’t forget to match the correct ink to each substrate for maximum adhesion. n Inkcups is a leading supplier and manufacturer of digital inkjet equipment, pad printing equipment, laser platemakers and corresponding supplies, with direct sales, technical support and warehouse locations in the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Hong Kong and other global locations. Inkcups manufactures high-quality industrial machines for Makrinos a wide range of industries including apparel, drinkware, promotional, electronic, medical, sporting goods and automotive markets. For more information, visit

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Standard Machine’s SMI 6090 Digital UV Industrial Inkjet Printer by Lara Copeland, contributing writer, Plastics Decorating


tandard Machines, Inc. (SMI) – the machine division at Comdec, located in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and the originator of the building block (modular) approach for pad printing equipment – has updated its SMI 6090 digital UV printer. It is more stable due to its servo motor, where the previous printer’s head was moved by the tooling bed where parts sit. “This means you don’t have to worry about parts moving during printing,” said Chris Blanken, VP of sales at SMI. The machine features three print heads, which allow for 18-channel printing, CMYK, LCLM, W and V. One print head is for colors, another is for white ink laydown and the other is for clear coating. The industrial inkjet printer also has a new graphics program. “This allows for extremely accurate control of color options required in printing,” Blanken explained. The SMI 6090 also offers a continuous ink supply system, economical reservoirs and ink dampening with degassing valve. Head cleaning can take place during operation, and ink re-circulation prevents the print head from clogging. The printing grid alignment is within the graphics program. One important advantage of the updated equipment is the printing effect exceeds that of the previous model. “The printing and varnish effect are incredible, and the varnish effect really highlights the blink effect,” Blanken commented. The printer has an added heating system for the color ink, which can be utilized when the temperature is low for printing. A distance detector was added to distinguish the distance between the printing materials and the print head, and it shows the numbers directly. An acrylic safety mask has been added to make it a more operator-friendly printer. Several features help users overcome a number of possible challenges. For instance, the machine has a rotational option for printing on tubular products. The one-key automatic ink siphoning system means there is no manual siphoning, which

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saves the user time. The vacuum table holds product tooling in registration, and the machine automatically adjusts the height to prevent damage of the print head caused by hitting the product. The printer also is cost-effective. “The SMI 6090 prints one part at basically the same cost as printing 1,000 parts,” Blanken added. There are no makeready charges or major set-up costs to be amortized over longer runs, so this printer works for big and small runs – including individual photos. Blanken is pleased with the printer, saying it has achieved many advancements. “The clear coating can make water on the ocean look incredibly real,” he said. “It can make tears in eyes look real – in fact, it’s a great printer to use for cosmetics.” Additionally, it utilizes an active UV curing system, so the ink is cured when the print is finished, which helps prevent scratching and marking. Customers also are satisfied with the new technology because it is more flexible with orders. Technical details The SMI 6090 measures 140 x 140 x 90 cm and weighs 260 kg. Printing details include resolution of 5670 x 1440 dpi, 8 channel CMYK, LCLM. Printing height is about 18 cm for the printing materials. n


Thermoplastic Materials for UV Inkjet and Laser Marking by Scott Sabreen, president, The Sabreen Group Inc.


oncontact digital processes, such as inkjet printing and laser marking on plastics, are modern technologies that offer numerous advantages compared to analog process, e.g., pad and screen printing. Digital processes are cost-effective and allow for decorating and printing of fully assembled products at the end of operations, resulting in better inventory management. One example is laser marking of ABS computer keyboards in which fully assembled 101-piece keyboards are marked in less than 12 seconds, in any world language. Blank keyboards are pulled from inventory ondemand. Historically, pre-forecasted quantities of keyboards were pad printed (by language), boxed and inventoried for later shipment. This consumed a lot of warehouse storage space, inventory cost and labor. Drop-on-demand (DOD) inkjet and Ytterbium fiber laser processes are ideal for printing and marking products and mass customization by unique identification, serialization, barcode/2D codes, logos/graphics and more. The decision to utilize inkjet or laser on a given application can be complex depending upon the number of variables. This article examines the selection of thermoplastics, which is critical to achieve robust inkjet and laser marking results.

