Plastics Decorating - October November 2017

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High-End Plastics with Bling Appeal Static Generation in In-Mold Labeling Achieving Adhesion When Painting Plastics Welding 3D-Printed Parts

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Contents October/November 2017


Bling Appeal: ZoMazz Ups Its Game with Embedded Crystals

page 6

The Monterey, California-based company partnered with Swarovski to discover a new way of adhering crystals to the high-end designer’s products.



3D-Printed Plastic Parts: To Weld or Not to Weld

page 15

Questions exist about the weldability of 3D-printed plastic parts through the ultrasonic welding process.


2017 IMDA Award Winners

page 24

The IMDA Awards recognize those companies creating products that best represent IML/IMD technology.

Ask the Expert

The Card Market: An Introduction to Process and Materials

page 28

From credit cards to hotel key cards, each subsegment has differing requirements for strength, printability and durability, challenging manufacturers in regard to equipment and process parameters.


Fiber Lasers: Selection and Additives

Viewpoint Association Product Industry Process Highlight

page 46 page 10 page 12 page 36 page 38

Tech Watch

page 48

Calendar Marketplace Supplier Quick Links

page 55 page 56 page 58

In-Mold Decorating and Labeling (Dukane’s iQ i220 Integrated Servo Welder)

page 32

A discussion of fiber laser types, pulse shapes and inputs for marking plastics.


In-Mold Labeling and the Role of Static Generation

page 40

Static generation reduces quality issues by pinning the label in place during the IML process.


page 44

Be a Force Multiplier: Accomplishing More with Existing Resources

Improve potential by using technology, data, collaboration, strategy and leadership.


Best Practices for Painting Plastics

page 50

Different surface properties, lower surface energies and lower polarities add challenges for adhesion when painting plastics.

Read Plastics Decorating at or download the Plastics Decorating app. Cover photo courtesy of ZoMazz.

October/November 2017 3

VIEWPOINT As I finished up the busy tradeshow and conference season this fall, what really stood out to me – after talking to many of the exhibitors – is how technology is having a huge impact on all aspects of manufacturing, including plastics decorating and assembly. Robotics and other automation technologies were demonstrated in a large portion of the booths at PACK EXPO in Las Vegas, and the continued growth of digital printing technology was more prevalent than ever at the SGIA 2017 in New Orleans. Seeing all of this up close made me believe more than ever that the companies investing in new equipment and new technologies are the companies that will grow and prosper. Relying on older, less efficient methods of decorating and assembly simply will not cut it when newer equipment is running at two or three times the speeds with half the setup and makeready time. As you read this, as an owner or manager, I challenge you to look closely at your current processes. Ask yourself, “Is this the best and most efficient way I should be accomplishing this task?” I challenge you to look at many of the advertisers and suppliers of decorating and assembly equipment – as well as suppliers of inks, foils, dies and other consumables in Plastics Decorating – and look hard at what they have to offer. They can help you become more successful and, with a new year around the corner, now is the time for companies to look at how to invest wisely to ensure a strong future. It was great to see many of you this fall. We thank all our readers and advertisers who have helped Plastics Decorating along the way. The shows were filled with energy and enthusiasm, and they set a great tone for moving into the new year (except for losing at blackjack in both Vegas and New Orleans). We look forward to 2018 and the NPE event in May. We hope to see you there.

Jeff Peterson, Editor-in-Chief,

padprintpros “Pad Prin ng is a science, not an art.

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Training Consul ng Equipment Materials

30 years of experience in plas cs decora ng.

Call: 517.467.5340 e-mail: padprintpro@gmail 4 October/November 2017

ISSN: 1536-9870

October/November 2017

Published by: Peterson Publications, Inc.

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

Website: Email: Editor-in-Chief Jeff Peterson Managing Editor Dianna Brodine Assistant Editors Nancy Cates Lara Copeland Technical Editor Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group

Art Director Becky Arensdorf Graphic Designer Kelly Adams Sales Director Gayla Peterson Circulation Manager Brenda Schell

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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Bling Appeal: ZoMazz Ups Its Game with Embedded Crystals by Brittany Willes, contributing writer, Plastics Decorating


here a re a lot of consumer products which incorporate crystals with plastic parts, but in almost every case it involves attaching the crystal to the outside of the part after it has been molded,” explained ZoMazz COO Ron Maddocks. “That means the crystals are exposed and can be knocked off or cause negative user experiences, like scratching surfaces. Our process embeds the crystal below the part surface, ensuring the crystals are a permanent feature and protecting the user from the sharp edges of the crystal.” An engineering solutions company he a d q u a r t e r e d i n Mont e r ey, California, ZoMazz focuses on design for manufacturing molded consumer products. When Swarovski, a high-end designer of crystal-encrusted items, began seeking a new way of adhering crystals to their products, ZoMazz seemed the perfect partner. Creating an improved process “Swarovski came to us,” stated Maddocks. “They’ve been putting crystals on plastic parts for a long time, and there are a variety of ways they can accomplish the task. However, it’s always been a process of crystal plus adhesive plus the plastic part, and it was always done after the part was molded, meaning that it was always a surface attachment of some sort.”

Photos courtesy of ZoMazz.

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The surface attachment method had become an issue for Swarovski, and the company began looking for a way to embed crystals into its

product parts. “Swarovski and ZoMazz share some common customers,” Maddocks continued. “When they learned that we work with clear films and registered graphics, we were asked to work together to develop a solution that would put the crystal under the surface of the film. Once we started down that path, it became obvious that we could develop a robust solution.” Part of what made the process easier was the crystals themselves. Crystals are dimensionally stable, heat-resistant and known for their optical qualities. As such, “they seemed like a good starting point as we looked at integrating solids with printed media,” said Maddocks. “Swarovski is known worldwide as the leading producer of quality crystals and were the obvious choice to partner with in the development of this technology.” Navigating the challenges That is not to say the process was without obstacles. According to Maddocks, there were two key technical challenges: integration of solid elements with digital graphics and the high-volume delivery system of crystals to the film substrate. “Swarovski developed the automation required to precisely pick and place the crystals in high volumes,” said Maddocks. For its part, ZoMazz focused on how to effectively mix Swarovski crystals and digital graphics. First, ZoMazz engineers focused on the adhesive itself. Development of the glue that would hold the crystals to the film was a key factor in migrating away from the surface attachment method used in the past. Most importantly, the glue would have to be capable of bonding the crystal to the film while also holding up to the injection molding process. The difficulty came in that the glue itself had to be waterclear so that it would not diminish the effect or the physical registration of the crystal. To test the glue, ZoMazz created several skull graphics, placing one crystal in each eye socket. The ultimate goal was to make sure the crystal didn’t shift positions and end up outside of the assigned area. Registering the crystal placement to the graphic was the first major hurdle and, according to Maddocks, ZoMazz engineers went through several iterations before landing on the best glue solution. Further challenges were presented when it came to UV curing the crystal appliques. ZoMazz would first take the printed film and place it into an SMT machine that applies glue to the film and then places the crystals on top of the glue, using an analogous software to orient the crystals with the graphics. “In our normal process,” said Maddocks, “we use several fixtures to register the film to the tools that are used to cut out the final form.” Once the film comes out of the SMT machine, the difficulty then is with the water-like substance of the glue itself. Because the glue is not overly viscous, if the applique is tipped at any angle the crystal will slip.

Adrienne Gammiere, senior director of graphic design engineering at ZoMazz, examines films with crystals adhered to them.

“The first round of appliques that we did, we were taking the appliques out of the fixture and putting them onto the belt to put into the UV-curing machine by hand,” said Maddocks. “We had a lot of fallout from crystals sliding out of place before they were cured. If someone touched a crystal briefly, or even so much as breathed on them, they would slide all over the place.” The process of transitioning between machines became paramount. ZoMazz developed a system to allow parts to be taken from the SMT machine and placed directly on the belt to the UV-curing tunnel with minimal handling of the appliques, thereby reducing the opportunity for crystals to slide out of place.

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Opening new markets According to Maddocks, the process for embedding crystals was a natural evolution of ZoMazz’s normal digital in-mold decorating (IMD) process. “ZoMazz focuses on bringing maximum value to our customers through a variety of technologies,” he stated. “The integration of solid decorative elements with digitally imaged graphics seemed a natural progression in the evolution of our technology.” ZoMazz serves many industries where added effects, such as glitter and metallic effects, have become more prominent. “We had been looking at using clear film for embedding for a while. The fact that Swarovski came along around the same time made it an obvious choice. It is a natural marriage between our technology and Swarovski’s product.” Not only has the partnership been a “natural marriage,” it has opened new markets for ZoMazz. “Swarovski has a vast clientele that specialize in high-end fashion, which is not typically a market that we serve,” Maddocks stated. Through its new graphic offering, ZoMazz is able to bring unique plastic solutions to an industry that typically looks to non-plastic materials. For example, “Consider luggage,” said Maddocks. “Those bags have little metal badges bearing the brand name on them. Overall, they’re fairly plain. Through the film we work with,

Gammiere prepares films to have crystals placed on them.

we can make a plastic part that looks metallic. We can then add Swarovski crystals to the plastic badge.” By switching the metal badge for a plastic one, the customer saves on the cost of the metal. These same customers, who are used to the high-end quality of Swarovski crystals, also incorporate the high-fashion statement that comes with them. Additionally, with the new IMD solution with which the crystals are no longer adhered to the surface of the part, customers don’t suffer the issues with scratching and other negative user experiences. “We’re able to offer a different option that is more cost-effective in terms of tooling and final part price,” said Maddocks. To demonstrate the ways in which ZoMazz can bring something new to the table, the company developed a custom injectionmolded coaster, such as would be found in any bar or restaurant. “It’s the ideal size to showcase our digital graphics, as well as the ‘bling’ factor of Swarovski’s crystals,” said Maddocks. ZoMazz uses a set of “house” graphics to tell the story of its technology, but also produces custom graphics for specific customers. “It’s a quick, cheap way to give the customer something they can hold and that demonstrates what we can engineer for them using our unique technology.” Success in partnership New markets aren’t the only ones benefitting from ZoMazz’s newest solution. ZoMazz also is able to provide its traditional customers with a graphic solution that is more sophisticated and

8 October/November 2017

of higher value than what has been available in the past – all of which fits with ZoMazz’s mission to provide unique solutions to customer problems. “When ZoMazz was originally founded, we really tried to sell ourselves as a provider of high-end graphic solutions,” Maddocks stated. “In the last few years, however, we’ve transitioned into being an engineering technology company and focusing more on developing solutions to whatever problem our customer might have, as opposed to just selling a single solution in terms of appliques.”

An example of a coaster ZoMazz has decorated with crystals.

