Plastics Decorating - April May 2015

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Decorating for the Cosmetics Industry Material Considerations in Welding FDA-Approved Laser Marking Additives QFD for New Product Development








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Contents April/May 2015

COVER STORY Focus page 6 Beauty is in the Eye of the Consumer

With nearly 64 million women between the ages of 25 and 59 in the US alone, the cosmetics market is on track for significant growth. Plastics decorators bring shine, shimmer and shelf appeal to personal care packaging.




The Value of QFD in New Product Development

page 12

QFD is a methodology for responding to customer needs through product design. Understanding QFD and its weaknesses, along with real-life applications, can provide a framework for its use.


Material Considerations in Ultrasonic Welding

page 22

A knowledge of plastics materials and the changes in the properties of those materials during the ultrasonic welding process can allow process impacts to be anticipated and planned for, rather than discovered too late.


UV Technology for In-Mold Labeling

page 29

UV inks and coatings can add production challenges to IML and IMD processes.

Question & Answer

Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics Enter the Market

Letter from the Chair Remembering Jordan Rotheiser


FDA-Approved Additives Boost Inline Plastics Laser Marking

page 38

Industry New Faces Marketplace Calendar Ad Index

page 36 page 37 page 56 page 58 page 58

(Branson Ultrasonics)



Decorating for the Cosmetics Industry

QFD for New Product Development

page 40

page 46

OSHA annually provides a list of the top 10 violations for the fiscal year, with fall protection and hazard communication leading the concerns.

Understanding Reactive Gas Technology

page 17 page 21

FDA-Approved Laser Marking Additives

Fall Protection, Hazard Communication Top OSHA's Citation List


Product Tech Watch

(Hot Stamping/Heat Transfer)

Material Considerations in Welding

Fast speed, superior contrast and cost-savings are among the significant benefits of incorporating novel FDA-approved additives into polymers for laser marking.


page 46 page 10

page 32

Polyfuze technology fuses a graphic directly into injection-molded polyethylene and polypropylene.


Viewpoint Product Highlight

page 49

Reactive gases are an effective means to impart a permanent increase in surface energy for improved adhesion, printability and metallization.

Read Plastics Decorating anytime at or download the Plastics Decorating app.

Cover inset photo courtesy of Roberts Cosmetics + Containers.

April/May 2015 3



Wow! From the comments of those I talked to at NPE2015, it was a very successful week for both exhibitors and attendees. It was a great time to visit with so many of the supporters of Plastics Decorating, too. We had a bin outside the South Hall for the magazine and ran out of them by the fourth day of the show. That’s a terrific indicator that there’s a lot of interest in the decorating and assembly side of the business! Plastics Decorating also sponsored a session at the Business of Plastics Conference that took place on Monday of the show. The 45-minute presentation was a discussion of both new and conventional decorating methods, with a panel comprised of Chris DeMell, ITW Security & Brand Identity; John Kaverman, Pad Print Pros; and David Schoofs, Central Decal Company. I was honored to moderate the session, and more than 70 people attended. The presentations from all three panel members generated excellent questions and comments from the audience members, and I think we all felt it was a huge success.

discussing FDA-approved additives for laser marking and an assembly article discussing material reactions in ultrasonic welding. Again, it was exciting to see so many of you at NPE – now, on to the remainder of 2015! We appreciate your continued support of Plastics Decorating and hope to see many of you this fall when the show circuit starts up again.

The education continues with the April/May issue of Plastics Decorating, which contains a diverse selection of articles, including a feature on cosmetics decorating, a technology article Jeff Peterson, Editor-in-Chief,

Pad Print Pros

TIME is MONEY... so call us now, before you

waste a grand (or several) on the wrong “solu ons” to your pad prin ng

applica ons. John Kaverman

Call: 517.467.5340 e-mail: padprintpro@gmail

4 April/May 2015

April/May 2015

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

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

Website: Email: Editor-in-Chief Jeff Peterson Managing Editor Dianna Brodine Assistant Editors Jen Clark Brittany Willes Technical Editor Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group

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

Plastics Decorating is published quarterly. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any manner without written consent from the publisher.

A Decorating Solution for Every Project From ITW Security and Brand Identity Group



Heat Transfers ......................................... Hot Stamp Foils ......................................... Inks ......................................... Pads ......................................... Plates/Clichés ......................................... Silicone Rubber Supplies

Digital Inkjet ......................................... Heat Transfer ......................................... Hot Stamp ......................................... Pad Print

CER CFC Coding Products ITW Graphics Morlock Technopack Trans Tech United Silicone



Beauty is in the Eye of the Consumer Cosmetic Industry Utilizes Plastics Decorating Techniques for Shelf Presence by Dianna Brodine


ith nearly 64 million women between the ages of 25 and 59 in the US alone, the cosmetic and personal care markets are hotter than ever. Consumer demand for beauty products for skin, hair and nails is growing, while product designers compete to grab attention on the retail shelf. Using unique container elements, multiple foil passes and metallization to attract the eye of the buyer, cosmetic packaging is leading the charge for brand awareness and shelf presence – and plastics decorators are adding to the appeal.

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Market overview The average woman uses an estimated 12 personal care products on a daily basis. The average man? Six. From shower gels and deodorant to lipsticks and anti-aging creams, consumers are making product choices every day with the hope of changing or enhancing their appearance. Walgreens, a national chain drugstore, has more than 25,000 SKUs assigned to beauty products alone. The cosmetics industry is anxious to provide more choices, introducing new products in a rush to meet consumer desire for the latest color trends or beauty craze. A report by Research and Markets, titled “Cosmetic Packaging Market Report – Global Trends and Forecast to 2018,” predicts the cosmetic packaging market will grow at a CAGR of 5.4 percent in just three years. Driving that growth, according to the report, are concerns about aging among women over 30 years of age and demand for skin whitener in the AsiaPacific region. That demand equals big money for those involved in personal care products. An article published by Wayne Collins, research analyst at Transparency Market Research Pvt. Ltd., discussed a recent report by the company. “Cosmetic Packaging Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013-2019” valued the global demand for personal care packaging at more than $19 billion in 2012 and forecasted growth of more than $6 billion by 2019. Growth like that will put pressure on cosmetic package designers looking to help their products gain consumer attention on the retail shelf. With plastics as the preferred material for more than 50 percent of the cosmetics and personal care markets, the opportunity exists for plastics decorators to help their customers earn a share of consumer dollars through the use of creative decorating techniques. A view from the trenches According to Ernst & Young and cited in a study from The Beauty Company (TBC), “Upwards of 80 percent of new brands fail, and the primary reason is a lack of differentiation from competitors.” Packaging decoration for cosmetics and personal care products is a key point of differentiation, and hot stamping of foils remains a prominent method for attaining that differentiation. Bill Morey, manager, technical sales, hot stamp dies and tooling for Schwerdtle, Inc., works with a variety of product decorating companies to help them meet the needs of their customers, placing him in a unique position to see the trends as packaging moves into the retail space. “What we’re seeing right now is demand for both metalizing and coatings,” Morey said. “Whether matte finishes or bright chrome, customers are trying to do more with hot stamping foil.”

Quick Facts: • 64 million US women ages 25-59 • $19 billion spent on personal care packaging in 2012 • 50 percent of market utilizing plastics as preferred material Kristen O’Connell, manager of marketing and design for Roberts Cosmetics + Containers, agreed that metalizing is moving beyond traditional metal colors. Roberts Cosmetics + Containers, located in Chatsworth, California, has been involved in the cosmetics industry since the end of World War II, when the company began modifying ammunition molds to create lipstick cases. Today, the company works with customers from container design through product decoration. “What we’re starting to see now is an increased popularity for metalizing certain plastics in other colors. Customers are thinking beyond chrome or a shiny gold,” O’Connell said. “Instead, they’re metalizing in dark purple or pink, which gives the packaging component an extra color for the brand. The decoration itself can be more basic because the component itself is so powerful.” With many of the products in the personal care category falling under the luxury product label, consumer perception of value is heavily influenced by the look and feel of the packaging. “For all packaging, cosmetic companies are looking for innovation and want to be unique,” said O‘Connell. “The demand is for dramatic textures and colors. Water transfer printing was popular for a while, and now there are high-end Korean companies using laser printing to create multiple colors and finishes on the same space.” She pointed out that these techniques are costly, saying, “Decorative inspiration can become more expensive than the actual packaging.” Higher decorating costs have led some companies to a return to the basics, such as silkscreening. Other customers have embraced foil stamping in new ways, using several foils in multiple passes to achieve a finish technique or texture. Sam Khodzhayan, vice president, plant manufacturing for Hanes Erie, Inc. concurred, noting a number of packages where both shiny and matte hot stamping foils are utilized on the same package to achieve a particular look. Schwerdtle works extensively with Hanes Erie, Inc. of Erie, Pennsylvania. Hanes is well known for its high-quality decorating of all plastic and glass packages, including cosmetic caps, jars, lipsticks, mascaras and bottles. With a diverse range of decorating techniques, the company offers conventional and UV coatings, as well as hot stamping, screen printing, pad print-

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FOCUS Not to be overlooked is the need for product batch numbers and legal information. “An an ever-increasing need for informational and legal text decorative applications, which may be hot stamped or silkscreened, increases the wording required on packaging, but that text still is held to true cosmetic quality standards, despite the small text size,” Khodzhayan explained. Another method of applying that information was once discounted as an option for many high-end cosmetic brands, but O’Connell said the label is coming back. “Labels used to have a stigma in terms of luxury packaging, but label printing has improved,” she explained. “Companies wanting brand differentiation through the use of multiple colors have started looking at labels again.”

Industry growth provides opportunities for plastics decorators as cosmetics companies look to stand out on the retail shelf.

ing and label application to customers that include Clinique and Bath & Body Works. According to Hanes Erie, specialty coatings prior to printing are very much in demand throughout cosmetic package decorating circles, whether on plastic or glass components. “Coating appearances may range from a single color or matte finish to glitter finish or to create a ‘soft touch’ surface,” Khodzhayan explained. “The popular coatings may be applied as a complete finish or in a fadeout design, merging colors into a shading effect. Surface finishes also may be applied with areas that are masked in specific areas to allow secondary applications such as hot stamping to create a unique appearance.” Khodzhayan also said package designs are getting more complicated as cosmetic companies look for an edge over the competition. “I’ve been doing this for 24 years, and we used to see very simple hot stamping applications with a logo, name or a branding element that was stamped with foil. Gradually, it’s become more complex,” he explained. “We’re seeing larger areas stamped, more intricate details and holographic effects.” Hanes Erie has seen an increase in requests for hot stamping, partially because of technology improvements. “The process itself didn’t change, but the method that produced the image became faster and more efficient, which means the customers can afford it,” he said. O’Connell said product receptacles are receiving more design attention than usual, including some elements that previously may have been thought of as disposable. “In some of the compacts that are multi-layered, the plastic separating disc now is thought of as a decoration surface and may be a different shape or pattern,” she explained.