Figure 1. Digital advantages

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Inkjet printing and laser marking processes require precise engineering of ink/laser chemistries, thermoplastics, polymeric surface science, process/equipment design and skilled manufacturing techniques. Too often, companies choose to purchase off-the-shelf generic inks and equipment that fail to produce the required results. Manufacturers recognize the value of offering both technologies to meet custom printing requirements on diverse polymeric substrates. Thermoplastics Arguably, the most significant factor influencing the decision of which digital process to use is the polymer substrate. For inkjet printing, adhesion is critical. Variables affecting adhesion include polymer material (including colorants, fillers and additives), molding process, surface conditions, texture, and storage and handling. For laser marking, contrast relative to the substrate color is critical; although, in some applications lowlevel contrast is desired. Whichever process will be utilized, it’s important for design and manufacturing engineers to select the optimal thermoplastic that achieves field performance criteria and is easily printed or marked. Protective clear coatings (topcoat) allow extended chemical/abrasion resistant protection such as hot water dishwasher cleaning (exceeding 500 consecutive cycles). These coatings are applied on top of pigmented inks in either inkjet fluid or spray atomization. Thermoplastics are divided into two subcategories, amorphous and crystalline. The very long, chain-like molecules are held together by relatively weak Vander Waals forces. Generally, amorphous polymers possess better adhesion properties than crystalline. The term amorphous means to have no defined shape, or an easily altered shape. Crystalline implies that there is a regular, defined pattern to the molecular aggregates.

Amorphous resins, such as ABS, styrene and polycarbonate, exhibit random, spaghetti-like structure. As heat is applied, they soften and do not have a sharply defined melting temperature.

printing adhesion nearly impossible. Surface energy is the excess energy that exists at the surface (as opposed to the bulk) of a solid.

Crystalline resins – such as polyolefins, PET and nylon – have orderly patterns, like a coiled spring. Just as a metal spring dampens vibration, so do crystalline materials. They have well defined melting temperature. In a polymer, these two states coexist, with adjacent sections of polymers packing into tight crystalline bundles held together by secondary attraction forces while other sections of the same molecules are unable to physically move into the crystalline lattice and remain amorphous (see Figure 2).

Primary molding processing is critical to achieving the stated properties of the polymer material. Incorporating the proper plasma surface pretreatment in conjunction with surface texture and good manufacturing practices will resolve most, if not all, adhesion and wetting problems. Selecting the best thermoplastic for any given application is not easy. Part designers often seek chemical bulk material and surface properties that are often very difficult to print. Color inkjet printing and laser marking on polyamide (nylon) is one of the most sought-after applications. The chemical composition of nylon gives it a high melting point, making it an excellent alternative to metal components in hightemperature environments, like car engines and other types of high-friction machinery. Like other thermoplastic materials, nylon plastic turns to liquid at its melting point rather than burning, meaning it can be melted down and remolded or recycled. Nylon material also doesn’t heat up easily when used in high-friction applications. However, inkjet inks do not adhere readily to nylon (or most low surface energy polymers) without specialized ink and pretreatment. This is due in part to its hydrophobic properties (see Figure 3).

Selection of thermoplastics – process compatibility For inkjet printing to be successful, the elevated temperature ink must easily jet from the printhead, appropriately interact with substrate and achieve strong adhesion. This intimate contact is termed “wetting” or “wetting out” the surface and refers to the ink’s ability to spread over the surface. However, most polymer surfaces are naturally hydrophobic and resist being wetted.

First and foremost, ensure that nylon materials are properly dried and processed to achieve dry-as-molded proper ties. Resin manufact u rers chemically produce their products differently, which can affect adhesion performance. Evaluate alternative suppliers by resin/grade and note the differences between Nylon 6, Nylon 66 (Nylon 11 and 12). Unlike Nylon 6, Nylon 66 is composed of two monomers, Hexamethylenediamine and adipic acid, each providing six carbon atoms – hence the 66 name. The material is more crystalline in nature than Nylon 6, which improves stiffness and tensile and flexural modulus. Nylon 6 will absorb slightly more moisture than Nylon 66. Following molding before secondary operations, products should be packed, preferably in polyester bags and not polybags. Lowmolecular weight species found in polybags migrate to the

Characteristically, these plastics are chemically inert, nonporous surfaces with low surface energy, which makes

Figure 2. Amorphous and crystalline thermoplastics

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Properties of Nylon Plastic (PA) Name

Nylon (PA) or nylon polyamide

Chemical formula


Melting point (°C)


Tensile strength

~11,000 psi

Impact strength

~0.6 fit-lb/in notched Izod

Hardness level (Rockwell)


Flexural modulus

~16,000 psi

Figure 3. Typical properties of nylon plastic (PA)

Properties of Polypropylene (PP) Chemical formula


Melting point (°C)


Tensile strength

~4,700 psi

Impact strength

~0.7 fit-lb/in notched Izod

Hardness level (Rockwell)


Flexural modulus

~6,000 psi

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Specs Chemical formula


Melting point (°C)