In transitioning to a focus on engineering technology, ZoMazz has certainly made its mark. The custom injection-molded coaster the company produced as a showpiece was awarded the 2017 IMDA Gold Award for “Best Prototype Part.” When asked about the win, Maddocks affirmed, “The entire ZoMazz team is proud and honored to have won this award. Many people have dedicated countless hours to bring this technology to market, and the award validates our efforts. It is exceptionally rewarding to be recognized by our peers for engineering and technical excellence.” n

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ASSOCIATION Letter from the Chair Once every three years, an extraordinary opportunity comes along. It is the joint meeting of the National Plastics Exposition (NPE) and the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference. It brings together the largest gathering of plastics engineers and professionals in North America, affording the opportunity to see the latest offerings in materials, manufacturing equipment, tools and secondary processes. It also is an opportunity to hear papers from both academic and industry leaders. The joint conference and exposition will be May 7 through 10, 2018, in Orlando, Florida. There are a multitude of conferences available, but most of them have a fairly narrow focus on one technology or group of technologies. While these are useful to develop skills and contacts in a specific batch of plastic decoration or joining, they tend not to provide the knowledge needed to select the best technique among all of those available. With more options, it becomes all the more important to know what is available and the advantages and limits to each technology. This is the largest annual technical conference in the United States for the plastics industry, with 2,500 attendees, more than 600 paper presentations and an exhibitor floor. The Decoration and Assembly Division will again have a session focused on the latest technologies in plastic decoration and assembly. This would be a good time to consider writing and presenting a paper if you have a new technology or improvement in a current one. Participation in the conference will provide a high level of visibility with an audience of those who are interested and working in the field. There will soon be a call for papers, so if you are interested, now is the time to begin to identify topics and start writing. Papers on new and emerging technologies and materials are always welcome.

Topics such as problem solving, innovation and cost reduction also are welcome. Papers can be submitted in one of two formats. The first is the traditional formal paper, which will be published with a technical presentation during the conference. The second is a new format, the technical marketing format. For this, PowerPoint slides will be published and a presentation made during the conference. This new technical marketing track will be organized into sessions focused on specific topical areas and is intended to be a forum in which new products, processes and services can be effectively shared with attendees in a timely manner. Candidates for these sessions should represent new offerings, with market entry having occurred in the last two years or in an advanced stage of development, with commercialization planned in the near future. Older products and processes will be considered as long as they bring value to those attending. Presentations are to be directed at a technical audience and are expected to tell a story that includes the problem the new technology is solving, the economic benefit and the ease of implementation. Data and analysis that support the claims and benefits for the new technologies being presented must be included. The presentations will be published in the ANTEC 2018 Proceedings and should not include company-confidential information. Learn more at the Society of Plastics Engineers website,, or by contacting Paul Uglum Delphi Electronics and Safety Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division


SPE’s Decorating and Assembly Division is seeking papers on innovative technologies and materials for in-mold and post-molding process to decorate and join plastic parts. Papers can be formal technical papers or technical marketing PowerPoint presentations focused on new products, processes and services. In each case, submissions must be made by Dec. 15, 2017. Information on submitting and preparing a paper is available at: https://www.eiseverywhere. com/ehome/252707/560626/ If you have questions, please contact the technical program chairs: Decorated Plastic: Chris DeMell,, 630.909.5910 Joining: Jeff Frantz,, 203.796.2223

10 October/November 2017

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PRODUCT Inkcups Reveals Laser Plate Etching Machine Inkcups, Danvers, Massachusetts, revealed CobaltONE, the newest evolution in laser plate etching machines. It utilizes the latest in fiber laser technology to enable it to etch the smallest dot size and the finest images. The CobaltONE’s name is derived from the ability to combine all aspects of laser plate etching technology into one. Although small in size, the CobaltONE contains an integrated computer system with an Intel i5 processor, solid-state hard drive and a USB 3.0 port to easily upload artwork. Its compact footprint allows it to fit in small spaces – as opposed to any other laser plate etching machine on the market. Use Inkcups’ patented Cobalt Plates to etch images in minutes and for use of up to 30,000+ impressions. For more information, visit AMADA MIYACHI AMERICA Offers Pulsed Fiber Laser Welding System Amada Miyachi America Inc., Monrovia, California, announced the availability of the updated LMWS pulsed fiber laser welding system, a highly configurable compact unit designed for lean manufacturing. The system features a high-power, highspeed laser, available in 20 to 70W powers for welding metals and plastics. By changing the settings, this laser also can be used to mark welded parts. LMWS is available with a variety of integration options to match process needs. It comes standard with an XY galvanometric scanner. XYZ and rotary stages or through the lens and off axis camera options also are available. The LMWS unit comes with integrated stage controllers for up to four axes of motion, for use in such applications as step and repeat welding, focal plane height adjust and rotary welding. For more information, visit Mimaki Unveils Wide Format Flatbed UV Printer Mimaki USA, Suwanee, Georgia, unveiled its JFX200-2531 wide format extended flatbed UV printer. It is based on the popular JFX200-2531 printer, with double the print area and twin independent vacuum pumps to increase productivity by enabling printing to continue from one origin while the other is prepared. A variety of inks, including white, clear and jettable

12 October/November 2017

primer, are available to suit nearly any application. The UV LED lamps offer reduced energy consumption and a longer lamp lifetime. For more information, visit Proell Introduces Matt Lacquer System Proell, Inc., St. Charles, Illinois, introduced Matt Lacquer ATM WB 6, an amended water-based, UV-stabilized and formable matt lacquer system for overprinting polycarbonate film instrument gauges (speedometer panels). System excels at deep drawing printed films by vacuu m or h ig h pressure forming. The matt lacquer also can be used for matting high-gloss films made of PC, pretreated PET and rigid PVC. The screenprinted deep matt lacquer surface has a soft grip and shows good scratch and chemical resistance. For more information, visit

Sakurai Unveils Cylinder Screen Press Sakurai, Schaumburg, Illinois, unveiled its MS-80All cylinder screen press equipped with Natgraph Smart UV drying/curing. The updated and more user-friendly Sakurai MS-80All features a larger, 31½x21½" sheet size, higher running speed of 4,000 sheets per hour, an ergonomically designed control panel, staticfree paper path and many more features to increase productivity and performance. Sakurai is the cylinder screen press of choice

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for the overlay, membrane switch and credit card markets and is ideal for a myriad of other screen applications, such as specialty finishing, glitter, soft touch, flood, spot coating and more. Sakurai also unveiled its new rotary diecutter, which performs diecutting, creasing, complicated perforation processing and numbering in the vertical or horizontal position at rated speeds up to 10,000 IPH. Ideal for short or long runs, the OL-66RC accepts sheets up to 18.5x26". Standard equipment includes: antistatic bar, preset counter, electronic miss sheet detector, ultrasonic and mechanical double sheet detectors, sheet pile board sideways moving and a feeder preloading system. For more information, visit

14 October/November 2017

Sun Chemical, GGI and NRC Introduce New Screen-Printable Molecular Inks Sun Chemical, Parsippany, New Jersey, has entered into a license agreement to introduce a new family of molecular inks for the printed electronics market with Groupe Graham International (GGI) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). Based on ionic molecules processed through a reduction process, the new IPS family of products will offer a viable alternative to conventional polymer thick film conductive inks and serve as a low-cost alternative to nano materials. The IPS family of products include silver and copper metallization options that can be applied by screen, inkjet or other high-speed printing methods. The molecular inks feature sub-micron trace thickness that will enable the production of narrow traces in thin dielectric layers on a variety of applications, including in-mold electronics (IME), printed antenna, displays, EMI/ RFI and sensors. The molecular ink technology developed by GGI and the NRC will be produced by Sun Chemical and promoted collaboratively by all three organizations. For more information, visit, www.nrc-cnrc. or n


3D-Printed Plastic Parts: To Weld or Not to Weld? by Trevor Larcheveque, Branson Ultrasonics Corp.


printing (3DP) now is widely adopted for prototyping and developing new product designs because it allows plastic component and part prototypes to be developed, produced, assessed and modified far more quickly and economically than traditional injection-molded plastic parts, which require significant up-front investment in mold tooling.1 As a result, the use of 3DP is surging throughout the automotive, aerospace, consumer products and medical/medical devices industries. But along with the surging interest in 3DP for plastic part prototyping, there also has been a surge of questions about whether components fabricated with 3DP can be joined into assemblies in the same ways as injection-molded parts. Specifically, can these parts be joined using ultrasonic plastic welding techniques? According to current evidence, the answer is that “it depends.” To understand the factors on which the ultrasonic weldability of plastic components fabricated with 3DP depend, it is essential to look more closely at three questions: 1. What demands does ultrasonic welding place on a prototype part? 2. To what degree do the various 3DP processes deliver parts with the four critical physical characteristics – resolution, strength, solidity and weldability – needed for repeatable ultrasonic welding? 3. Are the materials used to produce 3DP parts compatible with ultrasonic welding?

Ultrasonic welding: the basics Ultrasonic welding is performed by applying high-frequency vibrations to two parts or layers of material using a tool commonly called a “horn” or “sonotrode.” These vibrations travel to the interface of the two parts and produce heat through hysteresis and friction, which melts the material and bonds the two parts together. Ultrasonic processes also can be used to insert, stake, swage, degate and spot-weld components. Ultrasonic welding requires that parts to be joined must be made from thermoplastics. Among thermoplastic materials, weldability varies based on a variety of factors, including polymer structure, density, melt temperature, viscosity, stiffness (modulus of elasticity), thermal conductivity and chemical makeup. Part design, specifically the design of part joints, plays a major role in weldability. Typically, ultrasonically welded parts incorporate one of the two principal types of joint designs

Figure 1. Example of an energy director type joint (left) and a shear type joint (right). Figures courtesy of Branson Ultrasonics Corp.

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shown in Figure 1: an energy director joint or a shear joint. Successful ultrasonic welding demands that both of these joints are produced with a high degree of resolution within the part, since feature tolerances can be quite small. Energy director weld joints. The primary function of an energy director is to concentrate energy to rapidly initiate the softening and melting of the joining surfaces. An energy director is typically a triangular bead of raised material located on one of the mating joint surfaces. During the weld process, the energy director melts and flows throughout the joint area and mixes with the opposing melted surface. Adding an energy director to the joint helps to concentrate ultrasonic energy while significantly reducing weld time. Energy director sizes vary according to part size, but typically range from 0.010" to 0.020" tall, with angles that vary based on the thermoplastic being used. On the part side that is opposite to the point of the energy director, surfaces are usually textured. Molding a texture onto the mating part surface tends to improve the overall weld quality and strength by enhancing frictional characteristics and control of the melted surfaces. Usually this textured surface is quite shallow and, unfortunately, this resolution may be too fine for some 3D printing technologies to achieve. Shear type weld joints. Occasionally, parts with energydirector type joints may not produce the desired weld results. If this occurs, use a shear joint instead. Shear joints can have a variety of appearances, but all are designed to create an interference fit between the opposing parts, retain molten material in the area of the weld, and prevent premature solidification by preventing contact with surrounding air. A shear joint weld begins with initial contact in a small area of the opposing surfaces, where initial melting creates an interference fit. As the melt continues, it proceeds along the vertical walls of the parts, allowing the part joints to telescope and bond together under pressure. Shear joints thus result in strong structural or hermetic seals. How 3DP fabrication technology influences part weldability While 3DP components can provide precise part geometries that make them great for visual prototype evaluation, these parts have substantially different physical properties than those of injection-molded parts. As a result, they do not respond to ultrasonic welding as predictably or consistently. The key to understanding the differences in physical properties of 3DP part resolution, strength, solidity and weldability is to understand the 3DP technologies used to create them. Extrusion. Extrusion is the most common and recognized 3DP technology today. Extrusion processes work by melting thermoplastic filament and passing it through a heated extruder. Extruded material is then deposited in thin layers that form twodimensional slices of the final component. Layers are printed consecutively, one atop the other, so that the molten plastic can harden and bond to the layer below to form a 3D object.

16 October/November 2017

Figure 2. The precision of injection-molded specimens (left pair) is compared to that of extrusion specimens. Note the differences in resolution related to an energy-director joint (top pair) and a shear joint (at bottom).