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Peering into the future At Roberts Cosmetics + Containers, the company works closely with its customers from product design through production. Its reputation as an innovator requires a finger on the pulse of the industry. “We’re definitely monitoring what’s going on in all markets of the world,” O’Connell explained. “For example, the most important player right now is South Korea, so we have a strong presence there to monitor it closely.” The company uses its understanding of the global market to lead its customers to the trends in both container design and decoration that will help a product succeed, while also guiding decisions about resins, inks and production processes. As a hot stamp tool designer, Schwerdtle is further from influencing product design. “Schwerdtle has tried for quite some time to get directly involved earlier into the concept and design process, which starts with end customers such as Avon, L'Oreal and Lauder Group,” Morey explained. “Typically, the first that hot stamp die and toolmakers see of a package design with or without accompanying conceptual artwork is when that next ‘new’ package design gets sent to our customer, the actual package manufacturer. We may get to critique the part designs as to the feasibility of decorating the particular shapes or contours with the equipment available in my customers’ production facility; however, the project at that time usually is already planned for production.” With the personal care market set to experience incredible growth in the near future, opportunities abound for everyone involved in container design and decoration. The challenge is to help the customer imagine the possibilities, both through the use of traditional plastics decorating options such as hot stamping foils to “new” old favorites like labels. As a company, Roberts has launched an initiative to showcase more of its finished product, allowing customers to imagine more of the options when developing new packaging and its accompanying decorating techniques. O’Connell explained, “Whether it’s functionality or visual appeal, our customers tell us what they want, and we figure out how to make it.” n



Hot Stamping/Heat Transfer Equipment and Supplies

CDigital Markets, Grafixx Division 866.237.7468 CDigital Markets, Baltimore, Maryland, has expanded its digital heat transfer ability with the purchase of the AutoTransfer 6.0 from AutoTran, Inc., Naples, Florida. This new technology combines the flexibility of pad printing with the high-quality/ multicolor decoration of heat transfer. The AutoTransfer 6.0 applies heat transfers to contoured shapes and surfaces at an affordable price. Digital heat transfers, provided by CDigital, allow for up to 1200dpi images to be transferred with no cure times and offer 25 different adhesives to fit a wide array of applications. The transfers allow for personalized and variable data at a cost-effective price that is focused on short-run production and fast turnaround. CPS Resources 704.882.5985 The CP100 Hot Stamp Machine from CPS Resources, Indian Trail, North Carolina, is a dual peripheral roll-on hot stamping machine used to apply foil to cylindrical or tubular parts. The system includes a bulk feed hopper, container orientation device, conveyor to feed both hot stamp systems, easy-to-adjust mechanical foil advance system, multicolor heat transfer indexing system with dual photo eye registration and an auto eject system. This production system will output approximately 80 parts per minute. Hastings Manufacturing, LLC 800.338.8688 In addition to standard decorating equipment, Hastings also manufactures custom equipment. Hastings’ eight-headed hot stamp press was designed specifically for the products of Hastings’ customers. Often a single part will need to be decorated in more than one location. This press is an example of such a situation, capable of performing eight hot stamp applications simultaneously. Integrated with a six-axis robot for loading, the press is designed to run “lights out.” Utilizing

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eight independent stamping heads, the press is able to easily compensate for deflection and improve the final appearance of the part. Remotely mounted controls allow for adjustments to be made from outside of the robot cell. Hot Stamp Design Company 904.446.9232 The Hot Stamp Company, Jacksonville, Florida, offers a line of all-electric servo presses for both hot stamping and heat staking/insertion that provides energy savings, precision, multiple program storage and reliability. Whatever the product – automotive, appliance, electrical, medical or custom molded industrial products – the Hot Stamp Design Company can provide a machine or complete system to efficiently identify and decorate it. The company also produces a full line of hot stamp foils and dies. Innovative Digital Systems 704.506.2372 Innovative Digital Solutions, Indian Trail, North Carolina, introduced the DTP Combi Printer during NPE2015. The Combi is a dua lpurpose digital printer offering flatbed printing for d irect-to-product printing and roll-to-roll printing. Combined with t he IDS heat tra nsfer system, rol l-to-rol l printing enables the end user to create short-run or variable data digitally printed heat transfers in-house, combining all of the benefits of digital printing to create quality heat transfers. The DTP Combi Printer provides no waiting, printon-demand heat transfers. ITW Security and Brand Identity 716.681.8222 The Quadrax hot stamp and heat transfer system from ITW Security and Brand Identity Group, Glenview, Illinois, minimizes setup time with automatic part sensing

and programming. Featuring patented pneumatic pick-andplace and quality control operations, the Quadrax identifies the shape of products to be decorated, adjusts the part handling operation, stores the program in memory and delivers quick setup for future production runs. The result is consistent, accurate, high-speed decoration with minimal operator involvement. The group also produces hot stamp foils and heat transfer labels that meet the unique needs of the plastics industry for a total decorating solution. K Laser Technology (USA) 714.897.3978 K Laser Technology, Garden Grove, California, is an affiliated company of Murata Kimpaku, the largest foil company in Japan. Combining their resources, K Laser specializes in delivering decorative foiling solutions for challenging surfaces, including plastics. The experienced team members and advancements in technologies allow the company to provide unique foiling solutions. Through its commitment to understanding customer needs, developing application specific solutions and strict production standards, the company is able to deliver quality products and customer satisfaction. Preco Corporation +81-6-6443-0039 Preco Corporation, Osaka, Japan, assists designers in realizing the true color and nuance of original designs with custom-made heat transfer/in-mold film and in-mold labeling. Films are printed using the gravure printing method, providing vivid and sensitive images such as high-definition picture, gradations, sheer finish and fine lines/texts. Wood grain, metal, aluminum, brushed hairline, carbon fiber, celluloid or 3D lookalike images also can be realized. Gravure printing is suitable for stationery, cosmetic packaging, oral care, consumer electronics, automobile industries, etc., which require multicolored decoration or decoration with some special effects.

die engraving and contour machining capabilities with the purchase of new equipment from companies in the US and Europe and a move into a modern 13,000 sq. ft. facility three years ago. Utilizing the 30 to 40+ years of several individuals’ engraving and machining experience, the company also has expanded the output and quality of these highly advanced machines. Together with the skilled in-house engineering and art departments, the combination of experience and technology has allowed Schwerdtle to merge shapes and artwork details into complex hot stamping, embossing and other marking dies with matching tooling components for the cosmetics, automotive, medical and commercial industries. Trekk Equipment Group 636.271.1391 Trekk Equipment Group, Pacific, Missouri, offers a wide range of automated hot stamping and heat transfer decorating equipment packages, which include an industry-best 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 realtime product vision inspection with accept/reject part separation, high-speed servo-motor control packages, bulk-style infeed systems, boxing and counting exit systems, and full production cells. Webtech, Inc. 609.259.2800 Webtech, Inc., Robbinsville, New Jersey, is a full-service heat transfer and hot stamp foil manufacturer. All of its products are manufactured in the US. Currently, Webtech supplies bright metallics, pigments, woodgrains, pattern foils, heat transfers and foils for specialty applications. Continuous foils, metallics and pigments are offered in width of 25" and 50". Printed patterns are offered and stocked in widths up to 15" wide. Heat transfers can be printed via rotogravure, flexography or silkscreen up to eight colors. Webtech has a graphic and engraving division, which allows the company to create new designs or prepare necessary tooling for new labels or patterns quickly and at low cost. n

Schwerdtle, Inc. 203.330.2750 Schwerdtle, Inc., Bridgeport, Connecticut, expanded its CNC

April/May 2015 11



The Value of QFD in New Product Development by Perry Parendo, Perry's Solutions, Inc.


here are many tools available for people in new product development. With Design of Experiment (DOE), Earned Value Management (EV), Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFM&A), Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ), the options are endless.

Yet, with extreme pressure on organizations to achieve deadlines, one cannot just “try them out” to see what happens. There needs to be confidence in the tool as a productive use of time. Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is one tool that appears to have interest because of the potential and need, but often is left on the sidelines. Does it have value? How can the value be accessed? And, what is QFD anyway? What is QFD? Per the ASQ website ( Quality professionals refer to QFD by many names, including matrix product planning, decision matrices and customer-driven engineering. Whatever you call it, QFD is a focused methodology for carefully listening to the voice of the customer and then effectively responding to those needs and expectations. First developed in Japan in the late 1960s as a form of cause-and-effect analysis, QFD was brought to the United States in the early 1980s. It gained its early popularity as a result of numerous successes in the automotive industry.

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Three schools of QFD thought If you are familiar with QFD, you likely are aware of the “House of Quality” approach. This is focused on what the customer needs and how your organization will accomplish them. It also can contain a “contradiction” matrix to Customer understand risky and potentially challenging areas. It requires Needs thinking in the customer’s shoes, plenty of brainstorming and then the dreaded scoring. Is the effort House of Quality worth it for a team of people? It depends on the maturity of the product. For brand new items, it can be useful. Yet, if it is too new, then people may not understand the value of the future new product yet. Thus, it is best as a needs-driven development tool, but not for disruptive innovations. The second school of thought is an extension of the “House of Quality.” This is where the deployment takes place. The customer requirements flow into the design product characteristics, the design into the manufacturing process and manufacturing into the production requirements. Most will start with the first House of Quality from above, lose steam and be done. Yet, the

Weaknesses of any QFD tool Regardless of the QFD tool used, there are three general weaknesses that exist: the time required to complete the task, the scoring process and the facilitation of the overall QFD process. Customer Requirements

Product Characteristics

Manufacturing Costs

Production Requirements

House of Quality: Deployment organization is sold on the original vision of completing all four houses. Resources are not supplied, and the needed value may or may not have been achieved. There is a third, lesser known approach to QFD – the “QFD Community” method. It was the writings of Bob King that provided the first US exposure to this approach. Simply put, it is a series of matrices. There are over 30 matrices to choose from in this method, which can expand or change depending on the situation. This QFD Community methodology goes beyond just the one “house.” A key conceptual difference is that you pick a “path” through the system based on the needs of the project. You do not have to visit everyone in the “community,” Instead, you can visit who you want to or need to! For example, you can identify critical parts, identify breakthrough methods or set cost targets. By working on the priority matrices first, if resources are reassigned, you still are able to obtain value from the methods.

Time. Most of these tools require a team with times spent together to brainstorm and score them. This often is during a time on the project when there is so much “obvious” work to get done. People are compelled to get work started, so they can improve the chances of meeting the impending deadlines and often are reluctant to spend time and money on anything that could be considered as an extra. For instance, a group may jump into working on the components that require long lead time tooling. QFD makes sense, but what if that component does not meet what the customer needs? Including QFD will either lengthen the project or disappoint the customer. Prioritizing the QFD tools helps to resolve this concern. Scoring. When numbers are involved, there is a chance for inconsistencies or manipulation. This creates uncertainty with the team. On a new project, the team just recently formed and trust has not been established. The value of the QFD results is limited until trust is strongly established. Plus, the basic framework of the tool may allow unintentional bias. For instance, if scoring a new product idea with 14 performance requirements, two cost constraints and one schedule item, performance always is going to win. There are multiple ways to address this, but the leader needs to be aware of this risk related to tool setup. One way to handle this is to use a small team to create it and review with a larger group (including busy experts) to edit it when they are available. Thinking styles and facilitation. When one tool involves both brainstorming (open-ended thinking) and deterministic thinking (i.e. scoring or down selecting), this is disruptive to a group. This change of mental gears is visible and frustrating. Some facilitators will bounce between both activities: talk, score, talk, score, etc. That style is highly inefficient. Others will talk first and score second, but without a noticeable break in activities. I personally prefer to end the brainstorming session and schedule the scoring for one week later. This allows content to be adjusted during scoring as new ideas appear, but the focus is on one style of thinking. It is important that the leader can think both ways. It also is important the leader is not biased regarding the final outcome. Otherwise, the work already started will be wasted if a new direction is chosen. Why not use the tool early and gain the leverage needed? This also increases engagement of the team knowing that the direction is “firm” and not subject to random changes from outside influences.

QFD Community

Project examples Below are two examples of applications using the QFD tools. Making fast and confident decisions benefited each example.

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A team cannot decide to use QFD on a project anymore than it can decide to use a hammer. The need has to exist first. This is why the QFD Community approach is appealing. Would similar benefits create an advantage for a project you are working on? Evaluation of conceptual options. While working on a project with the Army, there were strong opinions about the right technical approach for one area of the design, resulting in nine months of conflict. Using the Pugh Concept selection tool, many design options were presented and discussed in just a few weeks. Prior to this point, each side had a pet solution and neither was willing to bend. It was not easy to see the tradeoffs. The approach used was able to open up the situation and al-

lowed the team to rewrite a high-level requirement to allow multiple solutions. Ideas were solicited from a wide range of people, and a small core group performed the scoring. Within a few weeks, this was agreed to and implemented as the new design guidance. This allowed the detailed engineering to begin and provided support to the solution that best balanced all of the design requirements. Technical breakthrough. While working on a unique new product application, the opportunity for a creative solution would be important. When reviewing the QFD Community matrix options and the project need list (shown later in this article) early on in the project, the technical breakthrough topic struck a chord. After going through a few of the matrices in that category, a light bulb clicked regarding the solution! This led to a patentable solution that was not considered prior to the QFD effort. That sudden rush of energy and thinking has happened a few times in my career, and I believe these tools made it happen in this case. What next? A team cannot decide to use QFD on a project any more than it can decide to use a hammer. The need has to exist first. This is why the QFD Community approach is appealing. It covers

Experience the Branson difference. When you involve Branson at the earliest stages of your project, you access the full range of Branson consulting expertise – from design, materials testing, and prototyping, to application development, DOE, 3D modeling, production and more. Our unmatched range of plastic and metal joining technologies options means we recommend the best solution for your needs. 203-796-0400

Be our guest at NPE 2015, Booth W3763, go to: for a complimentary expo pass

© Branson Ultrasonics Corporation 2015. The Emerson logo is a trademark and service mark of Emerson Electric Co.

