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Creative Services Set Berry Plastics Apart SGIA Show Preview New Inkjet Technologies Surface Treatment Issues
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FEATURES Show Preview 2013 SGIA Expo Seeks the Sun in Orlando
A list of exhibitors related to the plastics decorating and assembly industries gives attendees a head start in planning their show agenda.
Technology page 14 Innovating Inkjet Technologies for Plastic Products
The demand for digital inkjet printing on 3D plastic products is increasing. This article discusses the important process factors combining polymeric surface compatibility when extending inkjet into new opportunities.
Association Letter from the Chairman 2014 TopCon Set for Detroit Area
COVER STORY Profile Dedicated Creative Services Department Sets Berry Plastics Apart
More than 50 individuals work within the Creative Services department at Berry Plastics, from coordinating staff to artists to prepress, with the goal of making its customersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; containers stand out on retail shelves.
Focus page 29 Surface Treatment is a Challenge for Decorators
For the container decorator, surface treatment issues can derail an otherwise simple screen printing job. When ink adhesion fails, additional time and money must be spent to perform offline processes.
Assembly page 32 Progress in Lasers Improves Polymer Joining
Fiber lasers have been gaining market share and increasing in power dramatically. They now may be used economically for relatively mundane tasks such as precision welding of polymers.
Best of the Plastics Decorating Blog
Management page 46 Payroll Systems Can Help Determine ACA Responsibilities
The best place to begin researching employer responsibilities for the Affordable Care Act may be the payroll system.
Plastics Decorating has launched its new website. Get the latest news at plasticsdecorating.com.
Viewpoint Industry Equipment (Screen and Offset Printing) Product Marketplace Calendar Ad Index
page 40 page 22 page 38 page 41 page 48 page 50 page 50
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If you have not had an opportunity to visit our new Plastics Decorating website (www.plasticsdecorating.com), I encourage you to do so. It now is more user-friendly, with links to our 2013 Buyers Guide to allow you to find all types of suppliers and services for the decorating and assembly industries. The site also contains an updated Article Archive that users can use to view past Plastics Decorating articles either by issue date or subject matter. We also have committed to updating the site on more regular basis with industry news, the newest digital version of Plastics Decorating and information from our Plastics Decorating ENews. I encourage our readers to stop by and visit on a regular basis. I think you will find the new site informative and graphically pleasing. The content for our July/August issue includes a Technology article on digital inkjet and a Focus article discussing surface treatment issues. This also is our SGIA Show Preview issue, so there is a complete rundown on the decorating-related companies you can expect to see at the show. In addition, we have added a new Literature Spotlight section in this issue that provides a quick highlight of company brochures and information pieces. With the summer quickly ending, the trade show and conference season is around the corner. I hope to see many of you this fall. If you plan to attend the SGIA show or PLASTEC Midwest, be sure to stop by our booth. We would love to see you!
Jeff Peterson, Editor-in-Chief, firstname.lastname@example.org
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4 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
Published by: Peterson Publications, Inc.
2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite 101 Topeka, KS 66614 (785) 271-5801
Website: www.plasticsdecorating.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief Jeff Peterson Managing Editor Dianna Brodine Assistant Editors Jen Clark Melissa DeDonder Technical Editor Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group
Art Director Eric J. Carter Graphic Artists Becky Arensdorf Cara Pederson 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.
Industrial Decorating Solutions IDS is part of the worldwide ITW Security and Brand Identity Group
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Dedicated Creative Services Department Sets Berry Plastics Apart
by Dianna Brodine
Berry Plastics began as a small injection molder headquartered in Evansville, IN, but today the company has more than 15,000 employees in manufacturing facilities across the globe. Its growth as a leading producer of plastic packaging is impressive in its own right, but the GUIDE company’s Creative Services departPRODUCT ment is part of what makes its customers’ containers stand out on retail shelves. From One Facility to 80 In 1967, Imperial Plastics was established in Evansville, IN. The injection molding company entered the container packaging market in 1972; and in 1983, it caught the attention of Jack Berry Sr., an orange grower looking to diversify. He purchased the company and renamed it Berry Plastics, kicking off three decades of aggressive growth. In 1987, a second manufacturing facility was opened in Henderson, NV, and then a series of acquisitions began in 1988 with Gilbert Plastics, a New Jersey manufacturer of aerosol overcaps. The drink cup, consumer products and closures markets were next, with successful entries into those areas in 1995, 1997 and 1998, respectively. Berry Plastics was purchased by Apollo Management L.P. and Graham Partners, Inc. in 2006, and the company then merged with Covalence Specialty Materials in 2007. Other notable growth included bottles, tubes and prescription vials with the acquisition of Kerr in 2005 and an expansion of Berry’s food, grocery, medical and personal packaging and films offering in 2009. In 2012, Berry Plastics Group, Inc. – now with more than 80 facilities worldwide – began trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, Berry Plastics is comprised of four divisions: Engineered Materials, Flexible Packaging, Rigid Closed Top and Rigid
6 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
Open Top. The company has grown into a leading global manufacturer of injection-molded plastic packaging, thermoformed and blow molded products, flexible films and packaging, as well as tapes and corrosion protection products. While the company’s offerings are impressive, it is on the design side that Berry Plastics distinguishes itself. “Berry Plastics prides itself in the complete service offering, from initial design to delivery,” explained Eva Schmitz, communications manager for Berry Plastics. “Decorating is one such service, allowing us to work with our customer to design a package that stands out on the store shelf.” A comprehensive list of decorating services are offered on the company website, including flexographic print, indirect flexographic print, screen print, offset print, heat transfer labels, pressure-sensitive labels, in-mold labels, shrink sleeves, hot stamping and metalizing. A small percentage of the company’s heat transfer labeling is outsourced, but the majority of all decorating services are completed in-house. Customers in most
of Berry Plastics’ markets utilize its decorating expertise, including food and beverage packaging, personal care, household and automotive. Consumer-oriented markets comprise nearly 75 percent of the molder’s decorating service industries. Creative Services Department Stands Apart Design services on such a large scale require significant human resources. More than 50 individuals work within the Creative Services department at Berry Plastics, from coordinating staff to artists to prepress employees. While the majority of the artwork for the rigid containers is sent in from outside designers, the Creative Services staff must work with each container design to ensure the separations are correct and that the printing department has a thorough understanding of the design elements. This ensures that the final container artwork echoes the customers’ intentions. The Creative Services department also ensures that the correct printing process is used to produce the correct decorative effect at the lowest cost to the customer. “I started in 1989, and we were printing dry offset only at that time,” said Jennye Scott, vice president of creative services at Berry Plastics. “Dry offset still is a significant portion of our decorating services, but the type of decorative printing we recommend will depend on the part size.” For instance, dry offset printing is the least expensive option for decorating plastic containers and cups; whereas, laminate tubes often are screen printed to add a tactile feel or to print a white background that later will be overprinted with another decorating technique. Hot stamping, which was added about five years ago, is popular for personal care items that need to pop off the retail shelf, and cold foil was added within the last two years as another option. “We understand the customers’ needs, which helps us explain to them which technology is best,” Scott said. “Our diversification of decorating services helps us stand apart because we can match the services that we offer to work with the customers within their budgetary restrictions.” Adding Indirect Flexo Capabilities While the economic climate over the past five years has been challenging for many molders, Scott explained that Berry Plastics’ customers continued to upgrade their graphics, keeping the Creative Services team busy as it worked to enhance artwork. “Our customers were able to take advantage of our new technologies to create custom graphics that make their product stand out on the store shelf,” she explained. One of the new technologies referenced is indirect flexographic printing. “Indirect flexo is a new hybrid process that Berry Plastics has exclusive rights to in North America,” said Scott. “Our ServoCup equipment can flexo print directly onto containers
or drink cups, and we have five of these machines in different locations.” According to a press release from the company, indirect flexographic printing was developed as an alternative to dry offset printing. It is a patent-pending process that allows Berry Plastics to produce excellent photographic quality graphics on white, clear and colored substrates through utilization of high-resolution digital plate imaging and true CMYK flexographic process. This allows for softer edges, better highlights and the ability to replicate the full-color spectrum. In addition, the indirect flexo process allows for this high-end printing to occur directly on the injection or thermoform part by compensating for the angle between the top and the bottom of the cup or container. Berry Plastics purchased its first indirect flexo machine three years ago from its partner, OMSO S.p.A. “We were very excited about this technology, since it allowed us to get true 4-color flexographic printing onto 3D containers and drink cups, whereas traditional flexographic printing usually is only printed on flat substrates,” said Scott. “Once we saw the possibilities, we pursued it, and this spring we received the 2013 Technical Innovation Award from the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) because of our indirect flexographic printing capabilities.” Teaching Decorating Techniques The acquisition of 12 different printing companies meant that 12 different training programs were in place for print technicians and creative staff. Berry Plastics has taken the best from all of these and incorporated them into a program called Berry University.