Filament materials for extrusion include many that are already used in ultrasonic welding applications – ABS, HIPS, nylon, PC, PC-ABS, PET and PLA – with ABS and PLA being the most commonly used.2 Material grades are customized by different manufacturers to achieve special properties, such as greater similarity with injection-molded parts. However, the physical strength of printed parts is significantly weaker in the direction that the layers are stacked.3 As a result, these layers are vulnerable to separation under the stress of ultrasonic welding or during testing to evaluate the strength of the weld joint. Creating a consistent hermetic joint may also be problematic due to gaps between layers or gaps within the print paths on a single layer. While post-fabrication processes that may close surface gaps are available, these processes can run the risk of smoothing over critical features of joint geometry. The maximum resolution (minimum layer thickness) that extrusion printers currently achieve is approximately 0.005"; however, achievable layer thickness varies based on the 3DP machine and material.4 For example, parts produced by the Fortus 900mc by Stratasys have an accuracy of ±0.0035" or ±0.0015" per inch, whichever is greater.5 The high tolerances required to obtain repeatable shear joint results may not be possible with FFF technology. Figure 2 shows two pairs of parts. The top pair compares energy director butt joint specimens produced from an injection mold (left) and from extrusion technology. The extrusion part was printed with a Stratasys Dimension Elite 3D printer using Stratasys Dark Gray ABSplus-P430 material in 0.007" thick layers. Note that due to the limitation of extrusion width, the energy director of the 3DP part is created in two single passes, resulting in a rectangular shape (0.014" tall, 0.022" wide), rather than the preferred triangular shape.

The bottom pair in Figure 2 compares two shear joint specimens: one produced from an injection mold (left) and the other using the same extrusion process as the energy director specimen. Although shear joints do not require the sharply pointed features of an energy director joint, 3DP fabrication of shear-joint parts must maintain the dimensions needed for a precise interference fit. In summary, the weldability of extrusion parts may be limited due to variance in the strength of the layers, the inability to build a repeatable shear joint feature due to variance in the interference fit, and the variability in the shape of the energy director. If these limitations in part design and 3DP fabrication can be overcome, the results obtained from welding these parts should more closely correlate with those of welded injection-molded parts. Selective laser sintering. A second 3DP fabrication method, selective laser sintering (SLS), uses a focused laser directed by a mirror to melt materials – such as metal, plastic or glass – in powder form. Commonly used polymers for SLS fabrication include variations of nylon and polystyrene.6 Within a heated enclosure, powder is pushed from a powder supply by a roller and spread in a thin layer across a build surface. A mirror directs a laser through a 2D trace of the object being printed, lifting the temperature of the focus point just enough to melt

While 3DP components can provide precise part geometries that make them great for visual prototype evaluation, these parts have substantially different physical properties than those of injectionmolded parts. As a result, they do not respond to ultrasonic welding as predictably or consistently. the powder. The build surface is then lowered and another thin layer of powder is deposited on top. The process repeats until the object is completed. (Figure 3) The minimum layer thickness achievable by SLS processes is slightly smaller than that of the extrusion process, approximately 0.003", so better resolution of joint detail is theoretically possible.6 However, wall thicknesses less than 0.040" in size

ď ľ

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Figure 3. Depiction of the selective laser sintering (SLS) process.

are generally not recommended for SLS processes, and fine details – such as the sharp point of an energy director – may be “smoothed over” or lost as a result of the SLS layering process.7 The sometimes high levels of porosity of SLS-fabricated parts can pose a major concern for weldability. Pores in final printed parts can absorb ultrasonic energy and cause part features to compress. Or, they may create stress concentrations in the component that can lead to fracturing when subjected to the high frequency vibrations characteristic of ultrasonic welding. Note that fractures can propagate from any surface of the part, not just those contacted by the ultrasonic horn or by the opposing part surface. High porosity in fabricated parts also may be problematic when it comes to achieving consistent sealing. So, in summary: SLS processes can produce weldable parts, but achieving consistent weldability demands that part designers and fabricators carefully manage challenges associated with feature resolution, part porosity and part stress. Stereolithography (SLA)/digital light processing (DLP)/ material jetting. Multiple 3DP technologies utilize photopolymer resins, including stereolithography (SLA, Figure 4) and digital light processing (DLP). These processes use focused light to cure photopolymer resins, layer by layer, into a solid object. A third process, material jetting, applies a thin layer of photopolymer with an inkjet-style printing head, then cures it immediately with a UV light source. Parts produced with these methods have high accuracy and smooth finishes, two of the essential elements required for consistent weldability. Unfortunately, a third essential element for weldability is absent. As their name suggests, photopolymer resins cure using

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Figure 4. Depiction of the stereolithography (SLA) process.

ultraviolet (UV) energy. Unlike thermoplastics, they cannot be remelted, reshaped or joined using the friction-generated heat and pressure characteristic of ultrasonic welding. However, photopolymer-based 3DP processes still can play a role in the production of weldable prototype parts, since they have been used to create injection molds that benefit from the high resolution and smooth surface finishes of SLA printed/ material jetted processes.8 Although these plastic molds lack the durability of traditional metal injection molds, they can produce a limited number of prototype parts that replicate part features better than other 3DP processes. Further, they can use the same polymer material that later high-volume manufacturing processes will use. This approach could well enable part designers to evaluate part weldability, strength, sealing and other performance characteristics with a high degree of accuracy – a plus when it comes to reducing lead times and product development costs.8 Designing a more weldable 3DP part Select materials carefully. Material selection plays a primary role in weldability. Many engineered resins created specifically for 3D printing applications may mimic the behavior of more common materials but are not necessarily weldable. For example, ABS is one of the easiest polymers to ultrasonically weld. However, Digital ABS, a material created by Stratasys to mimic the properties of ABS resin, is a photopolymer that cannot be ultrasonically welded.

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Evaluate different 3DP print orientations. Depending on the 3DP technology used, joint design geometry can vary significantly when parts are printed in different orientations. Joints do not always follow straight paths, and the orientation of a single feature – such as an energy director – may lie in more than one direction. This large variance is created by the layer height typically being shorter than the minimum layer width and the tolerances achievable by the printer. Printing a weld joint in three different orientations will produce significantly different results and also may affect the tensile properties of the parts.3 Keep part walls solid. It is also important that all part walls between the joint location and the horn contact surface/ supporting surface be printed with maximum infill settings (100 percent solid). Some 3D printed parts are designed with internal voids and thin-walled geometries to reduce the amount of material required by the print; however, such voids inside a part can make ultrasonic welding more difficult or impossible by preventing transmission of ultrasonic energy to the weld joint. Even when printed solid, small voids may occur in extrusion parts along the edges of the layers and between layers. These irregularities may reduce the effectiveness of a shear joint, cause welded parts to leak, or reduce the ability of the part structure

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Figure 5. To simplify weld tooling parts, utilize prototypes with flat contact areas above (red) and below (blue) the weld joints.

to transfer ultrasonic energy to the weld joint. Print settings should be set to achieve 3D prints that are as dense as possible. When designing parts for an extrusion-style printer, care also should be taken to avoid placing excess support material

By managing the limitations of 3DP technologies, it may be possible for part designers and fabricators to produce prototypes that reduce current resolution, performance and weldability differences. in critical weld areas. Removing this support material can damage the joint surfaces. The SLS process is self-supporting, so unwelded powder simply falls away. Design for simple tooling and fixturing. Typically, 3D printed parts are created to reduce time and cost when evaluating part designs. Creating custom ultrasonic tooling for each prototype design would defeat the advantages of 3D printing. To evaluate a joint design, the surfaces directly above the joint should be raised so that all horn contact surfaces are flat and above any other part geometry, as demonstrated in Figure 5. This will allow a generic, flat-faced horn to contact the 3D printed prototype and transmit vibrations down to the joint location. Ensure that horn contact surfaces are as close to the weld joint as possible to reduce the amount of energy absorbed by the material before reaching the weld joint. Ultrasonic welding also requires rigid support from the fixture. To avoid having to produce a custom-designed fixture, the bottom half of the assembly should have a flat surface below the weld joints so that it can support itself on a hard, flat surface. Conclusion Compared to traditional processes, such as injection molding, 3D printing offers a new and faster way to produce and evaluate prototype plastic parts. However, reliably assessing the ultrasonic weldability of 3DP prototype parts remains challenging due to the current limitations of 3DP fabrication technology and materials. Reliable and repeatable ultrasonic weldability requires not only that 3DP prototype parts be made with thermoplastic polymers, but that they offer sufficiently high resolution, strength and solidity to tolerate the ultrasonic process and retain key performance characteristics.

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Of the 3DP technologies considered here – extrusion, selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography (SLA)/digital light processing (DLP)/material jetting – none has yet demonstrated that it can, with currently available capabilities and 3DP materials, directly print parts with physical characteristics and weldability that match those of injection-molded parts. However, by managing the limitations of 3DP technologies, it may be possible for part designers and fabricators to produce

© Branson Ultrasonics Corporation 2017. The Emerson logo is a trademark and service mark of Emerson Electric Co.

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prototypes that reduce current resolution, performance and weldability differences. At present, though, this remains the exception, not the rule. Statements made herein regarding the design of prototypes, weld joints and other factors are intended as a guide and may not reflect final production results.

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Given the latest advances in new 3D printing technologies and materials, 3D printed injection molds may offer a costeffective solution to producing prototype parts whose ultrasonic weldability and performance can more accurately predict final production results using injection-molded parts. n Trevor J. Larcheveque leads Branson’s Ultrasonic Application Development team, which specializes in plastics joining methods that utilize ultrasonic welding. Larcheveque works with customers to deliver robust engineered solutions for their application challenges. Before joining Branson in 2014, Larcheveque worked four years as an application engineer for Dresser-Rand, a Siemens business in Wellsville, New York, where he supported steam turbine customers with rebuilding and upgrading their equipment. For more information, email or visit www. References

1. Stratasys. Trend Forecast: 3D Printing’s Imminent Impact on Manufacturing. [Online] 2015. [Cited: May 20, 2016.] https:// pdf. 2. Stultz, Matt and Ragan, Sean. Plastics for 3D Printing: An overview of 3D printing filament-from rigid to rubbery to dissolvable. Make: 3D Printing: The Essential Guide to 3D Printers. Sebastopol: Maker Media. Inc., 2014. 3. Belter, Joseph T. and Dollar, Aaron M. Strengthening of 3D Printed Fused Deposition Manufactured Parts Using the Fill Compositing Technique. Plos One. [Online] April 16, 2015. [Cited: May 23, 2016.] pone.0122915. 4. Stratasys. Frequently Asked Questions: Get to know FDM Technology. Stratasys. [Online] Stratasys. [Cited: May 23, 2016.] fdm-technology/faqs. 5. Stratasys. Fortus 900mc: Industiral strength, durability and scale. Stratasys. [Online] Stratasys. [Cited: May 23, 2016.] 6. 3D Systems. Selective Laser Sintering Printers: Production thermoplastic parts with ProX and sPro SLS printers. 3D Systems. [Online] 2016. [Cited: May 23, 2016.] http://www.3dsystems. com/sites/ web.pdf. 7. Stratasys. Laser Sintering (LS): Design Guideline. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. [Online] Stratasys. [Cited: May 23, 2016.] 8. Stratasys. Precision Prototyping: The role of 3D printed molds in the injection molding industry. Stratasys. [Online] [Cited: May 23, 2016.] precision-prototyping.