Tensile strength

~4,550 psi

Impact strength

~3.0 fit-lb/in notched Izod

Hardness level (Rockwell)

R65 to R95

Flexural modulus

~233,000 psi

Figure 4. Properties of polypropylene and HDPE

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surface, causing cross-contamination issues. Length of time in storage and temperature also affect adhesion performance. Print as soon as possible after molding. If printing problems cannot be resolved, consider using an alternative plastic that may have similar properties and easier to print or laser mark. This point emphasizes how critical it is for both designers and manufacturing engineers to develop the product specifications. Polypropylene and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are less sensitive to molding, material and printing issues and less expensive. HDPE is the easiest of the three to print because it is more thermodynamically stable (see Figure 4).

Many manufacturers already recognize the value of offering both technologies. However, digital offers the capability to print fully assembled products at the end of manufacturing operations, which offers cost savings and better inventory control management. Indelible laser marking on nylon is equally in demand because it eliminates adhesion problems and is less expensive to buy and operate. Laser-enhancing additives often are required to achieve either jet-black or opaque-white contrast. As general background information about laser marking, recall that most polymers do not possess NIR absorption properties without chemical additives. New additives produce superior marking contrast and do not affect polymer clarity, spectral transmission or base physical properties. Both granulate and powder forms can be blended into precompounded color material or color concentrate. Compared to ink printing processes, laser additives are costsaving and can demonstrate 20% faster marking speeds vs. non-optimized materials. In plastics gearing applications, nylons and acetals are widely utilized. Both are difficult to achieve adhesion bonding. Acetals (Dupont Delrin and Celanese Celcon) generally laser mark easier than nylon, are dimensionally stable and do not absorb moisture. Thus, laser marking of acetals becomes an ideal process, particularly since gearing products are offered in many substrate colors. For high-temperature engineering plastics PPS, LCP and PEEK utilized in electronic interconnect systems, laser marking also is preferred vs. ink printing.

Inkjet, Screen & Flexographic Inks

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t p. 42













Part geometry



Operating costs



Unlimited colors






DPI resolution




Fully automated

Purchase price


$40K Class IV

Unit print cost

< 1 cent




Electricity only

Indelible printing



Surface cleanliness


Conclusion Digital inkjet and fiber laser technologies offer countless advantages for product customization. Robust marking/printing solutions require precise engineering of ink/laser chemistries,

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polymeric surface science, process design and equipment. Each technology offers advantages and potential limitations. Many manufacturers already recognize the value of offering both technologies. However, digital offers the capability to print fully assembled products at the end of manufacturing operations, which offers cost savings and better inventory control management. n References 1. S. Sabreen, “Innovating inkjet technologies for plastics products,” Plastics Decorating Magazine (Aug. 2013). 2. S. Sabreen, “Fiber laser enables marking of advanced plastics,” Industrial Laser Solutions (Feb. 2013). Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc., an engineering company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes – product security, laser marking, surface pretreatments, bonding, decorating and finishing. Sabreen has been pioneering technologies and Sabreen solving manufacturing problems for more than 30 years. He can be contacted at 972.820.6777 or by visiting

The Surface Summit Surface Treatment & Cleaning, UV, UV LED and Electron Beam Curing for Molded Plastics

Photo: 3DT, LLC

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 Dearborn Inn, Dearborn, Michigan Photo: Eminence UV

Additional industry opportunity: The RadTech International North America Fall Meeting will take place the preceding day. More info at

• Full day of technical papers and workshops • Networking opportunities • Tabletop exhibits from leading suppliers Topics covered will include: UV LED Curing Insights Regarding Surface Hard Coats Choosing the Best Surface Treatment Option for Your Plastics Application Advantages/Disadvantages of Arc, Microwave and UV LED Curing

Registration: $279 per attendee

To learn more: surface-summit-2019/

Antimicrobial Surfaces for Autonomous Vehicles Co-sponsored by: TECHNOLOGY

INDUSTRY DENSO Foundation Awards More Than $1 Million in STEM Education Grants DENSO, Southfield, Michigan, announced it has awarded more than $1 million in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education grants to 26 colleges and universities across North America. These donations deliver critical funds to programs that will help expose students to the rewarding careers available in automotive and manufacturing and prepare them to lead in fast-evolving fields. Grants will be used toward programs focused on design, materials management, mechanical and electrical engineering principles, thermodynamics, robotics and more. For more information, visit

during injection molding by means of in-mold decorating and then overf looded with PUR (polyurethane) within the same clamping unit. This produces sophisticated designs under a crystal clear, high-gloss surface. PUR layer thicknesses of between 0.3 and 15 mm can be created that exhibit a marked depth effect. Besides a glossy glass appearance, the PUR coating also provides a high level of surface protection. The decoration remains intact when subjected to scratches or stone impact. For more information, visit