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 7
“Berry University is an application that is housed on our intranet,” Schmitz explained. “Employees across all Berry locations can log in and take courses, whether those courses are safety-related or training skill sets.” Employees can use computers set up in common areas to work their way through a presentation, and a test related to the content follows. In Creative Services, Berry University functions as a training tool to ensure all 50 staff members are fully immersed in the company’s decorating options. “We set up learning maps for our employees,” Scott said. “With 10 decorating options available, Creative Services employees learn about each decorating technology in order to advance in our group. Learning maps help them follow a required course set to achieve each level.” In addition, other employees, including those on the production floor, can take the classes to advance their own understanding of the decorating processes, or Creative Services staff can take courses on the various molding processes. In conjunction with Berry University, the company also works very closely with the FTA to train employees on flexographic printing techniques. More than 190 employees have gone through or are going through the FTA’s FIRST (Flexographic
Berry Plastics purchased its first indirect flexo machine three years ago from its partner, OMSO S.p.A. “We were very excited about this technology, since it allowed us to get true 4-color flexographic printing onto 3D containers and drink cups, whereas traditional flexographic printing usually is only printed on flat substrates,” said Scott. Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances) program, and the Evansville location is FIRST certified. The FTA’s FIRST Operator Certification Program is designed to help process technicians measure and control the flexographic printing process. The online testing program offers three levels of certification, from press to prepress to implementation. According to the FTA, the purpose of the FIRST Company Certification Program is to recognize flexographic printing companies that are applying FIRST methodology and have attained compliance with the specifications and tolerances related to communication and implementation, design, prepress and press as detailed in the most current FIRST document. “Along with trying to follow the FIRST standards, we’re also working on training with our print techs to try to standardize our internal processes,” said Scott. “Each location has different equipment and different ways they’ve been trained, so we’re trying to get everyone on the same page.” Berry Plastics also is on the verge of introducing a color program for dry offset printing. “Basically, we are using the FIRST standards as a guideline for our dry offset print technology,” she explained. “Most of the approvals for dry offset are visual, which results in the technician on the floor approving the target sample. Now we’re introducing a color program, so they are able to
8 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
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measure the colors to ensure consistency whether first shift or night shift, which removes subjectivity from the visual approval.” Scott pointed out that the processes for dry offset and flexographic printing are very different, which makes it more difficult to train employees in the processes. “By introducing these standards, we can take dry offset to the next level and ensure consistency and excellence across all facilities,” said Scott. Working Together to Exceed Expectations Achieving decorating excellence across such a large and geographically scattered company requires that the Creative Services department works closely with the press floor. “We have a lot of tools that help us communicate with our printing departments,” Scott explained. “We will send out a PDF to ask for their thoughts and concerns when creating new artwork, and we can do quick design reviews to make sure they’re ok with the separations we’re planning. They know their equipment better than we do, so it’s important to get their feedback.” To ensure the artists have a solid understanding of the equipment capabilities, they spend time in the sample room, on the
10 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
printing floor and with all areas inside the Creative Services department, including scheduling and preflight. Feedback after a job has been produced also is critical to future success. “The plants are always sending samples to the artists so they can see how the job ran,” said Scott. “We gather a lot of information to understand what the equipment is capable of and what it’s not.” “Even though Berry is a large company, one of the characteristics that sets it apart is its culture,” explained Schmitz. “Berry has been able to maintain a culture that’s really dedicated to its employees internally, while externally making sure we are meeting customer needs and developing new processes to exceed them.” “It’s all about using teamwork to exceed customer’s expectations,” said Scott. n
2013 SGIA Expo Seeks the Sun in Orlando
See a full spectrum of specialty imaging technology and equipment during the 2013 SGIA Expo (Specialty Printing and Imaging Technology) in Orlando, FL, Oct. 23-25 at the Orange County Convention Center – South Building. Each year, thousands of attendees from around the world meet with hundreds of exhibitors and industry experts showcasing the most innovative technology, applications and specialty imaging solutions. This three-day event features 40 educational sessions, expert advice zones, a Printed Electronics Symposium and several networking events. For more information, visit www.sgia.org or call 888.385.3588. The following SGIA exhibitors may be of interest to Plastics Decorating subscribers:
A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. Booth #1873 Providing screen printing equipment, parts, supplies, remanufacturing services and technical sales and support staff to assist through the ordering, installation and set-up process. All American Manufacturing & Supply Booth #207 Showcasing the Neoflex digital convertible printer, the first print system that enables printing on textiles such as t-shirts, pillow cases and more; non-porous items such as plastics, metals and glass; and edible promotional items such as cookies or candies. CPS Resources – Innovative Digital Systems Booth #2047 Introducing the SP2-100, a high-speed, UV digital inkjet for printing flat and multi-dimensional parts in a single pass. It has continuous printing speeds of up to 79’ per minute. Diversified Printing Techniques Booth #3321 Offering a variety of equipment, including the K-CTP and CTP-35 laser etchers, as well as pad printers such as the Promotor-4, HVA-90, KIPP 150 with tape clean and PP-21 with oval ink cup. 12 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
Dubuit of America Booth #1843 Featuring the D-PAD, a satin-gloss finish pad printing ink for industrial and graphic applications. It adheres to a wide variety of plastics, wood, paper, cardboard and metallic substrates. Also showcasing the CO series multi-purpose conventional ink. GPE Ardenghi Srl Booth #1467 GPE Ardenghi Srl, together with Diamond Photofoil, will be exhibiting the GPE24-TT, a fully automated full-color, highresolution digital transfer machine for cylindrical items such as pens, cosmetic bottles and tubes. The machine is equipped with automated feed, orientation and accurate registration by laser sensor. Inkcups Now Booth #1001 Demonstrating the Xjet, an industrial-grade UV LED inkjet printer for high-quality, high-speed printing; the R160 and R280 one- and two-color compact screen printers; B100, B150 and ICN2200PS, ideal for one- and two-color printing on tagless garments, promotional products, sporting goods and electronics; and supplies and inks for pad, screen and inkjet printing.
Kammann USA, Inc. Booth #1865 Providing equipment for direct printing on 3D containers, roll-to-roll printing, optical disc decorating, functional printing and medical device manufacturing. While its product range focuses primarily on high-speed screen printing, it also offers other print processes.
Pentex Print Master Industries Inc. Booth #2465 Showcasing the Pentex PTX-2X2, a fully automatic twin pen screen printing machine that is ideal for printing small cosmetic and pharmaceutical containers. It prints 7,200 pieces per hour and features a “no pen, no print” sensor.
Marabu North America Booth #3216 Displaying a variety of developments, including the StarLam 1600R liquid laminator; ClearShield water-based UV protective liquid laminate; MaraJet wide-format digital ink for Roland and Mimaki; ClearShield® anti-graffiti liquid laminate; ClearShield Type C (Fine Art) water-based liquid laminate; ClearJet solvent-based Fine Art liquid laminate; vinyl application fluids; and GrafixGone adhesive remover.
Plastics Decorating Magazine
Mimaki USA Booth #3201 Showcasing the new JV34-260, a super high-speed (323 sq. ft./hr.), high resolution, bi-directional grand format printer. It prints widths up to 102" and can be configured for water-based solvent or sublimation inks. Nazdar Booth #2613 Offering high-quality, reliable screen and digital printing inks, including a wide range of solvent, aqueous and UV digital inks. Stop by the booth to find out how to get a free cartridge of wide-format ink. Booth #1258 Norcote International Showcasing a full line of digital inks, including MIR-S4202 – a highly reflective silver (mirror) ink for multiple substrates – and PPC7 container inks, which work particularly well on colored PET. Additional products include emulsions, chemicals, mesh, squeegee and other ancillary products.
Booth #741 Featuring the latest information and newest technologies in plastics decoration and assembly, including hot stamping, pad printing, screen and offset printing, heat transfer, in-mold decorating and more. Plastics Decorating also covers plastics assembly processes. Free subscriptions are available. Proell, Inc. Booth #3229 Featuring the Norilux® DC, a formable, abrasion-resistant Dual-Cure screen printing lacquer, which is available in matte and high-gloss versions. Also offering Mirror Ink Gold, an improved screen printing ink for printing golden mirror effects. Booth #828 Roland DGA Demonstrating the 64" SOLJET XF-640, with dual-mirrored print heads, in addition to wide-gamut Eco-Sol MAX 2 inks. Also showing the 64" Pro 4 XR-640 inkjet printer/cutter, the 64" VersaArt RE-640 printer, VersaCAMM VS wide-format metallic printer/cutters, the VersaStudio BN-20 desktop metallic printer/cutter and VersaUV LED inkjet printers and printer/cutters. SaatiPrint Booth #2840 Displaying a variety of products, including Saatilene Hitech Mesh, Saatilene Hibond Mesh, stainless steel wire cloth, Saatichem films, Saatiprint films, Saatichem emulsions, Duralife squeegees, Saatiprint equipment and screen printing inks. n
Pad Print Machinery of Vermont Booth #435 Demonstrating a variety of printing machines including two industrial UV-LED inkjet printers and one-, two- and threecolor pad printers, complete with parts handling systems.
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 13
Innovating Inkjet Technologies for Plastic Products by Scott R. Sabreen, The Sabreen Group, and Dene Taylor, Ph.D., SPF-Inc Figure 1. Three process parameters for high print quality
The demand for digital inkjet printing on three-dimensional plastic products is increasing exponentially. Application challenges to achieving robust operations are the optimal ink chemistry-printhead design, compatibility between the ink and polymeric substrate and curing. This article discusses the important process factors combining polymeric surface compatibility when extending inkjet into new opportunities.
requires custom formulating expertise to meet the stringent requirements for decorating and printing. Formulators need to know the unique chemistries that provide fluids able to be micro-jetted and the curing mechanisms that ensure rapid hardening, as well as the physical and chemical properties of the resultant ink, so the job is more complicated than for any other ink type.
Inkjet printing is far more complex and delicate than analog printing. Inkjet requires the nozzles to fire precisely sized drops with exact accuracy. High-quality inkjet printing systems must simultaneously integrate printheads, fluids, electronic controllers, pretreatment and cure. All of these items must work together to produce the intended results. Most companies investing in inkjet technology desire to decorate multiple substrates. Since there often are substantial chemical and physical differences between plastics, even within the same polymer family, it becomes challenging to print on all materials. Thus, a technical printing paradox challenge exists, which is illustrated by a stable three-legged stool (Figure 1).
The greater part of any dry ink is the binder – it traps the color in place, protects it from abrasion and bonds to the surface. The bonder typically is a polymer. UV ink printing differs from other types because the polymer is formed during curing by chain reaction of monomers and oligomers. Monomers are low-viscosity liquids, so they also function as the liquid ink carrier and eliminate the need for water or solvent – that is why UV cure inks are 100 percent solids and ideal solvent ink alternatives. Oligomers (larger reactive molecules) have multiple chemical functionalities and are critical to properly building the binder.
There are three main input process parameters each represented by a leg: 1) polymer substrate, 2) inkjet printer and 3) ink and pretreatment compatibility. All elements must be stable to achieve excellent print quality. Changing any one of the process legs has an unbalancing effect requiring modifications to the others. Printing on contoured plastic geometries by inkjet further is complicated as there are relatively few OEM printer/ printhead choices. Each OEM limits certified inks developed for a limited range. Thorough understanding of the intricacies of inkjet printing and surface science enables unprecedented capabilities and results.
Polymerization is initiated by a short exposure to UV light, which is electromagnetic radiation with a shorter wavelength and higher energy than visible light. Near UV (390–200 nanometer wavelength) is used for most UV curing. It further is refined into UV-A (390–320 nanometers) or long wave, UV-B (320–280 nanometers) or medium wave and UV-C (280–200 nanometers) or short wave. Besides Near UV, other UV categories include Far UV (200–10 nanometers) and Deep UV (31–1 nanometers). The most common peak wavelength for conventional mercury UV curing lamps is 365 nanometers, also referred to as the mercury I-line (light spectrum).