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2017 IMDA Award Winners

The In-Mold Decorating Association is a trade association representing molders, printers, material suppliers, equipment suppliers and others committed to the development and growth of in-mold labeling and decorating products, technologies and markets. Its mission is to raise the level of awareness and acceptance of in-mold decorated durable products and in-mold labeled packaging by OEMs, brand owners and marketers. Each year, the IMDA awards recognize those creating products that best represent the technology. Awardees in 2017 are as follows.

of Best Show

Vegetarian Paté Submitted By: Sonoco Brand Owner: Allos Schwarzwald GmbH Molder: Sonoco Label Supplier: Rahning GmbH The judges were impressed by this little but mighty submission from Sonoco. The plastic package connotes natural flavor with a graphic design and shape that mimics a wooden barrel. The design is conveyed via barrier in-mold labels that deliver more than premium graphics with strong shelf appeal. The judges appreciated that the IML also delivered high-barrier properties that work in concert with the plastic package to provide a shelf-stable pate product that is good for a full year.

Best Injection Molded (IML) Package Gold Award: Vegetarian Paté Submitted By: Sonoco Brand Owner: Allos Schwarzwald GmbH Molder: Sonoco Label Supplier: Rahning GmbH

Best Label Design Gold Award: Düfa Zeolit Paint Bucket Submitted By: Kayalar Kimya Brand Owner: Düfa Molder: Etkin Plastik Label Supplier: Korsini-SAF

For its line of 100 percent plant-based, meat-alternative spreads, the Tartex brand uses specially designed PermaSafe® IML packaging by Sonoco. This solution combines maximum convenience and long shelf life with an eyecatching appearance at the point of sale. Allos Hof-Manufaktur produces the organic “Brotzeit” spreads at the company's site in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. Sonoco worked in close cooperation with Allos Hof-Manufaktur to develop a customized packaging solution designed to be user-friendly and resealable. The label, which is supplied by Rahning GmbH, features a special matte finish developed by Sonoco for a natural, paper-like feel.

This is not the standard paint bucket for mineral paint. Everything about it is unusual, starting with its well-balanced, industrial-size oval shape with integrated handle that’s easy to hold for larger hands. While graphics are simple, they’re also elegant in shades of gray with spot UV coating that adds to the premium quality, complemented by an artistic burst of color.

Silver Award: Vibs & Wöw Oxo IML Container SuperLock® Pots Submitted By: RPC Superfos Pamplona Brand Owner: Cool Vega Molder: RPC Superfos Pamplona Label Supplier: Korsini-SAF

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Silver Award: SNO-BALLS TO-GO Submitted By: Verstraete In-Mold Labels/Berry Plastics Brand Owner: SNO-BALLS TO-GO Molder: Berry Plastics Label Supplier: Verstraete In Mold Labels

Best Part Design Gold Award: Artemis Spectrum™ Sideplate Submitted By: ZoMazz Brand Owner: Logitech Molder: Unique-Sill Precision PTE Label Supplier: ZoMazz The Sideplate is an interchangeable insert for the right and left sides of Logitech’s Artemis Spectrum™ wireless surround-sound gaming headset. It can be switched out by the consumer, providing endless possibilities for customization and branding with maximum flexibility. New graphic designs can be produced by switching out labels without so much as a tool or resin change and can be on store shelves in just weeks to coincide with game launches. Manufactured to exacting tolerances to fit the curve of the headset, the Spectrum Sideplate – featuring ZoMazz Digital IMD graphics – gives the brand owner and the consumer maximum flexibility to customize with a minimum investment of resources. Silver Award: Eila® Lactose-Free Panna Cotta Submitted By: Verstraete In Mold Labels Brand Owner: Valio Ltd Molder: RPC Superfos Label Supplier: Verstraete In Mold Labels

Best Product Family Gold Award: Pauluns & Lovemade Oxo IML Container SuperLock® Pots Submitted By: RPC Superfos Besancon Brand Owner: Orkla Food Molders: RPC Superfos Besancon Label Supplier: Korsini-SAF Thanks to RPC Superfos’ recloseable SuperLock® solution, ambient shelf life of up to 24 months is possible for a wide range of products, including baby food, ready meals, soups, sauces, nuts, jams, vegetable spreads and pickles. The SuperLock® solution, in combination with Korsini-SAF’s autoclave resistant oxygen barrier labels, allows for post-filling sterilization up to 120°C for 80 minutes, decoration flexibility and prolonged shelf life, all of which provide a great advantage for commercial use. Silver Award: Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage Motor Oil Submitted By: WS Packaging Group Brand Owner: SOPUS Products Molder: Graham Packaging Label Supplier: WS Packaging Group

Best Prototype Part Gold Award: Crystal Coaster Submitted By: ZoMazz Brand Owner: ZoMazz Molder: Unique-Skill Precision PTE Label Supplier: ZoMazz

Best Thermoform IML Package Gold Award: Pillsbury Peanut Butter/Chocolate Frosting Submitted By: Verstraete In Mold Labels Brand Owner: J.M. Smucker Molder: Tech II Label Supplier: Verstraete In Mold Labels

The ZoMazz Crystal Coaster began life as a proof-of-concept part to demonstrate the company’s ability to incorporate crystals from Swarovski (through its exclusive partnership with the Austrian crystal manufacturer) into the ZoMazz digital IMD process. Utilizing a clear film with crystals attached to the molded side allows for the secure display of crystals, as well as the appearance of different colored crystals based on the imaged color of the clear film.

As a leader in the consumer packaged goods indust r y, J.M. Smucker partnered with Tech II and Verstraete IML to launch a new Pillsbury Peanut Butter/Chocolate Frosting product. Utilizing Tech II’s uniquely shaped Apollo™ thermoform inmold labeled (T-IML) container, this package provides visibility of the product, an oxygen barrier layer to increase product shelf life, picturesque graphics and recyclability.

 October/November 2017 25

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Best Injection Molded Durable (IMD) Part Gold Award: Telescopic Cylinder Cover for Industrial Trucks Submitted By: Guarnitec SRL Brand Owner: Hyva Molder: Guarnitec SRL Label Supplier: Korsini-SAF Italy This IMD part is a dust cover for front end telescopic cylinders used on industrial trucks. HYVA required a replacement for the older silk screen, low-quality print labels with a more attractive resistant cover, made to withstand both extreme weather conditions, with superior UVA and abrasion resistance. Molder Guarnitec SRL answered this challenging request, making the cover visually more attractive with Korsini’s two-layer high resistant label, adding a strong reflecting silver band behind the logo.

Best Thin Wall Package Gold Award: Country Fresh Ice Cream Package Submitted By: Verstraete In Mold Labels Brand Owner: Dairy Maid Molder: Dairypack Tubs Label Supplier: Verstraete In Mold Labels Pla s t ic p a ck a g i ng p r o d u c e r Dairypack Tubs, a division of Polyoak Packaging, joined forces with Verst raete IML for the development of the new Dairymaid ice cream packaging. The new Country Fresh IML packaging is the first ice cream packaging in South Africa with an IML label that covers the entire lid. The efficient stacking of the new IML packaging has made transport more stable. Thanks to advanced injection-molded technology, the packaging weighs 10 percent less than conventional packages, which reduces the ecological footprint. n

October/November 2017 27

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

The Card Market: An Introduction to Process and Materials by Carrie A. Napper, innovation engineer, Klöckner Pentaplast


redit cards, gift cards, identification and transportation cards, and even hotel key cards are all a vital part of everyday transactions often overlooked in regards to material selection and product performance requirements. Each subsegment has differing requirements in respect to interlaminate strength, printability, durability, etc. And, within each of these subsegment product types, the various manufacturers producing these cards operate slightly differently in terms of equipment, individual process parameters and enduse customer demands.


Can you share a brief overview of construction and the individual steps a basic card will go through? A standard bank card can be exposed to some or all of the following manufacturing process steps, depending on card design: Artwork > Pre-Press (proofing, films, plates, screens) > Printing > Sheet Collation > Lamination > Shear Cutting > Punching > Individual Cards > Inspection > Hologram > Signature Panel > Cavity Milling/ Chip Embedding > Personalization > Fulfillment

Some of these primary steps are carried out with sublayers of a card prior to a finished, laminated specimen being available in card form. Looking below at the individual sub layers of the example construction will demonstrate how the “pieces” all come together in the lamination step to produce the finished card form.


What types of materials are used in card manufacturing? Primarily PVC, in various colors and thicknesses, is commonly used. Polyesters of both clear and metallized natures are used for aesthetics and durability enhancements. Polycarbonate, although an expensive option, has been proven to provide some of the best durability offerings. Adhesive layers can range from solvent to water-based, hot melt, urethane, acrylic and numerous combinations thereof. Ink layers and graphics can be composed of UV cure, waterless, conventional and hybrid ink sets.


What types of special effects or materials are used to enhance card features? Specialty products – such as IR-blocking inks and films, color shift inks and pigments, UV and IR

Outer surface of card front can include personalization, hologram, chip Thin-gauge translucent PVC overlay with heat-activated coating Print layer on top: an ink-receptive coating applied to a thin-gauge polyester, typically metallized for cosmetic effect Single- to multiple-pass adhesives to bind thin-gauge PET above to a heaviergauge PVC base core Heavier-gauge PVC base core with single- to multiple-pass adhesives to bind thingauge PET below Thin-gauge PET with ink-receptive coating applied for print layer to adhere Heat-activated coating on thin-gauge translucent PVC overlay Outer surface of card back can include personalization, hologram, signature panel, magnetic strip

An example of individual sub layers of a standard bank card

28 October/November 2017

fluorescent inks and pigments, UV screen reflective inks, haptic coatings for touch and feel effect, glitter, pearlescent/ metallic inks, and even scents and fragrances – have all been entertained to augment card designs. One of the most popular approaches comes in the form of a metallized PET, with various hologram patterns and designs for that added bling to catch consumers’ eyes.


What is the preferred method of printing in the card industry? Digital printing is becoming more prominent in the card market due to the shorter run applications with multiple images and customizable graphics. The ability to have every card with a different print pattern isn’t feasible with the more traditional screen printing or offset litho press operations. While screen printing is more economical for large-volume runs of full-bleed color passes, the offset printing process allows the desired image to be transferred from printing plates to the offset cylinder and finally onto the plastic sheets that make up the card structure. The four-process colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black are mixed in specified ratios to form the final card product with good color resolution. With reusable plates that are easy to produce, resulting in low cost, offset printing remains beneficial for card manufacturers.


With foil card applications being popular for added aesthetic effects, are there any concerns with printing directly to this type of polyester material? The grades of polyesters selected can vary, but typically there is a pretreatment of sort on the material – whether it is an acrylic chemical treatment, corona or plasma treatment – or a more advanced formulated print-receptive coating that allows the ink to bind to the PET surface with adequate adhesion. One easily overlooked factor with the introduction of holographic images is the production of the i m a ge it s el f. S om e choose to generate the image through an analog process while others choose the digital route of creating a hologram. T he d ig it al process allows more control over the pixels, which results in a more brilliant and brighter image. From a normal visual perspective, one cannot tell a difference – for the most part – between materials produced digitally versus those produced via analog methods. However, with various

printing techniques, certain anomalies can occur. There are two main types of screen/litho printing: • Conventional: uniform spacing in dots, but dots can vary in size • Stochastic: random spacing in dot and various sizes With conventional litho printing techniques in combination with a digital hologram, occasionally an effect called moiré can occur. Moiré patterns appear in printing when two or more dots or sets of lines are superimposed at two unique angles, overlapping, negatively interfering with the image. This often creates a visual perception that degrades the quality and resolution of target images. Examples below show two single colors/images overlapped to create a negative effect interfering with the final desired image.

