Plastics Decorating - April May 2011

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Today’s decoraTing & assembly source

2011 APRIL/MAY

Flow-eze Gets It Right In-line or Off-line Decorating Decision Eco-friendly Waterborne UV Coatings Ultrasonic Stack Joint Assembly


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FEATURES Focus Page 6 In-line or Off-line Decorating: A 10-Step Analysis

APRIL/MAY 2011

Should decorating systems be run in-line with molding machines? Should the molding machine and decorating system be run in-line with the assembly and packaging systems? The answers depend on a thorough analysis of 10 key variables.

Association Page 23 Letter from the Chairman – Rory Wolf, Enercon Industries Corp. Assembly Page 26 The Great Ultrasonic Stack Joint Debate: Who should you listen to?

There are several schools of thought when it comes to ultrasonic stack joint assembly and often, more than one approach can deliver good results. This article delves into the factors that contribute to improved stack component life and process consistency.

Technology Eco-friendly Waterborne UV Coatings

Page 33

Management Sales Tips: Fundamentals Beat Flash

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Ask the Expert Digital Heat Transfers

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COVER STORY Flow-Eze Company: Getting it Right the First Time

When entrepreneurship and innovation thrived after World War II, Flow-Eze Company set out to make its mark. Today, the contract decorating company serves markets that include aerospace, automotive, medical and pharmaceutical with a determination to meet the high standards of its customers and its own employees.

The second of a 2-part series on waterborne coatings, this article focuses on the application and processing of ultraviolet (UV) waterborne coatings. The dual combination of waterborne and UV radiation curing provides high performance coatings while complying with increasingly stringent regulatory emissions regulations.

Fundamentals beat flash in selling. The salesperson who asks the best questions is most likely to find real opportunity, and is in turn most likely to present the best solutions to whatever problems the prospect is having.

Digital heat transfers are gaining popularity in plastics decorating, thanks to the fast turnaround time and ability to easily customize the decorated part or product.

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DEPARTMENTS Viewpoint Product Focus

Page 4 Page 12

Product Industry Marketplace Calendar Ad Index

Page 18 Page 31 Page 44 Page 46 Page 46

(Hot Stamping/Heat Transfer Equipment and Supplies)

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Page 23 April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 3


V

VIEWPOINT

As we move into our eleventh year of publishing Plastics Decorating, it is interesting to look back and see the changes over the last several years in how plastics decorating and assembly applications have evolved. When I first started the magazine, there was very little discussion of in-line processes or in-mold decorating. The only option available for most plastic parts were offline secondary decorating processes. Today, end-users, engineers and plastic molders must be extremely savvy when determining the best approach for decorating or assembling a part. In many cases, trying to perform the operation in-line with automation and/or robotics may not be the best option. As a matter of fact, there still is a very strong market for the use of secondary processes with the continuous decrease in overall run lengths. Automated systems are wonderful for projects that produce thousands or millions of pieces over a long span of time. However, if the runs are short or for a short period of time, a secondary approach off-line may still be the most feasible choice. The Focus article in this issue presents a ten-step analysis of decorating in-line versus off-line. It does a thorough job of evaluating the options that a molder or end-user must analyze before selecting the best approach. This issue also includes the second of a two-part series on waterborne coatings, with this a focus on the application of UV waterborne coatings. In addition, there is an interesting article on the “Great Ultrasonic Stack Joint Debate” and an Ask the Expert on digital heat transfers. There are many choices in how a plastic part can be decorated today compared to just a few years ago. It is more important than ever that Plastics Decorating keeps our readers informed of all the possibilities. We’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date through our quarterly printed magazine, Plastics Decorating E-news (now monthly!) and at www.plasticsdecorating.com. Jeff Peterson, Managing Editor, jeff@petersonpublications.com

specializing in decorating your durable products All graphics have a function. To warn. To sell. To track. Romo Durable Graphics is continually challenged to produce functional graphics for our customers. We: • Decorate products that are outside in sun, rain & snow for years. • Print barcode tracking decals for containers that are commercially washed 300+ times. • Resurface furniture and surfaces with graffiti-resistant decals.

We manufacture decals with a lasting impression. Call us today!

April/May 2011

ISSN: 1536-9870 Published by: Peterson Publications, Inc.

2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 (785) 271-5801 (785) 271-6404 (fax)

Website: www.plasticsdecorating.com Email: publish@petersonpublications.com Publisher/Managing Editor Jeff Peterson Assistant Editors Kym Conis Dianna Brodine Technical Editor Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group

Art Director Eric J. Carter Graphic Artists Becky Arensdorf Cara Pederson Sales Director Gayla Peterson

DURABLE•GRAPHICS

(920) 712 -4090 www.romoinc.com

In-mold Graphic Solutions is a division of Romo Durable Graphics

4 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

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.



F

FOCUS

In-line or Off-line Decorating:

A 10-Step Analysis By Bob Coningsby, Apex Machine Company

Should we run our decorating system in-line with our molding machine? Furthermore, should we run our molding machine and decorating system in-line with our assembly machine and subsequent packaging system? These are significant questions that are deliberated when proposing the lowest possible unit cost system that will operate in an efficient and economical fashion. This can be determined quite easily provided that the molding machine, decorating system, assembly machine and packaging line are analyzed and assessed in every aspect of their feature and operation. Similarly, long-range goals and economic expenditure are critical factors that also should be considered in advance of the development and final confirmation of the project. A 10-step analysis is suggested in order to truly verify the feasibility of an in-line operation. Step 1. Molding Step 1 involves the molding process, as certain molding processes are more conducive to an in-line operation than others. The five most common molding processes include thermoforming, rotational molding, extruding, blow molding and injection molding. A. Thermoforming An in-line decorating process with a thermoformer is possible and practical; however, the key is volume, as large orders with limited changeovers should be run inline with the thermoforming machine in an efficient and cost-effective fashion. Another variable to keep in mind is floor space, as an in-line process with a thermoformer requires space to allow a suitable buffer between the decorating system and thermoforming line. B. Rotational Molding An in-line process with a rotational molder also is possible, but because of the size of most rotational-molded parts, this is not a common practice. C. Extruding Running in-line with an extruder is very common, but the key here is in the extruder itself and in the product being extruded. Some extruders and some products may not allow for either an efficient or practical interface.

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D. Blow Molding Running in-line with a blow molder is both recommended and highly suggested as most blow-molded parts take up air; hence, one cannot afford to handle the part twice prior to its subsequent shipment. E. Injection Molding Running in-line with an injection molder is highly recommended, but as with other molding processes, the key is volume. In summary, running in-line with any of the above processes is certainly feasible and, in many cases, practical. As a rule of thumb, Apex typically recommends running in-line only with blow molding or injection molding equipment, as both of these processes will allow for a better return on investment. Step 2. Part Type Is the molder producing a flat part, round part or odd-shaped part? Is a consistent part produced per the agreed upon tolerances? What raw material would be utilized and how big is the part being produced? All of these questions are extremely important when considering the potential of running in-line, as the part itself will in most cases dictate the resulting decision. Flat and round parts are more ideally suited for in-line applications than odd-shaped parts, but the key is in the consistency of the part produced. An inconsistently made part will not allow for the use of specific technologies, which otherwise would be more conducive to an odd-shaped part. Another factor to keep in mind is the size of the part and the material used to produce it, as some materials have different shrink characteristics than others. Certain materials also require pretreatment for particular decoration processes. To summarize, smaller parts which are consistently manufactured are appropriate for an in-line decoration process. Before considering the idea of running in-line, the required graphics should be analyzed, as the type of artwork also will impact the feasibility of the decoration process. Step 3. Volume How many pieces per year will be produced? Will short runs or long runs be produced? How many cavities is the molding


machine? Would that particular mold be dedicated to that particular molding machine? When running in-line, one must definitely take into account the volumes, as an in-line operation with a small-volume molding process may not be practical simply due to the cost of the automation.

ics on unusual surfaces or odd-shaped parts. Most pad printing machines operate in a reciprocal fashion and off-line, as the volumes are typically not large enough to justify the automation to interface the molding machine with the pad printing system.

Step 4. Artwork or Graphics In most cases, the artwork required will dictate the decoration technology. Likewise, in most cases the decoration technology will impact the feasibility and possibility of running in-line. When evaluating the artwork or graphics, one must consider the location of the graphics as this too will dictate the decoration technology.

There are continuous-motion pad printing machines on the market, and many of these systems do run in-line. However, the keys to an in-line operation with a rotary pad printer are the part – which in most cases is round – and the volumes. Large volumes will be needed to run with few changeovers to truly justify an in-line interface between an injection molding machine and a high-speed rotary pad printing system.

Does the round part need to be decorated for a full 360° circumference on the full length, or does it simply need to be spot printed? If a flat part is produced, would this require decoration on both sides, and would the graphics be applied to the full surface of both sides? In producing an odd-shaped part, where do the graphics need to be placed? Would the part support itself during the decorating process? What type of artwork or graphics is needed? Would a one-color print be required or is multi-color artwork necessary? Is a metallic image needed or does the part require photo-style graphics? Would short runs or long runs be produced; and how often would the artwork or graphics change? All of the above are critical questions, as the style of graphics will dictate the decoration technology; and the decoration technology will determine the feasibility and practicality of running in-line.

B. Hot Foil or Heat Transfer Either process involves the utilization of a metallic foil or a preprinted foil which comes in contact with a heated surface to transfer the image to the substrate. Hot foil is suitable for small-volume applications where a semipermanent metallic image is required. Heat transfer also is suitable for small-volume applications where a photo image is required as high quality graphics can be preprinted on the film. As a rule of thumb, odd-shaped parts cannot be hot foiled or heat transferred; thus, most hot stamped or heat transferred parts are either round or flat. In addition, both technologies utilize a reciprocating part-handling motion, making it ideally suited for small-volume applications only.

Step 5. Decoration Methods or Processes There are numerous ways to mark, decorate and apply graphics to a product, but for this article the focus will be on the most common technologies utilized today.

C. Screening Silk screen machines are predominately used for onecolor applications and for either round or flat parts. Some odd-shaped parts can be silk screened, but the

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In comparison to other technologies, heat transfer or hot stamp has an expensive per unit cost. However, this technology allows for a lower capital investment as heat transfer and hot foil systems are very inexpensive.