UV-Curable Inkjet Inks Ultraviolet (UV) -curable inkjet ink has been widely adopted for printing three-dimensional plastic products. UV-curable inks dry instantly, bond directly to a limited number of plastics, do not emit solvents and are available for some OEM platforms. Extending the range to “tough-to-bond” polymer substrates
The UV-reactive components are photo-initiators – compounds that absorb the energy and split produce highly reactive chemical species, free-radical or cationic depending on type. Each can bond to one part of a monomer or oligomer, which transfers the activity to another part, which in turn can react with another monomer, and so on to build the polymer.
14 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
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Free-radical inkjet UV inks dominate the market due to their relatively low cost and the extensive availability of monomers, generally acrylates. These offer a range of polymers with desirable performance characteristics, from durable abrasion resistance to flexibility. A drawback to free-radical polymerization is its inherent sensitivity to oxygen in air, so short chain lengths often are short. Although the reactions may be very rapid, cross-linking effectively ceases when the UV light is gone. Consequently, formulations have high photo-initiator contents. While free-radical inks account for the vast majority of UV-cure inkjet ink consumption, cationic UV-cure inks are emerging for sophisticated needs. Cationic polymerization provides a completely different family of chemicals with generally better adhesion and reaction that continues after the exposure is over. Extensive polymerization is essential when food contact is a possibility and un-reacted monomers are undesired. Also, continued cross-linking is beneficial with thick coatings. UV-cure inks are necessarily UV absorbers, so the bottom regions of thick inks see much less radiation and will not immediately cure as much as the tops, but cationic inks will continue to polymerize over the following hours. While cationic inks do not suffer from oxygen inhibition of their polymerization, moisture can have an effect. As water can react with the cationic intermediary compounds, relative humidity levels over 80 percent may retard the cure. Cationic inks can use lower energy UV sources to initiate polymerization than free-radical inks. They generate less heat than high-energy mercury UV bulbs used on many free radical systems and can print temperature-sensitive substrates. Major ink vendors do not offer cationic as the volume demands are too small and the effort to meet OEM expectations excessive. However, they are available from specialized manufacturers interested in developing new applications.
Pigments and Color Pallets UV inks use only pigment colorants, but the range is broad and not a serious limitation. Formulating and ink-making developments enable manufacturers to offer white (W), which is especially useful as a base on dark-colored substrates or as a background on clear. Inkjet primary colors – cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) together – offer a large color gamut because ink layers can be thick. However, being based on pigments, they are at least partially opaque and they mask colors below. The intensity does not fully translate into the secondary colors, which excludes a number of Pantone colors popular with major brands. Analog printing uses specifically formulated spot colors. They could be available in this market, especially with 6-, 8- and 10-printhead machines, but they are not popular because it is far more difficult to change out a spot color in an inkjet printer than in flexographic or screen printing. This also conflicts with the ability of digital to switch jobs with consecutive images. An alternative is to employ extended gamut ink sets with intense inks of hue intermediate between CM and Y. Red, green and blue (RGB), or orange, green and violet (OGV) are used in label and advertising printing to extend the gamut and cover most bright, specified, intense brand colors. These colors also can be custom formulated for three-dimensional plastic products.
Many three-dimensional printed products are held in hand by consumers and subject to very close visual inspection. Alphanumeric text may be 6-point or smaller. To avoid visible artifacts and ensure readability, very high resolution printing is required. High resolution inkjet printing has two primary components – spacing of dots on the substrate and the size (volume) of the droplets making up the dots. Analog technologies refer to line spacing or screen size, often about 300 lines per inch, but they have very broad ranges of dot size – literally from 0 to 100 percent coverage in one-percent increment steps. UV inkjet printheads cannot yet match the very smallest analog dots, nor do they have an infinitely adjustable grey scale. And the native nozzle spacing seldom is higher than 300dpi. High resolution is obtained with close droplet placing (now up to 1,800x1,800 dpi), which takes multiple passes and tiny steps on the typical oscillating head printer. The output is impressive, but it comes at the cost of print speed.
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 17
Reproducing light colors, especially flesh tones, is a consistent difficulty for UV-cure inkjet printing. Even the smallest droplets of CMK, now as little as 4 picoliter, are too large for photo-realism. However, if a secondary set of light magenta (lm) and light cyan (lc) are included, the artifacts of individual dots are eliminated. The option of CMYKlclmW is available to this market from the printer OEMs.
of the solid substrate relative to the surface tension of a liquid (water, printing inks, adhesives/encapsulation, coatings, etc.), the better will be its “wettability” and the smaller will be the contact angle (Figure 2). As a general rule, acceptable bonding adhesion is achieved when the surface energy of a substrate is approximately 8 to 10 dynes/cm greater than the surface tension of the liquid.
Fading in sunlight can be a major print durability concern. As UV inks use pigments, not dyes, they are inherently less sensitive to sunlight than desktop inks. Very good fade resistance is obtained when the inks are made with pigments from the automotive paint industry. While more costly, they are used in premium inks. Sunlight also can degrade the polymer, producing chalking and brittleness. Polymer stability under UV light was made necessary early in the life of UV inkjet to support the outdoor advertising industry. It is obtained from monomer and oligomer selection, incorporation of stabilizers and, in the most durable situations, from over-varnishes. Five-year outdoor light exposure is a commonly met expectation. Additives are essential in all ink formulations. Inks for printing plastics commonly contain adhesion promoters. Jetting and droplet formation, obviously central to inkjet, require careful balances of viscosity modifiers and surfactants. If not correct, the ink can mist or wet out on the head, neither of which are satisfactory. These same compounds also control ink wetting and flow on the substrate – i.e., adhesion and dot gain. They generally are optimized for a particular surface chemistry, but there are limitations. For example, an ink that will wet a low surface energy substrate will leak from the printhead. For that reason, many surfaces must be treated to put them in the range of ink functionality. Surface Pretreatments – Ink/Plastic Substrate Compatibility Inkjet inks have low viscosity and low surface tension, which create adhesion bonding challenges on many polymeric substrates such as acetals, polyolefins and polyurethanes. These types of chemically inert plastics are hydrophobic and not naturally wettable. Consider a single liquid fluid droplet on a flat solid surface at rest (equilibrium). The angle formed by the solid surface and the tangent line to the upper surface at the end point is called the contact angle; it is the angle (x) between the tangent line at the contact point and the horizontal line of the solid surface. Reference Figure 2. The bubble/droplet shape is due to the molecular forces by which all liquids, through contraction of the surface, tend to form the contained volume into a shape having the least surface area. The intermolecular forces that contract the surface are termed “surface tension”. Surface tension, a measurement of surface energy, is expressed in dynes/cm. The higher the surface energy
18 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
Figure 2 – Contact Angle and Degree of Wetting In reality, fluids and contact angles are dynamic, not static. Reference Figure 3. The dynamic contact angle (DCA) is most important. When a droplet is attached to a solid surface and the solid surface is tilted, the droplet will lunge forward and slide downward. The angles formed are termed, respectively, the advancing angle (θa) and the receding angle (θr). Receding Contact Angle receding contact angle
Advancing contact Contact Angle advancing angle
Figure 3 – Fluid Flow and Dynamic Contact Angle Contact angles generally are considered to be affected by both changes in surface chemistry and changes in surface topography. The advancing contact angle is most sensitive to the lowenergy (unmodified) components of the substrate surface, while the receding angle is more sensitive to the high-energy, oxidized groups introduced by surface pretreatments. Thus, the receding angle actually is the measurement most characteristic of the modified component of the surface following pretreatments,
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as measured using dyne solutions. Therefore, it is important to measure both the advancing and receding contact angles on all surface-modified materials1. The speed of the printing press also can impact ink’s effective surface tension. An ink that statically measures 25 dynes of surface tension could behave dynamically like an ink with 40 dynes of surface tension on a high speed press2. The actions of inkjet print heads and print systems on the fluids they dispense can significantly impact the way fluid components realign during dispensing and interaction with the print surface and other ink or coating layers. As the frequency at which inkjet print heads can eject drops increases to higher levels and as the speed of inkjet printers and presses increases with single pass full-width arrays, surface tension interactions of inks, coatings and substrates present additional challenges. There is a strong tendency for manufacturers to focus only on contact angle measurements as the sole predictor for determining bonding problems and conducting routine surface testing. Equally important is chemical surface functionality, by which hydrophobic surfaces are activated into bondable hydrophilic surfaces. Gasphase “glow-discharge” surface oxidation pretreatment processes are used for chemical surface activation. Surface pretreatments will
resolve most ink adhesion problems by increasing the surface energy of the substrate and creating oxidative chemical functionality. Gas-phase surface oxidation process methods include electrical corona discharge, flame treatment, cold gas plasma and ultraviolet irradiation. Each method is application-specific and possesses unique advantages and potential limitations. The basic chemical and physical reaction that occurs in free electrons, ions, metastables, radicals and UV, when generated in the plasma, can impact a surface with energies sufficient to break the molecular bonds on the surfaces of most polymeric substrates. This creates very reactive free radicals on the polymer surface, which in turn can form, crosslink or, in the presence of oxygen, react rapidly to form various chemical functional groups on the substrate surface. Polar functional groups that can form and enhance bondability include carbonyl (C=O), carboxyl (HOOC), hydroperoxide (HOO-) and hydroxyl (HO-) groups. Even small amounts of reactive functional groups incorporated into polymers can be highly beneficial for improving surface chemical functionality and wettability. The degree or quality of treatment is affected by the cleanliness of the plastic surface. The surface must be clean to achieve optimal pretreatment and subsequent ink adhesion. Surface contamination such as silicone mold release, dirt, dust, grease, oils and fingerprints
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inhibit treatment. Material purity also is an important factor. The shelf life of treated plastics depends on the type of resin, formulation and the ambient environment of the storage area. Shelf life of treated products is limited by the presence of materials such as antioxidants, plasticizers, slip and antistatic agents, colorants and pigments, stabilizers, etc. Exposure of treated surfaces to elevated temperatures increases molecular chain mobility – the higher the chain mobility the faster the aging of the treatment. Polymer chain mobility in treated materials causes the bonding sites created by the treatment to move away from the surface. These components may eventually migrate to the polymer surface. Therefore, it is recommended to bond, coat, paint, print or decorate the product as soon as possible after pretreatment. Conclusion Digital UV inkjet is revolutionizing printing and decorating of three-dimensional plastic products. Inkjet is a complex, multivariable process. There are significant challenges for printing on tough-to-bond polymers, which extend beyond OEM standard inks and printers. Low-viscosity inks jetted on low surface energy plastics are chemically and physically incompatible and frequently require pretreatment to solve adhesion problems. While UV curing technology has significant benefits, improperly cured inks are hazardous. Understanding the intricacies
