Plastics Decorating - October November 2015

Page 1



Laser Texturing Adds In-Mold Dimension IMDA Award Winners Announced Film Laminates Increase Design Flexibility Adhesive Tapes Perform Under Pressure

Contents October/November 2015

COVER STORY Technology page 36 Laser Texturing Adds Another Level of In-Mold Decoration Possibilities Laser texturing allows for intricate and consistent designs to be added to injection molds for decorative purposes.




Market Trends for IMD and IML

page 6

Assessments from industry experts combine with observations from an injection molder to offer a look at what's hot in IMD/IML.


Using Decorative Film Laminates with In-Mold Decoration to Increase Design Flexibility

page 12

Performance of Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive Tapes Under Different Strain Rates

page 20

The adhesion properties of several pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes were tested under different stress levels to examine deformation rates.


IMDA Award Winners Announced

page 46 page 11 page 17 page 19 page 34

Product Tech Watch

page 40 page 51

Marketplace Calendar Ad Index

page 56 page 58 page 58

(In-Mold Decorating and Labeling)

Film laminates offer the ability to differentiate plastic products with a low-cost, easy-to-use and recyclable option.


Viewpoint Association Industry New Faces Process Highlight

(CBW Automation)



The In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) announced the winners of its Ninth Annual Awards Competition.


Increasing Pad Printing Productivity and Efficiency

page 44

IMDA Award Winners Announced

The majority of problems experienced with the pad printing process are the result of common mistakes. This article identifies and corrects those issues.


Overreaching on a Non-Compete Can Be Costly

Laser Texturing Adds In-Mold Dimension

page 52

A recent court case highlighted potential concerns with broad language in non-compete agreements.

Film Laminates Increase Design Flexibility Adhesive Tapes Perform Under Pressure

Read Plastics Decorating anytime at or download the Plastics Decorating app. Cover images courtesy of GF Machining Solutions LLC.

October/November 2015 3



I am regularly asked about advertising in print publications vs. online opportunities. There certainly is a place for both. Now that much of the fuss about the death of print has been proven to be incorrect – especially for magazine readers – print advertising is as strong as ever as companies see the necessity of reaching their target audience in a multitude of formats. There is a wonderful article on the subject that we share with many of our advertisers that I think has value to all of us, whether we are consumers of print or those trying to reach a print audience. Read “Print is Dead. Or is It?” at www. We aren’t discounting the importance of having an online presence. Today’s world demands information at our fingertips, and Plastics Decorating supports the readers and advertisers of the magazine no matter when or where they need the latest in plastics decorating and assembly. The monthly Plastics Decorating ENews will start the new year with a more graphically pleasing and more mobile-friendly design, and the website continues to evolve. It is a great reference with an easy-to-use online Buyers Guide, expert blog and archive of past Plastics Decorating articles by issue and by subject matter. This issue of Plastics Decorating focuses on in-mold labeling and decorating, with a recap of the IMDA award winners for 2015, a feature on laser texturing and an assessment of trends in the IML/IMD marketplace. Pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes were pushed to the limit for the Assembly article, and solutions to common issues in pad printing are addressed. As always, I hope you find value in the pages of Plastics Decorating.

Jeff Peterson, Editor-in-Chief,

generations of product decorating

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October/November 2015

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

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

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

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TRENDS Market Trends for IMD and IML by Dianna Brodine

Photo courtesy of Revere Plastics Systems


urveys from the In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) and Alexander Watson Associates (AWA) both show growth in the use of and market for in-mold labeling (IML) and in-mold decorating (IMD). Anecdotal evidence points to development in both the automotive and appliance sectors, with interest due to demands for lightweighting and lower material costs for plastics over metals. Consumer goods and packaging are attracted to IML because of durability and permanency, but those markets also appreciate the aesthetic appeal from specially developed inks and foils that add shelf appeal. While the global market is not vast – estimates from AWA point to a two percent share of the label market for IML – the possibilities are expanding on a daily basis. 6 October/November 2015

Market opportunities for IMD and IML Eric Berg, chief engineer for Revere Plastics Systems in Clyde, Ohio, estimates less than five percent of Revere Plastics' sales for 2015 will come from IML and IMD activities; however, that portion still will account for more than $3.2 million in sales this year. Revere Plastics Systems is a custom injection molder with four locations and more than 750 employees. Both the Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Clyde locations have IML/IMD capabilities, but the company is prepared to expand to its other facilities as necessary if the demand for in-mold processes continues to grow. “Most of our business is in the appliance industry,” explained Doug Drummond, director of new business development, “but, we also have customers in the outdoor power equipment and automotive industries. Automotive is one of the industries growing for us, and our customers have a real interest in our ability to decorate.” There’s also opportunity in the outdoor power equipment market, although adhesive labels still are the more popular choice over IML. “It’s something we continue to talk to our power equipment customers about,” said Berg. “We’ve been experimenting with labels to show the customers the advantages.” Decorative trends for IML and IMD With the automotive industry taking an interest in the lower costs and lower weights of plastic components over metal, inmold labeling with a metallic look is taking a step forward with more realistic shine and texture. Mark Keeton, vice president of marketing for Standard Register, published a post on the Standard Register blog after AWA IMLCON™/IMDCON™ 2015, held in February in Miami, saying, “…it is evident that metallic designs are in the greatest demand. Because real metals are so expensive, there is a clear opportunity to dramatically cut cost with alternative decoration technology. Until recently, achieving the look of real metal was challenging. Brush patterns, colors, reflectivity and texture were difficult to combine into a look that actually resembled metal. In the past, even the best attempts resulted in plastic that looked like, well…plastic. It looked cheap and fooled no one. The look finally has been perfected. Achieving a convincing metallic look is now possible via IML films.” Berg agreed, saying, “The biggest thing we’re seeing is brushed stainless and chrome looks in IML. I’m not sure if it’s still competitive with dipped chrome, but these types of looks weren’t available for IML previously. Even the inks in some of the IMLs have a metal look.” Mark Spaulding, editor of Converting Quarterly magazine, also attended AWA IMLCON/IMDCON 2015 and reported on innovations for the industry. Among those was a metalliclook IML from substrate provider Taghleef Industries. “Its new

nGLIMMER™ is the result of a three-year collaboration among material, machinery and converter partners across the globe,” wrote Spaulding. The silver mirror finish substrate is targeted to gourmet food, retail food, nutrtional supplements and paints and coatings, according to the website of NCI Packaging, one of the partners involved in the development.

38 percent of respondents said their companies provide IML and IMD services because their customers demand it, an increase of six percent over the 2011 survey results. Packaging and consumer markets were assessed as growth areas, and IML/IMD is a market differentiator for 34 percent of the respondents. IML and IMD also can bring elements of texture and touch without requiring post-mold operations. Spaulding explained, “MuCell® injection-mold 3D IML via Trexel, Inc. is said to enhance branding with a soft-touch effect. MuCell foaming technology puts small cells into thin-wall packaging using primarily nitrogen as the foaming agent. Weight reductions of about 11 percent are possible. End results: product differentiation, better shelf presence, boosted sensory effect, improved insulation and the possibility to use Braille on the container exterior.” “Another big trend is 3D technology for IML,” said Keeton. “When it comes to durable goods, such as car parts, appliances or outdoor equipment, the need to decorate three-dimensional parts is a must. Until recently, options have been very limited for 3D decoration. Most IML labels could be used only on flatto-slightly curved surfaces. Now, decorative films and parts are available that can achieve full 3D coverage, with sharp corners, depressions and deep wrap-around features.” Drummond said Revere Plastics is keeping an eye on industry trends because its customers demand it. “We have seven employees dedicated to in-mold decorating and labeling now, but we have the ability to expand if we need to,” he explained. “Decorating is an area where we can add value, whether that’s through the IMD currently performed in our cleanroom or by supporting some of the capacitive touch applications in IML.” Capitalizing on the opportunities The Fall 2014 IMDA Short Shot Business Survey assessed answers from molders, brand owners, printers, industry suppliers and equipment manufacturers to provide insight into the growth of IMD and IML. At the time of the survey, 38 percent of respondents said their companies provide IML and IMD

October/November 2015 7

 p. 7

TRENDS How did IML/IMD sales compare to the previous quarter?

Caption: Chart references data from the Fall 2014 IMDA Short Shot Business Survey.

services because their customers demand it, an increase of six percent over the 2011 survey results. Packaging and consumer markets were assessed as growth areas, and IML/IMD is a market differentiator for 34 percent of the respondents. Still, IML is a small portion of the overall labeling market.


“In-mold labeling remains a specialized niche field with only a two percent share of the overall 2014 global label market, based on AWA Alexander Watson Associates estimates,” Spaulding said in a list of takeaways from his IMLCON/IMDCON attendance. “This was about 987 million square meters of material produced. Pressure-sensitive and glue-applied labels


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 p. 8


each accounted for 37 percent shares of the worldwide market last year.” Spaulding went on to write, “While the total labeling market is up about four percent annually, the number of labels produced per SKU order is declining overall, according to Xeikon (a provider of digital presses). This can be either a risk or opportunity for IMLs that can be solved via digital printing production. Possibilities for converters include trial and mockup of IMLdecorated objects; short-run IML jobs; large-size labels; and high-quality decoration that can replace direct-offset printing."

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Revere Plastics is prepared to take advantage of the opportunities. “It’s one of the most interesting things we do at Revere Plastics,” said Drummond, “and our customers are very interested in the IML and IMD sides of the business. We’re starting to get out there more to tell potential customers about our capabilities at automotive and appliance tradeshows, and I expect we will have more of these opportunities to work on in the next six to eight months.” n




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Letter from the Chair In a recent article in this magazine, Ed Crutchley, an author and expert in technology innovation in plastics decoration, made several good points. One is the size of the plastics industry – third largest in the US – and another is the variety and fragmentation of the knowledge base that supports the decoration and assembly of plastics. That fragmentation is due to several factors, including the different industries supported; that decoration often is a much smaller part of a product-specific molding and – in fact – product offerUglum ing; and, finally, the tremendous variety of materials and technologies available. To this I would add two more factors: first, the lack of common specifications and requirements even within the industries served. For example, in automotive, each OEM has a unique and sometimes contradictory specification for coating performance. Second, the environment in which the products must survive constantly is changing. There currently are eight new compounds being evaluated by the FDA for use in sunscreens. Many criteria are being evaluated, but their impact on plastics and decoration is not one of them. As a result, as new products come on the market, new and unknown stresses that decoration must survive are introduced. In short, we live in a chaotic world with many varied sources of information. The question for those of us responsible for selecting and implementing secondary operations such as plastic decoration and assembly is how do we know what the best choice is or even if this best choice exists? The best choice is the one that meets the customer’s need for appearance and performance and is one which we can deliver through the processes available to us. The internet has become a popular source, but too often is inadequate or incomplete by itself. Professional organizations, like SPE, offer another very useful way to learn. SPE offers networking opportunities, technical conferences and an extensive electronic library. Recently, SPE has expanded the opportunity to network and to seek help with specific problems by creating a networking platform, THE CHAIN, specific to the plastics industry. SPE also has made it easier to join THE CHAIN if you are not already a member of SPE. Go to the SPE web page, www.4spe. org. If you are a new visitor, would like to register as an SPE e-Member and do not already have a username and login, use the New Visitor Registration to register for the site. SPE e-Members receive instant access to SPE’s THE CHAIN – the exclusive online networking platform for the global plastics industry. If you are having issues with login, please call SPE at 203.775.0471.