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April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 7


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FOCUS printable area of the part needs to be round or flat, and consistently placed. As mentioned, silk screen machines only can apply one color at a time; however, there are numerous systems on the market today which can imprint multiple colors, assuming the order sizes are large. As a rule of thumb, silk screen machines have a long changeover time, making a multi-color silk screen machine impractical to run in-line for small volume applications. On the other hand, if running in-line with a blow molding machine, a sufficient buffer can be incorporated between the molding machine and the print to run small orders. Again, the changeover time is extremely critical, as the buffer needs to allow for a sufficient part accumulation while a changeover takes place.

D. Offset and FlexApex Printing Processes Most in-line applications involve the utilization of either the offset printing process or a FlexApex printing process. Both of these processes are designed for largevolume runs and allow for stop-and-start capability, which will occur in an in-line process. Both technologies require either a flat or round part; and a sufficient buffer is required to allow for an in-line color or artwork changeover. E. In-Mold Label (IML) IML only can be utilized with an injection molding machine. This technology is ideally suited for small-volume, high-quality graphics on either round or flat parts. Other shapes can be decorated with an IML, but the unit cost will be high and the cycle time will be low. F. Laser and Inkjet Both of these technologies are ideally suited for an in-line application where either variable data or a single-color artwork is required. Both technologies are non-contact, making them appropriate for almost any part type.

8 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

G. Sleeves Preprinted sleeves are suitable for high-end graphics on blow molded parts and the automation required to operate in-line is both simple and cost-effective. Step 6. Assembly Process Does the product require a sub-assembly process – meaning, do other parts have to be attached to the part prior to its subsequent packaging and shipment to the customer? Some assembly processes can be done very easily in-line, but the more complex the part, the more difficult it is to run in-line. In addition, volumes need to be considered, as a high-volume, complex assembled parts would be more challenging to run in-line than a high-volume part that does not require any assembly at all. Normally, an in-line application is not recommend for highvolume parts that requires multiple assemblies. The assemblies are the key, however. What parts have to be assembled to the decorated parts and do those parts also have to be manufactured in-line? Step 7. Packaging Requirements What type of packaging is required for the parts, and is the packaging of a simple or complex nature? How often would the package change, and how will the end package be shipped? These questions need to be addressed before considering the potential of running in-line with a molding process, decorating system, assembly machine and packaging line. Packaging off-line is recommended because of the complexities normally associated with the packaging process. However, Apex currently is running numerous lines in-line with packaging, and once again, the decision is based on volumes. Step 8. Automation to Interface One of the most important factors to keep in mind when running in-line is the automation required to interface each of the machines within the line. Apex normally recommends a buffer

ď ľ


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NORIPHAN® HTR HF, NORIPHAN® XWR and NoriAmid are free of halogen. NoriPress® SMK (solventbased) and AquaPress® ME (water-based) are bonding agents for IMD/FIM technology. AquaPress® ME can be back molded with PC, ABS and PMMA, NoriPress® SMK with PA additionally. They can be used as an overprinting adhesion primer to enhance the bonding of IMD inks with various resins melting at lower temperatures, and for laminating different film types. Proell, Inc.

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FOCUS

between each system, but this is not a mandate, as many of our high-speed automated lines run completely in-line as the speed of each system is equally matched. Another very important concern when running in-line is the artwork and color changeovers. How often would colors and graphics change? If the artwork and colors need to be changed frequently, then Apex does not recommend running directly in-line, unless with a bowl feed and a buffer in between. How long does it typically take to perform a changeover? The buffer needs to be larger or longer than the longest possible changeover timeframe, as it will not be affordable to stop the machinery when running in-line. Another key factor is machine efficiency, as an in-line operation will only be successful if each of the machines can operate in an efficient and non-stop process. If any of the machines which are part of this operation cannot operate efficiently, and each of the machines within this operation is not predictable, then Apex does not recommend running in-line. Step 9. Cost How much would an in-line operation cost, and would running in-line be affordable? From experience, this only can be answered with numbers, as the volumes will define the likelihood of a successful in-line process.

10 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

Step 10. Return on Investment In order to justify running in-line, one must have a relatively appropriate Return on Investment (ROI). Apex typically strives for an 18-month payoff. Apex has been able to justify investment with a 2-year or 3-year payoff, but typically these are for programs which either have a longer life expectancy or a mandate for total automation. The medical industry is a perfect example, as many of the large volume medical products today must be run in-line as the process simply will not allow for an off-line mentality. To summarize, Apex is a huge advocate of an in-line process, specifically in the U.S.; however, running in-line is not easy, and every aspect of the project must be carefully analyzed and assessed to truly define what is possible, practical and – of course – justified. n Bob Coningsby is CEO and chairman of Apex Machine Company. Apex is owned and operated by leaders who are committed to providing the printing industry with a solid foundation of highly trained personnel, serving every facet of industrial printing systems, custom printing systems and on-product printing, marking and decorating equipment. For more information, call 954.566.1572 or visit www.apexmachine.com.


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printer for industrial applications. Prints on media up to 5.9” thick including non-coated materials. u Precision printing. Automatic 4-point optical positioning system for centering prints on small objects. New Spray Suppressor System prevents satellite ink drops. u Ink versatility. Uses hard and flexible UV inks. Prints vivid images on transparent and colored materials with white ink over or under-printing. u Optional Roll Unit. Print on roll media up to 28” wide.

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P

PRODUCT FOCUS HOT STAMPING/HEAT TRANSFER

Cassco Machines 800.387.4600 www.casscomachines.com

CPS Resources, Inc. 704.882.8985 www.cpsresourcesusa.com

Cassco Machines introduces a new line of servo presses. These all-electric machines have adjustable stroke, speeds and pressures that can be set to distance or force to produce exceptional results in hot stamp, heat transfer, heat stake and insert applications. Multiple positions and speeds enable smooth foil and heat transfer stripping, heat staking and insertion processes. These machines are available in ¼- to 20-ton pressures and a variety of head sizes. They are easy to operate, store multiple programs and offer significant energy savings over pneumaticpowered units. The sealer roller drive system offers a smoother and more durable drive package than traditional ball screws.

CPS Resources, Inc. offers the PVT200 hot stamp machine. The machine features a pivoting mechanism specifically designed to decorate a tapered or cylindrical product. From machine manufacture and custom in-house decoration to top quality, problem-solving capabilities in the decorating arena and economical rotogravure heat transfers and hot stamp foils, turnkey is what CPS Resources, Inc. represents. Hot Stamp Supply Company 877.343.4321 www.hotstampsupply.com

CFC International produces pigmented and metallic heat transfer foils for a broad range of hot stamp plastic decorating applications and industries. Hot stamp films come in a wide assortment of vivid solid colors and highly polished metal appearances. These pigmented and metallic heat transfer foils feature functional characteristics such as resistance to abrasion, fading, heat distortion, scratching, moisture, mar and chemical resistance.

Hot Stamp Supply Company offers a versatile line of standard hot stamping machines involving the three common hot stamp technologies – vertical, peripheral and roll-on. The main difference between hot stamp and heat transfer technology is that hot stamping is ideal for single color transfers, whereas heat transfer is utilized for pre-printed, multicolored transfers. The equipment used to apply heat transfers is the same as for hot stamping, with the addition of precision indexers. The indexer transports the carrier under the stamping head and ensures accurate registration of the transfer image on the part being decorated. Hot Stamp Supply is able to offer advice on the best hot stamping application for each imprinting job.

Schwerdtle, Inc. 800.535.0004 www.schwerdtle.com

Stamprite Machine Company 860.742.9222 www.stampritemachine.com

Schwerdtle, Inc., continues to blend old world craftsmanship with the latest CNC technology to develop the complex hot stamping dies and tooling that are required by today’s plastic design and molding engineers. The modern, muti-axis, servodriven hot stamping machines of today allow much more creatively difficult applications. The creation of compatible quality hot stamp dies and tooling is the key component to success. Decorated parts may be in the automotive, medical or personal products marketplace. However, Schwerdtle believes that every hot stamp application is expected to have cosmetic-quality appearance. Schwerdtle, Inc. is familiar with all of the newest hot stamp machines and technology and is uniquely equipped to make the best dies for its customers’ every application.

Stamprite Machine Company announces the refinement and simplification of its model RR-25 machine, which makes it easier to operate. The RR-25 applies decals to all standard plastic containers, and it is capable of applying up to 6" wide heat transfer decals on a variety of container diameters. Additionally, the RR-25 works with metal bottles that either have been powder coated or lacquered. This machine is often paired with digital heat transfers to produce decorative containers for the advertising specialty business.

CFC International 708.891.3456 www.cfcintl.com

12 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011


Trekk Equipment Group 636.271.1391 www.trekkequipment.com Trekk Equipment Group offers a wide range of automated hot stamping and heat transfer decorating equipment packages, which include an industrybest five-year warranty. The equipment lines provide the capability to address all types of vertical press, peripheral and roll-on decorating applications. Equipment options include real-time product vision inspection with accept/reject part separation, high-speed servomotor control packages, bulk-style infeed systems, boxing and counting exit systems and full production cells. North Pacific International, Inc. 909.393.3312 www.npifoil.com North Pacific International, Inc. introduces the HS600T, a high-speed tube and bottle decorating machine with a visual camera system for precise registration. Compact, fast and affordable, this machine will make automation of printing

operations feasible on any production floor. Also new is the CM-360, a 360-degree taper decorating machine that is designed for the increasing demand of tapered bottles; and the APM 120, a high-speed heat transfer decorating machine that ensures successful volume production. Also available from North Pacific International, Inc. is the ASR-150 flat surface decorating machine. United Silicone 716.681.8222 www.unitedsilicone.com United Silicone launches the new Transgrafix HT heat transfer decorating machine. Heat transfer decorating uses a combination of heat, pressure and dwell to apply pre-printed graphics permanently to a part. The Transgrafix HT allows for full-color decoration of cylindrical parts. The machine platform utilizes a silicone rubber roller for peripheral marking mounted to a vertical stamping head. The ability to combine full-color decoration with metallics now can be accomplished in one pass with this solution. n

April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 13


P

PROFILE

Getting it Right the First Time Home to many of the largest machine manufacturers in the world, Rockford, Illinois, thrived as an industrial city after World War II. Out of this manufacturing revolution came many important inventions, as well as technologies and products originally developed to support the war effort. Along with many other new businesses across America that were fueled by the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, Flow-Eze Company set out to make its mark and joined the industrial movement. Founded in Rockford in 1946 by William and Alice McCarren as a manufacturer of a complete line of specialty chemical products, the company’s name evolved from its namesake product – Flow-Eze Drain Opener. As sales grew over the next 15 years, product labeling switched from hand-labeling to outsourcing lithographed tin cans and silk screened plastic bottles. However by the mid 1960s, as a result of continually changing label laws, the company began to purchase equipment to direct print its packaging in-house. This enabled it to print on an “as-needed” basis and remain compliant with necessary label warnings set forth by the Food and Drug Administration.