Two approaches can be taken to minimize this effect: First, adjusting the screen angles of the print screens by a small amount can move print dots enough from the interfering cross grain to reduce the visibility of the moiré effect. A second solution could be changing from a conventional print type to a stochastic print with random ink dot spacing. Customer fitness-for-use qualifications need to be performed to include every process of card manufacturing when introducing a new card material, construction, coating or ink. With many intricate facets and variables of the individual materials and overall card constructions, final product performance in the field can vary. n Carrie Napper is an innovation engineer for Klöckner Pentaplast, a global leader in rigid and flexible packaging, printing and specialty solutions, serving the pharmaceutical, medical device, food, beverage and card markets, among others. With a broad portfolio of packaging, films and services powered by innovation, Klöckner plays an integral Napper role in the customer value chain by marketing and protecting product integrity, safety, consumer health and brand reputation. To learn more about the Klöckner products and markets, visit

October/November 2017 29

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Fiber Lasers: Selection and Additives by Scott Sabreen, president, The Sabreen Group Inc. Editor’s Note: In this Technology feature, Scott Sabreen tackles two topics related to fiber lasers: selection of the fiber laser type when marking plastics and improving marking contrast through the use of additives.

Selecting a fiber laser for marking plastics – which laser is best?

Nanosecond Ytterbium fiber lasers are among the most significant advancements for marking, welding and cutting. Fundamentally, fiber lasers are different than other diodepumped solid-state (DPSS) marking lasers. With fiber lasers, the active medium that generates the laser beam is dispersed within a specialized fiber-optic cable. In contrast to fiberdelivered lasers, the entire path of the beam is within a fiberoptic cable all the way to the beam delivery optics. This all-fiber structure is largely responsible for the reliability and ruggedness of these lasers, which accounts for their rapid growth. Fiber lasers yield superior beam quality (M2) and brightness compared to Nd:YAG lasers. A laser with superior beam quality can be focused to a small spot size, which leads to high energy density. Fixed- and variable-pulse master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) fiber lasers with pulse energy up to 1mJ and high power density can mark many historically difficult polymers (Figure 1). Vanadate lasers also possess a small M2 value with shorter pulse width than fixed fiber and YAG lasers.

YLPN (MOPA) lasers. Q-switched fiber lasers, typically with 100 to 120ns pulse width, are employed for some marking applications, but their repetition rate is limited to around 80kHz because of the inherent constraint of Q-switching technology. Directly modulated MOPA (DM-MOPA) fiber lasers can operate at repetition rates up to 500kHz at nanosecond pulse widths. High repetition rates generally translate into faster marking speed (in conjunction with other laser/waveguide parameters). Application development is highly specific, and there is not a universal laser solution. Short-pulse-duration MOPA lasers are able to fully exploit the performance of sensitive chemical additives incorporated into polymers. Localized spatial and temporal control of the laser heat input and of the rate of heat input enable maximum performance. The selection of which laser type to integrate is determined by the output characteristics of the laser interacting with the optimized polymer material. Figure 2 represents temporal pulse shapes of fixed and variable (MOPA) pulse-length ytterbium fiber lasers.

Pulse duration influences the degree of heat and carbonization into the material. Short pulses, typically <40ns, enable more controlled energy input when processing sensitive polymeric materials. These pulses still have the peak power to overcome material thresholds but have lower pulse energy to reduce localized thermal damage.

Figure 1. On-the-fly laser marking on clear medical-grade tubing with FDA-approved additives produces jet-black marking contrast.

Which type of fiber laser – Fixed Pulse or MOPA – is best for marking plastics? IPG Photonics, a leading developer and manufacturer of highperformance fiber lasers, offers both fixed-pulse YLP Series (sometimes referred to as “Q-switch”) and variable short-pulse

32 October/November 2017

Figure 2. Temporal pulse shape of an IPG Photonics fixedpulse-length laser at 100ns pulse length (a) and an IPG Photonics MOPA laser at 4ns pulse length (b).

For both graphs, the particular combination of parameter inputs controls the output properties of the laser beam – namely the pulse energy, the peak power (the highest instantaneous peak of the pulse energy, joules/pulse duration) and the average power (average power in watts = pulse energy in joules × pulse repetition rate in hertz).

parameters. Polymers possess inherent characteristics to yield “dark-colored” or “light-colored” marking contrast. Some colorant compounds containing low amounts of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and carbon black also may absorb laser light and, in some instances, improve the marking contrast.

When setting up a fixed-pulse-length fiber laser for marking, two inputs must be set: 1. pulse repetition rate (often referred to as pulse frequency), and 2. pump power in percent (100 percent refers to the maximum possible electrical input to the pump diodes).

Each polymer grade, even within the same polymeric family, can produce different results. Additive formulations cannot be toxic or adversely affect the products’ appearance or physical or functional properties.

When setting up a variable short-pulse MOPA fiber laser for marking, three inputs are set: 1. pulse duration (often referred to as pulse length), 2. pulse repetition rate (pulse frequency) and 3. pump power in percent, as explained above.

Laser Additives for Plastics Marking Using Fiber Lasers Near-infrared laser additives improve the degree of contrast, which can be further intensified by changing the laser setup

Compared to ink printing processes (pad/screen printing and inkjet), laser additives are cost-saving and can demonstrate 20 percent and faster marking speeds vs. non-optimized materials. Laser additives are supplied in pellet granulate and powder form. Granulate products can be blended directly with the polymer resin, while powder forms are converted to masterbatch. Most are easily dispersed in polymers. Based upon the additive and polymer, the loading concentration level by weight (in the final part) ranges between 0.01 and 4.0 percent. Both granulate and powder form can be blended into precompounded color material or color concentrate. The

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selection of which additive to incorporate depends upon the polymer composition, substrate color, desired marking contrast color and end-use certification requirements. For extrusion, injection molding and thermoforming operations, precolor compounded materials vs. color concentrate yields better uniformity. Hand mixing should be avoided. Mold flow and gate type/ location are important factors. Homogeneous distribution/ dispersion of laser additives throughout each part is critical to achieve optimal marking performance. Some additives contain mixtures of antimony-doped tin oxide and antimony trioxide that can impart a “grayish” tint to the natural (uncolored) substrate opacity. Other additives can contain aluminum particles, mixed metal oxides and proprietary compounds. Color adjustments are made using pigments and dyes to achieve the final colormatch appearance. Commercially supplied, specific additives (also used for laser welding) have received FDA approval for food contact and food packaging use under conditions A-H of 21 CFR 178.3297 – Colorants for Polymers. For the European Union, there are similar compliance statements. Certification conditions are specific for polymer type, loading level threshold and direct or indirect contact. Further qualification of FDAapproved additives blended into a “final part” can achieve biocompatibility of medical devices. n

Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc., an engineering company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes – laser marking, surface pretreatments, bonding, decorating and finishing, and product security. Sabreen has been developing pioneering technologies and solving manufacturing problems for more than 30 years. He can be contacted at 972.820.6777 or by visiting or www.

34 October/November 2017


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INDUSTRY Inkcups Reveals New Look and Name Inkcups, Danvers, Massachusetts, has rebranded itself to represent what the company is now when compared to its startup roots. The company’s brand essence of “Imprinted with Ingenuity” essentially has two meanings. The first is the more obvious one: Inkcups provides specialty printing equipment and supplies to customers with clever and innovative solutions. The second meaning is subtle: everyone at Inkcups is imprinted in ingenuity – it is part of their DNA, and ingenuity is part of the Inkcups culture. For more information, visit Broome Steps Down at SPE Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), Bethel, Connecticut, announced that Russell Broome will step down as managing director. Broome came to SPE in 2014 with 25 years of experience in the plastics industry and as a longterm member and volunteer leader of SPE, including a term as president of Broome the society in 2011-2012. As managing director of SPE, he was instrumental in growing the student and young professional membership within SPE. He finished his work with SPE at the end of August. For more information, visit Mimaki USA Launches Mobile App, Announces New President Mimaki USA, Suwanee, Georgia, announced availability of the Mimaki USA mobile app for users to search and find printer, plotter, ink, software, color analysis and other information directly from their mobile devices. The Mimaki USA mobile app includes the following key functions for quick access to product information and support: search, printers and plotters, ink, dropper and contact. The app is a free download available from the App Store for iOS devices and from Google Play for Android devices, by entering “Mimaki USA” in the search field. In addition, the company Kawagoshi has appointed Naoya Kawagoshi as president, effective immediately. Kawagoshi was previously vice president, sales, for Mimaki USA, covering the United States and Canada. He remains a member of the Mimaki USA Business Planning Division and retains his office in the company's Western Region facility, located outside Los Angeles. For more information, visit

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From left are Richard Murillo (service tech), Wil Escobar (senior service tech), Kellie Beltrame (administrative assistant), Shawn Davis (district sales manager), Yorba Linda Mayor Peggy Huang, Mark Pulone (city manager of Yorba Linda), Tim Herren (western regional manager) and Matt Jones (sales engineer).

Emerson Opens Office in Southern California Emerson has opened a new Branson Regional Office in Yorba Linda, California, bringing a new level of sales, service, training and product technical support to customers in Southern California and throughout the Southwestern United States. Tim Herren, Emerson’s western regional manager for Branson Technologies, hosted guests, including Yorba Linda Mayor Peggy Huang and City Manager Mark Pulone, at the grand opening of the 5,300-square-foot facility. In addition to administrative offices, the facility houses a Branson product laboratory and a 20-seat technical training area with the ability to offer technology training and seminars to meet customer’s specific needs. For more information, visit Smithers Pira Reveals Research Findings Smithers Pira, Leatherhead, Surrey, UK, found in its latest exclusive market research that the demand for food and drink packaging in North America will continue to expand over the next five years. “The Future of North American Food and Drink Packaging to 2022” tracks how this market consumed 514.55 million metric tons of packaging in 2016, having seen sluggish annual growth since 2012. Smithers’ analysis shows that growth will continue from 2017 to 2022, with increases in volume consumption continuing and reaching 551.32 million metric tons per annum in 2022. The market data is segmented by pack type, end use and country. The report analyzes the dynamics of each market, as well as reviewing the key trends driving consumer demand. For more information, visit Labelexpo Europe Records All-Time High in Event Attendance Labelexpo Europe 2017, held at Brussels Expo in Brussels, Belgium, culminated in its biggest-ever edition with record-

breaking exhibitor and visitor figures. The show floor occupied nine exhibition halls – 12 percent bigger than in 2015. Labelexpo Europe hosted 679 exhibitors, including 198 new exhibiting companies. Attracting large delegations from Brazil, China, India and Japan, the show reported 37,724 visitors, an increase of 5.6 percent over 2015. While labels remained central to the overall Labelexpo experience, the show floor reflected its continued diversification into flexible package printing, with a wider appeal for brand owners and wide web converters. With 25 percent more working machinery at the show, 2017’s event hosted a large number of product launches, with new machines unveiled by many of the leading press manufacturers. Labelexpo Americas 2018 will be Sept. 25 through 27 in Rosemont, Illinois. For more information, visit or 2017 SGIA Expo Attracts More Than 19,000 to New Orleans More than 19,000 people attended the 2017 SGIA Expo in mid-October at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The show featured nearly 600 exhibitors showcasing the most innovative technologies and products in the printing marketplace. “The Expo is always exciting, and not just because it’s the largest printing show in North America,” said SGIA President and CEO Ford Bowers. “It’s where you go to see and learn about the evolution of the print industry.”