There also are two upcoming opportunities to hear papers on leading-edge technologies in plastic decoration and assembly, while also networking with industry leaders. Learn more about ANTEC and the SPE Decorating & Assembly Division TopCon below. This would be a good time to consider writing and presenting a paper. 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. Deadlines have been set for paper submissions, so now is the time 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. 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 TopCons, membership gives you access to the extensive SPE library and many other benefits. Learn more at the Society of Plastics Engineers website,, or by contacting me at Paul Uglum Delphi Electronics and Safety Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division Paper Deadlines Set for ANTEC and SPE Decorating & Assembly Division TopCon The SPE Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) will be held at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana, from May 23-25. The Decoration and Assembly Division again will have a session focused on the latest technologies in plastic decoration and assembly. A more focused technical conference, hosted by the Decoration and Assembly Division, will be held June 7-8. The TopCon will feature two days of papers exclusively on plastic decoration and assembly and will be held in the at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee, near Nashville. Those interested in presenting new technologies should note the following deadlines: Paper deadlines for the 2016 ANTEC are as follows: Paper Submission Deadline Dec. 8, 2015 Paper Review Deadline Jan. 7, 2016 Final Paper Acceptance Deadline Jan. 29, 2016 Final Paper Revision Feb. 23, 2016 Abstracts for the Decoration and Assembly TopCon are due by Dec. 1, 2015. For more information, call 785.271.5801 or visit n

October/November 2015 11



Using Decorative Film Laminates with In-Mold Decoration to Increase Design Flexibility by Len Poole, Soliant, a division of AkzoNobel


onsumers continue to place more requirements on OEMs as they demand higher levels of product differentiation, while also expecting low prices. OEMs, in turn, expect their plastic component suppliers to provide them with innovative methods of meeting customer expectations, while under intense cost pressures and operating “lean” and “green.” One method of meeting these needs is to use decorative film laminates. This paper will cover how film laminates are made, how to use them and the benefits that can be reaped, from millions of potential appearances to allowing the use of materials that are difficult to decorate with more traditional coating methods. What are decorative film laminates? As the name implies, decorative film laminates are plastic films made of multiple layers, laminated together to provide various types of decoration, from wood grain to chrome appearances. Also sometimes called “foils,” the various materials carry the same basic makeup: a cap or clear layer, decorative layers and a substrate layer. How are they made? Most decorative film laminates begin with a clear coat that is either extruded or, more commonly, cast to achieve a lower-stress final product. This clear coat most often is high gloss, but matte and textured finishes also are available. Almost all of the clear coats used today are some sort of alloy of PMMA (acrylic), PVDF (fluoropolymer) or PU (urethane). Each supplier uses a different, proprietary blend of these materials and additives to achieve the weathering and physical characteristics that are desired. Next, some form of decoration is attached to the back of the clear coat so that it is protected from the environment by the clear coat. For patterns, this typically is done using gravure printing and nearly any pattern can be duplicated, including wood grains, technical finishes, brushed and distressed metals and organic patterns, like marble. Continuous coats also can be created that perfectly match spray paints, including pearlescent and metallic colors, with the latest development being an actual stretchable chrome appearance. This chrome appearance material also can be coupled with tinted clear coats to produce effects, such as “black chrome” and finishes that mimic copper, brass, bronze, gold and anodized effects. The decoration layer then is sandwiched in between the clear and a substrate layer, protecting it from contact. The substrate layer typically is much thicker than the other layers and gives the laminate its strength, which makes it easier to handle and use. The most common substrate material is ABS, with TPO and PC (polycarbonate) not too far behind. The substrate polymer type and thickness are determined by the needs of the next phase in the manufacturing process and will be described in more detail in the next section. Some substrates also

12 October/November 2015

may require the addition of primer layers to ensure complete laminate adhesion. How and where are they used? Pressure-Sensitive Decals and FOP Decorative film laminates often are used in the creation of large pressure-sensitive decals. In this case, the substrate layer is replaced with a pressure-sensitive adhesive and backing. Decals are precision trimmed from the flat laminate, the backing is removed and the decal is applied to an existing component. Pressure is imparted during the application, activating the adhesive system. Common uses include automotive striping and “blackouts,” such as b-pillars. In the Form-Over-Part (FOP) process, decorative film laminates usually are coated with a heat-activated adhesive that is cured during a modified thermoforming process and applied to existing components. This method most often is used for providing metal and composite parts with a class A surface without the usual level of prep work required for traditional coating methods, such as filling, sanding and priming. Extrusion Lamination In this application, the clear, decorative and any adhesive layers are brought into intimate contact with the substrate as it exits the die in an extrusion process, laminating them together. This method is becoming an increasingly popular way to decorate profile extrusions, such as automotive roof strips and window seal trim, that are very difficult to mask and paint and nearly impossible to selectively chrome plate. IMD/IMF In-Mold Decorating (IMD), sometimes called In-Mold Foil (IMF), is another popular method for using decorative film laminates. In this process, laminate with a very thin substrate is placed into or stretched over an injection mold cavity. The mold then is closed and molten plastic is injected behind the film, creating a melt bond between the laminate and the molten resin. When the mold opens, the part exits with the decoration permanently attached. In cases where the film is stretched over

the entire mold, the excess must be trimmed away after molding. This is performed both mechanically and by using lasers, depending upon the preference of the molder. This method commonly is used where it is not necessary to have the decoration wrap past the parting line and where part geometry is fairly gentle since the film must be stretched by the molten resin, such as cellphone cases and relatively flat automotive trim. Thermoforming For thermoforming, the substrate layer generally is much thicker than the previously described processes as it provides the structure for the completed part. In this process, the decorative film laminate is heated to just beyond its glass transition temperature so that it becomes pliable, but not molten. The soft laminate then is draped over a mold to take its shape by drawing vacuum through the mold (vacuum forming), using pressurized air to force the sheet against the mold (pressure forming) or a combination of both. This process is used to produce parts like casings for exercise equipment, automotive rocker panels and “skid plates,” as well as chrome bumpers for the heavy truck industry. Insert Injection Molding Insert injection molding combines the thermoforming of decorative film laminates with injection molding. In this process, laminates first are thermoformed into complex shapes and trimmed to match a complex injection mold cavity. These thermoformed inserts then are placed into the injection mold, and processed similar to IMD/IMF. The advantage of insert injection molding over IMD/IMF is that greater draw lengths and wrapping of decoration past parting line become possible. This process is used to make a wide variety of products, from computer housings to automotive interior and exterior trim. Who uses them? The largest user of decorative film laminates is the automotive industry. As consumers have demanded higher and higher levels of decoration, especially in vehicle exterior and interior trim, automotive OEMs have had to find ways to meet that demand without increasing cost. Decorative film laminates have provided an opportunity for them to achieve the high-end appearance of wood, metal and carbon fiber without the high cost of using the real thing. On the exterior, it has given them the opportunity to use suppliers who specialize in certain parts, such as body side moldings or rocker panels, without having to worry about paint match since the different suppliers can use the same paint film. Having proven themselves from decades of use in automobiles, computers and cell phones, decorative film laminates are primed to be used in a myriad of applications. From furniture and consumer goods to medical devices and recreational products – any industry that uses painting, plating or hydrographics could use decorative film laminates.

The largest user of decorative film laminates is the automotive industry. As consumers have demanded higher and higher levels of decoration, especially in vehicle exterior and interior trim, automotive OEMs have had to find ways to meet that demand without increasing cost. Why are decorative film laminates used? Economic Benefits If manufacturers are considering adding the capability to provide differentiated plastic products, they essentially are looking at three options. The first is adding coating capability and, whether talking about adding a paint line, adding a chrome plating line or adding a hydrographic line, this is a very high capital expenditure with a large floor space commitment that often becomes the plant’s bottleneck – not to mention the added compliance costs for emissions that are getting higher all the time. The second option is to outsource coating. This high piece-cost option involves sending good manufactured parts out to a company that specializes in a coating process and hoping that they send enough good, coated parts back to allow orders to be filled. This can result in having to carry “just-in-case” inventory instead of just-in-time, as well as increased shipping costs from sending parts back and forth. The third option is to use decorative film laminates. Using pressure-sensitive decals adds only the cost of the decals. For injection molders, adding IMD/IMF requires only a small amount of capital, and thermoformed inserts can be purchased from suppliers for insert injection molding. For thermoformers, using decorative laminates requires only a dedication to cleanliness and a small learning curve to get used to processing them. In addition, decorative film laminates almost are completely thermoplastic, allowing them to be reground in most cases, whereas most coatings are thermoset and often are not able to be put back into the stream. Environmental Benefits Never before has the condition of the environment been more a part of the collective conscience. One can scarcely watch a TV news program or read a newspaper without being exposed to terms like “carbon footprint” and “sustainability.” Politicians and scientists debate about environmental issues, while corporations and universities race to adopt sustainability programs. With no sign of this trend waning, this is another area where decorative film laminates can help plastic part manufacturers be successful.

October/November 2015 13

 p. 13


According to a study performed by environmental consulting firm MM&A, LLC on automotive exterior painting options, paint film produces at least 95 percent less VOCs than the spray paint systems (see Figure 1). The numbers given for water-based spray painting systems carry an asterisk because, as of the time of this study, they were not capable of matching the full palette of automotive OEM colors. Since paint films can use the same pigments as spray painting, they can match the same colors exactly. For patterns, the competing process is hydrographics. Specific data hasn’t been published, but the fact that many of the inks are solvent-borne and have to be sprayed with a protective clear coat after “dipping” implies hydrographics would end up in the middle of this table. Chrome plating is an even bigger environmental concern because of the release of heavy metals (primarily hexavalent chromium) during the plating process. The latest OSHA exposure requirement is less than five micrograms per cubic meter in eight hours. This means the plating lines are subject to very high compliance costs, both from capturing the Chromium and from the regular air testing necessary to ensure compliance – not to mention the potential negative environmental impacts from accidents and machinery failures. While the popular solution seems to be to send

Coating Method

Average Amt. lbs/VOC vehicle

Avg. per ft2 of surface area for 240 ft2/vehicle (lbs/VOC/ft2)

Solvent-based paint



Water-based paint



Paint film laminates



Figure 1. Paint film laminates offer environmental advantages. *The full palette of automotive OEM colors cannot be matched.

plating operations to countries with lower environmental restrictions, it only is a matter of time before those countries catch up. Chrome-appearance decorative film laminates provide the look of plated chrome without using any heavy metals in production. Decorative film laminates also offer a waste reduction potential. Paints produced for use in paint film can be economically run until used up. Extra paint mixed up for spray painting is

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waste if parts to paint run out before the paint does. For the “dipping” processes of hydrographics and chrome plating, processors must take care of what’s left in the tank. Laminates do not have that problem. Finally, when using decorative film laminates to replace much heavier real wood or real metal parts in vehicles, the overall weight savings result in a reduction in fuel usage and the resultant emissions. For example, a metal chrome bumper for a heavy truck weighs 100lbs, but its thermoformed “chrome” TPO film counterpart weighs just 30lbs and will never rust. What would one have to watch out for? Since decorative film laminates are produced in a batch process, large volumes often are necessary to achieve the best pricing. This can be offset by choosing an “off the shelf” color or pattern, such as chrome or satin nickel, where several different parts using the same film can add up to larger volumes. There also are some geometry limitations: for instance, a wood grain film only can be stretched so far before it distorts the pattern too much to be acceptable. Also, when trying to convert existing molds for use with laminates, gating and mold flow can be difficult to tune in. The best way around these issues is to get experienced suppliers involved as early as possible in the development.