In order to offset its capital equipment investments, Flow-Eze began to provide silk screening to small bottle and packaging companies, as well as to larger companies such as GC Electronics, Sunbeam Appliance, Sundstrand Aerospace and others. This side business soon became the spring board by which the company would launch in a whole new direction – a direction that would define what Flow-Eze is today. Sixty-five years later, Flow-Eze Company has maintained a diverse mix of business segments in order to survive the ups and downs of the business cycles that have put much of its competition out of business. Primarily, the company is centered on a variety of printing capabilities that serve its various divisions: contract decorating services (since the early 1960s), private-label janitorial bottles and accessories (1970) and promotional products (1986, under The Kent Creek Line name). Today, Flow-Eze’s contract decorating business serves a variety of markets including aerospace, automotive, beauty/cosmetics, consumer products, foodservice, industrial, medical, pharmaceutical and promotional. Plastics Decorating conducted an interview with Flow-Eze Vice President and third-generation family member Shaun McCarren to uncover the strategies behind the company’s continuing reign of success over the past six plus decades.

Flow-Eze Company provides screen printing (flat and container), pad printing (up to five colors in-line) and hot stamping.

14 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

Q: What types of decorating capabilities does Flow-Eze offer and in what ways do the company’s years of expertise play a significant role? A: Our decorating capabilities include screen printing (flat and container printing services), pad printing (up to 5 colors in-line) and hot stamping. With decades of experience on our side, we’ve encountered what works and what doesn’t. Much of successful product decorating relies on both art and science. We hold the belief that we never stop learning; it is when you think you have it all worked out that another challenge comes along. Variables such as product substrate, ink selection, environmental wear on a part, tooling, part/material consistency, ambient temperature/ humidity, machine times and more all dictate success or failure. Based on our knowledge and ‘hard knocks’ experience, we have helped competitors, customers and even third parties with their in-house decorating needs. Sometimes it is a simple retraining of new staff or helping to find a solution to a nagging problem. Other times it is supporting the client by bringing decorating in-house. Despite this sometimes meaning less business for us,


Flow-Eze operates a dedicated state-of-the-art Class 100,000 clean room.

we understand the importance of relationships and are here for more than just one order. We also provide complete graphic design services that range from artwork clean-up to total brand identity design. Many of our clients provide beautiful artwork – though artwork that was not designed for anything but printed paper or web. Based on this challenge, we understand the need to keep the client’s artwork as is, and instead modify the artwork for maximum quality, registration and color accuracy. Maintaining an in-house graphic arts department ensures that our client’s artwork never leaves our company – providing the assurance of privacy and the benefits of speedy changes and fast lead times. Q: How does your state-of-the-art clean room provide an edge in the medical device market? A: While anyone can print medical devices with class VI medical grade inks, the real challenge lies in ensuring a level of cleanliness to not expose any stakeholders to liability or more importantly, not compromise a patient’s health. For that reason, processing medical devices as well other precise applications in high-tech, aerospace or instrumentation devices in a clean room is critical. In 2010, understanding the growing needs of our customers, we invested in building a state-of-the-art class 100,000 clean room. Since that time we’ve worked with various customers on simple and complex projects such as pad printing esophageal measuring tapes made of difficult-to-adhere-to ePTFE material to less difficult


 p. 15

PROFILE

IV Y-connectors. As a class 100,000, our room is as clean, or cleaner, than the facility in which most of the products we decorate are molded or machined in. Additionally, our clean room is of the ‘hard wall’ variety, so it is a dedicated room and not simply a small plastic enclosure in a plant somewhere. We have additional plans in place to further increase the level of air cleanliness to class 10,000 in the coming months. Though the clean room is a key piece of our clean room operations, the procedures, staff and protocol (such as providing for tooling that is nearly sterile) go a long way in keeping parts clean and customers happy. Q: Besides clean room requirements and stringent testing standards for the medical device market, what other markets pose strict quality-compliance standards? A: As a general aviation pilot, I take a keen interest in servicing the aerospace industry. I often can be heard iterating with analogies the importance of ‘getting it right’. As in aviation, one often has just a single chance. It is this philosophy that we try to focus on to ensure our processes "get it right" every time. For the majority of aerospace components that require some type of marking, we comply with customer-requested standards. Many customers have formal, yet internal, standards developed that indicate required font, font size, ink type, location, adhesion tests and process. Other standards may be the Department of Defense’s MIL-STD-130, MIL-STD-1285 or the SAE standard AMS3145. The main challenge faced today with many of the standards is the general lack of understanding in the techniques of pad printing, screen printing or hot stamping. Ultimately, the “gold standard” for many product decorating quality tests is typically as simple as the ASTM D3359 (tape test) for adhesion or the ASTM D4060 (taber test) for abrasion resistance. Q: Does Flow-Eze work with its customers to develop new processes? Can you cite an example? A: In the case of the esophageal tape measure example cited for our clean room services, many challenges were faced in developing a print method for the material – an annealed ePTFE tubing. Though ideal for the client’s applications, imprinting the material proved to be a challenge in a variety of ways. These challenges included non-consistent material width, soft material (making tooling difficult), difficult-to-adhere-to material (while still remaining medical device-compliant) and product shrinkage during curing (which could affect measurement calibrations). The client’s end product is currently in clinical trials. Q: How is Flow-Eze set up for equipment, tooling and fixture modification? A: As a small business, most of our staff wears multiple hats throughout the day. When it comes to developing or engineering equipment modifications and tooling, ideas and

16 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

Flow-Eze employees provide ideas and improvements on equipment modifications and tooling.

improvements come from everyone. When developing tooling, our staff knows and understands that the ultimate goal is the end result – a product that exceeds the client’s expectations. Yet, additional “behind-the-scene” factors come into play in engineering that include operator ergonomics, loading/unloading efficiency, machine throughput, job-to-job repeatability, product/color registration and scrap reduction. Many of these factors require the creation of prototypes prior to production tooling and even at that – while using production tooling – minor tweaks to tooling are identified and carried out prior to the next run. Flow-Eze creates in-house 3D-concept drawings and CAD files to convey the ideas to local machine shops. We do have plans to add in-house three-dimensional scanning technology, rapid-prototyping and CNC machining (a vertical mill and a lathe) in the future, but currently enjoy the creativity and concept improvement of a partnering machine shop. Q: In what way(s) has automation played a role at Flow-Eze? A: For the majority of our clients, the use of automation in the traditional sense is not feasible. While robotics in material handling are not in wide use at Flow-Eze, we find other innovative uses of technology to give us an edge on the competition. One such use is in communication, where today Flow-Eze is able to conduct video conferencing with customers and machinery partners throughout the world. This technology provides many advantages, from allowing our staff to review prospective equipment in Germany to showing an agency in New York printed product samples to ensure the client’s image was being printed properly. Yet, regardless of innovation, having the best machinery and consumables partners are key to the current and future success of Flow-Eze Company. For instance, we’ve worked with Dubuit of America for over forty years for our container decorating screen printing equipment needs and Pad Print Machinery of Vermont for nearly twenty years for our pad print equipment needs. The capabilities, innovation and reliability of utilizing such high-end equipment pays dividends in flexibility and the ability to incorporate automation as needed.


Q: What lies in the immediate future for Flow-Eze? A: Since late 2010, we have been in the process of transitioning our quality management system to the widely accepted ISO9001 standard. The transition and ultimate certification of this standard is one that will help us serve the growing needs of our clients and future prospects. Other quality initiatives/certifications being added in the future include ISO13485 medical device quality certification and becoming an FDA-registered facility.

Second, our continued success is measured by the value we bring to our clients, both through our breadth of product decorating know-how and our willingness to learn and respond to our customer’s needs. Additionally, we work with clients of all sizes – including the smaller start-up company that cannot meet the quantity minimums of other decorating or molding companies. Finally, much of our success stems from our “total approach” to the product decorating process. This approach is simply not taking a “one size fits all” mentality. Instead, we methodically work with our customers to ensure we provide the best solution for their contract decorating needs. Recently, a client called us with an urgent need for 460,000 parts with a two-color pad printed image. The challenge from the client was in the need for a short turnaround – less than 10 days – and at a price point that was below cost. However, by utilizing one of the largest pad printing lines in the country (a five-color press with 160mm ink cups), we were able to develop tooling to print nine parts up in a nest – increasing throughput, raising hourly revenue, lowering costs and most importantly, ensuring a happy customer.

Additionally, we are presently in the early stages of qualifying the addition of a $1.4-million dollar investment in both PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) for the metallization of components and a chain-on-edge automated spray paint line for base and topcoat applications. Q: To what strategies would you attribute the company’s continued success in contract decorating? A: First, we maintain a small, familial atmosphere, even though only three of all of our employees are related (Patrick McCarren, president and CEO; Shaun McCarren, vice president and son of Patrick; and Mark Ingraham, print manager and nephew of Patrick). Our employees enjoy close interaction with one another, and this atmosphere promotes and encourages the freedom to develop new ideas in every facet of the organization. Pad Printing & Laser Engraving Equipment & Supplies

We provide an economical solution that meets the customer’s needs, so they can rest easy knowing their product decorating is in the caring and competent hands of Flow-Eze Company. n

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April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 17


P

PRODUCT

Pad Print Machinery of Vermont Releases Newest Version of Stress Ball Printer Pad Print Machinery of Vermont, East Dorset, VT, has released its latest version of an automated stress ball printer for the promotional products industry, the KP06. This new stress ball printer features an automated rotary table, custom software and touchscreen graphic interface; is capable of printing 3,000

parts per hour and has two sealed ink cups for printing two jobs simultaneously or for printing the same job at double the time. The stress ball printer has four specialized fixtures with smaller sleeve inserts and is capable of printing on multiple size stress balls. Additional features include an auto unload chute, quick set-up for short production runs and a small footprint. For more information, call 800.272.7764 or visit www.padprintmachinery.com. FUJIFILM Dimatix Launches Spectra Polaris 512-Jet Two-Color Printheads FUJIFILM Dimatix, Santa Clara, CA, has launched a new family of three Spectra ® Polaris 512-jet, general-purpose, binary, drop-on-demand printheads. The new models have 15, 35 and 85 picoliter fundamental drop sizes. Like other models in the Q-Class platform, these new high-performance printheads deliver the largest range of drop sizes, broadest ink compatibility and higher packing density than previously possible. Shared physical features allow printer designs to easily be migrated across different model types, printing applications and price points. This new configuration allows as few as two printheads to be used to produce 4-color images. As an AAA-designated printhead, Polaris supports aqueous ink formations in addition to UV-curable and aggressive organic solvents, making it suitable for a growing range of commercial and industrial printing applications. For more information, call 888.346.2849 or visit www.dimatix.com.