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more needs and has a range of methods for implementation. What are the needs that QFD can address? Project Need List q Analyze customer demands q Critique functions q Set quality characteristics q Identify critical parts q Set breakthrough targets q Set cost targets q Set reliability targets q Select new concepts q Identify breakthrough methods q Identify manufacturing methods The items in the checklist above are process steps in new product development. If an item is important for a specific project, then the team should find and use the related tools. Many situations do not require the depth available in the QFD tools. Yes, it may provide a benefit, but is it worth the time? In most projects, a few tools will be used on each project, but never will all be used on a single project. In fact, some tools can be used by an individual on a simple

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decision rather than always forcing a large team to take on the entire project. Each project need area has more tool options than are available with the QFD Community approach. It is a nice starting point though. If you need to go further (i.e. identify breakthrough methods), then one may consider brainstorming/creativity tools, TRIZ or many other “non-matrix” approaches. Understand the project needs first – do not follow a random process or use a tool because “that sounds useful.” This QFD framework and project needs list simply provide a starting point to effectively obtain the benefits available for the early stages of new product development. n Perry’s Solutions is a consulting company offering new product design, program management and training services, specializing in using Design of Experiments software to improve products and solve problems for medical device companies and other manufacturers. Perry Parendo, president, can be reached via phone at 651.230.3861 or through his website,



Engineered Printing Solutions



EPS Announces Clean Air 300 Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS), East Dorset, Vermont, now is offering its Clean Air 300 as a viable option for higher air quality in the working environment. This particle filtration system works in conjunction with EPS flatbed digital inkjet printers, the fJETXL and fJET-24. The Clean Air 300 does not require any ventilation to the outside, allowing for easy installation into any print shop. The Clean Air 300 also can be hooked up to pad printers to filter the exhaust and recirculate the clean air into the building. Features include high airflow at 300cfm, large filters for long life, deep-bed gas filter, filter monitor gauge and thermal overload protection. This system uses a combination HEPA and carbon tray for maximum removal of fumes and gases with high particulate content. The HEPA can be replaced for a second carbon tray when installed in cleanrooms. This unit can connect to 2", 2.5" and 4" diameter hoses. For more information, visit Mimaki ES3 Inks Now Available Mimaki USA, Suwanee, Georgia, has announced that ES3 inks are available for the company’s JV300, JV150, CJV300 and CJV150 series printers. ES3 eco-solvent inks are fast-drying, offering media adhesion and color reproduction. Mimaki ES3 inks are compatible with a wide range of media types from indoor posters to outdoor signs. Scratch resistance makes these inks ideal for high-traffic applications, such as transit advertising, window graphics, static clings, magnetic signs and other uses when over-lamination is not desired. The ES3 ink colors available are black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta, packaged in easy-to-use 440ml cartridges. The series printers offer eight ink channels and can be configured to use ES3 inks in a double-CMYK configuration for high-speed printing at up to 1,140 square feet per hour. For applications requiring smooth gradations, ES3 inks can be used in a C-M-Y-K-Lc-Lm-C-M configuration. For more information, visit

Verstraete Develops Matt IML and UltraGloss IML Following the development of past products, such as Metallic IML and Peelable IML, Verstraete IML, Maldegem, Belgium, introduces its latest innovations: Matt IML and UltraGloss IML. Matt IML is an IML label that gives packaging a matte, natural look. With an UltraGloss label, the packaging gets a high-gloss finish, making the colors even more intense. To learn more, visit Martineghi Introduces Michelangelo Digital Printer Martinenghi, Albignano MI, Italy, introduces the Michelangelo KX48P digital printing machine. The new system enables production batches to be handled as printing queue, making it possible to carry out a decoration changeover with no line downtime. Quality is monitored by a built-in camera detection system. The printing system integrates a contactless solution because substrate and printing heads are never in contact, meaning no mechanical stress is placed on the mandrels. For developing the conveying system, Martinenghi’s engineers designed a solution composed of eight linear motors, coupled to a laser measuring system, for conveying the parts under the printing deck with high accuracy. To learn more, visit www. Deco Tech Adds New Precision Screen Printing System Deco Technology Group, Inc., Orange, California, has designed the Deco Tech DT-767 series of precision automatic UV container screen printing machines. The new series feature a DC motor-controlled linear walking beam system, which provides accurate color-to-color print registration (+0.1mm) with print speeds up to 70 bottles per minute. Either round or oval bottles can be placed into the optional automatic bowl feeder where they automatically are oriented and transported into the UVcured screen printing line. Once bottles enter the machinery,

April/May 2015 17

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Deco Tech


they automatically are flame-treated and fed through each of the subsequent printing and UV-curing stations. The Panasonic or Allen-Bradley (optional) PLC and touchscreen controller gives the operator complete control over all necessary machine functions, and the jobs parameters easily can be adjusted. For more information, visit Sonics Introduces New Ultrasonic Welding Systems and Multi-Converter Sequencer Sonics & Materials, Inc., Newtown, Connecticut, introduced its new 30kHz ultrasonic plastics welding systems, featuring the Model 3050 benchtop press, at NPE 2015. The Model 3050

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press offers microprocessor control and consistent reliability, with features such as amplitude control, ultrasonic horn/ stack frequency display, good part/bad part output signal and 30-percent smaller power supply footprint. Standard features include automatic frequency tuning, multiple job storage, digital force triggering, calibration pulse, ultrasonics load meter scale and upper/lower weld limit settings. Also featured was the multi-channel high-voltage ultrasonic sequencer, designed for streamlined RF signal switching of up to 16 ultrasonic converter stacks. The sequencer works with Sonics’ power supplies in a variety of frequencies and allows OEM integrators to control multiple stack ultrasonic on/off sequences from a single source ultrasonic power supply or generator kit. For more information, visit Polyfuze Graphics Now Available as CMYK 4-Color Process Polyfuze GraphicsTM Corporation, Clarksdale, Arizona, has introduced a permanent custom graphic for polyethylene (PE)/polypropylene (PP) using the CMYK 4-color process, in order to achieve photographic-type images. The Polyfuze graphic is applied using traditional hot stamp machinery and literally fuses or welds into a PE/PP plastic product, becoming a permanent part of the product itself. The Polyfuze graphic is comprised of pigmented plastic, instead of traditional inks. For more information, visit Dubuit America Offers New Digital Printer Dubuit America, a subdivision of Machines Dubuit, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, recently introduced the D9210 digital printer. The new printer is complete with loading, unloading, registration, treatment, digital heads and drying. Capacity varies from 200 to 800 containers per hour, depending upon object dimension. The printer was designed to meet growing demand for small orders and GHS requirements for direct, non-contact printing. Native resolution is 360dpi with greyscale capabilities. The D9210 and ink are made by Dubuit. For more information, visit n

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Branson's GVX Series of Vibration Welders by Brittany Willes


ranson Ultrasonics, a business of Emerson, Danbury, Connecticut, recently has unveiled its newest series of non-ultrasonic vibration welders, the GVX series. The series of welders is set to be launched on a global platform, providing uniform machinery to clients around the world.

Featuring a user-friendly Human Machine Interface, the GVX contains an industrial PC with improved sequence editor, intuitive navigation and enhanced screen display. According to JP Kurpiewski, Branson’s director of global product management, the PC is “very rugged for the industrial setting. It is IP-rated with solid state memory. It uses proven technology, but now is more colorful, easier to see and easier to program.” The interactive touchscreen displays icons which are globally recognizable, with codes for individual users to access different parts of the software. “Overall, the system is more visual, more intuitive,” Kurpiewski asserted. “We listened to our customers and their needs, and this is something we heard coming from a lot of them.” The integrated safety system is enhanced with a programmable safety controller. Additional safety features, designed for user comfort and efficiency, include front door and lift table movement, emergency stop button, safety limit switches on front and rear doors, pneumatic tool function and a safety strip. “It goes beyond safety,” said Kurpiewski. “We wanted to design this for the user. For instance, Branson engineers have gone to great lengths for sound materials in order to reduce the level of noise. Current global standards for noise emissions is 80 decibels. Our engineers have reduced measured noise levels by 50 percent. That’s significantly less sound energy being exposed to the user.” The new series platform has a larger lift table, providing a greater working area while still offering a smaller footprint than traditional large-part vibration welders. Furthermore, the GVX series is equipped with Branson’s infrared preheating feature, enabling clean welds essentially free of particulates, angel hair or other visible contaminants. The team focused on improving weld quality and consistency by designing closed loop measurement systems. Keeping with the company’s efficiency efforts, the new GVX series features PC-controlled servo drive. “Moving to the servos results in less maintenance,” stated Kurpiewski. “There are fewer moving parts, no hydraulics and no hydraulic oils, which mean less mess and fewer spills.” As a result, GVX welders put forth a more energy-efficient operation that requires less

maintenance and downtime. “Even just saving a few seconds or minutes can mean a major shift in revenue for our customers,” he added. Technical details The GVX series operates supporting high-speed, automated applications. The drive system consists of a Branson frequency inverter. The drive is rated at 30kW. The lift table drive features a servo motor with drive chain mechanism. Lift table velocity ranges from 0-500mm/s with a maximum clamp force of 25kN. The industrial PC user interface is operated via 12-inch color touchscreen display. Screen resolution is 1024x768. Machine logic/internal communications have been developed using Branson’s logic control system. Pneumatic connections are 1/2", electrical connection is 5x16mm2. The welder features an oscillating head with peak-to-peak amplitude of 0.7–1.8mm. Tooling weight is between 35–65kg. Frequency, depending on tooling weight, is approximately 240Hz. Noise emission is rated at 77dB(A), over a cycle. Overall dimensions are 2,340x2,730x1,300 (2,280 CVT) mm. Sound enclosure dimension are 2,340x2,220x1,130 (2,280 CVT) mm. Approximate weight is 4,500kg. n

April/May 2015 21



Material Considerations in Ultrasonic Welding by Tom Kirkland,


everal years ago, a panicked business owner called asking for help figuring out why his ultrasonic welding operation had stopped working. I had talked with him on the phone a few times, but had never seen his operation. I committed half a day that week to troubleshooting for him.

Arriving at his plant, I looked over his parts. They seemed to fit well, and it was the sort of application that should work – an electronics assembly with two black plastic shells joined at the midline to produce something that looked a lot like a large squirt gun. Illustration 1. Amorphous.

I asked him the first question you learn in engineering school about problem-solving: “If this worked last week and doesn't work this week, what has changed?” His answer was that nothing had changed, but – oh, by the way – his molder was using a new, lessexpensive material. The old material: ABS. The new material: 30-percent talc-filled polypropylene. Well, there’s the answer. The business owner, however, was insistent that the new material would work… because his molder had told him so… so, I set the welder to weld for about 15 seconds and cranked up the clamp force.

Illustration 2. Semi-crystalline.

“This won't hurt your machine or your tooling,” I said, “but, if this has any possibility of welding with the new material, it should at least tack it a bit.” I hit the buttons, and after about eight or nine seconds, smoke rolled out from under the horn. When the horn retracted, the upper part was stuck to it, dripping a little molten material onto the electronics and the other shell, which were still sitting in the fixture. The energy director was pounded flat a bit, but there was no noticeable tacking anywhere.

Illustration 3. Energy director.

“Oh, no,” the owner said, sounding like I had just spilled mustard on the upholstery of his new Cadillac. I assured him it hadn’t hurt the welder or tooling and explained that he simply needed to go back to the other material. However, the solution wasn’t so simple. “I just took delivery of ten thousand sets,” he said, “and it took a month to get them.” The moral of the story? Know thy materials.