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It is a disruptive technology. It is a very tough decision for companies with paint lines to consider moth-balling that capital equipment, even if it is better for their customers or the environment. Also, decorated parts require clean environments and careful handling, and some shops aren’t ready for that. Again, these problems are best tackled by asking the experts. Done properly, decorative film laminates truly can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendlier alternative to traditional plastics coating methods. In addition, design flexibility increases considerably by using them. Anodized looks that once were only available on aluminum can be brought to plastics. And, the look of chrome plating is available on plastics like polyolefins, rather than just traditional “plate-able” plastics. Once the tooling exists, a part can be decorated in almost any imaginable finish, from wood grain and carbon fiber to camouflage and chrome. n Len Poole is the global tech services manager for the Soliant brand of AkzoNobel Specialty Plastics and has over 16 years of experience working with decorative film laminates. During that time, he has developed more than 200 different thermoformed and insert injection molded decorative plastic parts for the automotive and consumer electronics industries. For more information, visit



SPI Partners with SPE to Produce Recycling Conference SPI, The Plastics Industry Trade Association, announced that it signed a three-year agreement with SPE and its Plastics Environmental Division (PED) to co-promote and develop technical information for the Re|focus Recycling Summit & Expo, an event designed to help brand owners and processors achieve their environmental goals. The Re|focus Recycling Summit & Expo will take place April 25-27, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. For more information, visit Direct Container Print 2015 Announces Program Details Direct Container Print 2015 (DCP) marks its entrance onto the 2015 event calendar with presentations on low migration inks, UV LED curing and recent developments in screen and inkjet technology. Organized by ESMA, Sint-Joris-Winge, Belgium, in cooperation with Chameleon Business Media, DCP is supported by manufacturers such as KBA-Kammann, Marabu, Gallus and Sun Chemical. This technical conference introduces printers, packaging manufacturers and brand owners to the potential of direct-to-shape container decoration on plastics. DCP takes place Nov. 23-24, 2015, in Düsseldorf, Germany. For more information, visit Hypertherm Awards Educational Grants to Schools Hypertherm, Hanover, New Hampshire, announced the recipients of its 2015 Spark Something Great educational grant program. The winners represent nearly a dozen high schools, vocational schools, community colleges, colleges and universities from throughout North America. Each will receive a Hypertherm Powermax 45 plasma cutting and gouging system, Hypertherm’s AWS SENSE approved “Plasma Cutting Technology: Theory and Practice” curriculum kit and in-person training from a Hypertherm industrial cutting expert. For more information, visit Launches All-New Website has launched a new website, loaded with new content, including downloadable brochures, links to some of the company’s video blogs and more. The goal with the updated site was to design something that fit the corporate culture. The company is not part of a multi-national corporation; instead, it is a close-knit group of professionals who share a passion for pad printing methods, machines and materials. The site now is easier to navigate and offers better access to information about the company, TOSH and pad printing in general. For more information, visit

Inkcups Now is Open for Business in Mexico Inkcups Now Mexico S.A. de C.V., Queretaro, Mexico, officially is incorporated in Mexico with a 500-square-meter space with office, warehouse and demo room. The warehouse stocks most of the Sapphire ink series (SB, MB, BA, CG, J3 and SI), ink cups, ceramic rings, printing pads and other supplies. The demo room is equipped with a B100 tabletop pad printer, B150 large-image pad printer, ICN-2200PS 2-color pad printer, BPL1220 exposure unit and R160 screen printer. For more information, visit Americhem Unveils 2016-2017 Color Trends Americhem Inc., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, has released its 20162017 Color Trends, comprised of six color palettes, including Rush Hour, Office Diligence, Casual Friday, Night Life, Welcome Distraction and Sunday Brunch. The color families, developed by a committee of color trend specialists, are forecasted to be popular in the coming years based on global influences, pop culture, design trends, technology and fashion-forward color predictions. In conjunction with a fashion design house in Milan, Italy, the groups of colors, in addition to textures, finishes and effects, are translated into seasonal design concepts, moods and lifestyles. For more information, visit Mimaki USA Adds Financing Services Mimaki USA, Suwanee, Georgia, announced the launch of Mimaki Financial Services to provide consultative financing solutions for Mimaki customers. This service enables customers to protect their cash, overcome budget limitations and acquire the right printing equipment for existing jobs, as well as future growth. Mimaki Financial Services offers monthly payment plans that can be customized to meet almost any budgeting needs. An online Resource Center provides the tools necessary for pre-approval, credit decision, document preparation and contract commencement. For more information, call 678.567.6600 or visit Plasmatreat Celebrates 20th Anniversary In September, Plasmatreat celebrated its 20th anniversary at the company's new site in Steinhagen, Westphalia, Germany, by hosting a party with over 300 guests, including colleagues, close business partners and friends of the company. Managing Director Christian Buske gave a

October/November 2015 17

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special thank you to his colleagues, many of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years. The celebration also marked another milestone in the company's history. In January of this year, Plasmatreat acquired a 38,000m² site adjacent to its headquarters in Steinhagen. The buildings on the site currently are undergoing extensive renovation. For more information, visit Apex and SEI Partner to Provide Printing, Feeding Systems Apex Machine Company, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has partnered with Service Engineering, Greenfield, Indiana, to provide integrated technologies for manufacturing a broad range of feeding-printing systems. SEI’s high-output feeding systems incorporate features, such as part orientation, part presentation when needed and vision inspection-inspect for features/identification per programmable parameters. Apex Machine offers design, engineering and manufacturing of specialist printing and parts handling machinery for three-dimensional components, offering highend engineered solutions for complex product handling and printing in medical, pharmaceutical, personal care and auto-

motive. For more information, visit or Mystic Adds Shrink Sleeve Application Equipment Mystic Assembly and Decorating, Warminster, Pennsylvania, has introduced shrink sleeves, available for virtually any container, to its decorating arsenal. The shape, size and contour of containers can add more character to an already visually appealing shrink label. Shrink sleeves can be applied manually or by machine. A dry or steam heat process exposes the film to the exact temperature needed to shrink the label around the contours of the container. For more information, visit Sun Chemical Honored by New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame Sun Chemical, Parsippany, New Jersey, has been selected to receive the 2015 Corporate Award by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. Additionally, the Hall of Fame also will recognize Ramasamy Krishnan, a chief scientist at Sun Chemical, with the Inventor of the Year Award. Sun Chemical was selected for its multiple patents in pearlescent and other metal oxide coated pigments that provide more vibrant, lustrous colored shades and optimal control of color and opacity for applications in plastics, automotive and architectural coatings, ink compositions and cosmetics. For more information, visit DuraTech Industries Produces In-Mold Decorated Button for 2015 Ford Mustang DuraTech Industries, La Crosse, Wisconsin, is producing the engine start/stop button for Ford Motor Company in the 2015 Ford Mustang. This automotive interior part features high-gloss and selective matte finishes. The entire surface is hard-coated to provide superior abrasion and UV- and chemical-resistance. The graphics appear black during the day and bright blue at night when lit. The construction is second surface printed on polycarbonate film with formable hard-coat. Parts are printed, formed, trimmed and molded. The molding resin is polycarbonate. For more information, call 608.781.2570 or visit Herrmann Ultrasonics, Inc. Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary In 1990, Thomas Herrmann, the son of Walter Herrmann, who founded Herrmann Ultraschalltechnik GmbH in 1961, established Herrmann Ultrasonics Inc. in the Chicago area. Hermann Ultrasonics, Inc. is proud to recognize a milestone year in observance of its 25th anniversary. The company has been focused on providing ultrasonic welding technology for various markets, including the medical, automotive, consumer, electronics, food and hygiene industry. Continuous growth of its plastic, packaging and nonwovens divisions has allowed the company to establish Technology Centers throughout North

18 October/November 2015

NEW FACES America. The 20,000 sq. ft. facility, located in Bartlett, Illinois, has been managed by Uwe Peregi since 2006. For more information, visit Kaverman Releases Book on Modern Pad Printing “Modern Pad Printing,” the third book by John Kaverman, contains updated information on the pad printing process, including a comparison of pad printing versus other product decorating processes and an analysis of machines, drive systems, accessories, clichés, inks and additives, transfer pads, project management and more. The book is 246 pages, 8.5x11, perfect bound and priced at $ 49.95. A pdf is available for $29.95. “Modern Pad Printing“ is available from Innovative Marking Systems. For more information, call 978.459.6533 or email n

Columbia Marking Tools, Chesterfield, Michigan, added Left Coast Tool & Supply Co. Associates to its list of distributors and manufacturer’s representatives. Larry Mikita, of Left Cost Tool, Costa Mesa, California, will serve CMT customers in California.


Randy Antaya recently was appointed executive vice president for Extol, Inc., Zeeland, Michigan. Over the past 12 years, Antaya has served as director of operations, engineering manager and project management team leader. Plasmatreat North America, Elgin, Illinois, has appointed Mercedes Tur Escriva as territory manager for Mexico and Central America. Tur Escriva has over 15 years of experience working with clients in industrial surface treatment technologies.


SEKISUI Polymer Innovations, LLC (SPI), Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, has appointed Karen Brock Amoah to the role of vice president of sales and marketing. Before joining SPI, Amoah was the sales and marketing director for Americas at IPS Corporation. n

October/November 2015 19



Performance of Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive Tapes Under Different Strain Rates by N. Pemberton-Pigott, G. Burger and D.A. Wasylyshyn, BlackBerry Ltd.


he adhesion properties of several pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tapes under different stress levels and associated deformation rates were compared to examine the correlation of standard peel performance to creep and impact performance. Results show that the typical peel strength testing done at 300mm/min cannot be used to assess the performance at higher (~72,000mm/min) or lower (~5µm/min) peel rates. Using different substrates, several PSA tapes were tested in a creep peel-type test and a relatively rigid cantilever-type (Mode I opening) impact energy test. Results showed that the creep resistance of a given tape did not show a consistent correlation to impact resistance. Further, a ranking of peel strengths could not be consistently correlated to either a ranked performance of creep resistance or impact energy. These results suggest that a designer must carefully consider the level and character of the forces created in a joint assembly and may have to consider other adhesive tape performance factors beyond those available in common adhesive datasheets. Introduction The joining of parts in smartphones is a particularly difficult task in that a high level of robustness must be achieved in a small space. Smartphones are designed to be thinner and lighter in each design cycle, resulting in more strenuous demands on the materials used to make them. One of the challenges for smartphone design and assembly is to have a system that is rigid enough to resist excessive flexure, yet robust enough to absorb and dissipate mechanical impact energy when dropped. There have been studies that have focused specifically on the failure of homogenous adhesive layers in terms of generalized fracture mechanics [1] [2], rheology and molecular mobility [3] and viscoelasticity [4]. These can form the framework from which inferences can be made about the performance and behavior of the heterogeneous PSA tape systems examined here. The tapes in this work are comprised of multiple layers of adhesive, carrier films and even foam-based cores. The heterogeneous construction of such industrial tapes can create specific advantages for certain use cases, but can in turn result in a weakness if used without properly understanding each tape’s characteristics. In the smartphone industry, plastic parts have become more complex, as they now are thinner, more intricate and even may contain several different materials in the same part. Flatness of mating surfaces, especially in multi-part assemblies, is more difficult to control, especially once fully assembled, adding to the requirements that the PSA will have to resist permanent assembly stresses. Also, the assembly could experience elevated temperatures from sun exposure or from extended use of the device.

20 October/November 2015

Elway et al. [5] quantified the effects of temperature on the peel strength of general PSAs and found that it maximizes between -25°C and 15°C, depending on the PSA and the peel rate. Other studies [4] [6] elucidated PSA peel strength properties from dynamic mechanical techniques. This was done with the understanding that energy losses due to relaxation processes don’t capture the additional plastic flow losses experienced during large strain adhesion failure [2], but was addressed on a phenomenological basis [4]. Selecting a PSA that is more resistant to failure by drop impact also is important to maintain assembly integrity. Such an impact results in stresses that rapidly are applied; therefore, the viscoelastic response of PSAs are of prime interest in multi-part assemblies. To this end, there are studies in the literature that have examined the peel strength and failure modes of various adhesives under varying conditions of temperature, peel rate and average molecular weight [5] [6] [7] [8]. The common aspect of each is that they deal with molecular mobility of the adhesive and its ability to flow when challenged with slow peel rates, high temperatures or low molecular weight. Or, to the contrary, the adhesive’s ability to be rigid and elastic when challenged with high peel rate or at low temperatures or possessing high molecular weight. Additionally, the peel performance of the PSA is affected by the strength of the bond to the substrate, and the nature of the failure reveals the limiting aspects. As described elsewhere [7] [6], homogeneous adhesive layers can fail in one of two ways: cohesive failure – a tearing of the actual adhesive layer (with the adhesive remaining bonded to both substrates) or an adhesive failure – debonding of the adhesive from the substrate (with the adhesive itself remaining intact). An adhesive tape system may fail additionally due to cohesive failure of the carrier, as in tearing of a core layer (foam, for example). The work presented here is intended to shed some light on the mechanical responses of engineering adhesive tapes that find use in smartphone assemblies, where persistent tensile stresses, elevated temperatures and sudden impact stresses may occur. Part 1: Peel strength Experimental Some aspects of the adhesive tapes and substrates selected for creep performance are listed in Table 1. All of the tapes (A to L) were double-sided adhesive tapes. Tapes intended for impact applications by their respective suppliers have been identified with an underscore for clarity. Substrates were selected based on their common use in smartphone construction: in this