18 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

Pantone Helps Designers Match 3,400 Colors in Plastic

Pantone LLC, Carlstadt, NJ, has announced the availability of large-format Pantone ® Plastic Standard Chips, which will allow designers across multiple industries to match all 3,400 standard colors in the Pantone Plus series and the Pantone Fashion + Home color system libraries. The Plastic Standard Chips provide an internationally recognized color language for all industries, making the coordination between all materials – from products and packaging to advertising and collateral – simple and reliable. Pantone Plastic Standard Chips are sold individually, which increases efficiencies, reduces costs and accelerates speed to market. Created using polypropylene, Pantone Plastic Standard Chips include both gloss and matte finishes in a large 3x1⅞" format. The new chips are tiered, ranging in thickness from 1mm to 2mm, making it easier to visualize, measure and match Pantone colors in plastic. Chips include color names and/ or numbers, along with the corresponding pigment formulations and spectral data information. Custom color matches also are available. For more information, call 201.935.5500 or visit www.pantone.com. Holland Colours Introduces Low Gloss Frost for PET Bottles Holland Colours Americas Inc., Richmond, IN, has introduced the Holcosperse B Matte Frost series, which has been developed and formulated for PET packaging applications to achieve a frosted glass look without secondary operations. This patentpending product uses a unique additive chemistry to create a translucent effect similar to frosted glass, with significant gloss reductions in PET. Unlike other such additives, Holcosperse B Matte Frost does not depend on orientation to achieve this desired effect. The Holcosperse B Matte Frost complies with FDA and EU regulations for PET packaging applications and features the following key characteristics: effective light diffusion properties/greater frost effect, reduced gloss levels and


softer texture in PET, uniform frost effect not dependent on bottle orientation, easily dosed online and dramatically reduced production costs and turnaround time. For more information, call 800.723.0329 or visit www.hollandcolours.com. Dukane Expands Ultrasonic Welding Line for Medical Applications Dukane Corporation’s Ultrasonics Division, headquartered in St. Charles, IL, has expanded its line of iQ servo-controlled ultrasonic welding systems for medical applications and other high-value components. New high-frequency welders (30, 40 and 50 kHz) are targeted for smaller medical parts such as valves, ports, filters and implant components. Meanwhile, a larger press platform (15-kHz and super 20 kHz) targets larger part sizes for medical applications. These new welders also employ the company’s new Melt Match ™ technology, which delivers greater repeatability, stronger welds, easier validation calibration and lower manufacturing cost versus standard pneumatic welders. For more information, call 630.797.4902 or visit www.dukane.com/us. Graphic Packaging Offers Seamless Label Solution Graphic Packaging International, Inc., Marietta, GA, introduced Heat Transfer Labels (HTL) to provide a seamless “nolabel look.” HTL is a proven labeling solution that reduces energy reliance, carbon emissions and raw material input, while offering a lower total applied cost advantage versus other post-mold label solutions. Delivered in roll form, only ink and coating are transferred from the carrier sheet to the container by use of heated surfaces and pressure, resulting in a highly durable, permanent decorative label. Graphic Packaging offers the total system solution that includes labels, application equipment and a Code 39 reader to eliminate front-to-back label mismatch on the container. The system works in-line with blow molding or in-line to filling for fast, simple label graphic changeovers. For more information, call 513.396.5685 or visit www.graphicpkg.com. Larson Electronics’ Magnalight.com Expands Lineup with LED Light Tank Light Larson Electronics’ Magnalight.com, Kemp, TX, announced the addition of the EPL-16C-1MLED-100 cart-mounted LED tank light to its line of explosion-proof lighting inventory. This new light is approved for use in enclosed spaces and produces 10,000 lumens of light in a wide flood pattern. Designed with a removable 16-inch LED light head and wheeled non-sparking aluminum cart, this light can be passed easily through standard-sized manholes and entryways, producing enough illumination to cover 8,000 square feet of work space. This explosion-proof tank light is rated Class 1 Div 1, Class 1 D 2, Groups A, B, C and D, making it suitable for hazardous locations where flammable vapors, gases and dusts may be present. It is ideal for use in the petrochemical and marine industries. For more information, call 800.369.6671 or visit www.magnalight.com. n

April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 19




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A

ASSOCIATION

Letter from the Chairman The technological advances featured at SPE’s ANTEC 2011 in Boston can only be described as FANTASTIC! Held in early May, SPE’s ANTEC 2011 brought together resources from experts throughout the industry. Listed here are some highlights of Decorating & Assembly Division sessions M23, T23 and W6. • Exterior UV-Curable Topcoat For Physical Vapor Deposition Applications – Red Spot Paint This paper addressed the current chrome plating process, a list of advantages that the UV/PVD decorative process encompasses and targeted end applications. • Choosing a Spray Applicator and Fluid Delivery System – EXEL North America, Inc. This paper helped readers choose a spray applicator and fluid delivery system for a coating process. • Practical Plasma Surface Pre-Treatment Technology for Higher Processing Efficiencies – Enercon Ind. Corp. This paper presented evidence of new flexible packaging print performance opportunities using a new, revolutionary atmospheric plasma treatment (APT) technology. • Mechanism Behind a Robust Soft-Touch Coating – Shengkui Lindengruppen/Beckers A robust soft-touch coatings system was designed. The mechanism leading to its robust physical properties was discussed. • UV-Curing Paint Technology for Automotive Decoration – Peter-Lacke GmbH Featured a profile of two years of development work to create a new generation of brilliant and highly scratchresistant piano black finishes with a new UV-curing paint technology. • UV Curable Coatings for Containers and Closures – Red Spot Paint and Varnish This paper discussed the benefits of using UV curable coatings as an alternative to other ways of decorating containers, along with typical performance and processing requirements. • Plastic Surface Modification: Cleaning, Adhesion and Functionalization – Enercon Industries Corp. This paper examined surface-modification mechanisms and revealed data that showed correlations between specific surface-modification effects and adhesions of paints, inks, coatings and adhesives.

• Novel Measurements for Quality Assurance of Surface Treatment – Brighton Technologies Group, Inc. A novel technique for probing surface energies via liquid drops created using ballistic deposition was discussed. • Historical Physical Property Test Requirements and Today’s Decorated Plastics – Taber Industries This paper presented a discussion of issues facing companies that conduct physical property testing or rely on the data supplied to them, and possible solutions to resolve the dilemma. • Structural Bonding Alternatives for Plastics – Henkel Plastics can be reliably fastened to a wide variety of substrates using an engineered adhesive solution. • Effects of Open-Air Plasma on Adhesion – Henkel This paper educated the audience on the benefits of and relationship between open-air plasma systems and adhesives. • Modeling of the Aging on Thermoplastic Surfaces After Treatment with AP Plasma – Univ. of Paderborn Taking mass transfer mechanisms into account, an initial approach was described for modeling these thermoplastic surface properties vs. time following treatment with an atmospheric-pressure plasma. • Bonding Polyolefins: What are my Options? – Henkel New developments were shared in the field of polyolefin bonding without the need for pre-treatment procedures. • Adhesive In-Line Degree of Cure Monitoring – Henkel A new light-cure adhesive technology has been developed and shared which confirms whether adhesive has cured in product assembly. If you want to be ahead of the curve on technologies in plastics decorating and assembly, please consider joining the SPE Decorating & Assembly Division by contacting SPE, or me directly at rwolf@enerconmail.com. Rory A. Wolf Enercon Industries Corporation Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division

April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 23


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A

ASSEMBLY

The Great Ultrasonic Stack Joint Debate:

Who should you listen to? by Tom Kirkland, Tributek

The first experience many of us had working with disassembling and assembling stack components for ultrasonic welders was when tooling needed to be changed in the shop. We were led to the machine by the company’s ultrasonic guru, handed a set of hex keys and some funny-looking spanner wrenches and told to start taking things apart. Once the stack was out of the machine and on the bench, we first had to puzzle out which way to put the spanner wrenches on. I still don’t understand how any mere mortal could get these pieces of tooling apart without acquiring broken fingers, a hernia or an aneurysm. We then did whatever the current guru recommended when we put the tools back together, and we assumed from that point forward that was the way to do it. All was well and good until the first time we encountered somebody – maybe an ultrasonic rep or someone we met at an SPE meeting or tradeshow – who loved a method other than the one we had been taught. The frustrating thing was that there seemed to be no way of knowing who was right. The fact is that there are several schools of thought when it comes to ultrasonic stack joint assembly, and often more than one approach can deliver good results. Common Factors All ultrasonic stack joints are threaded joints. Two flat mating surfaces are brought into intimate contact by a single threaded connection in the center of the interface. In the case of a replaceable tip, the threaded connection is actually made in one piece with the tip. In the case of a horn/booster or booster/converter joint, the threaded connection is made with a separate threaded stud and both components have threaded holes to receive the stud. The flat mating surfaces must be in such intimate contact that the high power acoustic energy is transmitted from one component to the other as though the joint did not exist at all – in other words, as though the two components were made from a single piece of metal. Even the smallest relative motion between the two components will result in problems including, but not limited to, the generation of heat. Generation of heat in an ultrasonic stack is almost always bad. Replaceable Tips Replaceable tips are used on smaller titanium horns to allow for changing out of the horn face when wear to the face occurs or when a different detail is needed. With recent advances in