IMLCON™ IMDCON™ IMECON™ Scheduled for September AWA Conferences & Events’ dedicated annual conference on in-mold technologies and markets – IMLCON™ IMDCON™ IMECON™ – is scheduled to take place this year on Sept. 5-6 in Chicago, Illinois. The 2019 theme is “Collaboration, sustainability and new technologies.” For all involved or interested in any aspect of in-mold activity, the three concurrent tracks dedicated to IML, IMD and IME will enable delegates to explore the related technologies, markets and applications in depth. Topics will include the latest technologies, discussions on today’s industry issues, innovations and up-to-date market intelligence. Registration may be booked online via the AWA website. For more information, visit

OSHA Announces Delay to Update of HazComm The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, DC, and other US agencies have been involved in a long-term project to negotiate a globally harmonized approach to classifying chemical hazards, and providing labels and safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals. The result is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA notified the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Spring 2018 that it intended to publish a Notice of Public Rulemaking (NPRM) to update its HCS to align with the latest edition of the GHS. It was scheduled to be issued by February 2019. In the recently released spring 2019 agenda, OSHA now indicates that it intends to issue the NPRM in December 2019. For more information, visit

Kurz Introduces IMD PUR Technology Process The coating manufacturer Leonhard Kurz, Fürth, Germany, has developed a process for combining IMD with PUR technology. In this process, called IMD PUR, plastic parts are decorated

Sustainability Spans the Supply Chain at PRINTING United Sustainability stories are on the agenda at the Sustainability Strategies Luncheon: Inside and Out, hosted by the Specialty

NEW FACES ma nu fa ct u r i ng, ef fect ive Ju ne 10, Nate Fales to Lead Enercon 2019. Based in the US, Williams will Technical Service Team oversee manufacturing operations and Enercon Industries Corporation, materials management for Nazdar’s global Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, manufacturing locations in Shawnee, an nounced Nate Fales will be Kansas, and Stockport, United Kingdom. For serving customers in the role of more information, visit service manager. Fales will lead the industry’s largest support team of EPS Adds to Sales Team mechanical and electrical engineers Fales Williams Engineered Printing Solutions, East in maximizing customers’ uptime. Dorset, Vermont, has announced an addition to its sales team – For more information, visit Steve Nigro. Nigro has nearly 30 years of experience in printing, with the majority of those years working for INX International Nazdar Welcomes Woodrow Williams Nazdar Ink Technologies has announced the appointment supporting the development of new ink technology and delivery of Woodrow Williams III as vice president of global systems. For more information, visit n

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Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) on Oct. 23 at PRINTING United, Oct. 23-25 in Dallas, Texas. Central to the luncheon are in-depth discussions about how companies are engaging around sustainable print. Attendees will hear from a functional printer, a print buyer and a substrate supplier. The luncheon is one of several networking events at PRINTING United – SGIA and NAPCO Media’s next iteration of the SGIA Expo. Tickets for the luncheon are $30 and are available while registering for PRINTING United. Registration for PRINTING United is free through Sept. 10. For more information, visit IntegriCo Accepts Plastic Waste IntegriCo, Sarepta, Louisiana, announced it is reducing plastic waste in the US. China once received 70% of plastic waste from around the world, but in January 2018, a ban was imposed that drastically decreased the amount of plastic the country received. IntegriCo has diverted more than 80 million pounds of plastic away from landfills, and it has been turned into composite products, including IntegriTies™ railroad ties and construction matting through IntegriCo’s technology. The company’s low temperature process preserves the properties of plastic and reduces fumes. For more information, visit

Plastics Decorating Magazine to Host The Surface Summit in Michigan Plastics Decorating magazine, Topeka, Kansas, will host its first sponsored event, The Surface Summit, a one-day educational oppor t unit y taking place on Nov. 5 in Dearborn, Michigan. The event will offer a full day of technical papers and workshops targeting surface treatment and curing technologies for molded plastics in a variety of end-use markets. In addition to programming, a Supplier Trade Fair will provide access to leading industry members and their latest technologies. RadTech International North America will host that association’s Fall Meeting the day before The Surface Summit. Attendees of both events will receive valuable industry insights and technical knowledge to improve the use of surface pretreatment, cleaning and curing methods in their own facilities. Registration opened Aug. 1. For more information, visit n