Table 1: Peel strength values (N/25.4mm). Tests were done at 300mm/min, 90°, 25.4mm wide samples after three days' wetting.

case, stainless steel (SS), polyamide (PA), polycarbonate (PC), impact-modified poly(methyl-methacrylate) (PMMA), bare glass (glass) and ink-on-glass (creep testing only). Standard 90° peel tests were done in-house using a sliding sample table on an Instron 5548 mechanical tester. Test samples were 25.4mm wide by ~75mm long and were laminated to either a polyimide film (tapes A, B and C) or a PET film (tapes D to L). Substrates were pre-cleaned using isopropyl alcohol before tapes were adhered to each one manually, with care taken to prevent air bubbles. The samples then were left to set as-is for 72 hours. The force required to peel the tapes at 90° from the substrate surface for about 50mm of their length at a rate of 300mm/min was recorded. This is expressed as Newtons of force per 25.4mm of tape width (N/25.4mm). Each run was repeated three times to report the average value. Results Peel performance results can be found in Tables 1 and 3 for all substrates and adhesives tested. Tapes K and E generally had the best peel performance, while tapes A, F and L generally were weaker than the others. A comparison of peel performance to both creep and impact performance is discussed in the following sections. Peel testing results for relevant adhesives and substrates can be found in Table 1 and 3. The best performance was found to be from tape K, which had very high peel forces, while tape L performed worst overall. Note that one group of peel tests were done with 9mm bare glass substrate, whereas the creep tests described in the next section were done with a 0.8mm ink-on-glass substrate. This was because suitable bare glass substrates for peel tests were not available at the time of testing. Ink-on-glass is fairly common in modern smartphone designs and samples were readily available; however, the thin (~0.8 mm) substrates were not conducive

Table 3: A list of tapes tested for peel and impact performance.

to fixturing and peel testing without damaging them. For the purposes of this study, we have assumed that the critical surface tension between these two substrates (32 and 37 dynes/cm, for glass and ink-on-glass, respectively) are comparable and expect similar performance in either case. Part 2: Creep performance Experimental Static creep tests were done using an in-house hanging-weight method. Briefly, adhesive tape samples (25.4mm x ~75mm) were adhered to the substrate and a 1.5lb weight was placed across the sample’s area for 24 hours to ensure good wetting. Four such samples were prepared at a time and then hung upside-down, each with a different weight hanging on one end (a tail of tape was left unadhered in order to hang the weight). This produced a 90° peel orientation for the adhered tape. As the tape slowly peeled from the substrate, the hanging weight would eventually trip a switch and stop a timer. The time to peel a set length of tape then was converted to an average peel rate (mm/min).

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Also included in Table 1 are the surface energies of various substrates (bottom row), as well as the actual creep results, discussed in the next section. The critical surface energy, γc, for all the substrates was estimated in-house using a series of dyne solutions. Results Creep resistance results for several different substrates are shown in Figures 2: a) PMMA substrate, b) PA substrate, c) PC substrate and d) ink-on-glass substrate. Results are reported as a creep rate (mm/min) for an applied creep load per tape-width (N/25.4mm). This should not be confused with the peel strength introduced in the previous part, which is the measured force to peel a length of tape that is 25.4mm wide. Note that all the tape systems failed through an adhesive failure to the substrate, except for tape K, which failed cohesively. As expected, the heavier weights produced higher creep rates, and lighter weights produced lower creep rates. Considering performance across all the different weights used, the seven adhesives showed creep rates ranging from ~0.00015mm/min (tape E on PC), to ~0.4mm/min (tape K on PMMA). These are three to six orders of magnitude slower than the constant 300mm/min peel rate used for the peel strength measurements of the previous section.

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Figures 2a-d: Creep resistance results for a variety of substrates

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The graphs of Figure 2 show that some of the adhesives are more affected by the type of substrate than the others. It is expected that tape K is minimally affected by the type of substrate since this tape failed by a cohesive mode for all substrates, meaning the rate of viscous flow in the bulk adhesive was the main contributor to the failure, not the bonding or local flow at the substrate. An example of each type of failure is shown in Figure 3. Overall, tape L consistently displayed inferior creep resistance (high creep rate) on any substrate except on PC, while tape B relatively is consistent as the most creep resistant (low creep rate) on the substrates, except on PA. To effectively compare the creep resistance of the various tapes and substrates to each other, as well as to compare them to the peel strength results, a simple approach is to rank the peel and creep performances of each adhesive for each substrate to which they are applied. To this end, the tapes were ranked from largest to smallest peel force and from slowest to fastest creep rates (Table 2). Tapes that performed within ±10 percent of each other were ranked the same (indicated by letters without a space between them), while tapes that showed a performance difference of >10 percent are spaced apart from each other. The rankings also have been shown with the most convenient tape lined up vertically (in this case, tape E). Consequently, for each substrate, tapes that are to the left can be considered to have better performance than tapes to the right; e.g. for peel strength

Figure 3. Photos of creep test samples after testing: a) Adhesive failure of tape A from the glass substrate, b) Cohesive failure of tape K to the PA substrate (tape on the left, substrate on the right).

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Table 2: Adhesive creep performance ranking (arbitrarily aligned to tape E for clarity). Overall, tape E may be the best option for an application requiring both peel and creep resistance.

on PMMA, tape E ranks first, tapes B and K both rank second and tape A fifth. The creep test rankings were judged slightly differently from the peel tests as several creep runs must be condensed to a single ranking number. In this case, each tape was judged by how many times the tape performed best for each applied load. Now that these rankings are prepared for peel and creep performance on the substrates, they can be compared for correlations. For example, on PMMA the best adhesive in peel was tape E, while tapes L and A performed the worst. However, in creep testing on PMMA several tapes (A, B, C and E), all performed similarly, with tape K the worst. Considering the PC substrate, in peel we can see that tape K was best, but in creep it was worst. These results suggest that creep performance cannot be accurately predicted from the standard peel force values; i.e.

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adhesion strength at standard peel testing speeds (~300 mm/ min) cannot be used to predict the best adhesive tape to resist creep under constant load conditions (with creep rates in the range 0.0001–0.01 mm/min). Thus, we cannot claim a consistent correlation between peel force and creep resistance. Part 3: Impact performance Experimental The adhesive tapes selected for impact performance are listed in Table 3. Of note is tape F, a conductive adhesive tape with an aluminum foil carrier. Each tape sample was prepared for testing by sandwiching two small slabs of a given substrate into a “T” shape. These test samples initially were compressed with ~10 N to work out trapped bubbles, then left to wet out for 72 hours at room temperature. Each T-shaped sample then was mounted upside down in a jig. The samples then were struck with a pendulum-type impact tester. The pendulum impact produced a cleavage-type loading (Mode I) on the adhesive joint by striking the vertical part of the sample, knocking it away from the horizontal part. It was set such that it struck the sample with a speed of ~1.95m/s and could provide a total impact energy of ~380 mJ (+/- 2mJ). The energy that each sample absorbed during impact was calculated by comparing the follow-through angle to that obtained when no sample was loaded. Three samples of

26 October/November 2015

each adhesive and substrate combination were tested and the results averaged. Results Unlike the creep or peel testing, the tapes failed in a variety of modes during impact testing: Tapes E and J failed with mixed failure modes; tape L showed adhesive failures, but occurred between the adhesive layer and the carrier tape (not the substrate); and the other samples suffered from some sort of adhesive failure to the substrate. The impact energy in mJ was calculated for each adhesive and is summarized in Table 3. The results of Table 3 show that tape A performed fairly well on stainless steel (103mJ) but rather poorly on Glass (2mJ). From Part 1, tape D had poor peel strengths (24-27N) compared to the other tapes; however, it had the highest impact values for both steel and glass (309mJ and 305mJ, respectively). Another example, tape E, which had the same thickness as tape D (150µm), had greater peel strength than tape D (47N vs. ~25N), but worse impact resistance (161-241mJ vs. 305-309mJ). To help look for correlation amongst the different units of measure, it may be easier to use a ranking as was done previously with the creep performance in Part 2 of this report. Table 4


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ASSEMBLY resistant to these stress conditions than others, particularly concerning impact. Comparing the results from each type of test, it was apparent that one cannot correlate the performance ranking from one property, such as peel strength, to other properties, such as impact or creep resistance.

Table 4: Adhesive tape impact performance ranking. Tape D ranks first on both substrates tested despite a poor ranking in peel performance.

shows these rankings for the impact testing. We can see from the rankings that tapes K and E rank first and second for peel strength (tape D ranks fourth), but tape D ranks first for impact for both substrates tested. Tape J is thicker than tape E; however, E ranks better than J in both peel and impact. Of course the foam-core tapes (D, E, J, K, L) generally outperformed the thinner, non-foam-core tapes (A, F, G, H) for impact performance (peel performances were mixed) for reasons to be discussed later. We can see from Table 4 that the tapes utilizing foam-cores (D, E, J, K and L) ranked better in impact than the non-foam-core tapes (A, F, G and H). This is not unexpected as the foam is designed to deform under loading to spare the adhesive bonds from rapid loading to high levels from impact forces. If we compare the foam core tapes to each other, we can see that for peel strength on SS the ranking is K-E-J-D-L, and for impact energy on SS the ranking is approximately D-K-E-J-L, which are similar except for the rearrangement of tape D. This suggests that there may be some correlation of the foam-core tapes when comparing peel strength performance to impact performance; however, the one exception (tape D) suggests that the correlation may not be reliable if more tapes are considered. When examining the remaining non-foam-core tapes, we can see that no correlation can be made between peel and impact performance for SS or Glass. These tapes don’t have an intermediate layer of foam to absorb “instantaneous” stresses, and therefore rely on the adhesive layers and their bonds to the substrate (or carriers of PET or PI) for energy absorption. Impact testing was attempted using the plastic substrates used for peel and creep testing in Parts 1 and 2 of this report; however, the impact energy values all were very low (less than 6mJ) and within expected sample and machine error (estimated to be ~10% and 2mJ, respectively) rendering the assessment unreliable with the present setup. Future testing may be done on plastic substrates with a better sample preparation technique that reduces sample-to-sample variation. Conclusions Experiments were created to compare common peel strength values (as reported on most technical data sheets) of PSA tapes with their associated creep and impact performances. The experiments showed that some tapes significantly were more

This suggests that the traditionally available peel strength from a TDS should not alone be used to select a PSA tape that is expected to experience alternative stress conditions, such as persistent tension (creep condition) or abrupt impact. The lack of correlation is not surprising, since the ability of the adhesive to resist tensile forces is dependent on the rheological properties of the adhesive, as found from various earlier studies. Therefore, the rate of stress application (peel rate) defines whether the adhesive is in its liquid-like, rubber-like or glassylike response regime. Some of the PSA tapes examined here were engineered structures, with either foam cores to optimize impact performance (which was verified during testing), or carrier films of PET or PI. This complicated the interpretation and produced nontraditional failure modes of the adhesives, like tearing through the foam core itself (mimicking cohesive failure) or adhesive failure between the adhesive and the carrier film (instead of the substrate). This work further punctuates that the selection of PSA tapes for engineering applications must be made with full knowledge of the levels of stress to be expected, the environmental conditions and the nature of the stresses (i.e. persistent tension, constant peeling or rapid impact). Understanding the stress condition during product service can allow for simple, targeted verification testing to be performed early in the design cycle to ensure final product compliance. In addition, reviewing the nature of the failure mode of the adhesive/substrate system can give clues as to which adhesive properties are falling short and also help point toward what adhesive/tape system may provide the solution. This focused approach to PSA selection can be more successful than using standard peel strength values with newer designs or applications. n Acknowledgements Thanks to Mohamed Ali, Ben Tupling, Adrish Khan and Steven McCuaig for help in preparing and testing samples.

For further discussion and article references, visit the Plastics Decorating website.