In addition to the technology demos, buying opportunities and product launches at the Expo this year, many announcements were made, not the least of which was the new Print United show to be held in Dallas in 2019, a joint venture between SGIA and NAPCO Media. “Print United sets the stage for the sectors that are moving more and more into the SGIA orbit,” Bowers said. Having its origins in the screen printing industry, SGIA is a trade association for professionals in the industrial, graphic, garment, textile, electronics, packaging and commercial printing communities looking to grow their business into new market segments through the incorporation of the latest printing technologies. The 2018 SGIA Expo will take place Oct. 18 through 20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information, visit n

October/November 2017 37


In-Mold Decorating and Labeling Central Decal 800.869.7654 Cent ral Decal, Bur r Ridge, Illinois, a specialist i n product de cor at i ng solutions for durable goods, has expanded its in-mold decorating/labeling solutions. Tactile brushed patterns, ultra bright white, mirror and metallics with optional dead fronts plus enhanced adhesion promoters are available for challenging PC/PETG/PET/SAN/PVC applications. In addition, outdoor weatherable PP/PE IMLs are available for applications with smooth and textured surfaces for tooling with direct or indirect gate locations. DuraTech Industries 701.252.4601 D u r aTe c h I n d u s t r i e s , Jamestown, North Dakota, is a full-service manufacturer of custom g r a p h i c s of ov e r l a y s , appliqués and pressuresensitive products. Recently, the company developed an in-mold decorated and inmold electronic piece with DuPont, wherein printed circuits and components are thermoformed and injection molded. The advantage to this process vs. a traditional circuit board is significant weight and space reduction. Features such as electronic buttons, switches and slides can be incorporated into this technology. FiberLok, Inc. 970.221.1200 FiberLok, Fort Collins, C olo r a d o, p r o d u c e s th ree-dimensional g raphics families of products for in-mold label processing. First, Lextra flocked graphics have a soft, rich, textile-like surface with multicolor images printed using nylon fibers – no ink. Second, TackleKnit performance fabric

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graphics are digital dye sublimation ink transfer-printed images, featuring laser cut and fused edges of the knit to prevent fraying and unraveling. Third, FiberLok Dimensional Graphics bring a rich and intriguing texture, extreme durability and high-temperature resistance, along with fine design details and more. For some products, FiberLok technologies are capable of reproducing image or brand imprints, or they may be used to apply a soft, user-friendly, textile-like surface to plastic parts. InkWorks Printing LLC 800.920.6983 InkWorks Printing LLC, Pl y m o u t h , W i s c o n s i n , has launched watermark con nectivit y with its propriety solution of durable in-mold labels. Targeted at semi-durable and durable applications of A BS or poly propylene injection molding, i2IMLTM expands the role of IML beyond aesthetics. The technology allows brand owners or product managers to create interactive web experiences that add to product value. It also can be utilized for track and trace tagging of products. i2IMLTM can be rendered into brushed metallic effects, graphic patterns or other art elements. Inland Packaging 800.657.4413 La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Inland Packaging co-develops IML solutions in collaboration with molders, automation and materials suppliers. Its prediecut, roll-fed IML creates new possibilities for high-volume, low-SKU products. Roll-fed labeling can use thinner gauge films, providing significant cost savings when used for the right applications. In a recent ice cream container lid, five brand panels were molded into the lid, making it one of a kind, allowing the brand owner to display brand information on the sides of the lid to enhance marketing to the consumer. Also, by featuring additional graphics on the side of the lid, the brand can be visible during the entire consumer’s experience in the aisle.

KURZ Transfer Products L.P. 704.927.3700

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New design effects using IMD from KURZ Transfer Products L.P., Charlotte, North Carolina, offer an innovative combination of visual decoration and tactile structure. The authentic wood look and matt finish illustrated in a door trim are achieved by means of IMD coating and reinforced by a tactile wave effect that is produced by the IMD mold. This is a novel combination of structuring and decoration. Components produced by means of the in-mold decoration process also can be equipped with sensor functions using one of the highly economical processes developed by KURZ. With this technology, eye-catching backlighting solutions can be realized.

Sp e cia l i z i ng i n t ot a l IMD solutions, ZoMazz, Monterey, Califor nia, uses the latest software to offer digital graphic designs at high levels of resolution, on flat or formed items, including registration across parting lines. Combined with expertise in selecting the correct highperformance film for the best finish and resolution, the company produces award-winning parts for some of the biggest brands in the world. ZoMazz also can incorporate Swarovski crystals into its IMD process, making one-of-a-kind designs. n

Proell, Inc. 630.587.2300 NORIPHAN® XWR from Proell, Inc., St. Charles, Illinois, is a halogen-free, t wo - component screen printing ink for IMD/FIM technology. It is formable and shows high wash-out resistance and outstanding cohesion in compound. The ink can be used as decorating ink or wash-out protective layer on PC and PET films. NORIPHAN® XWR shows high electrical resistance in capacitive fields. The black color shades are well-suited for touch panel applications, and the highly-resistant screen ink can be used for conventional printing applications. NORIPHAN® XWR shows excellent adhesion on PC, PC blends, pre-treated PET and corona treated PE, and PP films. Even on various scratchresistant surfaces or hard coat lacquers and TPU materials, a good ink adhesion can be achieved. In case of decorating 3D parts, NORIPHAN® XWR can be processed by pad printing as well. YUPO Corporation America 888.873.9876 In-mold labeling at YUPO, Chesapeake, Virginia, provides solutions for both blow and injection molding, offering a multitude of benchmark grades that are pre-optimized and ready for direct application. YUPO IML is a fully recyclable decoration solution with no liner or liner waste, which uses no glue and gives the freedom to create blow-molded bottles of any design or shape. Yupo also offers YUPOUltraClear™ IML, which eliminates bottle-to-label color matching. This ultra-clear, no label-look is moisture and chemical resistant, and it won’t peel or curl.


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October/November 2017 39


In-Mold Labeling and the Role of Static Generation by Stewart Gordon-Smith, business development manager, Meech International


n the eye of the consumer, the packaging of a product plays a fundamental role in the preservation of a brand’s image. One could argue that the label of a product acts as the corporate face of a brand, which means that poorly applied labeling (whether it is creased, inadequately aligned or displaying poor quality) will affect the consumer’s perception of the product and, therefore, the brand in question. For companies looking to increase their consumer appeal and protect their products against contamination and counterfeiting, in-mold labeling (IML) provides the ideal labeling technology. A product decoration method that has experienced a surge in popularity throughout the past couple of decades, numerous industries are taking an active interest in this technology, including food, beverage, cosmetic, health care, pharmaceutical and even automotive. The sector’s growth can be attributed to several factors, such as increasing technological advancements in the packaging sector that have led to cost-efficient manufacturing processes, as well as a surge in awareness among consumers about sustainable labeling and packaging. The basics of IML The term “in-mold labeling” derives from the manufacturing process in which a label is applied to a plastic packaging container. The label is placed within the mold as the container is being formed, instead of being applied to the surface of the finished product with an adhesive. IML stands out thanks to its ability to provide better durability, reduce waste and costs, and deliver a noticeable improvement in the packaging’s quality. With the ability to insert printed labeling directly into a mold, whereby the label becomes a part of the packaging, the label is more durable than labels applied post-mold.

The biggest challenge in IML has always been ensuring that the label is successfully pinned to the mold according to specifications.

as polypropylene, or polyethylene) share many of the chemical characteristics of the containers they decorate, which in turn allows them to be recycled along with the container. Forming methods for IML IML can be achieved via a number of forming methods, the two most popular being injection molding and blow molding. Both methods are effective for labeling applications, but each has a different set of characteristics. Injection molding involves inserting molten plastic material into a cavity, or mold, which then takes the form of a container, while the label is fitted inside the cavity prior to the plastic being injected. Once the plastic material has been injected into the mold, it is allowed to cool, with the label effectively becoming amalgamated with the container. Among the key benefits that this method offers is the possibility to label all of a polygonshaped container’s sides at the same time, a procedure which is not possible with glue-applied, heat transfer or pressuresensitive labeling.

Advantages over traditional labeling include better moisture and product resistance, as well as superior tear and abrasion resistance, both of which extend the packaging’s shelf life. More importantly, the plastic films have shrinkages that are a better match for the container materials, therefore helping to significantly reduce the quality issues that arise with traditional labels.

The blow molding process is not dissimilar to blowing up a party balloon. With the heated plastic material being extruded in the form of a tube, a mold is clamped around the pipe as a jet of air is blown out against the cavity walls to take the shape of the container. As with injection molding, the label is applied against the cavity wall and adheres to the formed container, due to the heat-activated glue on the label’s surface, as it cools down and settles into its final shape. Thanks to this method of molding, the container can be flexed and squeezed with no danger of the label peeling off the surface, therefore resulting in longer durability and also allowing the brand to reproduce higher quality graphics.

Recycling has long been one of the primary incentives to invest in synthetic papers for IML applications, as plastic films (such

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The role of static in IML The biggest challenge in IML has always been ensuring that the label is successfully pinned to the mold according to specifications. While most businesses endeavor to limit the presence of static in their production environments to avoid quality issues and improve health and safety, in-mold labeling companies actually rely on static generation for the delivery of their products. In the early days of IML, the label would be placed within the mold tool and held into the required position by using a vacuum system. This proved to be a flawed method due to mechanical issues, such as instances where a label was placed incorrectly into the tool and where molten plastic would block the vacuum channels. Furthermore, this process required a high level of maintenance and was more expensive than modern day systems. The most viable way of inducing an electrical charge on a label’s surface is pinning heads. While earlier pinning technologies would use large heads, the high levels of electrical charge stored in the heads could result in sparking, which would in turn damage the face of the mold tool. As a result, a smaller, resistive electric pinning system was necessary. The solution to the difficulties encountered when dealing with diminutive containers and labels was the creation of a miniaturized IML pinning system specifically designed for use in applications where small items are being molded. The Meech 994 Hydra is a system of this kind, providing repeatable pinning with no degradation over time. The components are easy to mount, as well as being straightforward to connect and disconnect during mold tool changes. The design of these systems eliminates the chance of sparking and the possibility of expensive damage to the mold tool. The choice of materials ensures that the problem of potential contamination of the container, sometimes seen with conductive foam-based IML systems, is eliminated. The future of the IML industry The global IML market looks set to thrive over the coming years, with a reduction in labeling costs being a major contributor to this projected growth. Aside from being 100 percent recyclable and eliminating the need for labeling processes on manufacturing lines, IML’s key strength is its ability to help maximize packaging appeal, prevent label tampering and guarantee superior adhesion. These traits mean that, as long as there are demands for highquality packaging, clear instruction labeling or a damageresistant finish, there will be a role for in-mold labeling. And, with static control being a key component of the IML process, there also will be a requirement for label pinning technologies that ensure that end product quality always is guaranteed. n

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Meech 994 Hydra HR (top) and IML Static Generator. Photos courtesy of Meech.