Illustration 4. Shear joint.

Plastic materials 101 The two main families of plastic materials are thermosets and thermoplastics. Thermosets are formed into shape and baked in the mold to produce crosslinking, in which branches of adjacent polymer molecules grow together to form what essentially is one giant molecule. Applying another heat cycle will not cause flow and, if temperature becomes high enough, the material simply will burn without flowing. For this reason, welding of thermosets is impossible. Thermoplastic molecules retain independence and do not crosslink on application of heat; rather, they begin to flow. Subsequent heating/cooling cycles at appropriate temperatures produce thawing/freezing cycles. A thermoplastic molecule is a long-chain molecule and may be thought of as a spaghetti noodle or a hair.

Illustration 5. Knit lines.

Amorphous thermoplastics (Illustration 1) have random molecular structures, whether we experience them as liquid or solid. Since they have no particular structure, when uncolored they generally are clear and transparent, though many have an amber or brown tint. Since

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they have no particular molecular structure, they soften over a broad temperature range. Semi-crystalline thermoplastics (Illustration 2) have zones of crystal structure embedded in an overall amorphous structure. The molecules have an affinity for forming crystals, but because the molecules are so long, only sections of each molecule can join a particular crystal. A fully crystalline material, such as ice, has a very distinct melting temperature, above which the material only can exist in liquid form. Below that temperature, crystal formation occurs and the overall structure “locks” into a particular shape. There is a significant amount of energy associated with the formation or dissolution of crystal structures, referred to as phase change energy or heat of crystallization that manifests as a more-or-less constant temperature rise as constant power is applied, but at melt temperature the temperature then plateaus until enough heat is absorbed to release molecules from the crystal structures, then constant temperature rise continues. The same occurs in reverse, with a cooling part tending to stay at melt temperature for a while on the way down until it loses the energy it takes to cause crystals to form. Since crystal structures in semi-crystalline thermoplastics scatter light, when uncolored

these materials appear milky, translucent or even opaque. If a part made of uncolored semi-crystalline thermoplastic is held against a hot tool, the area that is melting will appear clear – an indication that the crystals have disintegrated – and the resulting molten material exhibits the expected amorphous state. The ultrasonic welding process Ultrasonic energy creates heat in thermoplastic parts through intermolecular friction; the incoming compression waves cause the molecules in the plastic to rub together and produce heat. The ability of plastic material to convert mechanical energy to heat is expressed as its loss modulus. Welding an assembly made of amorphous thermoplastic requires some sort of energy director (Illustration 3), a designed acoustic weak spot that concentrates all of the relative motion between the part vibrated by the horn (sonotrode) and the part held stationary by the fixture. Upon application of ultrasound of sufficient amplitude, the energy director will begin to melt, flowing out from the energy director to provide molten material to create the weld. Contact with cool air is not a particular problem as the time is quite brief and there has been sufficient heat created to promote flow.

April/May 2015 23

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When the energy director is fully collapsed and the joint is closed, the ultrasound is turned off and the joint solidifies. An assembly made of semi-crystalline thermoplastic may be made with an energy director, but because the molten material that begins to flow from the tip of the energy director is immediately removed from the source of heat, it generally solidifies before the joint has a chance to close. For this reason, it is practically impossible to produce a weld wider than the root of the energy director using a semi-crystalline material. The shear joint (Illustration 4) was created to address that problem. By creating a telescoping zone of molten material, much more material can be involved in the joint and kept from exposure to air, and joints even may be designed that are stronger then the nominal wall of the assembly. Amplitude is the peak-to-peak distance traveled during one acoustic compression wave cycle. Amplitude must be transmitted from the horn through one of the parts to the joint. Amorphous materials tend to transmit sound waves relatively efficiently and, given the relative ease of joining them, amplitude does not need to be particularly high at the horn. This allows for somewhat complex geometry, relatively large parts and usually more reliable “hermetic sealing” of joints, if required.

Semi-crystalline thermoplastics, by contrast, transmit sound generally much more poorly because the crystal structures tend to scatter and deflect straight-line transmission and the materials often are more “dead” acoustically than amorphous thermoplastics. This often can be demonstrated by tapping parts on a hard surface. Parts made from amorphous materials often will practically ring like a bell by comparison to the often dull thud of a part made of semi-crystalline material. For these reasons, amplitude at the horn usually needs to be quite high, which constrains horn design, which in turn constrains part size and geometry and can cause hermetic sealing to be more difficult. Polycarbonate, while an amorphous thermoplastic, often is handled as though it were semi-crystalline at the ultrasonic welder. This is because the thermal conductivity and melt temperature of polycarbonate are relatively high. In polycarbonate, energy director welding essentially is a race between destruction of the energy director with clamp force and high amplitude and melting/fusing of the plastic. Polycarbonate parts also can be susceptible to cracking either at the welder or later in the life of the assembly if there is significant molded-in stress. Careful consideration of gate placement and size, vent location, mold temperature, fill speed and pack pressure is especially important for part geometry, weld success and part longevity. Colorants, additives, fillers, reinforcements and enhancers Every color added to a thermoplastic material is a chemical that can have its own impact on welding. Color usually is introduced into the part production process as concentrate, which uses a very high melt index (low viscosity when molten) carrier resin with waxes and other lubricants in it to help to evenly distribute the powder or liquid color. Since the principal specification of a color concentrate is its color, its chemistry sometimes can vary enough to cause variations in weld results. At very least, if the parts to be joined come in a variety of colors, adjustments may need to be made at the welding process for each color. Fillers displace weldable resin with mineral or other nonweldable substances. Sometimes, they are added to increase stiffness and dimensional stability and, to the extent they do so, they usually enhance weldability. Other times, they merely are intended to displace expensive polymer with less expensive material. In either case, in concentrations over 20 percent to 25 percent, these can adversely affect the welding process. Reinforcements, such as glass fiber or carbon fiber, function like reinforcing bar in concrete, improving tensile strength and dimensional stability in the finished part. Again, to the extent they do so, they improve the welding process. As with fillers, reinforcements displace bondable polymer and, since they generally lie parallel to mold steel, they lie parallel to joint line and tend not to cross the joint plane. So, a reinforced material twice as strong in tensile strength as base resin may

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have a joint strength potential only 75 percent to 80 percent as strong as base resin or 35 percent to 40 percent as strong as reinforced material. Fillers and reinforcements generally cause the knit lines (Illustration 5) in parts to be significantly weaker than surrounding material. While knit lines sometimes can cause problems in unfilled or unreinforced parts, problems are much more likely with filled or reinforced parts. The vibrations caused by ultrasonic welding sometimes can find weak knit lines and break them open. In some cases, it is necessary to eliminate the knit lines by removing core pins from the mold cavities and drilling holes as a secondary operation. Internal lubricants like waxes or stearates (“lubricated” resin) may ease flow in the mold and deliver a clean part release, but lubricants will retard the production of frictional heat in ultrasonic welding. The lubricant also tends to gather at the surface of the part, where it will do the most good in molding but the most harm in welding. It is, in some cases, possible to compensate with welder adjustments. For the same reason, sprayed-on mold release also is undesirable. Any sprayed-on release definitely must be a paintable/platable grade, and silicone-based releases often will prohibit welding completely. Parts thus contaminated often may be made weldable

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The real issue is not how much regrind the process can tolerate, but the quality of the regrind. Regrind from runner systems may be just fine as long as the runner does not see excessive shear heating or damage from excessive pack pressure. if cleaned with a diluted alcohol mixture. Application of sprayed mold release is, by definition, intermittent and causes a different welding condition on each part and, therefore, a different welding result. It is best to avoid sprayed-on mold release entirely. Flame retardant in the part also may act like internal lubricant and can make welding more difficult. Other considerations Some materials, particularly polyamides (nylon) and – to a lesser extent – polycarbonate, are hygroscopic, meaning they will absorb water from the air. Since water flashes to steam at 100C with considerable phase change energy and polyamide and polycarbonate melt at much higher temperatures, the water trapped in the joint detail will absorb all heat energy created until it can flash to steam, which often leaves a joint detail pounded down by amplitude and clamp force that never got hot enough to melt and weld. If it should occur that the joint does get hot enough to flash the water to steam, then there will be a small explosion occurring within the joint since steam occupies significantly more volume than water (which is the principle upon which a steam locomotive operates). Such joints may appear foamy and brittle and usually lack strength and a “hermetic seal.” Usually, a part dry enough to mold is dry enough to weld, so in moderate- to high-humidity environments parts should be welded immediately while still warm or bagged while still warm with a desiccant pack and not unbagged until they are ready to go into the welder. The question of how well the ultrasonic welding process handles regrind really hinges on two factors: first, how large is the process window for this particular product? Adding regrind to the mix will make the process fussier, which is not a good direction to go if the process already is fussy. If the window is large, some regrind of good quality might not even be noticed. The automotive battery industry makes new battery housings out of 100-percent regrind that comes from the recycling of automotive batteries. The joints are over-designed to produce ultrasonic welding (and other plastic welding) processes with large windows, and everything runs fine. The material also is carefully inspected and property enhancers are added to make certain that the parts and assemblies will be very well made, since a leaky automotive battery is a very bad thing indeed.

The real issue is not how much regrind the process can tolerate, but the quality of the regrind. Regrind from runner systems may be just fine as long as the runner does not see excessive shear heating or damage from excessive pack pressure. Damaged material tends to have a lot of broken molecules in it, expressed as low average molecular weight, which tends to increase the melt index (which make the material runnier) and decreases tensile strength and impact strength. But, perhaps the biggest problem with regrind is thermal damage to the material that turns some of the molecules from bondable polymer into charred filler. Taking great care in the regrind process and monitoring melt flow index of actual parts on a consistent basis likely will head off a lot of problems with the variability that regrind can introduce. There are many combinations of dissimilar materials that can be ultrasonically welded. In order for a successful weld to occur, the materials must have chemical affinity for one another. Imagine a very low temperature operation involving an attempt to ultrasonically weld a chunk of frozen motor oil to a block of ice – this would be the very definition of an impossible task. Generally, semi-crystalline materials only can be welded to the same material. A few amorphous materials have chemical affinity for more than one other material, but there are not many like this. In addition, the two materials must have similar melt

index numbers and similar melt temperatures. The best rule is consult an expert and then experiment thoroughly before committing to a product that requires ultrasonic welding of dissimilar materials. Conclusion Knowing the material factors that can affect ultrasonic welding allows for material choices to be made with process impacts anticipated rather than discovered. The story at the beginning of this article unfortunately is one that has been repeated many times and in many places. Discussing these issues can make the ultrasonic welding process seem finicky and sensitive and, if efforts are not made to widen process windows, it indeed can be. However, intelligently applied, the ultrasonic welding process can be robust and stable in both high- and low-volume applications in a wide variety of industries and applications. Making it a successful process simply requires understanding the basic process inputs and making good design and material choices. n Tom Kirkland is the owner of, a supplier of converters, boosters, parts and supplies for ultrasonic welding machines. He is a consultant, trainer and author of many papers and articles on plastics assembly. For more information, email

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UV Technology for In-Mold Labeling by Ron Schultz, In-Mold Decorating Association

UV-cured inks and coatings have become an important part of the production of in-mold labels for packaging (IML) and in-mold decoration of durable products (IMD). For 2013, 25 percent of inmold labels in North America and 20 percent of those produced in Europe were printed with UV-cured inks. This is especially true for labels produced on narrow web flexo and web offset presses. In-mold labeling is different from pressure-sensitive, heat-transfer or glue-on labeling, which are post-mold operations. In IML, the in-mold label is placed in the mold before the plastic container resin is injected or blown into the mold. As the resin flows into the mold, the label is embedded in the wall of the container, making the label an integral, non-removable part of the container. All postmold operations and equipment are eliminated. In-mold labeled containers include laundry detergent bottles, cream cheese and ice cream containers and motor oil bottles. IMD is similar to IML in principal, but the “labels” are more robust and the in-mold decorated parts are of much higher value and intended for continuous or even harsh outdoor service. Many such products are made in multistep processes. The initial “label” may be a 10- or 20-mil clear polycarbonate, which first is reverse printed with a UV ink. The printed film then is thermoformed and diecut to the shape of the final part. This pre-formed insert is placed into an injection mold, where it is backfilled with resin to form the final part. Examples of IMD products are cellphone faceplates, automotive dashboards and washing machine control panels. The in-mold labeling process requires inks and overcoats with superior heat-resistance for both the blow mold (IML-B) and injection (IML-I) molding process. The IML-I process is especially demanding, where resin is injected at high pressure and temperature against a reverse printed label. Conventional inks with inadequate heat and chemical resistance can be washed away by the hot resin as it is injected behind the label into the mold cavity. UV-cured inks provide superior properties on in-mold labels, including the following: • High gloss • Abrasion resistance • Chemical resistance • Resistance to injection “washout” • Good bonding to backfill resin for insert molding • High durability for outdoor exposure • Low or no volatile organic compounds • Rapid cure Despite the attractive performance properties of UV inks for IML/ IMD, they are more challenging to use in a number of ways.