October/November 2015 29




IMDA Award Winners Announced The In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) is proud to present the winners of its Ninth Annual Awards Competition, which honors the industry’s best in-mold labeled packaging and in-mold decorated durable products. The 2015 winning entries were chosen by a panel of judges based on creativity in design, engineering and innovation. Winners were recognized during the 2015 IMDA Symposium & Exhibit Hall, held October 28-29 in Skokie, Illinois. Best Injection Molded (IML) Package Gold Award: Cascade Dishwasher Packs Submitted by: IML Labels Inc. Brand Owner: Proctor & Gamble Molder: Bway Label Supplier: IML Labels Inc. This new full wrap IML, replacing pressure-sensitive labels on front and back, created a visually stunning package that has helped increase sales of this product significantly. It gives the brand 360-degree graphics with more space for additional product information. The package now is 100-percent polypropylene, enhancing its recycleability and customer appeal. P&G converted not only this tub, but all of its other tub sizes to IML, with significant sales growth across the entire brand. Best Thin Wall Package Gold Award: Olympus Greek Yogurt Submitted by: Stephanos Karydakis Printing House SA Brand Owner: Olympus Dairy Molder: Kotronis Plastics Label Supplier: Stephanos Karydakis Printing House SA The BackPrint technology offered a totally scratch-free label surface and made perfect sense for pasteurization, autoclave procedures and dishwasher resistance, as well as direct lip contact. At the same time, the package had the highest possible gloss without the use of UV lacquers, even in thin-wall packages. Best Label Design Gold Award: Homann Meat Salad – Golden Pickle Competition Submitted by: Verstraete In-Mold Labels Brand Owner: Homann Feinkost GmbH Molder: Spies Kunststoffe GmbH Label Supplier: Verstraete In-Mold Labels The German salad producer Homann launched a “Golden Pickle” competition. Homann opted for Verstraete’s DoubleSided IML labels for the bottom of the packaging. These innovative labels were printed on both sides and concealed the golden pickle effectively from the con-

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sumer’s curious gaze. The consumer only found out if there was a golden pickle on the bottom of the pot (and if he/she had won 5,000 Euros) when the last portion of the meat salad was served. The tub part of the packaging had a unique label design: both sides and bottom were decorated with only one label. Silver Award: Dulux WeatherShield 20-Liter Paint Pail Submitted by: PT San Darma Plastics Brand Owner: Akzo-Nobel Molder: PT San Darma Plastics Label Supplier: Korsini-SAF The transition from metal pails to plastic pails for Akzo Nobel Indonesia’s top-ofthe-line Dulux WeatherShield product line required a novel innovative and premium appearance. Utilizing pails with the IML technique from San Darma Plastics and Korsini’s meticulously designed special mirror-finished metallic ink rotogravure label, Akzo Nobel created a new benchmark in a unique, but impressive, presentation. Best Injection Molded Durable (IMD) Part Gold Award: Clarisonic Mia 2 Submitted by: ZoMazz, Inc. Brand Owner: Clarisonic Molder: Phillips Medisize Label Supplier: ZoMazz, Inc. The patented ZoMazz digital inmold decoration® (DIMD) technology is the ultimate product embellishment technology for the Clarisonic Mia 2. With ZoMazz DIMD, the Clarisonic design team was free to create endless decorative variations while meeting the most stringent chemicaland abrasion-resistance requirements necessary for beauty tools. The Mia 2 part incorporates complex 3D, deep draw, IMD label design, digital IMD printing, graphic distortion, graphics registering across parting lines and rotary triple shot molding to achieve a water-tight world-class design. The Mia 2 is a flagship product for Clarisonic. With ZoMazz DIMD, Clarisonic has been able to launch 20 different graphic presentations on the Mia 2 within a year for both promotional and inbox releases. Silver Award: Logo Plate Assembly Submitted by: Distinctive Plastics, Inc. Brand Owner: HotSpring Spa Molder: Distinctive Plastics, Inc. Label Supplier: Kurz America

This logo plate for a high-end hydrotherapy spa not only needed to be elegant and durable, but functional as well. The solid piano black surface boldly supports the HotSpring name in silver with a functional logo that appears white when turned off, yet the multi-colored LEDs behind the plate signal the condition of the spa when turned on. Utilizing 2nd surface printing provided by the Kurz IMD roll method (IMR) on the back side of the plate not only provides for maximum durability, but also makes for a deep elegant look viewing through the acrylic plate. The plate is outfitted with a 2-shot light guide that channels the LED light so as to not get any cross-lighting. Best Part Design Gold Award: Eggyplay Submitted by: Verstraete In-Mold Labels Brand Owner: Eggs Posure Molder: Eggs Posure Label Supplier: Verstraete In-Mold Labels Eggs Posure wanted to develop creative packaging concepts for the egg industry. The Eggs Posure showpiece, Eggyplay, served as packaging and a sustainable toy because the egg boxes work like clickable building blocks. This innovative 100-percent recyclable packaging weighed less than traditional egg packaging and took up half the stacking space. The dishwasher-proof IML labels produced by Verstraete IML are resistant to repeated exposure to high temperatures, moisture and detergents and offer optimal protection for the colors. Best Product Family Gold Award: 4800 Series Bait Bucket Submitted by: Plano Synergy Brand Owner: Plano Synergy – Frabill Division Molder: Plano Synergy Label Supplier: Verstraete In-Mold Labels Plano Synergy set out to upgrade its bait storage buckets in not just functionality and ease-of-use for anglers, but also in establishing a unique visual look on the shelf that set the Frabill brand apart from the competition. Each of the five new buckets started with a unique IML-decorated base calling out the model and feature configurations of specialized lids, strainers, foam insulation and aerators. After an in-depth review of innovative branding technologies, Frabill proceeded with a new IML automation system, leveraging past successes with IML and existing knowledge of the IML process on previous projects. Silver Award: SealPack Pint Submitted by: IPL Inc. Brand Owner: Safeway Molder: IPL Inc. Label Supplier: Verstraete In-Mold Labels

Safeway approached IPL Inc. looking for a new clear package to replace an opaque paper container for its Gelato, Sorbet and Premium Ice Cream. The new container needed to be clear and have a clear IML decoration, while meeting the -40°F freezable impact requirements. The SealPack Pint is a 16 oz. high-clarity frozen food container that was created to fulfill those needs. The clear polypropylene container with IML and lid is 100-percent recyclable. The embossed colored lid and the clear container with complementary photography quality graphics per flavor allow the consumer to see the ice cream for better consumer appeal. Best Thermoformed IML Package Gold Award: ConAgra Foods/Tech II IML-T Submitted by: Verstraete In-Mold Labels Brand Owner: ConAgra Foods Inc. Molder: Tech II Label Supplier: Verstraete In-Mold Labels ConAgra Foods was looking to rebrand its round direct-printed packaging to a real eye-catcher on the shelves. Together with Tech II, a thermoformed square 15oz package was developed. This rebranded product now is highly decorative and offers great communication opportunities, thanks to the five-sided IML label, printed by Verstraete IML. Decorating this packaging now is a one-stop process. Best Prototype Package Gold Award: Fresh Submitted by: Stephanos Karydakis Printing House SA Brand Owner: Jokey Plastics Molder: Jokey Plastics Label Supplier: Stephanos Karydakis Printing House SA This prototype package had the first multi-interactive label in the market using several technologies, including thermochromic ink in printed areas, which changed color reversibly over the temperature range of -10 and +69°C (14 and 149°F). The design of the label incorporated invisible digital watermarking technology. The consumer could scan the packaging at any point on the label with a custom designed smartphone app and be immediately redirected to a specific Internet page without the need of a QR code. The label was printed on a metallized substrate, which could be statically charged and molded. Finally, this label had spot glossy and matte lacquers. n

October/November 2015 33



In-Mold Decorating and Labeling Central Decal Company 800.869.7654 Central Decal, Burr Ridge, Illinois, has expanded its KAPiml product offering to include IML solutions for a wide range of thermoplastics. Central Decal specializes in providing durable in-mold decorating solutions for applications where performance and repeatability are critical to the success of the program. KAPimls are used to decorate indoor and outdoor products and are customized to meet critical performance, aesthetic and cost requirements for each application. Designed for injection and blow molding, KAPimls are available in sizes up to 30''x40'' and in thicknesses from 0.003'' to 0.030''. Integrated Technologies International, LLC 678.354.1947 Integrated Technologies, Kennesaw, Georgia, has introduced the Label-Mate IML Decorating System. The Label-Mate is an all-inclusive, fully automatic decorating system that offers a versatile, cost-effective solution for in-mold labeling requirements. Features include a highspeed servo side-entry robot arm, a quick-change IML label tooling design, heavy-duty frame, OSHA-approved safety guarding, a touchscreen color teach pendant and an SPI interface package. The system is designed to be portable and interchangeable with injection molds and injection molding machines. Proell, Inc. 630.587.2300 Norilux® DC from Proell, Inc. in St. Charles, Illinois, can be used as a protection lacquer or hard coat on PC and PMMA films. This Dual-Cure screen printing lacquer is formable and abrasion- and chemical-resistant. In addition to the high-gloss Norilux DC lacquer, various satin gloss, textured and

34 October/November 2015

matte grades, as well as pigmented and UV-stabilized versions, are available. Tactile surface structures, e.g. brush effects and 3D patterns, can be printed with the highly resistant lacquer. Norilux DC also can be used for automotive interiors, center stacks, touch panels and decorative trims. Even mobile phone covers and sanitary appliance panels can be overprinted using Norilux DC. Romo Durable Graphics 920.712.4090 Romo Durable Graphics, De Pere, Wisconsin, offers a thermo-chromatic disappearing ink that will disappear when heat is applied to it, revealing the image printed under it, as shown with Romo’s Halloween graphic that reveals a skeleton when a thumb is held over the black “blob.” The thermo-chromatic ink can be molded into any polypropylene application. Schober USA 513.489.7393 Schober USA, Fairfield, Ohio, has introduced vector technology for the converting of digitally printed flexible packaging material into IML. The RSM-DIGI/ Vericut is a hybrid drive technology especially designed for digitally printed flexible packaging materials, which combines continuous and vector rotary diecutting technology in re-registration mode. In fully modular design, the RSM-DIGI/Varicut is designed to convert web width up to 770mm with repeat or format length of up to 1,150mm. The equipment is designed to pile up different types of products combined within the same printing image. These can be heavily nested or can be a combination of very large/long and small products. Productspecific interchangeable pick-up plates takes up products at synchronized high speeds and stacks them non-stop into a dual piling cassette system.

Simco Ion 800.203.3419

Yupo Corporation America 888.873.9876

The VCM Charging Generator and Pinner-T static charging bar from Simco Ion, Hatfield, Pennsylvania, have been engineered for operator safety and performance, allowing easy manufacturing and reduced costs for the in-mold labeling process. Using an electrostatic IML process offers cost and reliability benefits by eliminating the need for vacuum in the die. The newly updated Chargemaster VCM charging generator is programmable for either voltage or current control mode to supply the high voltage for charging bars and applicators used to electrostatically bond materials. Simco-Ion’s Pinner-T charging bar is energized with charging generators to deliver a safe charge to temporarily pin or bond materials together. It is resistively coupled and has approximately 50 standard lengths available.

YUPO Sculpt IML technology from Yupo Corporation, Chesapeake, Virginia, decorates embossed surfaces to create distinctive visual and tactile designs that help consumers see and touch products. Seamless IML labels already are less susceptible to counterfeiting, thereby protecting products and brand reputation. Additionally, YUPO Sculpt IML adds a third dimension to product pictures and graphics, helping increase “shopability� with higher-quality images that differentiate a brand. Furthermore, no adhesives or release liners are used with YUPO IML substrates, so waste is greatly eliminated during the manufacturing process. n

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TECHNOLOGY Laser Texturing Adds Another Level of In-Mold Decoration Possibilities by Chad Hase, GF Machining Solutions


aser texturing allows for intricate and consistent designs to be added to injection molds for decorative purposes. These textures enable individualization of products ranging from automotive components to packaging by mimicking the look of leather, wood, geometric patterns and much more. When compared to conventional surface treatment using chemical etching processes, laser texturing can offer ecological and design advantages. What is laser texturing? Deriving their name from an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, lasers are electronic optical devices that generate a very intense and narrow beam of monochromatic light by amplifying photons with more energy through collisions with other photons. While the technology has existed for over half a century, applying it to the generation of textures on materials is a relatively recent development. Programming for laser texturing begins with saving a texture as an 8-/16-bit grayscale tiff or JPEG. One thing to remember with this process is that the darker the black, the deeper the ablation. The opposite also is true, meaning that the closer to white, the less the ablation that is taking place. The advantage of working in the 8-/16-bit grayscale environment is that it provides the user over 65,000 layers in which to work. On the other hand, traditional chemical processes limit users to working with 5-10 layers. With each additional layer added to a final product, the final texture becomes smoother and more defined (see Image 1).

