As demands for new and exciting applications grow, so too must the research and development into ink formulations that are up to the task. This article highlights what's going on in UV.
By Mike Plier
The process requires raw materials suppliers to become completely open minded about the new components needed to reduce viscosities and gain functionalities for new inkjet-ink systems. Ink formulators must address the shortcomings of early generations of digital inks by experimenting with newly upgraded components and by requesting or designing entirely new ones. They must look into newly created components, regardless of whether the suppliers think they need it at the moment
What about taking some of the components of a digital ink and reverse engineering them to make screen-printing ink? Experimentation in this area can result in an entirely new generation of screen functionalities and properties. Such discoveries would never have been made had manufacturers not been forced to reduce the viscosity of screen ink to create digital ink. While the advances in digital printing have broken the barriers into the screen-printing market, we must not surrender to it. Screen will always have its place. Some of the most powerful and successful screen printers that I visit have managed to successfully integrate digital with screen to gain capacities and efficiencies that set them apart.
Innovations in UV ink will enable digital printing to have a profound impact on a variety of new markets, some of which are identified below.
In-mold decorating Digitally produced electronics clusters are being introduced, but only on a limited basis. This certainly leaves room for improvement, while screen printing continues to be a favorite choice—by the hundreds of thousands. The resolution, tolerance, and quality needed for this market remains an ongoing challenge for the digital-printing arena. While advances in digital presses and ink technology are ongoing, the post-print processing creates tremendous friction, elongation, and heat—up to 700°F. This is an environment in which few inks can survive. It continues to pose a challenge for digital ink systems.
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