Stewart Gordon-Smith has held a number of positions since joining Meech in 1996, giving him a wealth of experience in industrial static control solutions. Over the years, he has worked closely with the engineering department to improve quality specifications of Meech’s technology ranges, and he also has helped develop market share in the sale of static control, web cleaning and air technology systems. In his current role as business development manager, Gordon-Smith he is responsible for developing sales of Meech products in new territories, including South America and the Middle East. For more information, call +44 (0) 1993 706700 or visit




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Be a Force Multiplier: Accomplishing More with Existing Resources by Elizabeth McCormick, former US Army Black Hawk pilot, author and speaker


he US Department of Defense defines “force multiplier” as a capability added or employed by a combat group that significantly improves their combat potential, enhancing mission success probability. A force multiplier could be anything from new weapons technology to fresh food in the mess hall – anything that perks up and improves the effectiveness of our world-class armed forces. The challenge: discernment in using resources In the general work force of corporate America, a problem is often solved by throwing resources at it – time, money and effort. However, that’s not always the wisest course of action, and those valuable resources could end up wasted. For those trained in the Armed Forces, the approach is different. Due to their training and experiences, the ability to enhance the effectiveness of the existing resources at their disposal is really the key behind the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” The solution: force multipliers Incorporating the unknown elements and outcomes of a new strategy can sometimes be met with trepidation since it usually requires people to embrace the unfamiliar. However, with Force Multipliers, the foundational elements are usually already known, and what changes is an updated strategy or reconfiguring other correlated elements that will inevitably improve its overall effectiveness and result. Here are six multipliers to explore and implement to help you work smarter:


Technology To be most effective in both business and life, the ability to react is necessary, but being proactive and taking initiative first is where you will find the battle is won. Certainly, when you look to the likes of Apple or Facebook, their proactive stance on new technology leverages into a significant force multiplying advantage. This tech might be the defining force multiplier of your time. However, technology is moving into a plateau period where everyone has access to technology, balancing the playing field. There will always be innovative products. The game changers propel things forward, but most of us aren’t engaged in enterprises that rely on innovation in that way. Instead, the Force Multiplier looks at technology and determines how its use extends effectiveness, for the Multiplier itself or

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for members of the team. A sales manager may, for example, implement an app that quickly provides field sales staff with past ordering information for clients. Field salespersons use this information to respond proactively during client calls. Effectively using the capabilities of smartphones has come a long way since the era of the revolutionary briefcase-sized cellphone.


Data The smartphone example underscores the importance of data. On the battlefield, it’s called intelligence, reconnaissance or simply knowledge of one’s own numbers of personnel and hardware capabilities. Having complete and accurate information multiplies the chances of effective decision-making. Knowing where an enemy is, their numbers and the weaponry under their control permits an accurate and measured response, rather than sending blunt forces in the enemy’s general direction. Consider the sales manager again. There’s no sense sending field sales into a suburb when they sell industrial cleaning products. It’s a simple example, but without knowledge of a region as suburban, effectiveness is diluted.


Collaboration Delegation is one way to use human resources, and that is essential. In traditional hierarchical organizations, that top-down direction of management is typical. It’s also quite rigid. Information and innovation typically follow that hierarchical pattern as well. The contemporary world shifts to collaborative work groups largely due to the lateral spread of information that the Computer Age grants. Length of service with a company no longer describes experience with information or tech. Therefore, information is shared laterally as well as hierarchically. Multiple-pronged communication becomes more natural and, for the Force Multiplier, more critical to success.


Psychology The most obvious psychological Force Multiplier is, of course, morale. Positive morale motivates a fighting unit in precisely the same way it boosts the efforts of a workplace team. Shared vision unifies effort and provides natural group cohesion.

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Negative morale divides teams. In military terms, propaganda is a tool used to negatively affect opposing forces, which can counteract a number of factors that might otherwise aid the enemy’s advances. While bringing down competition may not be a practical goal in the business world, bolstering the positive and avoiding the negative in work groups is critical function for the Force Multiplier.


Strategy The Force Multiplier is always thinking in terms of strategy and implementation. Effective leaders take the knowledge of what resources can accomplish through tactical means. As the other aspects of force multiplication take effect, plans adapt to the increased capabilities. For instance, with the right tools and training, a sales team of three can increase sales in an area where six used to simply maintain current levels.


Leading by Example Becoming an effective Force Multiplier means constant attention to improving your own skills and knowledge. When you start asking more from others in your organization, you’d better believe they’ll be watching you to lead the way. They know that you can’t be in the trenches with them all the

time, but they need to know you can get your hands dirty and are willing to serve beside them. And of course, demonstrating that is a Force Multiplier technique. As you become more aware of your Force Multiplier capabilities, you will realize that it’s almost a lifestyle choice with far reaching implications. Better still, force multiplication inherently implies continual improvement – of yourself as a leader, of your systems and of your team. Rather than something that’s overlaid, continuous improvement naturally emerges from the Force Multiplier process. n Elizabeth McCormick is a keynote speaker, author and authority on leadership. A former US Army Black Hawk Pilot, she is the best-selling author of her personal development book, “The P.I.L.O.T. Method; the 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life.” McCormick teaches real life, easy to apply strategies to boost employees’ confidence in the vision of an organization and their own leadership abilities. For more information, visit


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Dukane’s iQ i220 Integrated Servo Welder by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Decorating


ith operations all over the world and headquarters in St. Charles, Illinois, Dukane provides plastic welding solutions for manufacturers globally. Dukane partners with its customers to develop and apply advanced solutions for their material joining, cutting and other manufacturing processes that utilize the company’s core technologies. The most recent addition to Dukane’s servo ultrasonic offering is the i220 Integrated servo welder. This self-contained unit’s power supply is housed inside the press; thus, the press cabling is reduced drastically and the unit has a smaller footprint. Dukane’s National Sales and Marketing Manager Jason Barton noted that this smaller footprint welding system addresses the need for an “out of box” plugand-play servo-driven ultrasonic welder. “Customers are happy to receive all the advantages of servo-driven ultrasonic welding technology in a cost-effective integrated package,” he said. A host of enhancements can be found in the i220 servo, including an increase in servo speed, smoother motion and the latest graphical interface with improved resolution. “The increase in speed is up to 50 percent in some cases, while it continues to have the resolution that Dukane servo customers have come to know,” Barton remarked. By using the next generation of processor, the i220 servo welder has more onboard memory than previous generations and supports both graphical interface technology and multiple languages, including Japanese and Chinese. Since all Dukane ultrasonic servo welding systems utilize patented Melt-Match® technology, “the customer will continue to see repeatability, accuracy and reliability in the integrated package,” Barton commented. Dukane’s Melt-Match® and Melt-Detect™ technologies harmonize the motion of ultrasonic stack with melting resin. “This produces stronger, more reliable weld results when compared to pneumatic systems,” he continued. Integrated all-electric true servo technology eliminates the variability associated with pneumatic press components. The calibration and validation processes are simplified by 100 percent digital all-electric control. The Ethernet port is compatible with most Ethernet/IP protocols, making it easy to integrate in the automation manufacturing environment. Furthermore, this welding system is compatible with Dukane’s iQ Explorer software for process monitoring and data collection. An optimized weld process will create a constant power output throughout the melt phase of the weld cycle.

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The process of cloning welder settings is uncomplicated due to elimination of pneumatics from the process. “If welding a high volume of parts, repeatable results are the goal,” Barton said. Many machines will likely be welding parts simultaneously. With the iQ Servo, multiple machines (welders) can be programmed to duplicate a known process. “With pneumatic systems, this presents a dilemma because of all the minor mechanical differences that exist from welder to welder,” he explained. Careful consideration was taken to fulfill government requirements while also incorporating “green” technology. Features like multi-level password protection, process change audit history and documentation, and an indexed quick-change tool system make the welding system FDA compliant. It showcases Unique Device Identification and, to ensure validated processes remain unchanged, it does not have operator-accessible adjustment knobs or controls. Because there are no pneumatics, there is no compressed air. Dukane mechanical designers added an internal fan to eliminate the need for compressed air for cooling. “One of the highest costs endured by manufacturers today is associated with energy required to generate compressed air for pneumatic operations,” Barton stated. “It is estimated that only 50 percent of the compressed air generated is used for operation; the rest is lost due to leaks and waste.” Technical details iQ i220 Servo models have a 5" (127mm) stroke and a fixture throat depth of 8.5" (215.9mm). All models have a vertical maximum travel speed of 114.3mm/s (4.5"/second) and a maximum weld force of 250kg (550lbs). Additionally, the system contains an integrated electro-mechanical brake which provides increased safety. With the i220, control of the machine can be accessed through the front control panel or a computer using Dukane’s proprietary iQ Explorer II software. The control panel provides a combination of buttons and a 5.0" WVGA (800x480 pixels) high-resolution graphic colored display screen. The i220 Servo front panel contains a power indicator that appears as a lighted iQ Servo label. This indicator changes colors depending on the status of the machine. It appears green when the machine is ready to run a weld cycle, pink when outside of a standard run view, red when an alarm is triggered, blue when needing to be homed and yellow when in “offline” mode. Also, it will repeatedly cycle through each color during the startup sequence. Once the startup sequence is complete, the indicator will turn blue, meaning the system is ready to be homed. n

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Best Practices for Painting Plastics by Patrick Smith and Nick Strauss, Graco Inc.


lastics can be challenging materials to decorate. Different surface properties, lower surface energies and lower polarities are just some of the attributes that provide challenges not seen with metal. Not only is the paintability of plastics different from that of other substrates, it even varies among different plastics. Various materials are added to plastics to give desired physical and chemical properties. The problem is that the nature of these additives changes the paintability of the part. Paintability problems are not limited to the makeup of the plastic alone. Molding release agents and other products used in the forming process also can play a part in making it difficult to paint plastics.

Adhesion challenges The chemical makeup of the plastic largely determines its surface energy. In general, an exterior with a higher surface energy is Photo courtesy of Graco Inc.

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more readily wetted by paint and is more paintable. This also means the coating adhesion will be better. The low polarity of the molecules in plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene is the cause of the low surface energy and poor paint adhesion. Increasing the surface energy – and, therefore, paint adhesion – is one of the major purposes for pretreating plastics. Surface energy is measured by analyzing the “wettability” of the substrate. Surface wettability testing involves measuring the contact angle of the paint droplets on the part. When a liquid doesn’t completely wet a part, a contact angle is formed, causing what is commonly known as surface tension. Surface tension prevents a paint droplet from spreading across the surface; it instead continues to hold its shape on top of the part. Think of rain droplets on a newly stained deck or on the hood of a freshly waxed car. The droplets sit high and rounded on top of the surface. This is exactly what plastics decorators don’t want when trying to provide a clean and consistent finish. So, what can be done?