of inkjet printing and material surface science enables custom solutions to meet the demands of new applications. n References: 1. “Solving the Problems of Plastics Adhesion”, Plastics Engineering, April 2011, Scott R. Sabreen, The Sabreen Group Inc. 2. “Some Things to Remember About Dynamic Surface Tension”, PFFC, April 2003, Dr. Richard M. Podhajny, Ph.D. Scott R. Sabreen is founder and president of The Sabreen Group, Inc., which is an engineering company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing processes – surface pretreatments, bonding decorating and finishing, laser marking and product security. He has been developing new technologies and solving manufacturing problems for over 25 years. He can be contacted at 888.SABREEN or by visiting www.sabreen.com or www.plasticslasermarking.com. Dene Taylor, Ph.D., founded SPF-Inc in 2000 to serve the printing and packaging industries, with a focus on adapting digital printing for new markets and applications. A nano-chemist by training, about half of his 25 US patents are related to digital printing. He is a member of SGIA, TAPPI and Radtech. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 21
Motorola, Flextronics Choose Texas for First US-Based Smartphone Assembly Plant The Moto X, the first US-produced smartphone from Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility group and its manufacturing partner Flextronics International Ltd., will be assembled at a 500,000 sq. ft. facility in Fort Worth, TX, the companies have announced. The phone will be designed, engineered and made in the US, but some of its components will come from overseas. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Flextronics expects to employ 2,000 workers at the facility, which previously was used to make Nokia phones. An abundance of skilled labor and close proximity to regional and international airports played a role in the Singapore-based manufacturing company’s decision to select the Fort Worth facility, the Dallas Business Journal reported. For more information, visit www.motorola.com or www.flextronics.com. Yupo Corporation Makes Leadership Changes Paul Mitcham has been named president and chief executive officer of Yupo Corporation America, the Chesapeake, VAbased division of the Japanese synthetic paper manufacturer. He replaces Masakuni Fukutome, who is returning to Yupo’s headquarters in Japan as general manager, administration division. Mitcham is the first American to be promoted to such
a position and will direct Yupo’s strategic growth initiatives, which include an expansion at the Chesapeake facility. The expansion will provide higher capacity and additional employees, while also letting the company explore new markets in specialty packaging. In a related move, Yupo has appointed Stephen Shultz, an industry veteran with three decades of experience in specialty packaging innovations and sales, as vice president of sales. Tom Barrett, a Yupo sales executive, will assume the responsibilities for managing the Technical Service Group. For more information, call 888.873.9876 or visit www.yupousa.com. Global Automotive Plastics Revenue Expected to Grow A report from MarketsandMarkets indicates global automotive plastics revenue is expected to grow from $21,617 million in 2012 to $46,112 million by 2018 at an estimated CAGR of 13.4 percent from 2013 to 2018. Automotive plastics are used in the manufacture of various automotive components such as bumpers, seating, upholstery and instrument panels, as well as internal and external trims. Another plastics report, by Transparency Market Research, found major applications in electrical components and interior and exterior furnishings of automobiles – accounting for almost 70 percent of the total consumption. The market for these applications is expected to show growth over the forecast period as well. Research on lightweight plastic materials – including
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composite materials, reinforced plastics and polymers – has come up with improved material qualities that make them suitable for use in interior, exterior and under-bonnet auto components. For more information, visit www.plastemart.com. Picodeon Develops Technique for Diamond-Like Coatings Finnish coating technology specialist Picodeon, has developed a technique for depositing diamond-like films onto a wide range of substrates using its patented ultra-short pulsed laser deposition (US PLD) technology. Diamond-like coatings create super hard surfaces with a low coefficient of friction and excellent coating adhesion. The US PLD deposition process uses a high laser pulse repetition rate and fan-shaped plasma bloom that enable high production rates and make feasible the industrial coating of large surfaces at film thicknesses down to nano-scale. Applications for diamond-like coatings range from machine tooling components to wear components for medical, optical and sensor applications. The US PLD technology delivers high coating integrity without pinholes, giving improved reliability in applications where through-thickness defects may cause delamination of thin films and serious damage to components. For more information, visit www.picodeon.com. Global Plastics Summit Set for Nov. 4-6 Registration is open for the Global Plastics Summit – “Where Critical Insight and Technology Converge” – which will take
place Nov. 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, IL. Attendees will gain essential insight into the latest industry developments from a program of international experts. Topics include automotive products, medical, new consumer and industrial market perspectives for major end-users; new packaging applications; improving ROI through high-performance injection molding systems; new recycling technology and sustainability issues; and catalysts as the key to industry growth. Register by Sept. 20 to receive the best pricing. For more information, visit www.globalplasticssummit.com. Damitz Joins Kurz Transfer Products Kurz Tranfer Products L.P., a member of The Kurz Group located in Elk Grove Village, IL, has hired a new sales representative for the Midwest region. Brian Damitz will be based out of Chicago and is responsible for the management of key customer relationships in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, among others. He brings a foundation of experience and education to Kurz, having held progressive assignments in sales and business development. For more information, visit www.kurzusa.com. n
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 23
Letter from the Chairman The Decoration and Assembly Division of SPE will provide two opportunities to learn the latest in technology and strengthen your technical network. The first will be at the SPE Annual Technical Conference, ANTEC, which will be held from April 27 to May 1, 2014, in Las Vegas, NV. This is the largest annual technical conference in the United States for the plastics industry, with 2,500 attendees, over 600 paper presentations and an exhibitor floor. The Decoration and Assembly Division again will have several sessions focused on the latest technologies in plastic decoration and assembly. The second opportunity will be a more focused technical conference hosted by the Decoration and Assembly Division. That conference will be two days of papers exclusively on plastic decoration and assembly and will be held in the Detroit area on June 10 and 11, 2014 (see below for more information). This would be a good time to consider writing and presenting a paper if you have a new technology or improvement in a current technology. Participation in either or both conferences will provide a high level of visibility with an audience of those who are interested and working in the field. There soon will be a call for papers so now is the time to begin to identify topics and start writing. Papers on new and emerging technologies and materials always are welcome. Topics such as problem solving, innovation and cost reduction also are welcome.
The process starts with submitting a paper for review. This is followed by a review for content and format. Any needed changes will be recommended to the author. This is followed by final revision and approval. Paper deadlines for the 2014 ANTEC are as follows: Paper Submission Deadline Paper Review Deadline Final Paper Acceptance Deadline Final Paper Revision
October 25, 2013 November 22, 2013 January 3, 2014 January 17, 2014
As you can see, this process takes a little time so it is best to get started early. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me and I will be glad to answer any questions. Finally, 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 gives you access to the extensive SPE library and many other benefits. You can learn more at the Society of Plastics Engineers website, www.4spe.org, or by contacting me at email@example.com. Paul Uglum Delphi Electronics and Safety Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division
2014 TopCon Set For Detroit Area The SPE Decorating & Assembly Division has set a date for its 2014 Topical Conference (TopCon). The conference will talk place June 10–11, 2014 in Ypsalanti, MI (Detroit) at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest. The two-day event will include more than 20 papers on the latest technologies in plastics decorating and assembly. It also will include a Supplier Trade Fair with tabletop exhibits from leading suppliers to the industry. “We are very confident that our 2014 TopCon will be a success,” stated SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Chair Paul Uglum, Delphi. “The automobile industry continues to recover, and the activity for decorating and assembly processes are growing along with that recovery.” If you are interested in submitting a paper for the 2014 TopCon, please send an initial paper title and abstract to Jeff Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details and registration information will be available on the Plastics Decorating website (www.plasticsdecorating.com) by January 1, 2014. n
24 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
Central Decal, a specialist in in-mold labeling, has created custom decorating solutions for screen, digital and flexo Central Decal Custom Decorating Solutions products since 1957. Central Decal In need of decorated graphics, call Central Decal Company offers a variety of label/ink constructions. Solutions include roll or individual piece options that are outdoor-durable, chemical-resistant and eco-friendly. For more information, email Butch Kaplan at email@example.com or call 800.869.7654. ✔Custom Graphics Inmold, Domed, Pressure Sensitive Labels, Nameplates, Indoor/Outdoor Durable Products. ✔Specialized Programs Inmold Technical Help, Vendor Management, No Minimum Quantities, EDI Capable, Sample Run Available, Imprint Labels, Pre-Cut Labels, UL Certified Products, Small or Large Quanties.
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CPX Incorporated engineers and manufactures custom injection molded decorative products for the appliance, automotive and industrial industries. We offer our customers over 26 years of experience in decorating plastics and provide a single source solution to challenging and complex programs requiring technical expertise and advanced manufacturing processes. Our operation offers tremendous flexibility and a broad range of capabilities while still remaining globally competitive. For more information contact Brianne Carroll at email@example.com, 219.474.5280 or www.cpxinc.com.
GPE Ardenghi Srl presents the GPE/24-TT, an automatic machine equipped with a thermal transfer head for pens and barrels. The 24-TT prints variable data images at 1,200dpi in 360 degrees with an output of 1,200 pieces per hour. The solvent-free device requires no drying time. The official US sales agent for GPE Ardenghi is Sherry Stylo LLC. See GPE Ardenghi at the SGIA Show in Booth #1467. For a free brochure, contact Eric Shea at 908.241.5496 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about theory and practical aspects of ultrasonic welding to enhance your assembly production. Plastic Assembly Technologies (Patsonics) offers a white paper that provides information on materials, joint designs, tooling and set-up to enhance your understanding of the sonic welding process. Contact PATSONICS by calling 317.841.1202 or go directly to www.patsonics.com/index.htm to download your free copy of the Guide to Ultrasonic Welding.