Curl. In order to feed smoothly from label magazines, in-mold labels must be as flat as possible. Any curl introduced by the converting process can be a serious problem at the molding machine. UV inks and coatings have been known to create curled labels as they cure. Undercure. Undercured UV inks and coatings can cause label blocking and offsetting of ink to the inside of the mold. When this happens, the label can hang up in the mold, causing the molding machine to shut down. Another artifact of inadequate cure is poor slip, which effects label feeding for magazines. Overcure. Overcured UV inks and coatings can be brittle, causing hairline cracks along bend radii and corners. Water-based overprints often are applied over UV inks to avoid this problem, as well as to avoid curl. Heat Management. UV lamps generate significant heat, especially on narrow web presses. IML substrates are thin, unsupported polyolefin films, which are quite extensible under tension and heat. Stretching of the web can play havoc with print-to-print and print-to-cut registration. Odor. UV inks often have residual odors, which are particularly objectionable on labels for food packaging applications. Despite these mostly controllable issues, UV inks and coatings are becoming increasingly popular for printing in-mold labels and decorating durable molded products. n This article was reprinted with permission from RadTech Report (, Issue 3, 2014. Ron Schultz is executive director of the In-Mold Decorating Association in Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information about in-mold labeling for packaging and in-mold decoration of durable goods, visit the IMDA website at

April/May 2015 29


QUESTION AND ANSWER Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics Enter the Market by Marty Mares, Polyfuze Graphics Corp.


hroughout the history of the plastics decorating industry, there have been a limited number of ways to decorate polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and other olefin-based products. These methods include in-mold labels (IMLs), foils, heat transfers, stickers, screen printing and pad printing. All of these methods are susceptible to removal, wear and fading over time following prolonged exposure to the environment. Another challenge associated with traditional plastics decorating methods is scrap rate – in some cases, scrap rate can be as high as 20 percent. Cost associated with robotics for IMLs is a further challenge that has plagued plastic decorating companies. A new category for decorating injection-molded polyolefins has been developed called “Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics” – also known as Polyfuze. Polyfuze addresses the above-mentioned challenges and is distinctly different from other plastic decorating methods in a variety of ways.

32 April/May 2015


How does molecular structure differ? The most distinct difference lies at the heart of the technology. Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics are polymer-based instead of traditional ink. Instead of attempting to “stick” to the surface of polyethylene or polypropylene, Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics literally “fuse” into injection molded polyethylene and polypropylene. This process involves heating a PE or PP part and special graphic simultaneously, then pressing them together. The two pieces will then cool together to form a single permanent welded bond. The process works and is being used by many companies for a wide range of product applications, including rollout carts in the waste management industry, warning labels for shopping carts and a variety of reusable packaging containers.

(120°F) maximum temperature, 90 degree nozzle angle at six-inch distance: 100% Passed Tape Test • Chemical Test: 21°C (70°F). See Chart 1.

Polyfuze Graphic Test Results Type Time Hrs Tape Test Result Gasoline 168 100% Passed Diesel Fuel 168 100% Passed 2-cycle Engine Oil 168 100% Passed Lacquer Thinner 168 100% Passed Brake Fluid 168 100% Passed Turpentine 168 100% Passed Kerosene 168 100% Passed Muriatic Acid 20 168 100% Passed What are the heat, time and pressure Baume 31.45% requirements? 100% Passed Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics use standard hot stamp Alkali Solution (pH 13) 168 machinery. However, the heat, time and pressure for Salt Water 720 100% Passed application is very different from traditional methods. The Poly- Water Immersion 720 100% Passed


fuze graphic requires 450F on the silicone die face. Operators will set the machine at 550F in order to accomplish this task (due to the nature of silicone). Although the heat required for the application process is dramatically higher, a similar dwell times of around 0.5 seconds is seen, depending on the material used for the part. Pressure requirements are significantly less. Where hot stamp foil require 400psi, the Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics require just 75psi. This allows a much larger graphic to be applied with a smaller tonnage hot stamp machine.


How is durability enhanced? Beyond having a unique composition and differences related to application, the most distinguishing characteristic of this new technology is its ability to withstand removal and typical degeneration from injectionmolded polyethylene and polypropylene. To claim the new Polyfuze graphic application is 100-percent permanent, the manufacturer has invested extensive time to compile data to support its claim. Polyfuze Graphic Test Summary • Tape Test D3359-09 Crosshatch: 100% Passed Tape Test • QUV Accelerated Weatherometer Test: 2,000 hour cycle, 8 hour 70°C (158°F) with an Irradiance of 1.4 hours at 50°C (122°F) condensation: 100% Passed Tape Test • Heat Test at 77°C (170°F) for 120 hours: 100% Passed Tape Test • Low Temperature Impact Resistance Test: 10 lbs. at -40°C (-40°F): 100% Passed Tape Test • Flex Test: 240 hours of continuous flexing at 21°C (70°F): 100% Passed Tape Test • Heat Cycle Test: 2 hours at -40°C (-40°F), 2 hours at 77°C (170°F): 100% Passed Tape Test • Pressure Wash Test: 3 minutes at 1,200 psi, 49°C

Chart 1. Chemical Test Results

A summary of the test results above supports unsurpassed graphic durability. In the years ahead, however, the technology of Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics could require plastic decorators to revisit testing standards which were developed for “topical” application methods that use adhesives, substrates and clear coats. Since Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics “fuse” to become one with injection molded PE or PP parts, they technically are not a “topical” graphic application method.


What applications are appropriate for these graphics? Many companies today are looking for business solutions and methods that are environmentally friendly, while providing for growth and profit in the future. Decorating polyethylene, polypropylene and other olefin resins is an important part of the plastics industry for very specific reasons. These include warning labels that thwart theft and instruct of dangers; logos that give brand identity and define quality and differentiation; instructional labels that direct a consumer on the proper use of a product; and barcode, QR and data matrix codes that provide tracking and stocking information. However, the only way these types of labels have the ability to do their job is if they remain intact for the life of the product.

Current labeling methods commonly fade or can be completely removed by various outdoor elements, such as extreme cold or heat, overexposure to sunlight and weather conditions. They also are removed by daily uses including vigorous rubbing or abrasion, daily wear and tear to the product and daily contact with necessary cleaning solutions. Physical removal by pressure washing or heavy solvents and chemicals also are factors in the durability and life of these labels. These label failures account for

April/May 2015 33

 p. 33


considerable loss of money, time and valuable resources. This also means loss of vital information and identification that affects traceability and asset management. In the case of warning and informative labels, this can lead to litigation. Rather than the reformulation of old technology, new decorating methods are needed to address all of the issues listed. The technology behind Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics is more than a new and improved adhesive or a special clear coat. It provides a permanent solution in the decorating process of olefin products.


Is the graphic recyclable? As companies seek methods of plastic decorating to

34 April/May 2015

improve long-term performance and lower costs, it’s also important to understand that the application process associated with Polyethylene Fuzed Graphics produces very little scrap. In the event that a PE or PP part reaches the end of its life cycle, the Polyfuze graphic is able to be recycled along with the part because it is virtually all the same material. n Marty Mares is general manager for Polyfuze GraphicsTM Corporation. Polyfuze GraphicsTM Corporation is a sister company to Mold in Graphic Systems®, which has 30 years in the plastics decorating business as a leader for decorating rotationally molded polyethylene products. For more information, call 928.634.8888 or visit

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T200: Developed to follow the strictest standards being put forth by international regulatory agencies Ruco is the leader in safety and environmental standards that screen and pad printing inks must meet today and in the future. The new Ruco ink pigments surpass all pad and screen printing in quality and opacity. All PMS colors are available and color matching and mixing is easily optimized at Comdec Inc. through use of a color spectrophotometer. Comdec Inc. carries the most complete list of compliances for all countries. The new age of safety and environmental care is upon us - be ready for it with Ruco inks. RUCO Eco-Friendly Inks Ÿ CA Prop 65 Compliant, Safe for Toys Ÿ 100% free from cyclohexanone and

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APEX Announces Acquisition of DESCO Apex Machine Company, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida, announces its asset acquisition of Ohio-based printing machine manufacturer Desco Equipment Corporation. Desco specializes in manufacturing systems for the handling and decorating of closures and various sizes of components, such as pails, buckets, cups, tubes and lids, in the global market. The company engineers and manufactures printing systems, as well as spare parts, plates, blankets and inks. Principals Leo Henry and Gene Gilbert have agreed to remain involved in Desco’s operations in order to ensure a smooth transition for customers, vendors and employees. For more information, visit 3M Introduces Assembly Solutions Initiative 3M, St. Paul, Minnesota, has introduced the assembly solutions initiative, which represents the starting point for reviewing 3M’s many alternatives to mechanical fasteners, welds and rivets. An overview of common applications where adhesives and tapes can surpass more traditional assembly methods makes it easy to determine initial feasibility for design and production needs. Additionally, the attributes of each technology is rated across a number of critical design characteristics so engineers quickly can determine which options to consider based on their unique design or process criteria. Because tapes and adhesives can address multiple design challenges with a single product, it’s even possible to simplify a process, reduce cost and increase throughput. For more information, visit InfraStake® Technology Reaches Milestone A patended product from Extol, Zeeland, Michigan, has surpassed the 10,000 modules sold mark. Introduced in 1997, InfraStake® is a tightly controlled, low-impact staking process which uses infrared energy to fasten components together, eliminating screws, snaps, adhesives and other mechanical fasteners. The InfraStake module clamps the subject components together, heats the molded plastic boss with infrared light and forms the plastic with a non-heated punch driven by an integrated, low-force pneumatic cylinder. The process provides a tight final assembly with uniform heating and low-stress form. For more information, visit

NPE2015 Sets Records SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, founder and producer of NPE: The International Plastics Showcase, has released final data for NPE2015, showing the event attracted 2,029 ex-

36 April/May 2015

hibitors over 1,128,200 net square feet (104,813 sq.m) of exhibit space – exceeding the previous records of 2,009 exhibitors and 1,041,000 net square feet (96,712 sq.m) set in 2000. In addition, registered attendance for NPE2015 was 65,810 – 19 percent greater than three years ago. Registrants came from 23,396 unique companies – 22 percent more than the 19,198 companies at NPE2012 – representing a substantial increase in buying potential. This was the second NPE to be held in Orlando, and SPI has signed contracts to keep NPE at the Orange County Convention Center in 2018 and 2021. To learn more, visit Plasmatreat Announces New Plasma Clean Module Massachussetts-based Automation Engineering Inc. (AEi) and Illinois-based Plasmatreat North America are pleased to announce the release of the fully integrated Plasmatreat cleaning module for the AEi Modular CMAT (Camera Module Assembly and Test) system. AEi has partnered with Plasmatreat to develop a fully integrated plasma cleaning option used in the production of camera modules for a variety of applications, including automotive rear and frontview cameras, wearable consumer sports cameras and security markets. For more information, visit or Schwerdtle Announces WBENC Certification Schwerdtle, Inc., Bridgeport, Connecticut, is pleased to announce its certification by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council as a Woman Owned Business. In addition to serving customers for over 136 years, the company now qualifies for most large business supplier diversity programs. Kathy Saint is the company’s president and CEO. Schwerdtle manufactures a wide array of plastics decorating tools, including silicone hot stamping dies and heat transfer dies, silicone sheets and rollers and fixtures. It also manufactures etched magnesium dies, as well as Saint engraved brass and steel hot stamp dies for the cosmetics, consumer appliances, automotive, medical products and sporting goods industries. For more information, visit www. Network I.D.E.A. Contract Signed by OMSO and MOSS The network contract called "IDEA" (Italian Decorating Equipment Alliance) recently was signed by OMSO and MOSS, both headquartered in Italy. The two companies have agreed to develop a commercial alliance strengthening their presence in international markets and therefore strengthening Italy-manufactured technologies, as well as identifying and developing new market opportunities. OMSO and MOSS have signed a network agreement based on a renewable three-year contract, allowing the two companies to independently develop strategies and collaborate in terms of marketing, developing the commercial network and increasing their presence in the various international markets. OMSO North America, Inc. is located in Erlanger, Kentucky. For more information, call 859.282.6676 or visit n


NEW FACES Nazdar SourceOne, Shawnee, Kansas, is pleased to announce the expansion of its executive leadership team. Thirty-seven-year veteran Dave Durbin will assume the role of business unit manager–Screen Graphic and Industrial Products. In his new role, he will collaborate to develop strategies that grow revenue, as well as position Nazdar SourceOne as the distributor of choice for SourceOne’s manufacturers and customers.