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TECHNOLOGY laser system helps to ensure that textures are maintained with perfect control as they go over edges or welding lines.

Image 1. When more layers are added, the texture becomes smoother and more realistic.

Image 2 shows a leather texture being blended into a dimple texture via laser texturing.

What is the advantage to laser texturing vs. chemical etching? Laser blasting/laser texturing is a completely digital process. This provides manufacturers with confidence in consistency, as the part will have the same finish whether it is manufactured in the US, China, Europe or another part of the world.

A fully digital process also enables the creation of new textures that were not previously possible because of the limitations of chemical etching. Image 2 demonstrates how a completely digital process provides the opportunity to seamlessly blend different textures into one. This example shows a leather texture being blended into a dimple texture, all on a single workpiece. Are there times when chemical etching still makes sense? Going fully digital to avoid etching provides substantial advantages, such as reducing the need for harsh chemicals and reducing turnaround times. However, there still are times when chemical etching makes sense. Some textures have been patented with the chemical etching process and, until the patent has expired, the process cannot be altered. There also are some situations where extreme roughness/hardness is required. In those cases, chemical etching is the better choice. Many manufacturers are starting to adopt a hybrid approach. In most of these cases, a manufacturer will remove the masking with the laser before moving the workpiece to the chemical processor. Especially in cases of highly complex molds, the 5-axis

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How is laser blasting different from laser texturing? Similar in concept to sand or glass blasting, laser blasting is a process for texturing or cleaning a surface. The advantage of laser blasting over sand or glass blasting is the repeatability. With laser blasting, the same finish is achieved every time. Furthermore, manufacturers can ensure that they get the specific surface finish that they want. Laser blasting also offers the ability to remove milling marks and burrs to ensure a completely smooth surface. What are the advantages of the laser texturing process? Transparent design process: Laser texturing files can be created from scratch in-house or include surfaces derived from natural sources via reverse engineering with a 3D scanner (see Image 3). The CAD/CAM software for the laser process allows transition-free patching, UV mapping for applying texture and 3D simulation, resulting in a ‘‘what you see is what you get’’ situation for the programmers. Consistent quality: Laser ablation also allows a user to maintain a smooth and flawless texture across parting lines in a mold. If there are two separate molds that eventually will be put next to one another, a manufacturer can ensure that the texture will transition from one part to the next with a seamless appearance. Texture and depth flexibility: An additional advantage that laser ablation offers is the ability to have different depths within the same mold. If a user desires two or three different textures within one mold and would like one to be set at a different depth than another, it is as simple to achieve as indicating the depth difference while programming the part. In which market segments are laser texturing popular? Some of the biggest players in the packaging, PET blow mold, medical, aerospace, microstructures and automotive markets have started to realize the advantages of this technology. These include the ability to transition to a completely digital environment, 5-axis capabilities and even something as simple as being able to create brand-specific textures. The plastic bottle/blow mold industry has started using laser texturing technology in interesting and unique ways. Some manufacturers in this segment now are creating generic bottle forms and then adding different inserts into the forms to achieve different textures. This enables an infinite variety of bottles from a single bottle form, just by changing the insert. Bottle manufacturers also can eliminate the traditional steps of milling electrodes and die sink EDMing bottle caps with a laser ablation process. Not only can the laser texturing system put logos and textures on top of the cap, it also is capable of creating ridges along the side due to its full 5-axis capabilities.

For packaging manufacturers, the biggest advantage of laser centers is the ability to impart different contrasts, textures and depths. In addition, another feature that is well suited for the packaging industry is the ability to hit parting lines with the utmost accuracy. Automotive manufacturers have been some of the most aggressive adopters of laser texturing because there are so many opportunities within the platform. Every manufacturer tries to distinguish their offerings by having different headlights, dashboards, door panels, consoles and even touchscreens, and laser texturing expands the possibilities for differentiation. One of the largest automotive molds to be textured on a consistent basis is the dashboard. Because the laser is able to work with up to 65,000 different layers instead of just 5-10, manufacturers can make leather grain textures that look and feel like the real thing. In many cases, headlights require the most unique mold for any individual car model. Not only does every car manufacturer want to a have a different pattern than the competition, but each manufacturer also wants the general consumer to be able to distinguish one style from another. In addition to stylistic choices, headlights also are incorporating more advanced tex-

Image 3. Laser texturing can be used, in combination with 3D scanning, to reverse-engineer Mother Nature to create organic patterns.

tures due to recent advancements in light bulb technologies. As the bulbs have become brighter, they have become too bright in some cases. In these instances, the lens of the headlight is used to diffuse the light and make the roads safer. n Chad Hase is the laser project manager for GF Machining Solutions LLC. GF Machining Solutions is the world’s leading provider of machines, automation solutions and services to the tool and mold making industry and to manufacturers of precision components. The company’s diverse portfolio of offerings includes electrical discharge machines, high-speed and high-performance milling machines, laser texturing machines, tooling and automation solutions. GF Machining Solutions is based in Switzerland and maintains a presence of 50 sites worldwide. For more information, email or call 847.913.5300.

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EPS Introduces Variable Data Printing for Inkjet Flatbed Systems Engineered Printing Solutions, East Dorset, Vermont, has introduced true variable data printing within the ColorPrint RIP software for the fJET-24 and the new fJETXL industrial inkjet flatbed systems. The n e w C o l orP r i nt RIP software is designed to incorporate several types of objects within a single image file, such as text, dates, times, barcodes and numeric serialization, without the use of a third-party program. ColorPrint’s new features streamline the printing process for many applications, including promotional products, security printing, label printing, custom signage and more. The new features are intuitive and easy to implement into any existing workflow. For more information, visit

of the assembly process. Industry professionals now can make larger assemblies without having to switch out mixing nozzles or deal with the difficult cleanup of a cured adhesive. The adhesives offer an 18-month shelf life and a higher impact resistance when compared to conventional acrylic adhesives. For more information, visit Dubuit Announces New Polyplus Ink Range Dubuit of America, Roselle, Illinois, is pleased to announce its Polyplus ink series, a ready-to-use, fast-curing UV ink designed for printing on various plastic materials used in the container and packaging industry, including rigid or semi-rigid flametreated containers in PE, PVC, PET and treated PP (cosmetic bottles, cartridges, cans, capsules, etc.). The Polyplus series is characterized by its high-gloss, curing properties and resistance to abrasion and numerous chemical agents, detergents, cosmetics, etc. The optimal cure performance of 150 and 250 mJ/cm² generally is achieved with a UV curing unit of one or two 120W/cm (305W/in) lamps at belt speeds of 10 to 20m/min (32 to 65feet/min). For more information, call 630.894.9500 or visit

Ardeje Announces New Digital Press Ardeje, Valence, France, is introducing its new proprietary A 7000 digital press for plastics. Capable of printing UV/LED in 4-color process for parts up to 550mm or 21.6'' in height, this digital press can print on most plastics and other substrates. The Ardeje press is economically priced and can provide significant savings compared to screen and pad printing, opening up new markets to the plastic decorator. For more information, call 602.743.7283 or visit

Extol Releases New Welder for Small Parts and Spaces Extol, Zeeland, Michigan, introduces Compact FUSION™, a servo-driven plastics welder designed for cleanrooms and limited space installations. Intended for Life Sciences applications that are up to 6x8'' in area, Compact FUSION provides process control and quick cycle times. Compact FUSION features an Allen-Bradley control system that includes a hardware and software package. A large, color 6.5'' HMI is easy to operate with its comprehensive and intuitive graphics. Quick-change tooling simplifies and reduces the time to change tooling. The welder is built of high-strength, low-inertia aluminum for heavy daily use. For more information, visit

3M Offers New Structural Acrylic Adhesives 3M, St. Paul, Minnesota, has introduced the 3M™ Scotch-Weld™ acrylic adhesive DP8425NS and 3M Scotch-Weld low-odor acrylic adhesive DP8825NS, which offer faster cure times and expand process work time up to 25 minutes. The kinetics of the reaction accelerates the cure, reaching handling strength in 45 minutes and structural strength (1000psi) in 50 minutes, which means less clamp time. 3M Scotch-Weld acrylic adhesives allow manufacturing engineers to improve the efficiency

Innovative Marking Systems Offers New Ink for Silicone Innovative Marking Systems, Lowell, Massachusetts, has begun distributing a new silicone ink. Print-On ink is easy to handle and has transfer efficiency (leaves a clean pad after transfer). Benefits of Print-On silicone ink base include high resistance to abrasion, great flexibility (it will move with the product and retain image) highly gloss finish and curing time of six to eight minutes at 200-250F.

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Stand out from the crowd FULL COLOR ... Fast TUrn ... Short or Long Run decoration... CDigital brings beautiful full color, short and long run decoration to a wide variety of products and substrates. Our innovative film and adhesive systems allow products to come to life and stand out from traditional spot color applications. With a 1200 dpi photographic print quality, our heat transfers produce unlimited color and image options. Our process also allows for variable data that makes personalization even more personal. With little or no setup and little or no cure times, your decorated products are ready to ship immediately after production. Save time and money by switching to CDigital heat transfers and see the difference our full color decoration can make. Visit us at for more information

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Print-On has nine available colors, plus metallics. Silicone ink can print on any items made of silicone, such as silicone wrist bands, molds, smartphone keypads, iPad/iPhone cases, oven mitts, swimming caps, remote controls and medical devices (catheters, leaps, trachiotomy tools, etc.). For more information, call 978.459.6533 or visit Inkcups Now to Unveil Two Revolutionary Digital Printers Inkcups Now Corporation, Danvers, Massachusetts, has engineered two inkjet printers. The XTrans is an all-digital heat transfer solution. Users can create multi-color thermal transfer labels at a fraction of the cost of other transfer creation methods. The XTrans is capable of creating short-run or long-run jobs while offering variable data and imaging per cycle. The Helix is a high-speed digital inkjet printer for straight-walled or tapered cylinders. Capable of printing on cylinders of various sizes, the Helix can handle parts as small as make-up cases to as large as wine bottles. The Helix is industrial and can handle long, continuous runs. For more information, visit Mold In Graphics Provide Permanent Graphic Solution for Rotomolding The MIG® 5 Graphic from Mold In Graphic Systems® (MIGS),

Clarkdale, Arizona, literally thermofuses a graphic and part together during the rotomolding process. The MIG 5 can be produced with intricate detail in multiple colors for high visibility and permanent brand awareness, answering a need to brand textured molds at any temperature, hot or cold. Because the MIG 5 is made from the same material as the decorated part, it has durability against removal by abrasion, chemicals, solvents and weathering. For more information, call 928.634.8838 or visit FIPA Releases New Series of Round Quick-Changers with SAFE-LOCK Mechanism FIPA Inc., Cary, North Carolina, has released a new series of round quick-change systems, which provide a connection between assembly and material handling robots and gripper systems. Designed to withstand strong vibrations and rapid acceleration, the new SR Series quick-changers feature snapon SAFE-LOCK mechanisms, color-coded locking indications (red for locked, green for open) and pneumatic air connections incapable of being misaligned. Made of high-strength, anodized

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aluminum alloy, SR Series quickchangers currently are available with diameters of 50mm, 90mm, and 150mm; feature a high repeat accuracy of +/- 0.025mm; and can withstand working pressure of up to 6 bar and working vacuum of up to -1 bar. Lifting force, maximum torque, maximum bending moment and weight varies for each device. For more information, visit