Learn more about ultrasonic tooling and equipment options from the experts at Sonics & Materials, Inc. Sonics’ brochure contains information on the types of plastics assembly equipment best suited for various applications. Systems for ultrasonic welding, vibration welding, spin welding and heat staking / inserting are included, along with customized tooling, FEA horn analysis and OEM technology. Contact Sonics at www.sonics.com or 800.745.1105 to request a brochure or go direct to www.sonics.com/ plastic-manuals/Corporate_Brochure.pdf to download a copy.
Schwerdtle specializes in creating silicone hot stamping and heat transfer dies for flat, contoured, compound-curved or irregularly shaped products. A fully-staffed technical art department works directly with clients to ensure end results meet expectations. In addition, Schwerdtle’s proprietary line of silicone rubber compounds and advanced CNC engraving technology are designed to transfer sharp images over a wide range of applications. For more information, contact Bill Morey, vice president technical sales, at 203.330.2750 x132, the customer service/art department at x123 or visit www.schwerdtle.com.
Unique Assembly & Decorating recently launched a News Blog for its company website. The blog is used to provide updates about the company, as well as interesting posts on the product decorating industry in general. The blog is updated with new content monthly. Content suggestions can be submitted on the Contact Us page. For more information, visit www.uniquepadprinting.com/blog.
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Surface Treatment is a Challenge for Decorators by Dianna Brodine
For the container decorator, surface treatment issues can derail an otherwise simple screen printing job. When ink adhesion fails, decorators must deal with the additional time and money required to perform offline processes. “As a bottle decorator, I have seen surface tension level problems increasing in the last several years,” explained Michael Meuser, Pogue Label & Screen, Inc. “Blow molders mold and treat the bottles, which then are delivered to decorators like me. For shorter runs, we use semi-automatic screen printing machines, but these machines do not have online flame treating so if the bottles don’t meet the ink standards, they must be flamed offline, which adds cost to the equation.” “There are several dynamics to the problem,” said Jack Killoren, Ten Star Supply. “The molder will treat the containers on most occasions, but you often don’t know if they’ve been plasma treated, lectro treated or gas treated.” Killoren continued, “I’ve had issues with ink adhesion, so we’ll recheck the dyne levels on the bottles and find that something that had been coming in consistently at the proper dyne levels suddenly are coming in not correctly. There doesn’t seem to be any standards on the dyne levels coming out of the factory.” Changing Ink Chemistries Increase Dyne Level Requirements Surface level dyne issues have increased for those decorators using UV ink chemistries. Solvent-based inks require dyne levels of 38-40, but manufacturers of UV inks suggest dyne levels of 44 or above. The molders still hold to the 38-40 dyne rule; thus, undertreated bottles are becoming a regular occurrence for those decorators using UV inks. “In defense of the molders,” Meuser said, “it could be argued that it is not their problem that decorators are migrating to a new type of ink that requires higher dyne levels.” “When you look at a container industry as a whole,” explained Greg Wood, Lectro Engineering Company, “75-80 percent of the containers either have a label applied in-mold or they’re providing pressure-sensitive labels. The other 20-25 percent are decorated, and a great many of those are decorated using solvent-based inks. It’s a small portion of the industry using
UV inks based on the overall amount of containers being produced.” Plastics Regrind Complicates Adhesion Issues Killoren doesn’t believe all of the ink adhesion issues are related to dyne level, however. “We have had instances where a bottle we’ve been printing for 10 years suddenly has an ink adhesion issue,” he said. “We get new bottles, flame them here, re-run the decorating job and test them, but the ink still is coming off. At that point, it might be a bottle composition issue.” Wood agreed that rapid changes in plastic resins have played havoc with surface treatment effectiveness. “Just because a bottle says it is high-density polyethylene, that doesn’t mean it’s purely HDPE,” he explained. “There are all sorts of additives – including color pigments, UV stabilizers, etc. – that can actually mask the surface treatment. Regrind is a big variable as well.” Henry Newman, Newman Printing Equipment, Inc., has seen an increase in problems due to imported plastic containers. “The main problem I see now is bottles from overseas that have no flame at all,” he said. “In some cases, running them through a flame treater won’t help, because the bottles won’t hold a flame due to contamination in the plastic. Whether that’s a mold release agent, colorant or regrind, I don’t know.” “Bottles are becoming much more inconsistent. It almost requires a scientific study to figure it out,” Killoren explained. Ink, Additives Not the Only Factors Wood pointed out that the age of the bottle is another complicating factor. “The typical life expectancy of a treated bottle is 90 days in the warehouse, although most treatment will last up to six months,” he said. “But some of these bottles that find their way to a decorator might be a year old, and they’ve lost the surface activation. Once they ship the bottles, there’s no way to know how long the bottles sit before they’re shipped to the decorators.” Heat plays a role, too. Storage of plastic containers in a hot, humid warehouse will accelerate the rotation of high molecular groups within the resin. As the molecular groups rotate, the surface
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 29
treatment is no longer sitting on the top layer of the container, Wood said. “If storage is in a climate-controlled warehouse, then the migration is less prevalent,” he explained. “But if someone buys a truckload of bottles and lets it sit in the sun for three months before wanting to decorate, there will be a problem.” Offline Flame Treatment is an Expensive Solution “The bottom line,” said Wood, “is that decorators using a UVbased ink need the dyne level of their bottles to test to 44-46 dynes. The mindset in the blow molding industry is to treat to 38-40 dynes. At some point, decorators will need to control their own destiny by purchasing untreated bottles and making capital investments to control dyne levels on site.” “Of my seven semi-automatic lines, we’ve transitioned five of those over to UV inks,” Meuser explained. “Those semi-auto machines don’t provide inline flame treatment, so now I have extra costs – labor costs, energy costs, machine costs – before it ever gets to decorating.” Meuser does have two screen printing lines that remain set-up for solvent-based inks because certain jobs work better that way, but with the majority of his equipment set up for UV-based ink chemistries, treating bottles in house for each project could add significant costs.
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Given the adhesion issues that are occurring with UV inks, why not switch back to the solvent-based inks? According to Meuser, his customers are asking for the UV inks. “They have a glossy look to them, which can be perceived as having a higher value over the look of matte-based inks,” he explained. Also, there are operational advantages to UV inks. “We’ve seen better productivity rates, instant curing and the ability to put more lines in an area on the floor since we don’t have to use huge dryers for UV inks,” he said. “UV inks are a little more expensive, but we make up for it with the productivity. UV inks also have a higher shelf life if we have leftovers, and they don't produce VOC emissions.” Newman pointed out that while his company does sell standalone flame treaters, running every bottle back through to be treated is not an ideal solution. “It’s a labor issue when the decorator has to perform three operations: flame, print and then UV cure or heat/air dry,” he said. “Also, our flamers are normally sold to molders of bottles, cups, etc. as a primary pretreatment method. They’re not meant to be a quick fix to increase dyne levels a little.” Lectro Treat does have a flaming solution that would allow decorators to ‘dial in’ the dyne measurement needed for each project when containers aren’t testing to the correct level. The solution allows for treating bottles in bulk, but the additional labor and time factors still apply. No Ready Solution Available In the end, Killoren stated, the plastic decorator has to find a solution. “I’m a realist,” he explained. “I’m just trying to fix it on my end. We’ll re-flame bottles here or use different adhesive agents. For one bottle, we changed the ink we used, but I don’t want to change my entire ink system for one job.” Newman agreed that the increased dyne levels required for good surface adhesion with UV inks have put decorators in between a rock and a hard place. “With UV inks, you really don’t have a choice,” he said. “You have to get the surface ready to print, and if that means re-flaming the bottle, then that’s what has to happen.” “If an ink manufacturer could develop a UV ink that works at the 38-40 dyne level, they would have a huge leg up on their competition,” Meuser pointed out. In the meantime, decorators committed to the benefits of UV inks will need to work with their customers up-front to explain the additional costs required to get the shiny result on the retail shelf. n Plastics Decorating would like to thank Greg Wood, Lectro Engineering Company, www.lectrotreat.com; Henry Newman, Newman Printing Equipment, Inc., www.newmanequipment.com; Michael Meuser, Pogue Label & Screen, Inc., www.poguelabel. com; and Jack Killoren, Ten Star Supply, www.tenstarsupply.com.
FEATURES 2 color automatic pad printer 2 color pneumatic shuttle attachment Granite stone machine structure for performance & stability as well as protecting our environment Wide machine stand Two independent pad cylinders Platform in/out movement Pneumatic power machine operation Use sealed ink cup system Able to use laser engraved Green plates, thin steel plates and polymer plates Dead-on printing plate registration for quick job change PLC control touch screen panel Automatic pad clean with programmable cleaning cycle
Maximum space for product / image with auto pad clean function Pad stroke & speed adjustment Special functions: double ink / print cycles, dwell and delay before print Digital pad stroke (DPS) for variable printing depth Hardened ground steel shaft with impregnated bushing ensure friction-free movement High speed and smooth machine operations
13336 South Ridge Dr. ~ Charlotte, NC 28273 ~ Ph.704-583-9433 ~ Fax704-583-9439 ~ www.diverprint.com
Progress in Lasers Improves Polymer Joining by Tony Hoult, IPG Photonics
Lasers still are often perceived as exotic energy sources, but the rapid emergence of a new type of highly cost-effective laser – the fiber laser –gradually may change this. We will define fiber laser technology as the technology where the laser beam is generated or amplified actually within a fiber optic component itself, rather than simply being delivered to the workpiece from free space optics via a fiber optic cable. The ease of use and reliability lead to these lasers being thought of simply as black boxes; therefore, they do not have the mystique of other laser types which require a number of complex optical components. New laser types and wavelengths also are emerging, and these new laser wavelengths are finding uses in applications that also might seem less exotic. One of these applications is the subject of this article: fiber lasers for welding clear polymers.