KURZ Transfer Products, L.P., Charlotte, North Carolina, has announced two additions to its sales team. Janet Palmer is the new national accounts representative–plastics. Palmer will represent KURZ’s plastics portfolio, including general plastics hot stamp and engineered foils; in-mold decoration, heat transfer and insert molding/VF films; and machine, tooling and functional technologies. Mike Lewis has joined KURZ in the position of product technology manager–plastics. Lewis will be the key interface between KURZ customers, R&D, sales and production, providing technical direction, guidance and support for product development and commercial feasibility.


FRIMO North America, Wixom, Michigan, announced the appointment of Steve Willis to the role of director of sales. Willis will be based at the company’s North American headquarters in Wixom and will be responsible for sales, service, marketing and business development functions. He comes to FRIMO with over 18 years of sales and project management experience in the polyurethane industry. n



Italian Manufacturer since 1945 Since 1945, GPE Ardenghi Srl has been manufacturing machines in Italy. While our major emphasis has been in the area of building screen printing machines, we also have become the supplier of such machines in the cosmetic market in the US and Europe. We exhibited in March at the Comopack Show in

Bologna, Italy, and we will be present in July at Cosmoprof in Las Vegas. We have developed different machines with varying production capacities for printing on glass. For many years, we have followed customers’ requests in supplying special automations. Robots, transport belts, Wi-Fi

connections, PLC and dryers are at the base of GPE projects, giving the customer a big advantage in production time and saved money. Our wide range of machines gives us the versatility to service every aspect of the screen printing industry.

GPE Ardenghi S.r.l. Via Pagazzano, 20 Treviglio (BG) - ITALY Tel 0363 49796 - Fax 0363 301410 |

April/May 2015 37



Letter from the Chair The question recently was posed: what is plastic decoration? That actually is a very good question and, with the advances in materials and technology, becoming an even more important question. Plastic decoration is a very large umbrella covering a broad range of differing technologies for manipulating plastic. I have always defined plastic decoration as any postmold (or in-mold) process used to impart additional aesthetic or functional properties to the part. That definition used to be straightforward. A plastic part could be painted or Uglum pad printed. It might be electroplated to make a chrome appearance, or it might have an in-mold decorated element or label. These and many other processes still are in wide use. What has changed is not the definition, but the many options, advances in materials and new processes that significantly broadened the capabilities and outcomes. With the increased use of smart materials and nano technology, coatings can do much more than they ever have in the past. In-mold transfers of material now include circuitry, as well as decoration into the product. Quantum dots are allowing the manipulation of light to increase the color gamut in backlit products. Even the traditional decoration methods are making significant progress. At the recent Society of Plastics Engineers’ Annual Technical Conference (SPE ANTEC) and National Plastics Exposition (NPE2015), there were many advances on display. Thermal transfers that were digitally printed, threedimensional hot stamping of chrome appearances and lower cost fiber optic lasers for laser ablation of backlit graphics were but a few. On the manufacturing integration side, cells that included molding and digital decoration of lenses and advanced systems that allow improved control of blown air plasma for surface activation were on display. Keeping up with the best solutions to meet your customers’ needs is not an easy task. If you missed this opportunity, you still can access all of the papers on the SPE website. Membership in SPE includes membership in two divisions, as well as access to a large database of technical papers. A new feature of SPE is the web-based social network for the plastics industry. Of particular interest is Tech Talk, where plastics professionals come together from around the world to discuss the latest technical issues and innovations within the plastics marketplace. It enables you to put the knowledge and expertise of thousands of plastics professionals to work for you. Ask a question, or provide an answer. It is a great way to both network and seek help with specific problems.

38 April/May 2015

Looking to the future, SPE is starting to develop programs for two opportunities for learning and networking. The first is the 2016 SPE Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC), which will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from May 23-25, 2016. The second, which is more focused on plastic decoration and joining, is the Decorating and Assembly Division Topical Conference (TopCon), which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, from June 7-8, 2016. Calls for papers will go out soon, so if you have a new technology or process, this would be a good chance to introduce them. If you are not already a member of SPE, I would encourage you to join SPE and the Decoration and Assembly Division. In addition to reducing the cost of attending ANTEC and TopCon, membership provides access to the extensive SPE library and many other benefits. Learn more at the Society of Plastics Engineers website,, or by contacting me at Paul Uglum Delphi Electronics and Safety Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division

ANTEC 2016

May 23-25, 2016 Indianapolis, Indiana

TopCon 2016

June 7-8, 2016 Franklin Marriott Cool Springs Franklin, Tennessee

In Memory of Jordan Rotheiser Jordan Rotheiser, longtime friend and supporter of SPE, passed away on March 24, 2015. Rotheiser first joined SPE and the Chicago Section in 1960. He still was an active member upon his death. Rotheiser was a member of SPE's Decorating and Assembly Division, serving on Board of Directors, acting for two years as ANTEC Technical Program Committee Chair and representing the Division on the National Council for eight years. He also wrote a series of educational articles for Plastics Decorating. A University of Illinois graduate, Rotheiser Rotheiser earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Industrial Design. He worked at the body styling division at General Motors Fisher Bodywork (1959-1960), Abbott Laboratories (1960-1963) and the Raymond Loewy Industrial Design Studio in Paris, France (1963-1964). He then founded and ran Rotheiser Design from 1964 until his health declined in 2014. His entire career was devoted to plastic product design and development. Rotheiser was active in the Chicago Section of SPE and was elected to the Board of Directors, where he served on several committees. His success there resulted in his being recruited to chair the National SPE Membership Committee. Rotheiser was a charter member and Chairman of SPE's Product Design and Development Division, where he served for five years as ANTEC Program Chairman and an additional four years as Conference Program Chairman. He also represented the Division on the National Council for three years.

Continuing Our Tradition of Servicing the Plastics Decorating Industry With over 100 years of combined industry experience, Die Stampco’s tooling design and fabrication specialists can customize a solution to meet your requirements.

The Die Stampco Difference • 24 hour turn-a-round on most silicone rubber dies and sheets • State-of-the-art graphics department • “Make it Right” Guarantee: When we take on a project, we will do whatever it takes to make it right

Die Stampco Services • Custom hot stamp tooling • Flat and contoured silicone rubber dies • Magnesium, steel and brass hot stamping dies • Prototype and production contract decorating

In 1981 he introduced a series of Plastics Technology Seminars and eventually presented over 100 of those 1-2 day programs, in addition to numerous technical papers at plastics conferences. In 1999, he published "Joining of Plastics," a book containing technical information and knowledge learned over his 39 years as a plastics product designer. Rotheiser was inducted into the Plastics Pioneers Association (2002). In addition, his work for SPE was acknowledged by his receipt of the Honored Service Members Award. Rotheiser also was elected as a Fellow of the Society, one of only 309 of the Society's 15,000 members to have received this high honor. n

Contact us for a quote on your next project. (989) 893.7790 | Fax: (989) 893.7741 April/May 2015 39


TECHNOLOGY FDA-Approved Additives Boost Inline Plastics Laser Marking by Scott R. Sabreen, The Sabreen Group


ast speed, superior contrast and cost-savings are among the significant benefits of incorporating novel FDA-approved additives into polymers for laser marking. Chemical additive breakthroughs produce jet black and light-colored contrast on molded and extruded products, both “on-the-fly� and during secondary operations. Designed for affordable fiber lasers, inline inkless laser marking now replaces rotary gravure and pad printing.

Product applications Many clear, semi-transparent and opaque colored polymers, including nylons, PET, polycarbonates, polyolefins, PVC, styrenics, TPU/TPE (for wearables) are uniquely formulated using non-heavy metal, FDA-/EFSA- (European Food Safety Authority) approved additives to achieve high-contrast marking quality. Polymer clarity, spectral transmission and base physical properties are not affected. Non-contact, digital laser marking replaces expensive adhesive labels and ink-chemical printing processes. The result is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, superior aesthetic appeal in the application. “On-the-fly” laser marking is performed on molded and extruded products, such as wire/cable, tubes and pipes. Marking speeds for polyolefin synthetic wine corks and undercap promotions on linerless beverage closures are capable of 2,000 pieces per minute for alphanumeric text and graphics. Marking speed is a function of many variables, including polymer type, substrate color, laser additive type and loading level, cable size (weight), laser type and power, software, number of alphanumeric characters, text height, length of text string, space between characters, bar code/ data matrix, logos/graphics, single-stroke or true-type filled fonts, fill direction and continuous or repeating text. Use of the proper formulated additive-colorant will ensure that

“power density” at the mark surface is not the limiting factor. Rather, the beam-steered galvanometers will be operating at maximum speed. Due to the complexity of factors influencing on-the-fly production marking capability, every application must be precisely examined. There are few, if any, rules that can be extrapolated. However, for general purposes, consider the following nylon polymer example: 50-watt fiber laser, 254mm flat field lens, 100 alphanumeric characters, 2mm height, comprising a repeating text string length of 14.68 inches with a marking time of 0.232 seconds. The calculated speed is approximately 315 linear-feet per minute. Polymeric laser marking reaction mechanisms The advancements achieved in formulating laser additives for use with near infrared lasers (1060-1080nm wavelength) are their compatibility with Ytterbium fiber, Vanadate and predecessor Nd:YAG lasers. Most polymers do not possess near infrared absorption properties without chemical additives. Polymers that can be marked by lasers are those that absorb laser light and convert it from light energy to thermal energy. Experts utilize additives, fillers, pigments and dyes to enhance the absorption of laser energy for localized color changes. Vastly different formulation chemistries and laser optics/setup




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April/May 2015 41

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parameters are used, depending upon the desired marking contrast and functionality. The most common surface reaction mechanism is termed thermal chemical “carbonization” or “charring,” whereby the energy absorbed in the substrate raises the local temperature of the material surrounding the absorption site high enough to cause thermal degradation of the polymer. The darkness or lightness of the mark is dependent on the energy absorbed, as well as the material’s unique thermal degradation pathway. By optimizing the laser setup, there will be minimal surface carbonization residue. A second surface reaction is chemical change through use of additives that release steam during degradation, resulting in foaming of the polymer. During the foaming process, the laser energy is absorbed by an additive that is in close proximity to the foaming agent. The heat from the absorber causes the foaming agent to degrade, releasing steam. Through tight control of the laser-operating parameters, high-quality and durable light marks can be generated on dark substrates. Poor laser control can result in generation of a friable or low-contrast mark, which easily can be scratched (poor durability). Third, laser energy is used to heat/degrade one colorant in a colorant mixture, resulting in a color change. An example is a mixture of carbon black and a stable inorganic colorant. When heated, the carbon black is removed, leaving behind the inorganic colorant. These mixed colorant systems are dependent on specific colorant stabilities and not all color changes are possible. Laser additives Laser additives improve the degree of contrast, which can be further intensified by changing the laser setup parameters. Polymers possess inherent characteristics to yield “darkcolored” or “light-colored” marking contrast. Some colorant compounds containing low amounts of Titanium dioxide (TiO2) and carbon black also may absorb laser light and, in some instances, improve the marking contrast. Each polymer grade, even within the same polymeric family, can produce different results. Additive formulations cannot be toxic or adversely affect the products appearance, physical or functional properties. Compared to ink printing processes (pad/screen printing and inkjet), laser additives are cost-saving and demonstrate 15-percent (or greater) faster marking speeds versus non-optimized material formulations. Laser additives are supplied in pellet granulate and powder form. Granulate products can be blended directly with the polymer resin, while powder forms are converted to masterbatch. Most easily are dispersed in polymers. Based upon the additive and polymer, the loading concentration level by weight (in the final part) ranges from 0.01 percent to 4.0 percent.