Herrmann Ultrasonics Launches Anniversary Edition Welding Machine Herrmann Ultrasonics, Bartlett, Illinois, will launch an anniversary edition of the proven HiQ MEDIALOG ultrasonic welding machine. This welder was inspired by Executive Vice President and General Manager Uwe Peregi and mostly is used by medical device manufacturers. A new look, cleanroomfriendly surfaces, additional safety features and exhausts to control particles contribute to the uniqueness of the HiQ MEDIALOG. The machine also includes the operator interface FSC, which meets the requirements of FDA CFR 21 part 11. For more information, visit C




Laser Photonics Introduces LaserTower Laser Photonics, a subsidiary of Fonon Corporation, Lake Mary, Florida, recently released its next-generation of marking and engraving systems under the flagship brand, LaserTower™. The LaserTower Professional CM is a flexible 3D industrial-grade material processing system designed to perform under high-vibration, shock and dust conditions. It provides a large processing chamber for oversized parts that support both circumferential and flat marking applications. The rotary motor is placed on a precision linear bearing track to adapt to various length circumferential marking applications, and it can be positioned to the edge of the chamber to support flat marking applications. For more information, visit MJ




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Plasmatreat Technology Enables Metal-To-Rubber Bonds Plasmatreat, Elgin, Illinois, has announced Plasmatreat’s Openair® technology, which enables strong bonds between rubber and metal, as well as between plastic and metal. During ultrafine cleaning with Openair plasma technology, surfaces are cleaned of release agents and additives and sterilized, while plasma activation makes later adhesion of glues and coatings possible. With Openair technology, only air, electrical power and the existing production line are required for plasma treatment under normal pressure. Openair is used in almost all areas of industrial manufacturing. For more information, visit n



FOCUS Increasing Pad Printing Productivity and Efficiency by John Kaverman, Pad Print Pros, LLC

Photo courtesy of John Kaverman


pecializing in the pad printing process for nearly 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit hundreds of companies, review thousands of different applications and train thousands of people at various levels within each organization.

What I’ve learned is that a majority of problems experienced with the pad printing process normally are the result of the same, common mistakes. Some of these mistakes are due to ignorance, whereas others are the direct result of ill-conceived efforts to “save money.” This article will review some of these common mistakes, the impact on the process and immediate actions for correcting them. Environment The production environment plays an important role in pad printing, just as it does in any wet ink film transfer process. Ideally, pad printing operations should be conducted in a controlled environment, with temperatures between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 55 percent, +/-10 percent. The inks, plates, pads and materials to be printed also should be acclimated to these conditions. If quality throughput is the goal, a controlled environment is a necessity. Otherwise, pick one: quality or throughput. While printing with quality results in an uncontrolled environment is entirely possible, the quality almost always comes at the expense of

44 October/November 2015

throughput. In an uncontrolled environment, time is invariably lost “dialing in” and maintaining ink transfer efficiency. If controlling the entire production environment isn’t cost effective, at least consider purchasing a printing platform that features a controlled enclosure. In Europe, where utility costs make controlling the environment almost impossible to justify, companies use printing platforms that incorporate temperature and humidity control, as well as HEPA filtration. Artwork Regardless of whether using a laser to engrave or a film to photo engrave or chemically etch the clichés, nothing performed downstream in the process can compensate for bad artwork. Therefore, it is imperative to start with correctly formatted (vector) graphics. Typically, these are generated in Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw or similar programs that convert all text and lines to curves, which can be filled 100-percent black. Exporting or “saving as” graphics from programs without first converting to curves will not produce the desired results. For example, design and 3D modeling programs, word processing and photo manipulating programs are not capable of producing or exporting as correctly formatted vector graphics, so the art department of the pad printing supplier will have to redraw those files. That means time and money. Film density When creating film for use in exposing clichés for either photo engraving (photopolymer) or chemically etching (steel) clichés, it is important that the film and/or film output device be capable of producing an image with sufficient density (opacity). Photopolymer coatings and photo-resist harden (cross-link) from the bottom up. When the image is not dense enough and some percentage of the UV light gets through, the result is a cliché that is too shallow or completely unusable. Often, companies that screen print wish to use their screen film output device to create films for pad printing. While this sometimes is successful, those occurrences are the exception, rather than the rule. To be safe, always output a film and send it to the pad printing cliché supplier, asking them to do a test exposure to verify that the density is correct.

Figure 1. The orientation of the film used in cliché exposure should be “emulsion down.”

will ensure that cut marks don’t etch into the cliché and the image is at least as consistently aligned as possible on subsequent clichés using the same film positive. Cliché exposure The storage, exposure and development of photopolymer clichés need to happen in an environment that is free of UV light. UV light can be filtered out from overhead florescent lighting using sleeves or UV-free light sources can be used. Cliché exposure(s) should be consistent for each cliché material type. Never try to adjust the “depth” of clichés by changing exposure times. In photopolymer clichés, the depth is controlled by controlling the amount of ink that a given surface area of the cliché can hold. This is done by varying the line screen used in the second exposure. Typically, 150, 120 and 100 line/ cm2 line screens are used for the second exposure, with 120 line most frequently is used. On rare occasions, 80 line/cm2 film is used, but only in cases where an unusually thick ink film needs to transfer. The exposure for the image film and the line screen should be the same length, resulting in a finished cliché where the peaks in the line screen are level with the top surface of the cliché. A second exposure that is too short will result in a cliché where the line screen is below the surface, which can result in doctoring issues (scooping) and print quality issues.

Film orientation The orientation of the film used in cliché exposure should be “emulsion down,” as illustrated in Figure 1. If the emulsion of the film is on the top of the film, the light from the exposure will undercut the image, resulting in poor edge resolution and/ or the complete loss of fine lines and details, such as trademarks.

Cliché development Developer is one thing that people always try to save money on. The developer used for alcohol wash photopolymer clichés is 98-percent pure, with a specific denaturing agent. What it most assuredly is not is the denatured alcohol solvent that can be bought at Lowe’s or Builder’s Square. Box stores buy their chemicals in bulk, and they always are diluted with up to 40 percent water. Avoid potential issues by purchasing developer from a reputable supplier. If dilution is desired, it usually can be done with up to 15-percent distilled water.

For the best finish over the surface of the cliché, and therefore the cleanest possible surface to doctor, cut both the image and line screen films so they cover the entire cliché surface, using the outline of the cliché’s dimensions for alignment. This practice

Distilled water also is what should be used to develop water-wash cliché materials. Tap water or well water may contain contaminants and chemicals (fluoride, chlorine) that can adversely affect development.

October/November 2015 45

 p. 45


When developing either alcohol or water-wash photopolymer clichés, do not scrub the image area. Use a soft, clean paint pad and apply only the pressure required to gently float the pad over the surface of the cliché. Of course, there needs to be enough developer in the tray to completely submerge the clichés. Post-exposure and drying In polymer cliché making, the post-exposure step is extremely important for maximizing the operational life of the cliché. In the development step, unexposed polymer gently is loosened with brushing and floats out of the image area. As a result, the sides of the pattern produced by the line screen are yet to be exposed to UV light, so they still are soft. The post-exposure step serves to harden the image area. Drying also is recommended to remove residual developer from the polymer coating. Skipping the drying step and going straight to press can result in the doctor ring damaging the cliché beyond repair. Photopolymer clichés are hydroscopic, so it also is a good practice to dry clichés that have been stored for long periods before using them again. Of course, the more humid the season of the year or region of the country, the more important the drying step becomes. Substrates Pad printing is utilized on a wide variety of substrate materials. Many of these materials (especially polyolefins), have surface energies that are too low for pad printing inks to successfully adhere. The industry standard “minimum” surface energy is 38 dyne/cm2, with 42 dyne/cm2 or higher being the preference of most ink manufacturers. Buy Dyne test pens and test the substrate to determine whether pre-treatment is required. If the pens say the substrate needs pre-treatment, do it. Make sure parts are clean and free of contamination before testing. Never use mold release agents in producing parts that eventually will require pad printing. If printing on top of a protective hard coat or two-component paint system, be advised that such coatings usually have a “window of opportunity” during which it is possible to get an ink to adhere. It is entirely possible that if coated parts are printed too soon and/or too long after the paint is applied, the ink may not adhere, no matter what. Pad printing inks There are many inks that specifically are formulated for pad printing, including three types of conventional solvent-based inks and UV inks. Conventional solvent-based inks can be singlecomponent (no hardener required), two-component (hardener required) and single- or two-component (hardener optional).

46 October/November 2015

UV pad printing inks really are modified UV inks in that they contain some percentage of thinner (true UV inks don’t contain thinner). The thinner is necessary to make the ink printable via the pad printing process. Choosing the right ink Waiting until it’s time to go into production to choose an ink is one reason companies experience failure. The best way to determine whether an ink is suitable for an application is to send the ink supplier physical samples of the parts to be printed. If actual parts can’t be sent, at least try to send plaques or something representative of the material and texture that will be printed. Relying on the “ink compatibility matrix” in the manufacturer’s catalog or assuming an ink will work now because it worked on a similar material or coating in the past isn’t always a good idea. These days, there simply are too many variations of materials and coatings. Testing always is the best and safest method. Of course, the ink guys need to know what kind of performance specifications the ink needs to meet, so be sure to supply them with that information up front. Mixing pad print inks One mistake many companies make when mixing pad printing inks is a failure to weigh the components. Pad printing inks differ in weight by volume from one shade to another. To mix them consistently, it is necessary to weigh all of the components: ink, hardener (if required) and thinner. Mixing “by eye” or by volume can cause significant problems with transfer efficiency, adhesion and performance. When mixing two-component inks, it is necessary to strictly follow the manufacturer’s recommended ratio of ink to hardener. Using too much or too little hardener can result in problems too numerous to mention. Add the hardener to the ink, then blend those two components together thoroughly before adding thinner. Adding hardener and thinner simultaneously can significantly reduce the ink’s operational pot life. Always mix inks in disposable containers using disposable stir sticks. Containers should be made of nowax paper or solvent-resistant plastic, such as PET. Never use wax-coated paper cups, as the wax will dissolve into the ink, resulting in lots of issues. Disposable cups and sticks are a lot less expensive than the expense of cleaning and potential issues of reusing mixing supplies. Always prepare enough ink The most frequent mistake that companies make is failing to prepare enough ink to adequately fill the ink cups. Every machine design requires a given volume of ink within the ink cup(s) to efficiently flood the image and doctor the cliché. It is important

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FOCUS UV inks cure by polymerization when subjected to UV radiation. First, evaporate the thinner from the ink and then polymerize the ink film. For this reason, many UV pad printing applications feature I.R. drying prior to UV, specifically to remove the thinners that are added to UV pad printing inks. Why UV ink isn’t always the answer to curing problems? I am frequently asked whether UV ink can be used to circumvent the lengthy curing requirements of conventional, solvent-based pad printing inks.

Figure 2. A crescent-shaped haze appears on the front and rear of the cliché.

to realize that, in addition to providing the color, ink acts as a lubricant in doctoring systems. The physical forces of doctoring a cliché result in the ink flowing back and forth within the confines of the ink cup. If double printing or otherwise printing at an elevated rate (on continuous cycle, for example) without enough ink in the cup, the ink never has enough time to flow completely over the cliché surface before the next doctoring cycle. A sure sign of that is a crescent-shaped haze on the front and rear of the cliché, as illustrated in Figure 2. This is what happens when the ink cannot re-wet the entire doctoring area due to insufficient volume. As the haze dries, the ink cup starts to ride up onto the haze, causing excessive leaking and other problems. Drying vs. curing Failure to sufficiently cure printed ink films is a big problem, largely due to ignorance as to the difference between drying and curing. Drying simply is evaporating thinner from the printed ink film. Curing is the chemical reaction that takes place until the ink has reached its maximum level of performance with regard to adhesion, as well as chemical- and mechanicalresistance. Ink manufacturers specify separate drying and curing schedules on technical data sheets, yet few people follow the recommendations. Everyone wants an ink that cures immediately, but it doesn’t exist. Even UV-curable inks are somewhat post-curing, meaning that they too should not be tested for adhesion and/or chemical- and mechanical-resistance immediately upon exiting the curing unit. Ink manufacturers normally will say to wait 24 hours before testing the performance of single-component inks. Once a diisocyanate hardener is added to a two-component ink, the ink can require 72 hours or more to completely cure. In that case, water vapor in the air reacts with the hardener and the ink’s resin system, so curing is independent of heat and essentially impossible to “speed up.”