Fiber lasers have been gaining market share and increasing in power dramatically, to the point at which earlier this year a 100kW fiber laser was delivered! Alongside these power increases, another recent development from IPG Photonics shows that fiber lasers now may be used economically for relatively mundane tasks such as precision welding of polymers, and this is of interest to the medical device industry. Laser Basics Going back to basics, a laser beam is simply a beam of light energy that can be focused down to a very small spot, and this property alone is responsible for many of the high-power industrial applications for which lasers are used, such as cutting and welding thick steels. But along with this focusability is another property of laser beams that is perhaps more responsible for their esoteric reputation: most laser beams produce light of a fairly well-defined wavelength. Although most of us are familiar with the concept of the wavelength of light, when the discussion moves to the relationship between wavelength and energy (which is at the heart of all branches of physics) many non-scientists and some engineers will disengage. However, this important relationship is central to understanding why clear polymers now can be laser welded without the complications of using different colors or additional inks and dyes. Short Infrared Thulium Fiber Lasers Until recently, significant average power for laser materials processing in industry only was available from a very limited number of laser types – either solid state lasers emitting in the near infrared 1.07 µm wavelength regime or carbon dioxide gas lasers emitting at the longer 10.6 µm wavelength regime. The advent of new versions of the standard industrial fiber laser with longer wavelengths now produces up to 120 watts power at an intermediate wavelength regime known as the short wavelength
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infrared regime. This 2um wavelength is achieved by using an alternative rare earth element, known as a dopant, in the fiber in which the laser beam is generated. The basic laws of physics tell us that as wavelength increases, photon energy is reduced. This means that when different materials are irradiated, the response of these materials also differs. Because specific photon energies are absorbed by particular molecular bonds via a resonance mechanism, this longer wavelength is absorbed differently by many different molecules. Of particular interest to those in the field of medical polymers is the improved absorption in the C-H molecule, which is the background chain of all organic polymers. The end result is that absorption of this laser beam in clear polymers is greatly increased to the point at which highly controlled melting through the thickness of optically clear polymers is possible. Why Not CO2 Lasers? In the case of older-technology CO2 lasers, the emitted wavelength is very much longer and absorption is often close to 100 percent. This wavelength has many advantages if lasers are to be used for cutting polymers, but for welding polymers where a controlled melting through the thickness of the material is required, this high absorption is a severe disadvantage. With absorption occurring at the top surface of the part, melting into the part to produce a deeper weld takes an unrealistically long time. Cutting Thin Polymer Films Recent trials also have shown that although the absorption of most thin materials may be inadequate to produce efficient ablation and cutting, there are some slightly opaque films in the 50-200um thickness range that can be readily cut by this technique.
Our print always was second to none, but now it is photo-photo realistic. We have upgraded to the latest 1200 x 3600 DPI print presses. In addition to the improvement of the print quality, we have increased the ability to laydown a more uniform opaque white that gives the transfer the visual lift it needs to look good on any part despite its color. Combine that with more vivid color and you have a recipe for digital success. If you haven’t looked at our transfer technology yet then it is time you did because the best just got better.
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CDigital Markets LLC • 2529 Washington Blvd. • Baltimore, MD 21230
AZ Plastics USA 85x255 mm 4c_AZ Plastics USA 13.02.12 10:47 Seite 1
ASSEMBLY Extremely flexible – Low-migration printing inks
Weldable Materials As the laser beam is converted into heat when absorbed by polymers, any polymer or polymer combination that is thermally weldable by techniques such as ultrasonic or RF also can be laser welded.
RUCO. Respecting all forms of expression.
Real World Applications There now are a number of areas where real world applications are developing.
945UV-MA First low-migration UV screen printing inks for the decoration of plastic articles
950UV UV screen printing ink for blow moulded objects especially for tubes made of PE
• Suitable for baby bottles and primary food packaging
• Good opacity, high colour intensity and good light-fastness
• Barium-free formulation
• High reactivity
• Excellent adhesion to a wide range of different plastic substrates
• Easy to overprint and over-lacquer
• Very good flow
• Offers a flexible ink film
Figure 1: tube to port joint
Figure 1. Medical devices, joints such as tube to port joints. This shows a PVC tube welded to a Tritan® co-polyester luer component. Softer, flexible tubing materials such as PVC and many of the newer non-PVC substitutes such as TPEs also can be welded. These materials are difficult to weld by any other means. Although the rules of chemical compatibility cannot be changed completely, the fine, localized temperature control provided by the laser process sometimes can provide surprising results when joining polymers with limited compatibility.
Impressive Opportunities. Impressive Colours.
Figure 2: typical microfluidic device
Figure 2. Microfluidic devices where fine joint lines are required. The single-mode, highly focusable fiber laser can
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 35
provide very narrow melt lines with limited heat input to minimize distortion of micro-channels when providing hermetic seals. Having said that, the strength limitations of a 100um-wide weld joint in any polymer needs to be taken into consideration when these components are designed.
Figure 3. Consumer products such as twin walled fluid containers, drinks bottles and baby bottles. Some of these products can be expected on the market fairly soon. The transcolors (such as the blue component shown in Figure 3) usually only absorb slightly more in the 2um spectral regime than do clear polymers. Hence, these also are highly weldable by this technique. Summary The availability of this new wavelength at high average power has led to a greatly improved and simplified technique for laser welding clear polymers for the medical device and other industries. For the polymers that are of most interest for medical devices, no additional absorbers are required to produce almost invisible welds in most, if not all, thermoplastic polymers used in the medical device industry. n
Figure 3: Tritan co-polyester fluid container
Branson Makes It Possible
Tony Hoult is general manager, West Coast at IPG Photonics, Santa Clara, CA. IPG Photonics is the leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance fiber lasers and amplifiers for diverse applications in numerous markets. IPG Photonics’ lines of low-, mid- and high-power lasers and amplifiers are used in materials processing, communications, medical and advanced applications. For more information, call 408.748.1361, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.IPGPhotonics.com.
The World’s Premier Resource for Materials Joining Technologies. Branson offers the broadest range of plastics joining, metal welding and precision cleaning technologies, to ensure the very best solution for your product and process challenges. With more than 60 years of experience, our unsurpassed industry knowledge helps you get to market quickly, with quality products manufactured with the highest efficiencies. Plus, we have the global resources and local presence to rapidly provide the support you require, anywhere in the world. Branson is a division of Emerson, a global technology leader whose forward thinking and dedication to customer service inspire us to continually develop new and better ways to serve your needs.
For more information: bransonultrasonics.com 203-796-0400
© Branson Ultrasonics Corporation 2012. 2011. The Emerson logo is a trademark and service mark of Emerson Electric Co.
Global Technologies. Local Solutions.
36165040_Ultrasonics_hlfpg_PDM.indd www.plasticsdecorating.com 1July/August 2013
1/18/12 11:34:56 AM
EQUIPMENT HIGHLIGHT Screen and Offset Printing
Screen and offset printing is a popular choice for plastics decorators because of its versatility. It can be used for many applications, such as identification and medical products, as well as decorations on a variety of materials in a multitude of shapes, sizes and thicknesses. Here are some of the industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest developments in screen and offset printing. A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. 773.777.7100 www.awt-gpi.com A new retrofit chopper assembly for the Cameoâ&#x201E;˘ Graphics screen printers from A.W.T. World Trade, Inc., Chicago, IL, can convert an existing Cameo into a system with squeegee and flood bar angle adjustments and tool-free pressure control. The upgrade provides better print quality, as well as easier and faster set-up times. The new chopper assembly comes standard on Cameo 30 and Cameo 38 models and is an option on all other models. Allied Deco Systems 440.647.5195 www.allieddecosystems.com The SA-102 UV from Allied Deco Systems, Wellington, OH, is a f lexible automatic screen printer that can print f lat, oval and round containers at the same time as a single 4-color job, two 2-color jobs, a 3- and 1-color job or four 1-color jobs. The system offers easy changeover with an Allied 102 feeder system, three feeder modules and vision module. The units connect via the feeder modules and link and unlink in less than five minutes. Each is equipped with a processor, touchscreen, electronics and mechanicals. Deco Technology Group, Inc. 800.300.DECO www.decotechgroup.com A new line of motor-driven flatbed screen printing machines from Deco Technology Group, Inc., Orange, CA, can print onto a wide variety of flat goods. The DT-FLATBED Series of screen print presses feature dualaxis motor-driven controls, pne u m at ic s que e ge e a nd floodbar pressure adjustments,
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X/Y/R worktable adjustments, a touchscreen interface with an LED display and an integrated vacuum table. The new DT-FLATBED line has been upgraded from pneumatic to DC motor controls (with Omron PLC), increasing the cycle rate by 20 percent and improving color-to-color accuracy and print quality. There are four models to choose from, with the largest print size being 23.6x35.43". Inkcups Now Corporation 978.646.8980 www.inkcups.com A compact six-station screen printer from Inkcups Now Corporation, Danvers, MA, features a print-and-unload modu le ava i lable for ca n coolers. T he auto-u n load module for the R160 1-color screen printer is ideal for images of up to 4.75x7.75". The R160, with printing speeds up to 1,800 images per hour, is available in the standard configuration, which allows printing of garment neck labels and frontal images as well as bags, puzzles, binders, mint tins and other promotional items. The ICN-R160 has six sturdy pallets and a part detector to automatically prevent printing on an empty pallet. This self-contained screen printer is equipped with a dual high-output flash cure unit that eliminates the need for a separate drying unit. Newman Printing Equipment, Inc. 847.803.8091 www.newmanequipment.com T h e AU T O R O L L Model A-9 from Newman Printing Equipment Inc., Glenview, IL, is a fully rebuilt, completely updated two-color UV automatic screen printing machine that prints cylindrical items up to one gallon in size.
It features Fusion UV curing systems with interlocks, blowers and shielding. All carriers and tooling for one size included, subject to confirming sample. An optional automatic flame pretreatment station (flamer) also is available. Nazdar Ink Technologies 800.677.4657 www.nazdar.com The 2300 Series screen ink is a newly developed glass and PET container ink from Nazdar Ink Technologies, Shawnee, KS, that cures with UV-LED and traditional UV. In addition, the 2300 Series is formulated for use on a wide range of plastics, including HDPE/LDPE, and exhibits high chemical resistance, water resistance and color saturation. Norcote International 800.488.9180 www.norcote.com Norcote International, a manufacturer of UV-curable inks based in Crawfordsville, IN, has developed a highly reflective silver (mirror) ink for use on multiple substrates, both flat sheet a nd c ont a i ne r. Additiona l new products include the PPC7 Series conta i ner i n k s, which work well when printed on colored PET, as well as a complete line of d ig ita l inks. Norcote also manufactures emulsions and can provide mesh, squeegees, screen chemicals and other ancillary products. OMSO North America, Inc. 859.282.6676 www.omso.us The Ser voBott le from OMSO North America, Inc., Erlanger, KY, can decorate objects of various shapes and/or sizes, with precision color-to-color r e g i s t r a t i on u p t o a maximum of seven colors. Rotary in design, ServoBottle features servo-axis controlled movement and a small footprint, ideal for tight production floor space. The unit’s modular design gives it the ability to add or remove print heads, whether being screen, flexographic, digital or hybrid technology.