26 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

tool steel horn technology, the use of replaceable tips has been almost completely banished from high-volume production and left to low-volume production and lab use. This is a good thing, because replaceable tips can cause significant problems if they are allowed to get hot, which can occur quite easily in volume production. Replaceable tips are treated somewhat differently than other stack joints and fall a little outside the scope of this article. Stack Disassembly The reader may have noted that no matter how careful one is to not over-torque the joints when putting them together, supreme effort almost always is required to get them apart. The issue in many plants seems to be how to get the joints apart without damaging the components. Tooling vises appropriately sized for ultrasonic tooling are widely available, and they work well and are highly recommended. Also, use of the tools recommended by or manufactured by the company that made the ultrasonic machine or tooling will generally give best results. Pounding on wrenches with mallets or hammers is to be considered a last resort. Do not let the amount of effort some joints take to disassemble sucker you in to using too much torque on reassembly. Stud Material Some people recommend titanium studs and others recommend steel. The advantage of titanium studs is lower mass. Especially at high amplitudes, lower mass in the stud can be a very good thing. The tradeoff is that titanium, while high in fatigue strength, has considerably lower tensile strength than steel, and tensile strength is more important in this case. So a titanium stud generally has to be larger in diameter than a steel stud for a given application, which takes surface area away from the flat contact surfaces that will transfer most of the energy. Titanium studs are made of a much more expensive material and must always have cut threads, never rolled, so they are considerably more expensive as well. The opinion of this author is that there is not much, if any, advantage to be gained from the more costly titanium studs. Stud Assembly Before considering how the job is to be done, make sure the stud holes are in good condition, without broken, missing or replacement threads, etc. Good results depend on getting all conditions as close to optimal as possible. In other words, doing it right is far preferred to “getting by with” something.


There are two schools of thought on studs – the free-floating school and the tightened-to-the-downwind-component school. By “downwind”, we mean the component that is receiving the energy or is more distant from the converter. The free-floating school tends to believe that distortion of the metal caused by hoop stresses and compaction of the metal in the thread areas causes more problems than the stud will if allowed to float free (i.e., not torqued into the downwind component). There is tremendous merit in elimination of the stresses put on the tool metal by the inclined-plane action of threads, and I would certainly advocate this approach, except that I cannot imagine how leaving the stud to float free eliminates it. All things being equal, since the stud cannot logically be doing its job of keeping the mating surfaces in intimate contact without being in tension, the threads of the tool metal must be bearing a load as the result of this tension. The argument can be made that torquing a stud into a threaded hole so that it does not come loose creates additional unnecessary stress. The free-floating stud, however, is not without problems – chief among them being the unpredictability of the stud walking one direction or the other over time. Another issue is the possibility of sufficient relative motion developing between the component and the stud, which could cause the stud to become fused in the hole and render the tool unusable. The torqued-in school is divided into two camps. One approach is to use a bottoming tap in the stud hole of the downwind component and a knurled-end set screw for the stud. The stud then is run down to the bottom of the hole and the knurls bite into tool metal at the bottom of the hole. The other approach is to use a standard or semi-bottoming tap which does not bottom in the hole. The stud then runs into the area where the thread tails out and locks into the tool metal, as its first thread is constricted by the last thread of the hole. A cup-point set screw usually is used in this instance. Cup-point studs can be re-used as long as they are undamaged; whereas it is generally recommended that a new knurl-point stud is used any time the stud has been removed from the tool. The knurl-point argument is that the extra hoop stress caused by running against the last thread with a cup-point stud to achieve locking is so great that tools fail at that point. The cup-point argument is that the knurl of the stud actually creates stress risers in the tool material, as well as placing extra tension on the angle created where the cylindrical part of the drilled hole meets the conical end of the hole. While tools have failed in the stud area using both systems, the most common failure point using the cup-point approach is at the end of the hole, not the end of the thread (remember, this approach does not use a bottoming tap). The cup-point approach would seem to have the advantage.

The most important thing with any method is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations about torque. “Old school” thinking usually errs on the side of over-torquing everything, but tight enough is tight enough, and too tight causes at least as many problems as too loose. Surface Preparation The single most important factor in keeping ultrasonic tooling joints working well for many cycles over many years is to ensure that the mating surfaces are as flat as they can possibly be. There is absolutely no way two conical surfaces or potatochip-shaped surfaces will ever be able to effectively transmit high-power ultrasonic energy without significant heating and other problems. How flat is flat enough? The specifications vary somewhat by manufacturer and frequency, but rarely are surfaces allowed to be out of flat by more than about 0.03 mm (a little more than 0.001”). Scored or grooved surfaces are sometimes usable depending on how much surface area is missing as a result of the scoring. The best approach is to send that tool off to somebody who knows what they are doing and have the grooved surface machined and the tool re-tuned as necessary.

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April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 27


 p. 27

ASSEMBLY

Typical Published Manufacturers’ Specification

• Branson -----------------------Stud torque (1/2-20 knurl tip): 51 Nm (37.5 Ft-Lb) Surface treatment recommended: Mylar™ washer or silicone grease Interface torque (20 KHz): 25 Nm (18 Ft-Lb)

• Dukane -----------------------Stud torque (1/2-20 cup point): 1.4 to 2 Nm (1 to 1.5 Ft-Lb) Surface treatment recommended: Mylar™ washer or silicone grease Interface torque (20 KHz): 47.5 Nm (35 Ft-Lb)

From time to time, tooling interface surfaces may need to be lapped to remove surface deposits and mitigate pits and grooves. Most manufacturers’ recommendations on procedure are very similar, so we will not go into detail here. Interface Treatment – Grease, Washers or Other Stuff It seems no topic is more open to debate than how to treat the mating surfaces prior to assembly. One key point is that no liquid surface preparation is ever applied to the stud; but instead, is only applied to the flat mating surfaces. Various surface treatments appear here ranked according to the opinion of this author from generally worst to generally best. Not every rule applies in every case, however, so if you are having success with something and disagree with me, by all means, carry on! Dry – no surface treatment at all. When high-power ultrasonic energy moves through the joint interface, it causes the metal surfaces to come into ever-more-intimate contact with each other. The more cycles are run and the greater the amplitude, the greater this effect will be. Also, since it is impossible to actually put every surface molecule of both mating surfaces into exact planes, there always will be some microscopic gaps that

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are potential sources of heat. Wetting the surfaces even a little bit will significantly improve energy transmission. Skin grease – the oil from human skin. This sounds bizarre, but it has come and gone from favor several times in the last 25 years. It certainly is better than no surface treatment at all; but the fact that skin oil chemistry varies wildly depending on genetics, diet and time of year makes it hard to recommend. There are probably other organic oils (you could buy at the grocery store) that would produce more consistent results, but I don’t think I could recommend them either. Light machine oil – approximately SAE 10W or lighter. In plants where silicone grease is banned, usually because of printing or painting operations, petroleum-based lube often is used. The case for light machine oil is that the film is automatically very thin. Frequent disassembly is required, however, because petroleum-based lubes generally will leave behind carbonaceous deposits on the tooling surfaces, which requires cleaning and lapping to remove. Petroleum jelly – yes, you can find this in the “health and beauty” aisle. This has the silicone-free advantage of light machine oil but with much higher viscosity, so it tends to go on with a bit thicker (somewhat more forgiving) film and stays in the joint better. It leaves carbonaceous deposits like any petroleum-based treatment. Metal or plastic washers – commonly made of Mylar™ but also copper and aluminum have been used. The significant advantage that washers have is that they are really easy to get right: put in one new washer prior to assembly. There is no technique to learn, no secret method, no skill – just put one in. This method is the most effective at preventing “fretting” (the build-up of oxides on the mating surfaces). They generally work very well and if you have trouble with one of the other methods, try this. High-pressure silicone grease – usually Dow-Corning #4 or #111. The wetting action (improvement in sound transmission) of silicone grease cannot be matched by a washer. Silicone grease is inexpensive compared to washers, the grease generally stays where you put it and if the proper technique is used, nothing out-performs it. The proper technique is to simply get an unbroken film across the entire tool that is as thin as possible. Wiping as much off as possible using a bare finger usually leaves the correct amount on the surface.

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Never put any liquid surface treatment on a stud! Never use any liquid surface treatment with a washer! Interface Assembly Once again, use of an appropriate tooling vise is recommended, because there will be several expensive cylindrical components 

800.324.6205 April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 29


 p. 29

ASSEMBLY GLOSSARY

on the workbench during this process and using spanner wrenches is often awkward. It’s best to minimize the possibility of having one of those parts violently hit the floor (resulting in possible production downtime and a lot of expense). Also, tooling vises cause less stress damage to the “spanner holes” than spanner wrenches do. The best assembly order is to clamp the converter in the vise and add the booster; then clamp the booster and add the horn. Obey published torque specifications. If you do not have torque spanners and cannot obtain them, then use regular spanners and do the math to figure out how hard you should press on the tool handle. It is probably less than you think. Over-torqued joints may run fine when the tooling is young; but over time, the excessive compression of the metal around the stud will result in distortions of the interface surfaces, leading to excessive heating, which leads to more distortion. Some of this distortion can be corrected by machining the surface, but ultimately it is best to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. Ultrasonics Test A properly assembled ultrasonic stack will idle at very low power with no noticeable increase in power draw as the operator continues to apply ultrasound for ten to fifteen seconds. The best indicator that something has been done incorrectly is a joint that gets warm after a fifteen-second test. Conclusion Twenty-five to thirty years ago, all of ultrasonic welding was seen as a black art, with so many variables unknown and uncontrollable that it seemed that the wingbeats of a butterfly in Tokyo could affect process outcome. With the coming of more precise and repeatable machinery, newer control methods and more science in tooling design, understanding of stack assembly is the last part of the process to crawl out of the cave and into the light of science. If sufficient care is taken, stack component life and process consistency will be improved, and that means less headaches and more profitable operations. n Tom Kirkland is a veteran of the ultrasonic industry, having begun his career as a customer over 25 years ago, and worked for a major plastics assembly machinery and tooling company for many years. He is a patentee in the field, has many published articles and technical papers and is a past president of the Ultrasonic Industry Association. Today he is a consultant in the area of thermoplastics assembly and is owner of www.tributek.biz, providing parts and supplies for ultrasonic welders.