48 October/November 2015

The answer is, “It depends.” UV is great for small-format, singlecolor applications. Because UV inks remain wet until they are exposed to UV radiation, it is not possible to print them “weton-wet” or even print in close proximity to one another without intermittent curing. For this reason, multiple color applications and/or large format (larger than about 150mm square) cannot be easily processed in pad printing systems without significantly increasing the cost and footprint of the machine. Transfer pads Pad often are the one component required to make a pad printing application successful, yet they are the most overlooked. Transfer pads come in numerous shapes, sizes and colors. When needing to choose a pad for a new application, always start with the largest (most mass), steepest angled, hardest pad that efficiently can be compressed in the machine being used. Pad size: At a minimum, the pad should be 20 percent larger in diameter or height and width than the image to be printed. If the image requires more than 80 percent of the pad’s surface, there is a chance for distortion near the edges of the image/end of the compression stroke. Pad shape: When choosing a shape, look at two things: the shape of the image (is it round, square, short and narrow, etc.) and the contour of the part in the print location. Ideally, use a conicalshaped pad for round images; a rectangular-shaped pad for rectangular-shaped images; a rooftop-shaped pad for short, wide images and straight lines of text; and a square pad (or conical pad with the edges molded square) for square shapes. The contour, or angle of the pad, should be as steep as possible. For compound angles, this means a pad shaped as close to the opposite of the angles of the print area as possible. As a pad compresses to pick up and transfer the image, it has to roll out evenly from its point or ridge, displacing the air from between the surface of the pad and the surface of the cliché (during pick-up) and part (during transfer). If the angle isn’t steep enough, air gets trapped between the pad and the cliché or part and results in voids in the print. Pad shore: Pad hardness is expressed as “shore.” There are various shore scales, but in every case, the higher the number, the

harder the pad. Shore is determined by the amount of silicone oil that is used in manufacturing the pad. The higher the percentage of silicone oil, the softer and more pliable the resulting pad. Conversely, the lower the percentage of silicone oil, the harder and more rigid the pad. Softer pads last longer and deposit more ink than harder pads, but harder pads produce sharper image resolution, less distortion and superior coverage on textured surfaces than softer pads. Pad life: As mentioned previously, softer pads last somewhat longer than harder pads of the same size and shape due to their pliability. As any pad, regardless of shore, picks up and transfers the image, the silicone oil within the pad is depleted. Eventually, enough oil is depleted that the pad no longer efficiently or “evenly” picks up and/or transfers the image. They dry out. Once the oil is depleted from within the pad material, it cannot be replenished by applying more silicone oil to the surface of the pad. Pad and part pre-drying: Adding low-volume, low-pressure air blowers to equipment can significantly increase both speed and quality. Using a modular hose to direct low-volume, low-pressure air at the image once it is on the pad and prior to transfer can reduce the time required for the ink to become cohesive, increasing throughput. If double printing, directing low-volume, low-pressure air at the part helps to dry the first layer of ink during double printing, increasing the transfer efficiency of the second hit. If printing multiple colors wet-on-wet or in close proximity to one another, directing low-volume, low-pressure air at the printed images can help transfer efficiency for over-prints and will reduce the chances of the pad lifting wet ink during compression on subsequent transfers. Heated air isn’t necessary, but clean, dry air is a must. The last thing to do is blow wet, oily air across the pad and parts. Be sure to dry and filter the air accordingly. Modular hose kits are available from numerous industrial suppliers.

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Conclusion Successfully increasing pad printing productivity and efficiency isn’t difficult or expensive, but it does require organizational direction, oversight and ownership. Many companies don’t have people on their staff with the expertise to perform thorough evaluations of the pad printing process, as well as processes upstream and downstream in their facility that can adversely affect their pad printing results. While this article just scratches the surface, it can be used as a guide in performing an objective evaluation of the process. n John Kaverman is the owner of Pad Print Pros LLC, an independent sales and consulting firm, specializing in pad printing and digital thermal transfer marking. For more information, visit www.

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CBW Roll-Fed IML Technology by Brittany Willes

First developed more than 10 years ago, the roll-fed IML system from CBW Automation, Fort Collins, Colorado, has evolved over time. The recently released Pre-Cut Roll-Fed IML system’s advanced technology is designed to reduce scrap and label costs, while increasing productivity. CBW originally developed the roll-fed IML approach to meet a customer need. “The customer wanted to combine the digital printing of labels and the personalization that this allowed with IML technology to produce small lots of custom, personalized packaging,” explained Robert Harvey, CBW’s vice president of sales and marketing. “This same use of digital printing has enabled CBW customers to mold product that is serialized, with an individual barcoded ID, an individual security feature or a traceability feature right in the graphics.” CBW’s patent-pending roll-fed IML system eliminates the major modes of producing scrap. “This increases yield and lowers costs for the molder,” Harvey said. “When the molder is not stacking labels, there is no need for anti-static in the film,” he asserted. “This reduces the cost of the label and increases the effectiveness of pinning the label into the mold with static. In addition, a thinner gauge film often can be used, and there is zero cost of stacking and banding, which is a non-value-added activity and a source of process variability.” Unlike traditional magazine-fed approaches to IML, the PreCut system unwinds a roll of labels, tracking the position of the labels carefully using registration marks, sensor eyes and servo control. The labels then are picked from a vacuum table and placed to the mandrels for insertion into the mold. With the new system, “the label can be positioned on the mandrel more accurately,” asserted Jack Maze, CBW’s executive vice president. “Roller diecut IML is more accurate using the roll tracking line and the eye mark.” Whereas earlier roll-fed systems used a press-side guillotine or rotary diecutter to cut the shape of the label from the roll of pre-printed film, the new system pre-cuts the labels, which then are rewound into a roll. Nearly the entire edge of the label is cut, but small tabs or ties are left to retain the label in the roll. The molder no longer needs to be concerned with the process of diecutting, the sharpness of the dies or stocking additional dies. The diecutting is performed inline at the label manufacturer.

Bob Travis, CEO of InkWorks Printing and president of the IMDA. “The solution leverages the benefits the Cut and Place solution has over cut-and-stack IML. The elegance of the solution is its promised simplicity and improved efficiency for both molder and printer.” Technical details The system is built for a 165-ton Roboshot molding machine running a two-cavity mold, creating a 12-ounce container with a 0.022'' wall section. The overall cycle time is 5.0s and the servo label placement and part retrieval provide a 0.82s intrusion time. The label is 45micron Solid White OPP film on a roll with 12.625'' width. As with all CBW equipment, the Pre-Cut Roll-Fed IML is a custom designed, fully tested automation solution that includes PC-based Beckhoff Control Platform, allowing remote diagnostics and troubleshooting; TwinCAT safety system; welded steel frame for rigid construction; and a 12 month parts and service warranty. Videos of the Pre-Cut Roll Fed System, as well as other CBW systems, can be seen on CBW’s YouTube channel. n

Thus far, CBW has received positive reviews for the Pre-Cut system. “At InkWorks Printing, we see CBW’s Pre-Cut and Place technology as the next big thing in IML,” asserted

October/November 2015 51



Overreaching on a Non-Compete Can Be Costly by David Carr, Ice Miller LLP


n a recent decision illustrative of the war on overbroad language in employee non-compete agreements, one court made it clear that trying to use “catch all” language and “blue pencil” provisions may backfire in a big way. Casting a wide net may spell serious trouble for the employer. In this case, a salesman worked for a high-end appliance distributor for nearly 14 years. Six years into his employment, he signed an employment agreement that contained a confidentiality clause and a covenant not to compete (“Agreement”). In relevant part, the Agreement prohibited the salesman from providing “services similar or competitive to those offered by (the employer) to any business account or customer of (the employer) during the term of (salesman)’s employment ...” or “(w)ork(ing) in a competitive capacity” for two years after sepa-

52 October/November 2015

rating from (the employer). The geographic limitation included the state of Indiana, Marion County, those counties surrounding Marion County and the 50-mile radius of the salesman’s former principal office in Castleton, Indiana. Contrary to these restrictions, the salesman resigned from his job and accepted employment with a competitor. The employer sued. After concluding that the employer had a legitimate protectable interest, the court analyzed the reasonableness of the Agreement’s activity prohibitions, finding the employer’s customer base restriction and the scope of prohibited activities unreasonably overbroad. The customer base restriction did not limit contact to present customers, but effectively applied to all of the customers during the 14 years of employment. The court concluded that even

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 p. 52


though present customers constitute a protectable interest of an employer, an employment agreement restricting “contact with any past or prospective customers, no matter how much time has elapsed since their patronage has ceased,” presents a restriction too broad in scope. Further, the court found that the restrictive covenant prohibiting the salesman from “work(ing) in a competitive capacity” and providing services competitive “to those offered by (the employer’s)” for any competitor constituted an unreasonably overbroad restriction on the salesman’s economic freedom. In essence, the covenant prohibited “harmless conduct” and activities entirely unrelated and distinct from the services performed as the salesman while at the employer. The court’s scrutiny did not end on the scope of the restricted activities; it also found the geographic restriction unreasonably overbroad. The court noted that the reasonableness of “a geographic scope ... depends on the interest of the employer that the restriction serves.” The court accepted that a 50-mile radius of the principal office limitation may represent a reasonable restriction, but criticized that the covenant also encompassed an expansive area in addition to the 50-mile radius limitation. Accordingly, the court concluded that such a restriction unreasonably infringed upon post-employment opportunities. Blue-penciling failed to save the day. The Court of Appeals explained that “the overbroad geographic restriction of the covenant was (not) written in clearly separate and divisible clauses, and the ‘interdicted territory’ was (not) referenced separately (but) rather ... as ‘one indivisible whole.’ ” As such, the court refused to redact “sentence fragments from the indivisible whole of each contested paragraph while ... changing the entire meaning and import of each paragraph.” The Court of Appeals showed zero sympathy for employers who forced employees to sign overbroad covenants. In fact, it virtually invited employees to sign overbroad covenants and be content with the knowledge that the Indiana courts will “shred” them. Such a threat warrants serious attention in the drafting of all employment agreements!

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Although this case arose in Indiana, the general principles of careful drafting and precise wording of restrictions can be applied to these agreements in employment generally. n David Carr is a partner in Ice Miler LLP’s Indianapolis, Indiana, office. For more information about the application and use of these agreements, contact Carr in Ice Miller's Labor, Employment and Immigration Group by calling 317.236.5840 or emailing This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader must consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.

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

• SGIA Expo, November 4-6, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia,

Branson Ultrasonics /

• Direct Container Print 2015, November 23-24, Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Düsseldorf, Germany,

CDigital LLC /


Comdec, Inc. (Ruco) / 23, 35

• PLASTEC West, February 9-11, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California,


• PLASTEC New England, April 13-14, Boston Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts,


Carey Color, Inc. / Central Decal / CPS Resources, Inc. / Die Stampco Inc. / Diversified Printing Techniques / Dubuit America / Engineered Printing Solutions / front cover Extol, Inc. / Hot Stamp Supply Company / ..................................55

• ANTEC, May 23-25, JW Marriott, Indianapolis, Indiana,


Infinity Foils, Inc., a UEI Group Company / Inkcups Now / 30, 31 Innovative Digital Systems / back cover

• SPE Decorating & Assembly Division TopCon, June 7-8, Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, Franklin, Tennessee,

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• PLASTEC East, June 14-15, Jacob J. Javits Convention Center, New York, New York,

Kent Pad Printer Canada Inc. /

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ITW Security and Brand Identity Group / KBA-Kammann USA / ................................................47 Marabu North America / Meech / ........................................................................................27 Mimaki / back cover OMSO North America, Inc. / Pad Print Pros / PLASTEC Shows / Proell, Inc. / Romo Durable Graphics / Sabreen Group, Inc., The / SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division / Sonics & Materials / ....................................................................14 Standard Machines, Inc. / Systematic Automation, Inc. / Webtech, Inc. /

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