Proell, Inc. 630.587.2300 www.proell.us Norilux ® DC, a formable abrasion- and chemicalresistant dual-cure screen printing lacquer from Proell, Inc., St. Charles, IL, can be used as a protection lacquer or hard coat on PC and PMMA films. Norilux DC is available in matte and high-gloss finishes and is suited for first surface coating of products manufactured in IMD/FIM technology. The dual-cure lacquer can be printed on textured film surfaces to produce abrasion resistance. The matte version of Norilux DC can be printed on transparent films such as Makrofol® DE. The UV-cured lacquer layer shows excellent resistances to abrasion, chemicals and cleaning agents. RUCO, Inc. 866.373.7912 www.rucousa.com RUCO Inks, Eppstein, Germany, offers new LED curable screen printing inks for glass and plastic containers. These inks are capable of curing at high speed using 395 nanometer LEDs and are proven in production with the new OMSO Servobottle LED screen printer, as well as equipment that has been retrofitted with UV LED to replace standard mercury vapor units. UV LED curing uses less energy than mercury vapor and creates no ozone, making it safer for the environment. The inks are available in RUCO’s popular 12-color mixing system that allows users to mix any custom color on demand. Tech Mark USA 770.777.4820 www.tech-markusa.com Tech Mark USA, Duluth, GA, in collaboration with Decormec SA, supplies the Decormec MC series of automatic modular screen printing machines for decorating on cylindrical, conical and oval containers. The printer can be conf ig u red w it h a master drive module and as many as five additiona l color modules to decorate up to six colors. The MC series can print on glass, wine and beverage containers, with or without mechanical registration. The printer can be configured to accept hot stamping, pad printing and labeling heads and can be used with UV, epoxy and ceramic inks. n
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 39
UTIONS = MANUFACTURING EXCELLE L O S L NCE TOTA
The Sabreen Group is an engineering consulting company specializing in secondary plastics manufacturing operations. Now in our 20th year, we have solved critical problems for over 350 companies in 18 countries. We have earned a reputation of excellence for our rapid response and detailed problem-solving. Many of today’s most recognizable products are manufactured using The Sabreen Group’s advanced technology processes.
• Surface Pretreatments • Adhesion Bonding & Joining • Digital Printing
• Decorating & Finishing • Laser Marking, Laser Welding • Product Security
Introducing VectorJet ® Laser Marking Technology
email: email@example.com www.sabreen.com www.plasticslasermarking.com
6999 Siena Pl., Suite 311 • The Colony, TX 75056
Spartanics Machine Customizable for Rotary Applications The L-350 laser diecutting machine from Spartanics, Rolling Meadows, IL, is a single-source 400W laser system that is able to cut and change configuration on the fly at speeds up to 100 meters a minute. The system can be customized to add other converting essentials, such as lamination, slitting, hot stamping, varnish station and rotary sheeting options. The L-350’s software application allows operators to easily provide job estimates. For more information, call 847.394.5700 or visit www.spartanics.com. Kammann Introduces Robotic Pick and Place Unit The robotic K24A pick and place unit from Kammann USA, Portsmouth, NH, enables container decorators to reduce labor and tooling costs while minimizing da mage to scratch-sensitive surfaces. The four-axis delta robot can unpack trays upstream in front of the printer and can be used downstream to pack the decorated product back into empty trays. Robot handling systems are ubiquitous in the food packaging industry and typically run 24/7 with a given product and few changeovers. The existing process requires a long set-up of the cameras used to identify the lateral and angular position of the product that the robot has to handle. Lighting of the product plays an important role in this setting, but the long set-up time would not work in the decorating industry. Kammann engineers decided to illuminate the article with IR light sources, eliminating the lighting optimization issues and reducing set-up time. For more information, call 978.463.0050 or visit www.kammann.com.
the latest generation of UV absorbers. It offers high thermal stability and superior durability for effective prolonged service life, displaying high extinction in the protection of thin layers. It does not contain any VOC compounds, and its excellent compatibility with binders makes it easy to incorporate and handle for paint producers. The addition of Hostavin 3070 disp. XP in the formulation enhances these performance benefits further, thanks to its higher thermal stability combined with an excellent migration resistance. Furthermore, its improved toxicological profile makes it free of any hazard labeling. For more information, call 704.331.7000 or visit www.clariant.com. Trinetics Group Introduces Infrared Plastic Bench Welder A new infrared plastic bench welder from the Trinetics Group, Melbourne, FL, enables very intricate plastic components to bond with cooler, safer and energy-efficient non-contact welds. The model 8050 Infrared Non-Contact Fusion plastic welding system can be plugged into a normal 120V outlet, heats up in one minute and the array does not need to be cleaned. The unit’s patented infrared technology bonds and seals two thermoplastic parts by bringing the joints together under pressure. The process produces a strong and reliable hermetic seal. It also features a compact footprint, with exterior dimensions of about 23" wide by 28" deep and 32" high, and a touch
Clarient Accelerates Move to Waterborne Coatings Hostavin® light stabilizer solutions from Clariant, Charlotte, NC, make waterborne coatings a high-performance, environmentally-oriented option for exterior protective applications, which were previously an exclusive area of solvent borne systems. Clariant’s solutions optimize light stabilization for clear and pigmented waterborne coatings. Hostavin 3330 disp. XP is the first high loaded waterborne dispersion of a triazine class UV absorber,
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 41
with innovation and inspiration!
September 10–12, 2013 McCormick Place Lakeside | Chicago, Illinois
October 15—16, 2013 Reliant Center | Houston, TX
Ideas and Inspiration
Connections like these cannot be made at your desk!
Leave your office behind and expand your skill set at one of these two events for plastics processing professionals. Increase your knowledge and your network by engaging with likeminded peers and industry thought leaders. Meet face-to-face with plastics professionals and find networking opportunities you won’t get in the office. Test drive the technologies of tomorrow. Interact with world-class suppliers to create custom solutions that are nowhere to be found online. Engineer fresh ideas from stimulating sources and face-to-face discussions.
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pad interface. For more information, call 321.383.3456 or visit www.TrineticsGroup.com. Rinco Develops Ultrasonic Film Sealing Technology The FPA series, a new ultrasonic film sealing technology from Rinco Ultrasonics (a Swiss maker of ultrasonic welding equipment with US offices in Danbury, CT), is ideal for flexible packaging of dry and liquid foods, personal care items and electronics. The two systems have been designed to replace existing heat sealing equipment on liquid filled pouch form-fill-seal machinery or pre-made pouch systems. They enable users to increase seal strength, improve aesthetics and broaden the processing window versus ultrasonic sealing and heat sealing processes. The FPA4500 was designed for sealing pouches with up to 4.5-sq.-in. of seal area. The FPA-4500S is for sealing duplex and triplex applications where a narrow profile is required. For more information, call 203.744.4500 or visit www.rinco-usa.com. PPMOVT Develops Ink-Saver Ring and Bottle Cap Inkjet Printer Pad Print Machinery of Vermont, East Dorset, VT, has engineered a new device to increase ink usage during pad printing. The Ink Saver-Ring fits into a sealed ink cup where it agitates the ink as the cup slides across the cliché. The fan blade design helps scoop a nd mi x t he pigment as it passes through each chamber. It is ideal for pad printers who use bicomponent ink s or have shor ter pr i nt runs and is available for all sealed ink cup sizes. A new, versatile multicolor industrial inkjet printer also is available. The high-speed printer was configured to print on eight different sized bottle caps. The added custom automation includes a bulk loading cascade feeder, eight sized sorting system, inline f lame pretreatment, part counter/ accumulater with bar code labeling packaging system. It was designed with modular components in which hardware, software and printing arrays can be configured to meet specific print requirements. A multiple lane system enables the printing volume to exceed 45,000 bottle caps per hour, all controlled through an industrial PC with LCD touchscreen. The controller can store and recall hundreds of art files and print parameters instantly for quick production changeovers. For more information, call 800.272.7764 or visit www.padprintmachinery.com. n
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
Contact us for a quote on your next project. (989) 893.7790 | Fax: (989) 893.7741 www.diestampco.com
BEST OF THE PLASTICS DECORATING BLOG
s a quarterly magazine, Plastics Decorating is filled with the latest technology and processes for the decorating and assembly of plastic parts or products. While a quarterly magazine allows for detailed articles on the subjects of hot stamping, pad printing, heat staking and much more, the Plastics Decorating blog provides an opportunity to reach those in the decorating and assembly arenas with posts filled with actionable information from bloggers John Kaverman, Pad Print Pros, and Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group. To read more of their posts, go to www.plasticsdecoratingblog.com. Tautologous Observations John Kaverman, Pad Print Pros Tau-tol-o-gy. n. 1. needless repetition of an idea, statement or word. 2: a tautologous statement. To quote a famous tautologous statement from Donald Rumsfeld: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there also are unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” I’ve been involved with pad printing for over 20 years in capacities that include production, process, systems and applications engineering, sales, service and training. I know for certain that there is much yet to learn. There are, however, some things that I know. 1. A “never enough time (or money) to do it right” attitude is a ticket to failure. I have never, in over twenty years, seen a single project succeed when it started out with someone being cheap, going too quickly and doing things with “just to get by for now” methods. That attitude invariably puts them behind the curve at the start, and they never catch up. No matter how good the intention is to upgrade equipment or firm up the process later, it won’t happen. Doing it over later always costs more time and money, assuming you keep the work long enough to get the chance. 2. Electric pad printing machines with programmable stepper motor drives are much easier to succeed with than pneumatic machines. To use an analogy, a stepper motor driven machine is like an iPhone, whereas a pneumatic machine is like an old rotary telephone with a long, twisty cord that is all tied in knots. Sure, it’ll get the job done (eventually), but you’ll always be time- and material-inefficient using pneumatics. 3. You can be successful screen printing with a pad printing ink, but you can’t be successful pad printing with a screen printing ink. They might be close cousins, chemically speaking
44 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
with regard to their resin systems, but screen printing ink has a larger pigment size and a lower pigment-to-binder ratio, so opacity always will be an issue when using a screen printing ink. Use an ink formulated for pad printing and mix it correctly. 4. It takes a certain amount of ink to “wet up” a pad printing press. Use too little ink and you won’t successfully flood and doctor the cliché. Also, ink acts like a lubricant between the ink cup’s doctor ring and the cliché. Skimping on ink because you’ve only got a few dozen parts to print is like putting one quart of oil in your car’s motor because you’ve only got to drive a few miles to McDonalds. Don’t do it. 5. Using an inkjet or laser printer to make film positives for cliché making is not recommended. Laser films are not dimensionally stable, so unless you can put all of your separations on the same page, image distortion probably will make alignment a nightmare. Also, neither system deposits enough ink or toner to be opaque to the degree necessary to successfully expose a cliché. 6. Like people, pads live for different amounts of time, depending how hard you work them. There is no magic number of impressions to answer the question, “How long does a pad last?”. Every time you print, you deplete the amount of silicone oil in the pad. That oil is what determines how hard or soft your pad is and gives the pad its ability to pick up and transfer the image. Even if the pad isn’t visibly worn, once the oil is depleted to a point, it is time to replace it. Don’t try to save a thousandth of a penny per print by attempting to use “Long Life Oil”. You can no more revive a dried out silicone pad by rubbing oil on it than you can revive a person by rubbing blood on them. 7. Drying and curing are not synonymous, no matter how badly you want them to be. Pad printing ink might be dry to touch within twenty or thirty seconds of applying it to the part, but it won’t be cured for several hours – or even several days – especially if you’re using a hardener. Yes, that applies to UV inks. All inks are somewhat post-curing, even UV inks. That means that they don’t reach their maximum level of chemical and/or mechanical resistance just because you put them through a dryer or UV reactor. You must wait to test adhesion, chemical-resistance and mechanical resistance until after the manufacturer’s recommend cure schedule is completed. Also, if you’re using a two-component, avoid sealing your parts in plastic bags, applying protective film to print areas or exposing them to temperatures below 600F until cure is complete. Otherwise, curing may be slowed or irreversibly stopped. Note: I didn’t know what “tautologous” meant until I realized that I didn’t know and looked it up. n
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Payroll Systems Can Help Determine ACA Responsibilities by Marsha Oliver, CPA Mize Houser & Company P.A.