42 April/May 2015

Both granulate and powder form can be blended into precompounded color material or color concentrate. The selection of which additive to incorporate depends upon the polymer composition, substrate color, desired marking contrast color and end use certification requirements. Some additives contain mixtures of antimony-doped tin oxide and antimony trioxide that can impart a “grayish” tint to the natural (uncolored) substrate opacity. Other additives can contain aluminum particles, mixed metal oxides and proprietary compounds. Color adjustments are made using pigments and dyes to achieve the final colormatch appearance. As commercially supplied, specific additives (also used for laser welding) have received FDA approval for food contact and food packaging use under conditions A-H of 21 CFR 178.3297 Colorant for Polymers. For the European Union, there are similar compliance statements. Certification conditions are specific for polymer type, loading level threshold and direct or indirect contact. Further qualification of FDA-approved additives blended into a “final part” can achieve biocompatibility of medical devices (reference International Standard ISO-10993). Processing considerations During the laser additive loading/colormatch chemistry, it is not uncommon for a finished product to contain less laser additive than the calculated amount. This problem almost always relates to non-uniform distribution during extrusion or molding. Simple adjustments to the molding machine, such as increasing the back pressure and screw rotation speed, will resolve most issues. Homogeneous distribution/dispersion of laser additives throughout each part is critical to achieve optimal marking performance. For extrusion, injection molding and thermoforming operations, precolor compounded materials versus color concentrate yields better uniformity. Handmixing should be avoided. Mold flow and gate type/location are important factors. Laser technology The advancements in laser technology have been instrumental to the rapid development of the newest generation of FDA-approved laser additives. The emergence of nanosecond Ytterbium Fiber lasers is one of the most significant advancements for marking, welding and cutting. Fundamentally, fiber lasers are different than other solid state marking lasers. With fiber lasers, the active medium that generates the laser beam is dispersed within a specialized fiber optic cable. In contrast to fiber-delivered lasers, the entire path of the beam is within fiber optic cable all the way to the beam delivery optics. Fiber lasers yield superior beam quality and brightness compared to Nd:YAG lasers. One metric for beam quality is M2. The smaller the M2 value, the better the beam quality, whereas M2 = 1 is the ideal Gaussian laser beam. A laser with superior beam quality can be focused to a small spot size, which leads to high energy density. Fixed and variable pulse (MOPA) fiber lasers with pulse energy up to 1 mJ and high power density can

mark many historically difficult polymers. Vanadate lasers also possess a small M2 value with shorter pulse width than fixed fiber and YAG lasers. Pulse duration influences the degree of heat and carbonization into the material. Short(er) pulse width can be advantageous for sensitive polymeric applications. IPG Photonics, a leading developer and manufacturer of highperformance fiber lasers, offers both fixed pulse (sometimes referred to as “Q-switch”) and variable short pulse (MOPA) lasers. Application development is highly specific. The selection of which laser type to integrate is determined by the output characteristics of the laser interacting with the optimized polymer material. Reference the graphs below, representing Temporal Pulse Shapes of Fixed and Variable (MOPA) Pulse Length Ytterbium Fiber Lasers – IPG Photonics.


Peak Power (arb.u)






0.0 Time (ns)


50.00 ns/div

Illustration 1. Temporal pulse shape IPG fixed pulse length


laser at 100 ns pulse length


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


Peak Power (arb.u)

With inks, touch and print

It’s that easy!

0.0 2.00 ns/div

Both machines and inks are available at

Illustration 2. Temporal pulse shape IPG MORA laser

at 4 ns pulse length

When setting up a variable short pulse MOPA fiber laser for marking, three inputs are set.

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Time (ns)

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 p. 43

TECHNOLOGY 1) Pulse duration (often referred to as pulse length) 2) Pulse repetition rate (pulse frequency) 3) Pump power in percent (100 percent refers to the maximum possible electrical input to pump diodes)

For both graphs on the previous page, the particular combination of parameter inputs controls the output properties of the laser beam, namely the pulse energy, the peak power (the highest instantaneous peak of the pulse energy, J/pulse duration) and the average power (average power in Watts = pulse energy in joules x pulse repetition rate in Hz).

The advancements in laser technology have been instrumental to the rapid development of the newest generation of FDA-approved laser additives. The emergence of nanosecond Ytterbium Fiber lasers is one of the most significant advancements for marking, welding and cutting. All beam-steered Fiber, Vanadate and YAG lasers are not created equal. The hardware and software components incorporated into a laser manufacturer’s systems makes significant difference in marking contrast, quality and speed. A primary attribute is the power density (watts/cm2) at the mark surface (which is different than the raw output power of the laser). The output mode of the laser beam is critical to the marking performance. These output modes relate to factors including the beam divergence and power distribution across the diameter of the laser beam. Power density is a function of focused laser spot size. Focused laser spot size for any given focal length lens and laser wavelength is a function of laser beam divergence, which is controlled by laser configuration, mode selecting aperture size and upcollimator (beam expander) magnification. Pulse repetition rate and peak power density are critical parameters in forming the mark and achieving the optimal contrast and speed. The arithmetic curves of power versus pulse repetition rate are inversely proportional. High peak power at low frequency increases the surface temperature rapidly, vaporizing the material while conducting minimal heat into the substrate. As the pulse repetition increases, a lower peak power produces minimal vaporization, but conducts more heat. Additional contributing factors that influence the marking contrast and quality are, of course, beam velocity and the vector line separation distance.

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Conclusion The newest generation of FDA-approved laser additives incorporated into polymers yields superior marking contrast, line edge detail and speed. Inline, on-the-fly laser marking now replaces rotary gravure and pad printing. Advancements in affordable fiber laser technology have been instrumental. These benefits rapidly offset the incremental material additive cost. Optimized material-science chemistry for plastics laser marking requires expertise in polymers, colorants, pigments and dyes relative to solubility, particle sizes, threshold concentration limits, color match and regulatory certifications (GRAS, FDA Direct/Indirect Food Contact). All lasers are not created equal. n Acknowledgements: 1. Dr. Tony Hoult, IPG Photonics, “Laser Marking with Fiber Lasers,” Industrial Laser Solutions, September 2012. 2. BASF Corporation Mark-it™ Laser Marking Pigment Technical Bulletin 2002, with technical content contributions from The Sabreen Group, Inc. 3. Bruce Mulholland (Hoechst Technical Polymers) and Scott Sabreen (The Sabreen Group, Inc.), “Enlightened Laser Marking,” Lasers&Optronics, July 1997. 4. Daniel S. Burgess, Scott R. Sabreen, & Carl Baasel Lasertechnik GmbH, Feature Article, “Laser Marking: A Clean Economical Packaging Solution,” Photonics Spectra, November, 2001. Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc., an engineering company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes – laser marking, surface pretreatments, bonding decorating and finishing and product security. Sabreen has been developing pioneering technologies and solving manufacturing problems for over 30 years. He can be contacted at 972.820.6777 or by visiting or

April/May 2015 45



Fall Protection, Hazard Communication Top OSHA's Citation List by Jen Clark


ccording to a recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report, “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found “approximately 4,500 workers are killed on the job each year … and that employers record nearly three million serious occupational injuries and illnesses annually.” These records are mandated by a nearly 40-year-old legal obligation to provide safe workplaces.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 required employers to provide workplaces “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” OSHA inspectors cite thousands of companies for unsafe working conditions every year, usually resulting in costly

46 April/May 2015

fines. OSHA annually provides a list of the Top 10 violations for the fiscal year during the National Safety Council Congress and Expo, which took place in San Diego, California, last September. For the fourth year in a row, OSHA's Fall Protection Standard (1926.501) was the agency's most frequently cited violation (6,143 violations), followed by hazard communication (5,161 violations) and scaffolding (4,029 violations).

For owners and managers, knowing about these violations can help them assess their companies’ risk potential, which could help avoid business disruption, citations and/or fines. Fall protection OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 4' in general industry workplaces, 5' in shipyards, 6' in the construction industry and 8' in longshoring operations. In addition, fall protection should be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance. Appropriate fall protection gear can include railings, personal fall arrest systems or warning lines.


Hazard communication In 2012, OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations' global chemical labeling system. It will be fully implemented in 2016, with the goals of reducing confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training and improving understanding of hazards. Employers should identify and evaluate all chemical hazards in the workplace and then make that information readily available to all employees through safety data sheets. Keeping an upto-date list is just as important as having one. Training also


Sonics_NPE_Ad.indd 1

is a key component of the HazCom standard (see sidebar on page 48 for more information). Scaffolding Established guidelines help protect employees who are working on or near elevated, temporary work platforms at heights of 10' or more. OSHA noted that a big problem is people using scaffolding as ladders and ladders as scaffolding, assuming one could work for the other. Other problems include holes in platforms, not having an adequate point of access, lack of fall protection and not having a competent person assigned to select and direct employees, asses the weather, train employees, inspect scaffolding and determine if scaffolding is structurally sound.


Respiratory protection Air quality or breathing hazards – such as dust, fumes, gases, mist, sprays and vapors – may require the use of respiratory protection either with a respirator or dusk mask. Respirators protect the user in one of two basic ways – by removing contaminants from the air or supplying clean air from another source. Employers must have a written program to show how they are implementing various parts of the standard.


12/16/14 2:1447 PM April/May 2015

 p. 47


Powered industrial trucks Powered industrial trucks, commonly called forklifts or lift trucks, are used in many industries, primarily to move materials. Employers must ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is trained and competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely. No one under the age of 18 is allowed to operate a forklift. Training must be provided for each type of equipment the company operates.


Lockout/tagout According to OSHA, nearly 200 workplace deaths occur each year because hazardous energy hasn’t been controlled during routine maintenance or machine servicing. Proper lockout procedures help prevent the accidental startup of machinery. There are nine steps to a general lockout/tagout procedure.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Prepare for shutdown Notify others Shut down the equipment Isolate the equipment Lockout/tagout the equipment Release stored energy Verify isolation Perform service Release from lockout/tagout

Ladders Similar to the fall protection standard, ladders only should be used for what they are designed for and must extend 3' above the upper landing surface. OSHA prohibits ladder use as a walking platform or lifting device. Ladders also must be in good shape.


Electrical: wiring Dangers such as electric shock, arc flash, electrocution, fires and explosions are possible. To help avoid potential violations, inspect wiring and insulation, plus take steps to ensure proper grounding of electrical equipment.


Machine guarding Guard the machinery to help protect operators and others from hazards, such as rotating parts, flying chips, sparks and other dangers. OSHA uses the 1910.212 standard to cite employers for lack of guarding on several types of equipment.


Electrical: systems design Stay in compliance and avoid workplace injuries by following factory instructions when designing, installing and using electrical equipment. Using equipment in the workplace that only has been labeled or listed for home use is an OSHA violation.