30 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

Amplitude – The amount of motion present at a point in a vibrating body. In this context, the distance traveled by a point on a tool, usually the working face or interface joint, during one-half cycle. Typically measured in microns or ten-thousandths of an inch. Also referred to as peak-to-peak amplitude. Booster – A tuned half-wave component of the ultrasonic stack usually between the converter and the horn and having a predetermined gain ratio and usually a mounting ring at its midpoint. Bottoming Tap – A cutting tool, used to cut threads in a hole, having fully formed thread cutting teeth all the way to its end, thereby allowing threads to be cut all the way to the bottom of a blind hole. A bottoming tap cannot start threading a hole, so a conventional tap that does not have fully formed thread cutting teeth at its end must first thread the hole as deeply as possible. Converter (synonym: transducer) – Typically, a piezoelectric center-braced Langevin sandwich transducer, called a converter because it converts electrical energy to mechanical vibratory motion. A converter typically has a housing (or can) protecting the ceramic elements (crystals) and high-voltage wiring. Frequency – In this context, how many times per second an ultrasonic tool operates completely through one tension-compression cycle. One cycle per second is referred to as one Hertz (Hz). One thousand cycles per second is one KiloHertz (KHz). Gain – In ultrasonic tooling, the change in amplitude from the input end of a tool to the output end. This is expressed as a ratio in which the input part of the ratio is understood to be one. In other words, a component with gain of 2.5 has amplitude at its output end 2.5 times that of the amplitude at the input end. Half-wave – In ultrasonic tooling, a half wave component has maximum longitudinal motion at its input and output ends and no longitudinal motion at its middle. The two ends move in opposite directions as the tool cycles from tension to compression and back at its designed operating frequency. Horn (synonym: sonotrode) – A tuned component typically halfwave to up to two or three half-waves that transmits high-power ultrasonic energy from the booster to the workpiece. Spanner Wrench – A hand tool having a hook-like end with a round pin which inserts into a hole on the surface of a cylindrical item, allowing that item to be rotated at significant torque so as to assemble or disassemble it from an axial mounting thread. Stack – The acoustic components of the ultrasonic welding machine when assembled together. Stud – A headless screw used to join ultrasonic tooling components together into a stack. Tool, Tooling – A horn or booster may be referred to as an ultrasonic tool or ultrasonic tooling. Ultrasonic – Pertaining to intense sound (vibration) in a solid at a frequency typically above 18 Khz, at or above 100 to 200 watts.


I

INDUSTRY

Inkcups Now Celebrates 10th Anniversary Inkcups Now (ICN), Danvers, MA, a specialty manufacturer providing supplies, equipment and technical support for the pad printing and screen printing industries, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2011. The company began in the basement of President Ben Adner’s home with only one product, the VersaCup ink cup, a magnetic ink cup that can be used with almost any pad printing machine. Today, the company offers a variety of machinery, inks and other supplies, including its own inventions. These include the PROMOJet rotary inkjet printer for cylinders, the line of Cobalt computer-to-plate laser systems and the Everflex printing pad. For more information, call 978.646.8980 or visit www.inkcups.com. AkzoNobel’s Soliant Bright Film Shines with Three Major Awards AkzoNobel, Lancaster, SC, was honored to learn that parts, or a vehicle containing parts, made with AkzoNobel’s Soliant Flourex® bright film have won three industry awards from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) and the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). Retro USA’s chrome-film thermoformed bumpers for the Limited Edition Mustang earned the prize in the Performance and Customization category at SPE’s Automotive Innovation Competition and Gala in Livonia, MI. The bumper is made with AkzoNobel’s alternative to chrome plating, Soliant Fluorex bright film, and is the longest and thinnest chrome-film thermoformed TPO part to date. The award was presented to Intuit Group. The same part won the Heavy-Gauge Vacuum-Forming category at the parts competition organized by SPE’s Thermoforming Division, which took place in Milwaukee, WI. In this case, the award went to the molder of the part, Brentwood Industries in Reading, PA. The chrome-film bumpers use Soliant Fluorex bright film to achieve a customized chrome look without the fuss and expense of dip-chroming. The chrome-film thermoformed bumpers also played a role in helping the Chevy Camaro secure SEMA’s Most Accessory-Friendly Car award at the trade group’s convention in Las Vegas, NV. Retro USA is the retro-restyler for the Camaro. For more information, call 803.285.9401 or visit www.akzonobel.com/sp/. SGIA is Spicing Up the 2011 Expo in New Orleans The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) is jazzed for its premier event of the season – the 2011 SGIA Expo, October 19-21 in New Orleans, LA. This highly anticipated event features the latest technologies and the newest products and solutions to meet customers’ needs. The SGIA already has sold 75 percent of available booth space, and attendees will learn from the

industry-leading experts during networking events, constructive educational sessions and Expert Advice Zones. The zones will feature demonstrations tailored to unique sectors of specialty imaging, including the areas of digital apparel production, digital signage, industrial applications, PDAA graphics applications and screen printed apparel training. For more information, visit www.sgia.org. Keyland Polymer Launches New Website Keyland Polymer, Ltd., Cleveland, OH, has announced the launch of its new website, www. keylandpolymer.com. The new site features information on UV-cured powder coatings and its advantages, uses and applications. The website provides technical information, efficiency and process analysis, as well as demonstrating the advantages of UV-cured powder coatings. The site also includes a gallery of finished products and videos of UV-cured powder manufacturing and applications. Keyland Polymer develops, formulates and manufactures UV-curable powder coatings, and is the exclusive supplier of the UVMax® brand, which is available in a full range of colors and textures, with custom color matching options. For more information, call 216.741.7915 or visit www.keylandpolymer.com. IMDA Releases 2011 Short Shot Business Survey Results The In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) recently conducted a real-time market study, the Short Shot Survey, to gauge the momentum and growth of companies that have a vested interest in in-mold labeling of packaging (IML) and in-mold decoration of durable products (IMD). The survey featured six questions regarding the IML/IMD business climate for the fourth quarter of 2010. Survey results showed a healthy actual IML and IMD sales growth for the fourth quarter of 2010, as well as continued anticipation for strong growth in the early part of 2011. The survey results were posted in the February 2011 IMDA In-Mold Messenger newsletter, on the IMDA website, on LinkedIn and in various industry and trade publications. See the survey results at www.imdassociation.com. Herrmann Ultraschall Celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2011 Herrmann Ultraschall, Bartlett, IL, will commemorate its 50th anniversary with a grand celebration on November 3, 2011 and will be hosting Technology Days seminars on November 3-4. Herrmann Ultraschall is a manufacturer of ultrasonic welding machines, generators and sonotrodes. Walter Herrmann, founder and partner, said that 50 years ago he didn’t think he would become an entrepreneur. Today, this medium-sized company’s forecast is promising and the company is focused on growth. The German-based company has its U.S. operations in Bartlett, IL under the name Herrmann Ultrasonics, Inc.

April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 31


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INDUSTRY

For more information, call 630.626.1626 or visit www.herrmannultrasonics.com. Plasmatreat USA Appoints FAME Technology Solutions as Representative Plasmatreat USA, Elgin, IL, recently appointed FAME Technology Solutions, St. Charles, IL, as its manufacturer’s representative organization for the food packaging and medical disposables market. FAME will represent Plasmatreat in specialized niche markets throughout the NAFTA territory. Plasmatreat provides technology to achieve surface modifications of numerous substrates via Openair® Plasma. In 1995, Plasmatreat invented the first in-line atmospheric plasma solution for a high-speed, highly productive manufacturing environment with the aim to clean, activate and coat surfaces for better adhesion while eliminating the need for primers. FAME Technology Solutions, LLC, focuses on rigid plastic packaging applications and injection molded medical disposables, pharmaceuticals and healthcare products. For more information, contact Plasmatreat USA at 847.783.0622 or FAME Technology Solutions at 630.524.2018. Plastics Symposium Comes to Cleveland Scheduled for Wednesday, October 12, 2011, the Plastics Finishing & Decorating Symposium will be held in Cleveland, OH, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Targeted to those involved in the decorating of plastic parts or products – from paint to printing to hot stamping – the symposium brings together industry suppliers and end-users to present a technical program. Topics include advancements in UV curing, plasma surface treatment, metallization and PVD processing, robotics and system integration, digital inkjet printing direct-to-plastic and new coatings for anti-fingerprint, extreme scratch and mar resistance. For more information, call 440.570.5228 or visit www. plasticsdecoratingevent.com. Simco-Ion Becomes New Name in Static Control Technology Simco-Ion, Hatfield, PA, a provider of electrostatic solutions, has introduced a new corporate identity. The identity, Simco-Ion, comes on the heels of Simco’s acquisition within the last year of Ion Systems, a technology-driven firm with electrostatic and process monitoring solutions for high technology markets such as semiconductor, disk drive and other electronic clean room manufacturing. Simco also acquired Ion Industrial, Ion Systems’ industrial applications unit specializing in electrostatic solutions for the converting, printing, packaging and plastic markets, as well as electronic assembly and medical segments. According to Simco-Ion management, the company has now integrated these two diversified product lines into a single, expanded worldwide solutions offering. The company’s customer support team worldwide also has increased and new product developments are coming to fruition. “We’ll soon introduce a wireless communication capability, allowing our static control system status data to be viewed by enabled devices such as remote PCs or smartphones,” said Simco-Ion marketing manager Kim West. For more information, call 215.822.6401 or visit www.simco-ion.com. n


T

TECHNOLOGY

Eco-Friendly Waterborne UV Coatings

By Scott R. Sabreen, The Sabreen Group, Inc.

Decorative waterborne coatings provide exceptional appearance, functionality, value and are environmentally friendly. Waterborne coating is a fast-developing technology using water as the means to transfer the coating to the plastic surface and is becoming the new standard, replacing many of its solvent-based counterparts. Today’s waterborne chemistries can offer equal to or better cosmetic and physical performance properties than solventborne for many applications. The second of a 2-part series on waterborne coatings, this article focuses on the application and processing of ultraviolet (UV) waterborne coatings. The dual combination of waterborne and UV radiation curing provides high-performance coatings while complying with increasingly stringent regulatory emissions regulations. For many 3-dimensional plastics applications, today’s waterborne chemistries can offer equal to or better cosmetic and physical performance properties than solventborne. Cure by radiation is fast, economical and requires less manufacturing floor space than traditional oven drying methods. Figure 1 summarizes many important benefits.