The first step to better adhesion on plastic surfaces is removing all soils, dirt and other foreign materials. Common soils include fingerprints, dust, lint and mold release residues. In most instances, cleaning can be taken care of with a power wash followed by a solvent wipe. However, this process should be audited regularly because the detergent residues can sometimes inhibit adhesion, resulting in water spotting or other appearance problems. An innovative alternative to traditional plastics cleaning is the use of CO2 integrated spray, comprising a jetted stream of CO2 particles and a propellant gas focused at the surface. Cool Clean Technologies, the global leader in CO2-based cleaning technology, has installed and implemented more than 50 systems for automotive plastics cleaning. CO2 spray cleaning has been mandated for use in cleaning interior plastic parts by BMW and other German OEMs. Also, customers have concluded that CO2 integrated spray cleaning yields equivalent or better cleaning results to traditional aqueousbased systems with economic benefits of significant energy and other operating cost reductions up to 80 percent, with a factory footprint that is less than 20 percent of a powerwash system. CO2-integrated spray cleaning is a dry, non-condensing, waterless technology that leaves behind no residue post

cleaning. Surface condensation is prevented by utilizing a heated air stream as a propellant for the CO2 particles. The effect is that CO2 integrated spray delivers a clean, dry and no-touch cleaning method that can be “dropped-in” to any production line. Automating the CO2 spray offers better and more consistent cleaning, while reducing scrap costs. “Rework and scrap reductions can be significant,” according to Nick Heisler of Cool Clean Technologies. For example, one leading Tier 1 customer was experiencing 40 percent rework of a large plastic exterior part and, after implementing an automated four-robot/CO2 cleaning system, this rework rate dropped by more than 60 percent. Heisler added, “By implementing CO2 cleaning, they eliminated four of their six rework stations.” Plastics also have the tendency to build up static charges that attract lint and dust particles. Static can be a problem despite the best detergent cleaning because much of the debris is attracted to the part after the wash cycle. For the best results, keep the paint booth at around 50 percent relative humidity, and supply it with filtered air. Make sure anyone entering the booth is wearing lint-free coveralls, hairnets and shoe covers. If static attraction is still a problem, consider using static neutralizing equipment

Become a member of SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division • Access to 25,000 technical papers and presentations • Discounts on SPE conferences • Network with 15,000 members around the world October/November 2017 51

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or an ionized air gun. These products filter intake air and blow ion-laden air across the part so positive and negative ions can neutralize all static charges. Christian Trimborn of Hildebrand Technologies added, “Applying ionized air to a plastic part prior to painting not only removes debris from the part, but it also neutralizes the part and debris to ensure it doesn’t reattach to the part before reaching the booth air filter.” Cleaning with ionized air should be performed directly before painting the part to ensure maximum cleanliness and to prevent any recontamination. Another common culprit of poor plastic paintability is mold release agents used to facilitate the separation of plastic parts from the molds. A number of mold release agents exist, and some can cause major adhesion problems for paint. Watersoluble mold releases are preferred, because removal is easily accomplished with detergent washing. Wax-type mold releases are sometimes removed by solvent cleaning, but it is costly and has negative environmental impacts. Mold releases also are sometimes blended into the plastic formulations. These are called internal mold releases. Internal mold releases have a tendency to migrate to the surface and cause paint adhesion failure months after the part is painted. For finishing purposes, it is often recommended that this process be avoided altogether. Plasticizers also have an adhesion-limiting effect similar to that of mold releases. These chemical additives are used to increase the strength of the plastic, but migrate slowly to the surface and cause various types of separation from the paint surface long after it has been painted. Make sure to understand every aspect of the chemical makeup of the plastic, as it alone may cause adhesion problems. Overcoming problems to achieve the best paint adhesion Now that the common causes of poor paint adhesion and how to prevent them have been discussed, there are a few other methods for increasing the surface wettability of plastics. Etching Plastic surfaces are naturally smooth, making paint adhesion difficult. This can be overcome by slightly roughing the surface by chemical or mechanical means. The most common way of overcoming surface smoothness on plastics is to etch the surface with a chemical agent. In best-case scenarios, the solvent is already present in the paint to avoid extra processing steps; however, different plastics require different solvents and the etching solvent might not be the same as the paint solvent. Etching needs to be controlled, as over-etching and underetching can be detrimental to the process and the plastic. De-glazing Sometimes when part shapes are molded, certain areas produce

52 October/November 2017

significant frictional heat due to rapid plastic injection. This can cause a glazed skin that is resistant to solvent etching. To combat this overly hard plastic skin, blast the surface with a mildly aggressive grit material or use a solvent vapor immersion treatment. Oxidative treatments When deglazing or etching is not an effective or viable option, it may be necessary to induce a chemical reaction by running it through an open flame. This is common for extremely non-polar plastic surfaces like polypropylene and polyethylene. The open flame initiates an oxidative chemical reaction that forms enough polarity to the surface to provide excellent paint adhesion. Corona discharge Passing plastic parts through an electrical corona discharge also can be an effective oxidation technique. It activates the surface using high voltage electricity. Not only is this better for adhesion, it also creates an ion field that neutralizes static to help remove dust and other particle contaminants. Photosensitizers Plastics with low polarity also can be surface oxidized using light-sensitive chemicals called photosensitizers. This process is followed by exposure to ultraviolet light. Cold gas-plasma When a gas is forced to absorb energy, it becomes ionized and is considered plasma. Gas plasma treatment, typically performed in a tightly sealed vacuum vessel, creates micro etches and activates the surface. This method creates such excellent adhesion that it makes plastics compatible with the same paints used on metal surfaces. This can be an added bonus for manufacturers decorating both plastic and metal parts. Paint application Once preparation is completed, there are numerous options for actually applying the paint. All types of spray guns used for metals and various other materials are acceptable on plastic. Conventional air spray guns have always been an industry standard, but companies that choose this type of technology may be missing out on the cost savings, waste reduction and lower VOC emissions obtained by using electrostatic spraying technology. Electrostatic spray guns electrically charge atomized paint material, which is then attracted to the grounded part. This phenomenon greatly reduces overspray and allows the particles to “wrap” around the back of the part to provide paint coverage on both sides. The resulting benefit is increased transfer efficiency, meaning more of the coating sprayed actually lands on the part instead of ending up in the booth filters. In fact, field studies have shown electrostatic applications provide 55


The Sabreen Group is an engineering consulting company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing operations. When Failure Is Not An Option – Since 1992, SABREEN has solved critical plastics problems for over 410 companies in 32 countries. We have earned a reputation of excellence for our rapid response and detailed problemsolving. Many of today’s most recognizable products are manufactured using The Sabreen Group’s advanced technology processes.



• • • •


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

machined. melted. extruded. welded. compounded. blow molded. injection molded. We’ve got it covered. casted. fabricated. foamed. thermoformed. rotation molded. vacuum formed. cooled. heated. Innovation. Technology. Sustainability. sealed. From equipment and trends to the people advancing plastics manufacturing, NPE2018: The Plastics Show thermoset. has it covered. Be there to discover new ways to maximize efficiency, advance your operations and packaged. achieve success. transported. REGISTER TODAY AT NPE.ORG consumed. recycled. MAY 7–11, 2018 | ORL ANDO, FL , USA

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to 75 percent transfer efficiency, while non-electrostatic guns only yield about 30 to 45 percent. In order for electrostatic spraying to work, the substrate typically needs to be conductive to provide a proper ground for attracting particle. However, the conductivity requirement for electrostatic spraying doesn’t entirely exclude non-conductive plastics from utilizing this technology. Many customers utilize both electrostatic spray guns and rotary atomizers for painting plastic parts. Painting non-conductive plastics can be accomplished in a few different ways. With the many options available, it is important to find what works best for each plant. Additives like conductive sensitizers, adhesion promoters or conductive primers can be applied prior to finishing, creating a conductive surface on the part. Typically, these additives have a two-fold benefit of improving surface adhesion, but also making the part conductive enough for electrostatic spraying. Another technique, commonly used in the tier one automotive industry, is called ground imaging. With imaging, the plastic part is placed over a conductive metal, which acts as a grounded image. Atomized particles are then attracted to the image behind the part and, in turn, cause greater transfer efficiency on the non-conductive plastic part. The benefits of imaging are twofold. It not only improves transfer efficiency, but also serves as a fixture, ensuring the part does not warp during the oven process and places the part in the correct position for robotic painting. For most plants, painting is a key process that can have challenges with plastic materials. The key is to make sure that the plastic has a clean and adhesion-friendly surface and that the application of paint is done in the most efficient manner. All of these techniques for both surface preparation and painting can be used individually or combined, depending on the makeup of the substrate and measures needed to create a strong attraction and efficient application. n


• PLASTEC Minneapolis, Nov. 8-9, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

February 2018

• PLASTEC West, Feb. 6-8, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California,

May 2018

• InPrint Industrial Inkjet Conference, May 1-2, The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, usa/conference • RadTech 2018 Technology Expo & Conference, May 7-9, Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Chicago, Illinois, www. • ANTEC 2018, May 7-10, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, • NPE2018: The Plastics Show, May 7-11, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida,

June 2018

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

Nick Strauss is a global markets manager responsible for growing and developing the automation market for the Industrial Products Division at Graco. He has been with Graco since 2005, performing in a variety of roles including engineering, operations management, product marketing and business development. Since 1926, Graco Inc. has been a leading provider of premium pumps and spray equipment for fluid handling in the construction, manufacturing, processing and maintenance industries. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Graco works closely with distributors around the world to offer innovative products that set the quality standard for spray finishing, paint circulation, lubrication, sealant and adhesives dispensing, process application and contractor power equipment. For more information, email nstrauss@ or visit

October/November 2017 55


Video Vault With the growing demand for online streaming video, Plastics Decorating has created a medium on its website to allow our advertisers to display their most current videos featuring equipment and/or products.

Visit the Plastics Decorating Video Vault at Click the Video Vault link at the top of the home page.

56 October/November 2017

For Marketplace advertising, email




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(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. October/November 2017 57

SUPPLIER QUICK LINKS Assembly/Joining Equipment

Hot Stamping/ Heat Transfer Equipment

Branson Ultrasonics Page 21

CPS Resources Back cover

Dukane Page 33

IDS Division (ITW United Silicone) Page 5


Hot Stamping Dies/ Tooling

Central Decal Page 34

Decorating Services AMDEC Inc. Page 56 Comdec Decorating Division Page 56 Digital Decorations LLC Page 57

Digital Inkjet Equipment & Supplies Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover IDS Division (ITW Trans Tech) Page 5 Inkcups Pages 30-31 Innovative Digital Systems Back cover KBA-Kammann USA Page 49 Mimaki USA Inside back cover OMSO North America, Inc. Page 11

Die Stampco Inc. Page 22 h+m USA Page 46 IDS Division (ITW United Silicone) Page 5 Schwerdtle Page 14

Hot Stamping Foils/ Heat Transfers

Yupo Page 36 ZoMazz Page 27

Laser Marking Sabreen Group, Inc., The Page 53

Pad Printing Equipment & Supplies Diversified Printing Techniques Page 45 Engineered Printing Solutions Inside front cover IDS Division (ITW Trans Tech) Page 5 Inkcups Pages 30-31

Screen Printing Equipment & Supplies A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. Page 35 Diversified Printing Techniques Page 45 GPE Ardenghi Page 37 Inkcups Pages 30-31 KBA-Kammann USA Page 49 Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 19 OMSO North America, Inc. Page 11

Surface Treatment

Innovative Marking Systems Page 41

3DT Page 39

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. Page 19

Corotec Corporation Digital edition

Pad Print Pros Page 4

Diversified Printing Techniques Page 45

Infinity Foils Page 9

Standard Machines, Inc./ Comdec, Inc. Page 43

Inhance Technologies Page 57

Kurz Transfer Products, L.P. Page 23

Printing Inks

Plasmatreat USA, Inc. Page 8

Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) Pages 20 and 47


CDigital Page 26 CPS Resources Back cover IDS Division (ITW United Silicone) Page 5

Webtech, Inc. Page 17

In-Mold Decorating/ Labeling Central Decal Page 34 Duratech Page 27

58 October/November 2017

Marabu North America Page 43 Proell, Inc. Page 14

NPE2018 Page 54

A guide to this issue's Plastics Decorating advertisers.

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