July/August 2019 47

PRODUCT X-Rite Helps Printers and Manufacturers Control Color on Cylindrical-Shaped Items X-Rite Incorporated, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Pantone LLC, Carlstadt, New Jersey, announced a new fixture that helps manufacturers measure and control color on small plastic parts, cups, bottles, tubes and other curved surfaces without damaging the sample. The cup and cylinder fixture works with the eXact and Ci6x families of portable handheld devices to measure cylinder shapes and labels for a range of applications. The fixture can be customized to support samples of various thicknesses and ensure that the eXact or Ci6x sits on the stand with the aperture aligned over the sample. For more information, visit or Inkcups Unveils PN Ink Series Inkcups, Danvers, Massachusetts, unveiled its PN Series of ink for polypropylene substrates. Polypropylene (PP) is a tough yet f lexible plastic that is primarily used to create industrial parts, bottles and more. The PN Series can be used on both treated and untreated polypropylene. It has the ability to be used as either a one-component or two-component ink – meaning hardener can be added to the ink to yield superior abrasion resistance. Additionally, once heat cured, the PN Series is able to withstand a number of dishwasher cycles. The PN Series is fast-curing and has a high gloss finish. It is available in 22 standard colors and five metallic colors, as well as standard CMYK 4-color process shades. For more information, visit FUJIFILM and Inca Digital Announce the OnsetX HS The Graphic Systems Division of Fujifilm North America Corporation, Hanover Park, Illinois, along with strategic partner Inca Digital, C a mbr id ge, Un it e d Kingdom, introduced the OnsetX HS range to the OnsetX UV flatbed series. Featuring two new machines, the Onset X2 HS and the Onset X3 HS, the new range offers an increase in speed and productivity – now printing up to 15,597 sq. ft. per hour, utilizing a new singlecycle mode. Compatible with Inca’s range of application specific robotic handling systems and incorporating 30 second job set-up and single-cycle printing mode, the new HS range is set to deliver another step change in inkjet printing. The new OnsetX HS series is available now and distributed exclusively in North America by Fujifilm. For more information, visit or

48 July/August 2019

Laser Welding System for Polymers Delivers High Speed Results Coherent, Inc., Santa Clara, California, released the new ExactWeld 230 P, which enables particle-free high throughput welding of small- to medium-sized polymer parts. It combines a diode laser, ser vocontrolled clamping and responsive software to deliver distortion-free weld quality and rapid cycle times. An available vision system is designed to further enhance productivity by providing continuous weld quality assessment, correct product placement and automatic part offset correction. The ExactWeld 230 P is an ideal solution for polymer part joining in automotive displays, instrumentation, sensors and lights, medical equipment, housings and tube connectors, as well as consumer electronics and appliances. For more information, visit Dow Performance Silicones Unveils Two Bonding Optical Solutions Dow Performance Silicones, Shanghai, China, unveiled two optical bonding solutions for automotive and consumer displays exposed to harsh environmental conditions. They include DOWSIL™ VE-2003 UV Optical Bond i ng Mat e r ial, designed to bond a glass or plastic display cover and touch panel to the LCD or OLED display module, and DOWSIL™ VE-4001 UV Electrode Protective Resin, which protects electrodes on the display module. These robust silicone-based materials represent the newest generation of DOWSIL™ VE Series optically clear resins. Their benefits include high transmittance, low haze, minimal yellowing and superior reliability, even when subjected to temperature extremes, high humidity and prolonged UV exposure. For more information, visit 3DT LLC Improves Adhesion on Plastics Sheets 3DT LLC, Germantown, Wisconsin, introduced PolyDyne Pro, which has been engineered with a conveyor and wide corona electrode system designed for the surface treatment of sheets of plastic, heavy film, glass and small panels. The system features flexible, recipe-based operation that yields high-volume production and consistent bonding. PolyDyne Pro’s corona discharge improves wettability on the most resistant materials. For more information, visit n


Prepare for Supply Chain Pressures by Liz Stevens, contributing writer, Plastics Decorating


o manufacturing operation is immune to supply chain risk. Supply chain problems can occur at any stage of the product life cycle, and – for those who cannot avoid risk (think everyone) – a “belt and suspenders” mindset is vital to preparing for potential disruptions on the horizon. To minimize risk exposure and be better prepared when supply chain problems crop up, a risk avoidance professional stressed the importance of being proactive rather than reactive – and emphasized that companies can capitalize on their investment in contingency planning by using it as a competitive advantage.