Benefits

• Excellent coating performance, appearance and superior adhesion • High durability, chemical, corrosion, dirt and scratch-rub resistance • Low to zero VOC and HAP emissions • Rapid production • Less floor space • Extended open time during use (recyclable) • Application ease, minimal gun nozzle clogging • Simple clean-up using water

Figure 1 – Waterborne UV Coating Benefits

The application of UV coatings is a photopolymerization process – formation of molecular chains by fusion. These coatings contain various accelerators or catalysts that are dormant until acted upon by ultraviolet light. The UV light or electron bombardment triggers a free-radical reaction among chemical groups that results in cross-linking (curing) of the paint resins. UV coatings consist of liquid oligomers (resin), monomers (dilution agents), photoinitiators and various additives and pigments as required. Unpigmented clear coat applications typically cure with electromagnetic radiation wavelengths in the range of 315-400 nanometers (near UV-A light spectrum). The chemical photoinitiators are sensitive to UV light, which changes the chemical bond structure of the photoinitiators, forming free-radical groups that trigger resin cross-linking. Curing happens in a 2-step sequence. First, a photoinitiator absorbs UV rays and forms free radicals. These interact with resin molecules to form resin-free radicals. Then the small amount of heat from the infrared (IR) component in UV lamps accelerates the polymerization crosslinking reactions of the resin molecule-free radicals. This IR heat is minimal due to the brief dwell time of parts in the UV cure zone, but it is enough to give a fully cured coating. Some radicals often remain for a brief time (1-2 minutes) after UV exposure, which gives a minor degree of added postcuring to the film. Abrasion, mar and scratch resistance of UV coatings are therefore excellent. Figure 2 compares UV curing versus thermal drying. UV coatings may or may not require solvent (or other fluidizing media) to reduce their viscosity and promote flow-out. If solvent is used, a flash-off time is allowed after application prior to UV cure. If the fluidizing media also is a cross-linker, it is called a “reactive diluent”. For reactive diluents, no flashoff time is required since they become part of the cured film. Rapid, extensive resin cross-linking can be initiated with UV light, so that often extremely low-molecular weight resins with very low viscosities are possible in the coating formulation. For this reason, the UV coating cures to a more stress-free and smoother film with less orange peel than possible with most heat-cured coatings. The UV resins may flow out so well by themselves that little solvent is required, allowing a low

 April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com 33


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TECHNOLOGY

VOC coating, and in some cases even a zero VOC coating. The minimal solvent content in UV coatings results in only minor shrinkage from wet to dry film and considerable less induced film stresses compared to 2-component forced-curing and heat-curing coatings. Forced heat-curing coatings most often contain 40 percent or more solvent content. UV curing is fast – usually in 10-60 seconds – which permits UV ovens to be confined and compact, and which enables faster production rates than cure methods that require substantial oven dwell times. The quick cure also minimizes substrate heating, which is a great advantage when curing films on heatsensitive plastic substrates. Cure by UV is accomplished in shielded and enclosed chambers saturated with high intensity electrically generated UV light. For total curing to take place, the UV light must activate all of the photoinitiator molecules, which means that the light must “see” them, i.e., “line-of-sight”. Hidden or shadowed areas will remain uncured (remain wet). UV curing of complex 3D-shaped parts can be a challenge

because every point on a surface must see the UV to cure the coating. However, 6-axis robotics and custom designed irradiator systems can solve the problems associated with components of a unique geometric shape. Conventional application processes can be used with waterborne coatings, including all of the various spray methods and dip coating. This gives waterborne processes an advantage over high-solid paints which cannot be dip coated, due to their higher viscosities. Spraying methods include traditional air atomization, HVLP, airless and air-assisted airless. Paint guns can be cleaned with water or water-based solutions rather than paint thinner or acetone. During the application of waterborne coatings, it is important to have tightly controlled temperature, humidity and ventilation. Ideal conditions for optimal “spraying” operations are 40-60 percent, with relative humidity and temperature between 10-25ºC. For “drying”, the optimal conditions are relative humidity less than 60 percent and temperature between 10-40ºC. Excellent ventilation is equally important.

Figure 2: UV radiation-curing coatings react through unsaturated sites on oligomers and monomers. 34 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011


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TECHNOLOGY

Preventing Paint Failures Many waterborne and solventborne coating failures result from inadequate surface preparation. These include both cosmetic defects and performance defects. The degree of cleanliness and higher surface energy required for waterborne coatings is greater than that necessary for most solventborne coatings due to the low solvent content. Solventborne coatings are more forgiving of residue because the solvents contained in the coatings may dissolve some surface oils and contaminates. Even though waterborne coatings typically contain “co-solvents,” they still contain much less organic solvent than solventborne coatings. A major contributing factor to these problems, particularly robust adhesion, is that many plastics are chemically inert, nonporous and have low surface energy. That is, most plastics are hydrophobic and are not naturally wettable. As a general rule, acceptable bonding adhesion is achieved when the surface energy of the substrate (measured in dynes/cm) is approximately 8-10 dynes/cm greater than the surface tension of the liquid. In this situation, the liquid is said to “wet out” or adhere to the surface. Surface pretreatments are used to increase surface energy and improve the wetting and adhesive properties of polymer materials. A variety of gas-phase surface oxidation pretreatment processes are used

including low pressure cold gas plasma (RF or microwave), electrical (corona discharge) and flame plasma. Each method is application-specific and possesses unique advantages and potential limitations. The use of chemical primers (chlorinated polyolefins) also can be used alone or in conjunction with a gas-phase pretreatment. In conclusion, one of the most compelling reasons for using waterborne coatings is their environmentally friendly low to Zero-VOC content. Waterborne coating chemistries can offer equal to or better cosmetic and physical performance properties than solventborne for many applications, including clear topcoat applications. Due to regulatory pressures, solventborne coatings are being phased out whenever possible. Significant research and development is rapidly increasing to introduce new and improved waterborne coatings. n Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc. SABREEN Group is a global engineering and consulting company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes – surface pretreatments, adhesion bonding, decorating and finishing, laser marking and product security. For more information, call (888) SABREEN or visit www. sabreen.com or www.plasticslasermarking.com.

Webtech, Inc. www.webtechhts.com

36 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011



M

MANAGEMENT

Sales Tips:

Fundamentals Beat Flash By Dave Fellman

The guys I play basketball with call me “Old School.” I think that has more to do with my age than my playing style, but I consider it a compliment nonetheless. And the fact of the matter is that my game is a lot more fundamentals than flash. An attendee at a recent seminar called me a dinosaur. “I came here looking to find some new ideas,” he said. “You didn’t teach me anything about selling comprehensive solutions at the C-Level in the digital arena, just the same old ‘prospect-andfollow-up-and-ask-good-questions’ crap I’ve been hearing from my boss. Dinosaurs are extinct, man, and you’re not helping me any by telling me to sell like one.” In case you’re interested, this guy was sent to my seminar because he’s at 60 percent of the sales level he’s supposed to be at after a year and a half on the job. Personally, I think he’s a

whole lot closer to being extinct than I am. Ask Good Questions I went out on a first appointment sales call with a young salesperson last week, and the salesperson made his standard presentation – his “spiel” as he referred to it – and then we pretty much left. “How did I do?” he asked me as we walked out of the building. “Well, that depends on what you were trying to accomplish,” I told him. “Were you hoping to educate your prospect or trying to educate yourself?” “Why would I need to educate myself?” he asked. “I know what we do.” “Sure,” I said, “but do you know what he needs? Or more importantly, what he wants from a supplier and might not be getting from the one he’s buying from now?” I’m a very strong believer in a three-part definition of a “fully qualified” prospect. The first part is that they buy, want or need what you sell. The second part is that they buy, want or need enough of it to make them worth pursuing. The third part – and ultimately the most important part – is that they have some interest in buying from you. Don’t ever forget that every significant prospect is probably someone else’s customer right now. If all you’re doing is making a “spiel,” you’re talking but not qualifying. And I don’t care how much flash you put in your presentation, it’ll be worthless if they don’t actually buy, want or need what you sell, and even more worthless if you can’t give them a good reason to stop buying from the other guys and start buying from you. “We do X, Y and Z” is not a good reason to change suppliers or to start doing things a different way. “Thanks for answering my questions, telling me about those problems you’ve been having and giving me the opportunity to tell you about a possible solution” is a much better strategy. And while I’m on the subject of “making a spiel,” I always want to smack any salesperson who uses that word. It’s a derogatory term for what should be a highly professional endeavor. It’s bad enough that most of the general public holds the sales profession in such low regard. I hate it when salespeople perpetuate the stereotype with words, actions or attitudes.

38 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011


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 p. 38

MANAGEMENT

No Jargonauts Need Apply Another fundamentals vs. flash issue is salespeople who speak fluent jargon, or who seek to impress potential clients with big words – often misused – when smaller words would make for more effective communication. Last month I made four sales calls with a printing salesperson who used the word “facilitate” so many times during the first call that I consciously counted the number of times he used it on the next three – 16 times! At one point, he said: “I want to facilitate a dynamic process of making it productive for you to order all of your imagedependent printing from me.” Here’s what I think he meant: “I think I can make your life a little easier – at least the part where you’re involved with printing and printers – and I hope that will earn me a large share of your business… especially the jobs that have to be done right the first time!” Which one of those statements makes the most sense – or has the most appeal – to you? Do you sometimes wonder what the salespeople who call on you are actually trying to say? How many times in the last six months have you heard some variation of: “Our (digital workflow/document handling/paper ordering/production tracking/employee benefits) solution will foster an improved business model and enable greater profit-

ability.” Does that make you want to buy it or call for help? Bottom Line The bottom line to this discussion is that fundamentals beat flash in selling far more often than the other way around. The salesperson who asks the best questions is most likely to find real opportunity, and in turn most likely to present the best solutions to whatever problems his/her prospect may be having. I’ll grant you that many things have changed dramatically over the last 5, 10, 20 or even 50 years, but the fundamentals of selling have not changed a bit. I vote for more “old school” and less jargon, more prospecting and better questions and more professionalism and less emphasis on finding new sales paradigms and other non-existent shortcuts. And less excuses, while we’re at it… but that’s a topic for another day. n Dave Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, a sales and marketing consulting firm serving numerous segments of the graphic arts industry. He’s a popular speaker who has delivered seminars and keynotes at industry events across the United States, Canada, England, Ireland and Australia. He also is the author of “Sell More Printing!” (2009) and “Listen to the Dinosaur” (2010), which Selling Power magazine listed as one of its “10 Best Books to Read in 2010.” For more information, visit www.davefellman.com.