Despite the recent delay of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, employers still need to determine whether to “play” or “pay” when the Employer Mandate goes into effect in 2015. While the thought of how the ACA will affect business may be overwhelming, the best place to begin researching employer responsibilities is the payroll system. Whether payrolls are prepared in house or outsourced to a payroll provider, the details in the payment history files contain insight into how the ACA will affect a business and its employees. The data from the payroll system – which is easy to retrieve and analyze – will enable employers to • Determine if the company is considered an “Applicable Large Employer” and must comply with the Employer Mandate of the ACA. • Work effectively with an insurance advisor to reach a decision whether to “pay or play”. • Remain in compliance as the law evolves. President Obama signed the ACA into law on March 23, 2010. It puts in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that will roll out over a period of four years and beyond. Let’s take a look at what has happened so far – and what is anticipated to happen in the future. 2012 – Employers were required to report the total health insurance premiums paid on a company plan on each employee’s W-2. Although that information was most likely not something tracked in the payroll system, it had to be added to comply with the 2012 filing requirement. 2013 – On July 2, the Obama administration announced a one-year delay in the implementation of the employer mandate portion of the ACA, which had been set to take effect Jan. 1, 2014. Along with avoiding the fine, businesses also will be able to delay on reporting about the coverage they offer their employees. 2014 – Here’s where the information in the payroll system about employees’ “hours of service” and total wages will really come
46 www.plasticsdecorating.com July/August 2013
in handy. This now is the year all employers must determine if the ACA Employer Mandate applies to them – and if it does, to decide whether to “pay or play.” The employer mandate applies to organizations that are considered “Applicable Large Employers.” An Applicable Large Employer had at least 50 full-time equivalents in the preceding calendar year. For planning purposes, use the following calculation for a recent consecutive six- to 12-month period to measure full-time equivalents. • Start With: The number of known full-time employees (expected to work an average of 30 hours or more per week) for a calendar month • Add: The number of hours of service of part-time employees in a month, divided by 120 The resulting number is your “Total Full Time Equivalent Employees” for a calendar month. The next step is to add together the number of full time equivalent employees for each calendar month in the preceding calendar year and then divide by 12. The result, if not a whole number, is rounded to the next lowest whole number. If that number is 50 or more, the company must comply with the ACA. Employers then have two options: 1. PLAY – Offer affordable and minimum essential health insurance to full-time employees (not full-time equivalents as calculated to determine if you are an Applicable Large Employer) and their dependents. Full-time employees for this purpose are defined as employees who are “employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week.” 2. PAY – Do not offer insurance or offer insurance that is not affordable or that does not provide minimum value and pay a penalty/tax. Again, as businesses consider these two very different options, a look at the payroll system can provide the information needed to compare the impact of each. Employers should be able to:
• Look back over several acceptable time frames to determine how many employees would have been eligible for coverage if the plan were in effect today. • Determine the maximum withholding from employees’ income if the plan were in effect today (under the Form W-2 safe harbor, employee’s withheld amount for employee only coverage must not exceed 9 1/2 percent of their current year’s Box 1, W-2 income). Note that employers are not penalized for failing to subsidize any of the premium for dependent coverage.
• If employees already in the plan are eligible to continue • If additional existing employees become eligible • When employees added after Dec. 31, 2014, become eligible and should be offered coverage • Enrollments in the insurance plan • Full and part-time employees who are working more (or less) than their status assumes – this will enable employers to keep budgeted plan costs as stable as possible.
The information will provide much of what’s needed for employers to “shop” for a health insurance carrier. Once expected premium costs are determined, employers will be in a better position to decide whether to “pay or play”. If they decide to “play”, most intend to have this analysis completed in time to contract with an insurance company by Oct. 1, 2014. This should allow enough time to offer coverage to eligible employees, get them enrolled and begin coverage Jan. 1, 2015 – when the Employer Mandate officially begins. 2015 and beyond – Based on what we know today, the payroll system should continue to provide the information needed to remain in compliance. This will include tracking:
Of course there are many decisions to make surrounding the ACA and each company’s situation is unique. A good payroll system not only should be a means to pay employees – it also should be a resource to make a good business decision about whether to “pay or play” and to remain in compliance with the ACA. n This article is provided by the regional CPA and information technology firm of Mize Houser & Company P.A. The firm processes payrolls for over 1,500 locations in more than 40 states. To learn more, please contact Marsha Oliver, CPA, Marketing Shareholder, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785.233.0536 or visit www.mizehouser.com.
Webtech, Inc. www.webtechhts.com
July/August 2013 www.plasticsdecorating.com 47
MARKETPLACE Leader in Product Decorating
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September • PLASTEC Midwest, September 10-12, McCormick Place Lakeside, Chicago, IL, www.plastecmidwest.com • PACK Expo, September 23-25, Las Vegas, NV, www.packexpo.com
October • PLASTEC Texas, October 15-16, Reliant Center, Houston, TX, www.plastectexas.com • MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference, October 15-16, JW Marriott, Indianapolis, IN, www.benchmarkingconference.com • SGIA, October 23-25, Orange County Convention Center South Building, Orlando, FL, www.sgia.org
November • Plastics Crossroads Summit, November 7, Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, Anaheim, CA, www.plasticscrossroads.com
Update Your Plastics Decorating Subscription! To confirm and update your subscription or for new subscriptions, take a moment and go online. Simply visit www.plasticsdecorating. com/subscribe. It will take less than 3 minutes to guarantee your continued or new FREE subscription to Plastics Decorating magazine. (It is recommended that current subscribers update their subscription if they have not done so in the last 6-8 months.)
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AD INDEX A.W.T. World Trade, Inc. / www.awt-gpi.com ............................................................................ 4 Branson Ultrasonics / www.bransonultrasonics.com.............................................................. 36 CDigital Markets LLC / www.grafixx.com ................................................................................ 34 Central Decal / www.centraldecal.com ..................................................................................... 30 CFC International, an ITW Company / www.cfcintl.com...................................................... 28 Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) / www.comdecinc.com .................................................................10,11,31 CPS Resources, Inc. / www.cpsresourcesusa.com ......................................................back cover Custom Foils Company / www.customfoilscompany.com ..................................................... 41 Die Stampco Inc. / www.diestampco.com................................................................................. 43 Diversified Printing Techniques / www.diverprint.com ......................................................... 31 Extol, Inc. / www.extolinc.com ................................................................................................... 21 GPE Ardenghi / www.gpeardenghi.it ........................................................................................ 28 In-mold Graphic Solutions (Romo Durable Graphics) / www.romoinc.com ...................... 17 Industrial Pad Printing Supplies / www.indpad.com .............................................................. 33 Infinity Foils, Incorporated / www.infinityfoils.com ............................................................... 45 Inkcups Now / www.inkcups.com......................................................................................... 26,27 Innovative Marking Systems / www.padprinters.com ............................................................. 16 Largent Sales Group, LLC / www.allieddecosystems.com ...................................................... 22 Marabu North America / www.marabu.com ............................................................................ 23 Mimaki / www.mimakiusa.com ................................................................................................. 15 Norcote International / www.norcote.com ..................................................... inside back cover OMSO North America, Inc. / www.omso.com .......................................................................... 9 Pad Print Machinery of Vermont / www.padprintmachinery.com .............inside front cover Pad Print Pros / www.padprintpros.com .................................................................................... 8 PLASTEC Midwest / www.plastecmidwestshow.com ............................................................. 42 Plastic Assembly Technologies, Inc. / www.patsonics.com .................................................... 45 Proell, Inc. / www.proell.us ......................................................................................................... 37 Roland / www.rolanddga.com/lef............................................................................................... 19 Ruco USA / www.rucousa.com .................................................................................................. 35 Schwerdtle, Inc. / www.schwerdtle.com .................................................................................... 13 The Sabreen Group, Inc. / www.sabreen.com ........................................................................... 40 Trekk Equipment Group / www.trekkequipment.com............................................................ 20 United Silicone / www.unitedsilicone.com ................................................................................. 5 Webtech, Inc. / www.webtech-hts.com...................................................................................... 47
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