Erika Melander is the industr y manager leading the manufacturing segment at Travelers, the property casualty insurance company with the iconic red umbrella logo. In an extensive interview, she provided expert guidance on contingency planning, overseas supply chain links, employees, equipment and identifying specific pressure points. Create a contingency plan According to Travelers, the most effective contingency plans

50 July/August 2019

cover the entire manufacturing operation, with a special emphasis on responding to equipment issues. “The contingency plan is a biggie for us and for helping manage risk within the supply chain,” explained Melander. “It really touches on all parts of the supply chain: upstream, in plant and downstream. The contingency plan is going to encompass the entire cycle, so you are going to plan for any disruptions in your ability to receive raw materials or supplies. You also want to plan for any disruptions within your four walls. But then, there may be disruptions for your customers. It’s important to think through the impact of your ability to ensure a really good customer experience during a disruption so that they would purchase from you as a manufacturer again – and possibly spread the word so that you are able to pick up new customers.” Melander continued, “Creating a contingency plan is a crucial process to go through in order to maintain any type of competitive advantage. Per a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses never recover from a disaster. And, of those, only 29% are still

operating after two years. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, because what Travelers focuses our efforts on is this: Let’s avoid that scenario and put you in the best position possible to successfully continue to operate your business should a disaster happen anywhere along the supply chain.” To be prepared, write up a checklist that – at a minimum – covers all equipment scenarios including key machines, spare parts inventory, sources for specialized rental equipment and local repair contractors. And, ask what relationships with other companies are in place so that one of those companies might be able to lend a hand in an emergency. Appreciate the upstream, overseas factor With extreme weather, trade tariffs and global politics having an ever-increasing impact on foreign-sourced materials, proactive manufacturers can get a jump on managing their own overseas risk factors with a combination of knowledge and well-designed procedures. Knowledge is power, whether it be knowledge of regulations and standards, intel on overseas suppliers or thorough documentation of everything related to international business dealings. Some common procedures that give greater control over the risk of dealing with overseas suppliers include approval processes for changes, rigorous quality control programs and independent product testing. Plastics Decorating asked Melander about knowing upstream overseas suppliers. Does that mean where are they, and what they are susceptible to? What might go wrong over there, and do you want to take that risk or consider using a different supplier or having a variety of suppliers available? “What do people commonly miss when creating a contingency plan?,” asked Melander. “From our perspective, it’s thinking through the additional considerations, such as supplier risk. You work so hard to create a contingency plan for your operation, but what are your suppliers doing? How are they ensuring that they will stay in business should a disaster strike, and how are they ensuring that they can meet your orders?” When asked about the notion of applying diversification as a supply chain risk management tactic, whether that be diversifying a company’s clients or diversifying its suppliers, Melander explained, “There are a couple ways to target it: Diversification is certainly one of them, but so is a backup plan. A good example is several years old, but the imagery is vivid: In 2011, Japan suffered from the effects of a tsunami. Japan, in the area that was hit by the tsunami, was the only place in the world that created a specific paint in a specific color of black. And, that black was used on so many vehicles being produced in the US that it actually brought production to a halt.” Melander continued, “It’s logical and reasonable to plan for a backup supply source, but you also have to think about how quickly you can get those backups up and running.”

Facilities that are prepared for repair also estimate lead times for technician visits, calculate the time necessary for repair part deliveries and confirm that new parts will be available for older machines. Disaster isn’t the only risk to an overseas supply source; uncertainty about the impact of US tariffs is rampant throughout the manufacturing community. “The tariffs certainly are something we’re thinking about, and we’ve heard from some companies that maybe China is not where they’ll continue to do their manufacturing,” she said. Monitoring quality control for supplies arriving from overseas also is a key part of creating a contingency plan, and Melander discussed what is most important about the quality control process. “Should you have any overseas element to your supply chain, there’s a challenge when it comes to issues that might pop up and the time required to receive your product, identify problems and then replace the product,” Melander explained. “It’s good to have a rigorous process as soon as you are able to get to the product. A lot of large manufacturers have a QC team that lives and works in the manufacturing plant overseas. That, of course, is not a possibility for the average manufacturer, but the key is to implement a QC program in a formalized and rigorous way. That protects the quality of the products that are being produced and the ability to meet your customers’ expectations to maintain your brand and reputation in the marketplace.” What about downstream concerns? In addition to planning for product and material sourcing, Melander urges manufacturers to consider the other end of the product life cycle. “If you think further down the supply chain, what about your customers?” asked Melander. “What are their contingency plans? How can you ensure that the orders that you are working so hard to deliver will get to your customers, or that your customers are still financially solvent and can purchase from you?” Whether looking at upstream or downstream partners, Melander points out that transferring risk is a smart business practice. “When we think of transferring risk, we want to make sure our insureds are entering solid contractual relationships with their suppliers and their customers so that, if something were to happen, it is very clearly outlined who is responsible