In June 2010, Selling Power magazine’s blog provided a list of the 10 books that every salesperson should read. Dave Fellman’s Listen to the Dinosaur was on the list, along with other reads designed to push salespeople – and their managers – out of their comfort zones and into profitability. (Book excepts provided by Amazon.com.)

Listen to the Dinosaur: The Fundamentals of Selling Haven’t Changed! by David M. Fellman Listen To The Dinosaur is a very modern presentation of the fundamentals of effective selling. Author Dave Fellman’s position is that most salespeople will benefit more from improving their fundamentals than from anything else. “If that makes me a dinosaur,” he says, “then maybe you should listen to the dinosaur!”

Selling to Zebras: How to Close 90% of the Business You Pursue Faster, More Easily, and More Profitably by Jeff Koser and Chad Koser Even the most competitive companies only close about 15 percent of the deals in their sales pipelines. That means that salespeople spend time with prospects who, 85 percent of the time, aren’t going to buy. The Zebra way can help salespeople identify the perfect prospects for their companies and develop a sales process that will help them close deals 90 percent of the time.

40 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives by Keith Rosen Between professional deadlines and other business responsibilities, most sales managers can’t find the time to develop their sales staff. This book shows managers how to develop their own executive sales coaching skills to boost sales efficiency, train staff to better performance, and hire and retain top sales talent.

The Market has Changed, Have You? by Paul D’Souza This book offers a powerful new strategy and several practical exercises to help increase sales in today’s marketplace. D'Souza’s unique approach addresses this change by putting the salesperson at the foundation of all sales activity. He provides a strategy that works and 25 steps to use to increase productivity in this marketplace.



A

ASK THE EXPERT

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Digital Heat Transfers

With the continued trend toward shorter runs for all types of plastic molded products, there will be a demand for short-run decorating alternatives. Digital heat transfers provide an option for shorter run applications, with the added benefit of offering variable data on each plastic part. Plastics Decorating has asked two of the leading experts in the field of digital heat transfers to offer insight on frequently asked questions regarding the process.

“Other types of printing were cost-prohibitive in a very competitive market, and the same reasoning applies to many of our industries today. Holding large inventories of product or supplies is just not possible anymore.” As a result, Blanken has seen digital heat transfers applied to promotional items such as pens, sports bottles and plastic cups. In addition, the glassware industry is moving toward digital heat transfers.

Q: What are the advantages of digital heat transfers? The first advantage that digital heat transfers provide over traditional decorating processes is cost-effective, full-color (cmyk+w) decoration for short-run, fast-turn projects. “There are none of the traditional set-up requirements or costs,” said Matt Regan, senior vice president for CDigital. “Screens, blankets, dies and print stations for each color aren’t needed, so turn times are measured in days (often one), rather than weeks.”

Regan concurred, “Digital transfers can be used in almost any application using conventionally printed transfers. While there are many technologies available for decorating flat objects, transfers – including digital ones – are often the only solution for round, cylindrical or shaped products. Digital transfers bring this capability economically to short runs.”

“Since digital heat transfers are computer-generated and sent to a rip station,” continued Chris Blanken, vice president of sales for Comdec, Inc., “there is almost no press set-up time involved. Even if a new graphic is needed, digital heat transfers can be shipped within 48 hours.” The quicker turnaround times and decreased set-up costs lead to a major advantage for customers: lower per item costs. “With traditional heat transfers, large quantities need to be purchased in order to make the order cost effective,” explained Blanken. “The same reasoning applies to pad printing and screen printing. Both pad printing and screen printing require plates or screens, plus registration time from color-to-color. But with digital heat transfers, a customer can purchase as little as one transfer.” With today’s customized marketing and promotions, the ability to order small quantities provides another advantage. “Any product being decorated with a digital transfer can have variable data included in each image in a run – barcodes, photos, text or numbers – making the ultimate short run of one possible and economical,” Regan said. Q: What applications work well with digital heat transfers? Digital transfers started with the CD and DVD industry because of the need for lower-volume orders, explained Blanken.

42 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

Q: What on-press challenges should be anticipated? The major challenge, believes Regan, also is the major advantage. “Being digital, an almost endless array of process colors can be built using the cmyk+w spectrum,” he said. “However, process color is not spot color and while these can be approximated, matching one or more spot colors in an art work can be a challenge.” Blanken acknowledged difficulties with toner-based color. “There is a light lay-down of toner-based color and many darker-colored parts either reduce, change or make the graphic too transparent and unacceptable,” Blanken explained. “This requires an additional white layer in order to keep the transfer from being washed out or discolored.” There are a few ways to solve this issue. The first is to have a white underlay printed on the part, and then the digital transfer is printed on the white underlay. According to Blanken, toner companies also are working on more opaque white toner to be used and the digital machine builders are working on additional white color attachments in order to improve the opacity. Regan also conceded the generally acknowledged challenge of working with digital artifacts like banding and ghosting. “While it is less an issue with the current state of the art, these can be further minimized in pre-press,” said Regan. “However, the truly successful digital transfer provider will eventually figure out how to get his client to ‘design for digital’ and, as part of this effort, minimize the effect of these artifacts.”


0001010100100101000100100100101010100101001001010100100101001001001001001010010101111 1010010100010101000101010101110101010100101001001010010010100101010010001001000101010 1001010010010101001010100100101001001000100101110010101010100101001011010100101010101 0100100101010010101010101001010100101001010010101001101001001010010101001010100110010 1010101010101011110110101101010101000101010101010101001010101010101010001001011010001 In this section of Plastics Decorating, our readers can ask industry experts 0101010001001001001010010010010100101010110101001010101010111111010101010100101001010 specific questions about plastics decorating. To ask one of our columnists a 0101111010101010100100100100100101001010010101010100101001010100101010100100010101001 question, send an email to QA@petersonpublications.com. 1010100101010100100101010101010100101010010101010101010100101010101001010010100101010 0010101001010101010010101010010101010010101010100101001010010101001010100101100100101 Q: How does applying digital heat transfers differ from the application process for traditional heat transfers? “The digital attribute should not, of itself, be a factor in the ease of application or use,� said Regan. “However, in CDigital’s case, the toners, coatings and adhesion promoters used in its digital process result in a transfer that releases onto the product with less heat and less pressure than most conventional transfers. This means that less expensive equipment operating at greater speed can often be used by its customers. Blanken agrees. “Breaking away from the concept of more heat and pressure has been the toughest task for long-time heat transfer printers,� he said. “Less is best! It always is advisable to use just enough heat and pressure to apply the digital heat

transfer. If too much pressure is used, there may be a hazing or ghosting of the release agent that is transferred to the part.� In addition, Blanken continued, too much heat can affect the toner and may darken the graphic. Since toner changes color with more heat being used, a vertical hot stamp press is not advised, but rather a standard roll-on or walking-shoe heat transfer machine is recommended. n Plastics Decorating thanks Matt Regan, senior vice president, CDigital Markets, LLC, and Chris Blanken, vice president of sales, Comdec, Inc., for their input. For more information, visit www.grafixx.com and www.comdecinc.com.

43 April/May 2011 www.plasticsdecorating.com


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C

CALENDAR

June • PLASTEC East, MD&M East, Automation Technology Expo, East Pack, Atlantic Design & Mfg. East, Green Mfg. Expo, June 7-9, New York, NY, 310.445.4200, www.plasteceast.com • HBA Global Expo, June 28-30, New York, NY, 609.759.4700, www.hbaexpo.com

September • PLASTEC Midwest, September 20-22, Chicago, IL, 310.445.4200, www.canontradeshows.com/expo/plastm11/

October • Plastics Finishing & Decorating Symposium, October 12, Cleveland, OH, 440.570.5228, www.plasticsdecoratingevent.com • SGIA, October 19-21, New Orleans, LA, www.sgia.org

Update Your Plastics Decorating Subscription! To confirm and update your subscription or for new subscriptions, take a moment and go online. Simply visit www.plasticsdecorating. com/subscribe. It will take less than 3 minutes to guarantee your continued or new FREE subscription to Plastics Decorating magazine. (It is recommended that current subscribers update their subscription if they have not done so in the last 6-8 months.)

46 www.plasticsdecorating.com April/May 2011

AD INDEX Apex Machine Company ..................,..................,..................,..................,.. 37 A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. / www.awt-gpi.com ..................,..................,...27 CDigital Markets LLC / www.grafixx.com ..................,..................,.........35 Central Decal / www.centraldecal.com ..................,..................,..............19 CFC International - an ITW Company / www.cfcintl.com ................. 10 Comdec (Ruco) / www.comdecinc.com ..................,..................,.............21 Corotec Corporation / www.corotec.com ..................,..................,..........43 CPS Resources, Inc. / www.cpsresourcesusa.com ..................,.back cover Die Stampco Inc. / www.diestampco.com..................,..................,..........32 Digitran / www.comdecinc.com ..................,..................,..................,........ 20 Diversified Printing Techniques / www.diverprint.com ..................,....38 Extol, Inc. / www.extolinc.com ..................,..................,..................,.......... 29 HBA ..................,..................,..................,..................,..................,..................,. 39 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies / www.indpad.com ..................,.........41 Inkcups Now / www.inkcups.com..................,..................,.................24, 25 In-mold Graphic Solutions (Romo Durable Graphics) / www.romoinc.com ..................,............4 Mimaki / www.mimakiusa.com ..................,..................,..................,........ 11 Nordson / www.nordson.com..................,..................,..................,............ 28 Pad Print Machinery of Vermont / www.padprintmachinery.com ..................,...............inside front cover PLASTEC East / www.plasteceast.com..................,.......inside back cover Proell, Inc. / www.proell.us ..................,..................,..................,.................., 9 Ruco USA / www.rucousa.com ..................,..................,..................,......... 15 Sabreen Group, The / www.sabreen.com..................,..................,............22 Schwerdtle, Inc. / www.schwerdtle.com ..................,..................,...............8 Stamprite Machine Company / www.stampritemachine.com............. 19 Standard Machines / www.comdecinc.com ..................,..................,.......20 Tampoprint / www.tampoprintusa.com ..................,..................,.............17 Trekk Equipment Group / www.trekkequipment.com..................,.......13 United Silicone / www.unitedsilicone.com ..................,..................,..........5 Webtech, Inc. / www.webtech-hts.com..................,..................,...............36


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