48 April/May 2015

Full Implementation of Hazard Communication Standards Expected in ’16 Three years ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aligned its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Once fully implemented in 2016, OSHA expects the changes will impact over five million facilities and over 40 million workers. HazCom 2012 provides a common approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets (SDS). The definitions of hazard were changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards and for the classification of mixtures. Chemical manufacturers and importers now are required to provide a harmonized label that has six standardized elements for classified hazards, including product identifier, manufacturer contact information, hazard pictograms, signal word (DANGER or WARNING), hazard statements and precautionary statements. SDSs, previously known as Material Safety Data Sheets, remain the backbone of HCS. Employers must ensure they are readily accessible to employees. The major change here is a required, standardized 16-section format, which include identification; hazard(s) identification; composition/ingredient information; first-aid measures; firefighting measures; accidental release measures; handling and storage; exposure control/personal protection; physical and chemical properties; stability and reactivity; toxicological information; ecological information; disposal considerations; transport information; regulatory information; and other information. To be compliant, an SDS needs all 16 sections; however, OSHA will not enforce sections 12-15, which fall outside its jurisdiction. For more information on complying with the standards, visit n



Reactive Gas Technology Offers Performance and Design Flexibility by Prakash Iyer, Inhance Technologies


ommodity polymers, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, often are chosen over engineering or high-performance polymers due to factors that include lower costs, availability and broad processing latitude. These materials, however, often exhibit very low surface energy, which creates poor adhesion characteristics and leads to poor printability, adhesive assembly, composite production or metallization. There are a number of techniques to overcome these drawbacks through the application of various forms of energy to temporarily activate the surface for subsequent processing, including flame, plasma and corona treatment. Another effective means to activate surfaces is the use of reactive gases to impart permanent increase in surface energy. This article discusses the fundamental features and industrial applications of gaseous surface activation of polymers using Inhance Technologies’ Reactive Gas TechnologyTM (RGT). Understanding RGT Surface activation of hard-to-bond polymeric surfaces gener- integrates fluorine and oxygen moieties to a polymer containally is accomplished by imparting polar functional groups ing extractable hydrogens, shown in Figure 1, increasing the that “activate” the surface. RGT, or fluoro-oxidation, of polarity of the surface. The resulting functionalized polymer polymers describes the heterogeneous reaction of gaseous exhibits high surface energies, which can be utilized in fluorine and oxygen with a polymer surface. This method downstream processes including adhesive assembly, coating, results in modification of only the surface of the polymer, printing and metallization. RGT primarily works to increase to a depth of 0.01 microns to 10 microns, not affecting the the polar component of surface energy, which results in materials’ bulk properties. The activation of the surface oc- higher and more durable bonding performance. curs rapidly upon exposure to the reactive gas mixture (exposure times can be as low as fractions of a second) and can Reactive Gas be carried out in a batch process or continuous process. The process is carried out under controlled pressures, which provides the ability to tailor the degree of functionalization, as well as ensures iso- Figure 1: Modification of a polymer surface using Reactive Gas Technology tropic distribution of the treatment. The result is extremely uniform treatment of all surfaces of a two- or three-dimensional product, includ- RGT results in permanent modification of the surface, not ing all sides, deep reliefs, curves and edges. Alternatively, only through the development of covalent functional group selective surface functionalization can be obtained through incorporation, but also by locking the functionalities creorientation, masking or partitioning techniques. Since a large ated on the surface in place by light crosslinking. Treated number of items can be treated at a single time or continu- materials, including continuous webs as well as discrete ously, the production rates can be targeted to match virtually parts, maintain high surface energies for months and years, any manufacturing scenario. Materials that can be activated even following exposure to extreme environments, such as using RGT include polyethylene, polypropylene, thermo- water and solvent washes, detergents, elevated temperatures plastic polyolefins, thermoplastic elastomers, thermoplastic and weather. vulcanates, polycarbonates, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate, polyesters and numerous The extent of treatment using RGT can be verified using a other polymers. number of readily available analytical techniques, such as X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Fourier Transform RGT utilizes a mixture of reactive gases, including elemental Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Contact Angle measurements, fluorine and oxygen, to activate polymeric surfaces. Fluo- Surface Energy measurements or Scanning Electron Microsrine quickly activates the polymer surface, generating free copy (SEM). Estimation of surface energy by the use of dyne radicals, which promotes the reaction of oxygen to create pens or dyne liquids is the most common method to quickly a functionalized surface. The process can be controlled to measure the surface energy of treated plastics.  incorporate very slight to very high functionalization. RGT

April/May 2015 49

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 p. 49


Applications of reactive gas technology RGT surface modification is applicable to a wide variety of materials and currently is utilized in numerous manufacturMaterial Untreated Treated ing settings. Table 1 lists dyne/cm dyne/cm common plastics that are commercially treated to PP 29 62 increase surface energy PE 30 64 TPO 28 64 for numerous applications. EPDM 40 70 Materials that cannot easPOM 32 64 ily be activated using other PC 32 60 technologies, such as polyPET 38 66 siloxanes and polyacetals, PA 6 44 60 can be activated by RGT ABS 38 60 even under room tem36 60 perature conditions in a PC/ABS PU 42 66 continuous fashion. PPS 32 60 Polysiloxane 32 54

Thermoplastic polyolefins Table 1: Surface Energy of Selected (TPOs) are used widely Materials Before and After RGT in the automotive indusTreatment try, due to their broad range of tunable properties. Many TPO grades are high in rubber content (and higher in cost), in part to allow for solvent-based primers to activate surfaces for decoration. However, numerous grades contain lower rubber content,

making solvent-based primers ineffective. RGT permanently activates both low and high rubber content TPO panels for painting, adhesive bonding or printing. Crosshatch paint testing (ASTM D3359) indicated perfect 5B results, even after 10 weeks of storage of the TPO plaques (ADX 1310) after treatment, followed by painting. Figure 2 (on page 53) shows the crosshatch test results, wherein samples were stored for different periods prior to painting. PE, PP and TPO panels treated using RGT allow for adhesive bonding of polyolefins using traditional urethane- or epoxy-based adhesive systems without any special surface preparation. To demonstrate, two different adhesives – Loctite Hysol U-095FL (urethane) and Loctite Hysol 907 (epoxy) adhesives – were used to glue a metal pawn on activated PE, PP and TPO surfaces. After 24 hours of cure of the adhesive, a Defelsko tester (ASTM D4541) was used to test the force required to delaminate the metal pawn from the TPO surface. Results showed that there was a sevenfold increase in the pull strength required to separate the pawn from the TPO surface, and each time the mechanism of failure was cohesive failure of the substrate. Figure 3 (on page 53) depicts the visual results from the test, while Table 2 (on page 53) shows the numerical data.

April/May 2015 51

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 p. 51


Figure 2: Results of a crosshatch test on TPO (ADX 1310) after treatment and painting: A) Untreated TPO, B) Treated and stored for one week, C) Treated and stored for two weeks. D) Treated and stored for four weeks and E) Treated and stored for 10 weeks, prior to painting. Low VOC architectural paint was used for testing.

Figure 3: Image showing cohesive failure of the substrate when tested with epoxy (clear) and urethane (white adhesive) on RGT treated TPO plaque. Material

Adhesive system

Untreated Pull Force psi

RGT Treated Pull Force psi


Hysol U-095FL Hysol U-095FL Hysol U-095FL Hysol 907

<100 <100 <100 <100

647 710 621 >1000

Table 2: Defelsko test pull forces required to delaminate metal pawns from RGT treated polyolefin surfaces RGT also can be used to improve the efficacy of water-based adhesives, which are gaining traction due to their reduced ecological impact and associated costs. These adhesives, however, do not usually perform favorably with polyolefins. By activating the surface using RGT, the adhesives wet out the plastic surface evenly without blistering and peel off, resulting in excellent adhesion long after treatment. Figure 4 compares the effect of applying a water-based adhesive (3M ‘77’ low VOC adhesive) on an untreated TPO surface and a RGT-treated TPO surface. In case of the untreated TPO surface (Figure 4A), it is evident that the adhesive fails to wet the surface of the TPO (blistering of the adhesive), as well as complete delamination of the adhesive (lack of bonding). In contrast, RGT-treated TPO plaque (Figure 4B) shows uniform wet out of the surface without blistering, as well as perfect crosshatch test results. The use of urethane foams to create soft-touch surfaces in automotive interiors is common. Often, the rigid substrate for center consoles and dashboards is polyolefin-based, often TPO. RGT treatment of these substrates eliminates the need for any tie-coats, primers or boundary layers, allowing bonding

Figure 4: Adhesive adhesion on untreated (A) and RGT-treated (B) TPO plaque strengths that exceed the cohesive strength of the foams used to achieve the soft-touch feel. The use of chlorinated polyolefins (CPO) in the automotive industry to improve adhesion of paint on the exterior plastic parts of vehicles is the predominant mechanism of surface activation for such parts in North America. This practice is being challenged due to the nature of the solvents utilized. In Europe, CPO primers have been replaced with alternate technologies for improving paint adhesion, including flame treatment, plasma, corona and RGT. RGT enables TPOs to be painted directly with excellent paint adhesion results often performing at least 50 percent better than solvent-based CPO primers. Additionally, RGT provides the ability to quickly treat complex parts thoroughly, without complex robotics or fixtures. Table 3 on page 55 shows the comparison of CPO primer and RGTtreated TPO plaques evaluated against several GM specifications. RGT-treated TPO plaques pass all the test specifications for automotive bumpers and also exhibit 50-percent less delamination of the paint as compared to CPO-primed bumpers, which can reduce paint scratches and peeling for the life of the vehicle. RGT is a very versatile process, allowing all forms and shapes to be treated. The options to customize the treatment conditions

April/May 2015 53

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 p. 53


Test Paint Performance Method Water Jet (Removal, mm2)

Requirements RGT

GM9531P-8 60 max (lower is better)

GWW14829 1 max Tape Adhesion (Rating)


9,15,10 20,30,27





15 minutes



60 minutes



Aggressive Adhesion Gasoline Resistance Immersion Gas not synthetic fuel

LYB Internal 0% Removal

and the equipment to suit customer specifications are infinite. From large batch processes to continuous, inline operations, RGT provides significant flexibility in manufacturing design and operation for an unlimited variety of shapes and sizes, including three-dimensional articles, films, continuous fibers, plastic pellets and resin powders. n For the last three decades, Inhance Technologies has pioneered the use of Reactive Gas Technology to surface-activate a wide array of finished and intermediate goods, in many forms, in batch and continuous processes, serving a multitude of markets, including packaging, automotive, fuel systems, building materials, consumer products, health and beauty, food packaging and medical applications. For more information, call 281.578.1440 or visit

Max 20% paint removal after 15 minutes

Table 3: Chart comparing paint adhesion of RGT-treated TPO with CPO primer. LyondellBasell Hifax TRC779X, Automotive Exterior Paint PPG 1K/1K (MPP4100 AP, CBC 1K BC, 1K UCC1001 CC)

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AD INDEX A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. /

• HBA Global, June 9-11, Jacob K. Javits Conference Center, New York, New York,

Branson Ultrasonics /

• PLASTEC East, June 9-11, Jacob K. Javits Conference Center, New York, New York,

CDigital LLC /


Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) / 35, 51

• PACK EXPO, September 28-30, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, • PLASTEC Midwest, September 29-October 1, Chicago, Illinois,


• PLASTEC Philadelphia, October 7-8, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, • PLASTEC Texas, October 13-14, NRG Center, Houston, Texas, • IMDA Symposium, October 28-29, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago North Shore Conference Center, Skokie, Illinois,

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2015 JA

2015 Buye

rs Guide


Advance ng Inks Pad Printi Preview corating NPE Show on in De ov y Inn ati Technolog

58 April/May 2015

Carey Color, Inc. / Central Decal / CPS Resources, Inc. / Die Stampco Inc. / Diversified Printing Techniques / Dubuit America / Engineered Printing Solutions / front cover Extol, Inc. / GPE Ardenghi / Infinity Foils, Inc., a UEI Group Company / Inkcups Now / 30, 31 Innovative Digital Systems / back cover Innovative Marking Systems / ITW Security and Brand Identity Group / Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. / Marabu North America / Mimaki / back cover OMSO North America, Inc. / Pad Print Pros / PLASTEC East / Preco Corp. / Proell, Inc. / Romo Durable Graphics / Sabreen Group, Inc., The / Sonics & Materials, Inc. / Speciality Graphic Imaging Association / Standard Machines, Inc. / Webtech, Inc. /


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