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for what,” she said. “This eliminates some of the finger pointing and puts more emphasis on resolution of problems.” Prepare to repair When bringing additional equipment into a plant and getting it online, Travelers recommends that manufacturers prepare not only for the inevitable breakdowns that will happen over time but also for any custom modifications required at installation. Will costly or time-consuming modifications be needed before a new machine goes online, and will those modifications complicate future repairs? Facilities that are prepared for repair also estimate lead times for technician visits, calculate the time necessary for repair part deliveries and confirm that new parts will be available for older machines. Having an on-site repair team can be part of a contingency plan, but Melander stressed that this isn’t always feasible. “Some facilities have the luxury of having a formalized repair or service group, but it’s most important to consider whether replacement parts are on hand or if they quickly can be obtained. Do you have employees locally with the skill sets to make repairs, or do you need to reach out to the manufacturer for support with repairs or equipment? It’s things like these that can have an impact, but you don’t really realize how great an impact they can have – until something goes wrong.”

Today’s Decorating and Assembly Source

• Quarterly Magazine (print & digital) • Monthly E-Newsletter • Buyers Guide • Mobile Apps

To receive a print subscription or view a free digital version, visit 52 July/August 2019

Recognize the most valuable players Travelers understands that manufacturers rely on specialized machinery that is, in turn, operated by specialized, highly trained employees. If those players are sidelined or worse, bottlenecks or even complete production shutdowns may occur. A continuity plan should identify the most valuable players in the facility, ensure that the alternative operators have adequate training and real-time practice, and draw up a succession plan for key players. Melander explained, “It’s more than the folks who sit in a corner office. It’s really those individuals who meaningfully contribute to the operation and help the manufacturing plant stay effective and efficient. In our Bottleneck White Paper, we reference a very experienced technician who was let go because of contraction within the company’s workforce, and this individual was not seen as a key employee. Once the person was let go, the company realized the mistake in that a lot of their equipment wasn’t running as smoothly. They had more downtime, and they didn’t have the knowledge or resource to repair the equipment quickly, and so the long-term impacts were something they hadn’t considered when they let this person go.” Locate unique pressure points Each company is different, with a complex set of upstream, in-plant and downstream components. Travelers realizes that a strain or a break in any link in these unique supply chains may disrupt production or order fulfillment. “Managing a risk and determining the supply chain link that is at most risk in a company is all very individualized, and it’s always evolving,” Melander said. “A tool like Travelers’ Supply Chain Pressure Test is a quick way to keep tabs on those parts of your supply chain that are continuously evolving and that might then need a different response so that your supply chain and the way you manage it does not go stale.” Melander sums up the supply chain risk challenge succinctly: “The overarching theme is the recognition that the supply chain is ever-evolving and that we see businesses using their planning and strategy around the supply chain as a competitive advantage. If you look at the contrary – that is, if you don’t have a good process in place – we have that statistic that 40% of businesses fail after a disaster. That’s certainly a competitive disadvantage.” n The Travelers Supply Chain Pressure Test presents a short series of questions to gauge a company’s distinct supply chain strengths and weaknesses and, in response, provides useful suggestions. The tips help manufacturers assess the possible risks upstream with their supplier/material sources, identify the most crucial players and processes in-plant, and imagine complications that may arise downstream, such as logistics snags and product recalls. For more information, visit

EDUCATION The learning never ends when the entire show floor is your classroom. With over 100 first-rate educational sessions and half-day intensives, PRINTING United is exactly what you need to help you make informed decisions about your business and career. MORE AT:

ON-FLOOR ATTRACTIONS PRINTING United features 724,000+ square feet of equipment with more than 600 exhibitors, covering all segments of the printing industry, a 4,000-square-foot Experience Zone, showcasing 90+ innovative printing applications, and three amphitheaters featuring exhibitor education, thought-leadership sessions, and more. MORE AT:

COMMUNITY & NETWORKING Connect with old friends and new. Say hello at PRINTING United with our community luncheons and Opening Night Party at Gilley’s Dallas. The community luncheons will feature speakers and topics geared toward your interests. At Gilley’s, we’ll provide the drinks and a venue; you bring your badge and best conversational skills. MORE AT:





GOLD SPONSORS 3M | GSG | Kornit Digital | OKI ORBUS Exhibit & Display Group STAHLS | Top Value Fabrics Vanguard Digital Printing Systems

CALENDAR September

IML®: A Basic

ABC’s of Course, Sept. 4, DoubleTree Hotel & Conference Center Chicago North Shore, Skokie, Illinois, abcs-imlimd-seminar IMLCON, IMECON and IMDCON, Sept. 5-6, Hyatt Rosemont, Chicago, Illinois, PACK EXPO, Sept. 23-25, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, Labelexpo Europe 2019, Sept. 24-27, Brussels Expo, Brussels, Belgium,


MAPP Benchmarking Conference, Oct. 2-4, Indianapolis Downtown Marriott, Indianapolis, Indiana, PRINTING United, Oct. 23-25, Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Dallas, Texas,


The Surface Summit, Nov. 5, Dearborn Inn, Dearborn, Michigan, surface-summit-2019/ SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala, Nov. 6, Burton Manor, Livonia, Michigan, innovation-awards-gala

The world‘s leading conference for in-mold technologies One conference. Three tracks. IMLCON, IMECON and IMDCON is the leading conference for in-mold labels, decoration and electronics. Discover the newest market trends, connect with new partners and grow your business. 5th – 6th September 2019 Chicago, Illinois

REGISTER TODAY: AWA-BV.COM/IMLCON Save 50% on your registration with our discount code: PLASTICSDECORATING19 July/August 2019 55


PLASTICS –> Advancing Mobility NOVEMBER 6 2019



The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®) is announcing a “Call for Nominations” for its 49th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, the oldest and largest recognition event in the automotive and plastics industries. This year’s Awards Gala will be held Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at the Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich. Winning part nominations (due by September, 6, 2019) in 10 different categories, and the teams that developed them, will be honored with a Most Innovative Use of Plastics award. A Grand Award will be presented to the winning team from all category award winners.


This annual event currently draws over 800 OEM engineers, automotive and plastics industry executives, and media. A variety of sponsorship packages - including tables at the banquet, networking receptions, advertising in the program book, signage at the event and more are available. Contact Teri Chouinard of Intuit Group at For more info and to submit nominations, go to:












• Limited Edition/ Specialty Vehicles and Aftermarket • Additive Manufacturing • Body Exterior • Body Interior • Chassis/Hardware • Environmental • Materials • Process, Assembly & Enabling Technologies • Powertrain • Safety & Hall of Fame


For Marketplace advertising, email

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

Your source for the highest quality digital heat transfer printing and decorating services.



end o-fri

2B Fanaras Drive Salisbury, MA 01952 978.463.0416

July/August 2019 57

SUPPLIER QUICK LINKS Assembly/Joining Equipment

Hot Stamping Dies/ Tooling

Pad Printing Equipment & Supplies

Emerson-Branson Page 21

Die Stampco Inc. Page 37

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 11


h+m USA Page 19

Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover

Schwerdtle Page 25

Inkcups Pages 30-31

Hot Stamping Foils/ Heat Transfers

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 39

Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 4

Decorating Services Comdec Decorating Division Page 57 Digital Decorations LLC Page 57

Digital Inkjet Equipment & Supplies Standard Machines, Inc./ Comdec, Inc. Inside back cover Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover Inkcups Pages 30-31 Innovative Digital Systems Back cover Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) Inc. Page 29 OMSO North America, Inc. Page 35

Hot Stamping/ Heat Transfer Equipment CPS Resources Back cover North Pacific International, Inc. Page 5

CDigital Page 23 CPS Resources Back cover

Standard Machines, Inc./ Comdec, Inc. Page 13

Printing Inks

Custom Foils Company Page 14

Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) Pages 24, 44

Infinity Foils Page 7

Marabu North America Page 13

Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 15

Nazdar Ink Technologies Page 43

Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 4

Proell, Inc. Page 49

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 5

Screen Printing Equipment & Supplies

Webtech, Inc. Page 47

Surface Treatment 3DT Page 10 Diversified Printing Techniques Page 11

Tradeshows/Associations IMLCON, IMECON, IMDCON Page 55 PRINTING United Page 54 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Page 56 The Surface Summit surface-summit-2019/ Page 45

A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. Page 14

In-Mold Decorating/ Labeling

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 11

Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 15

GPE Ardenghi Page 27

Mountain Graphix, LLC Page 4

Inkcups Pages 30-31

North Pacific International, Inc. Page 5

Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) Inc. Page 29

Laser Marking

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 39



2019 PRIN TIN Unite G d Previe w

Bright Future for Digital Inkjet Printing on Cylindrical Containers Evaluating Appearance of Decorative Parts

Sabreen Group, Inc., The Page 53

58 July/August 2019

OMSO North America, Inc. Page 35

Bonding Bioplastics Using Adhesives

A guide to this issue’s Plastics Decorating advertisers.

Booth 819