While there is plenty of news at NPE this year in pad, screen, dry-offset, flexo, and inkjet printing, as well as laser marking, hot stamping, heat-transfer decorating, and some less familiar technologies—the real star of the show is summed up in two words: “in-mold.” Responding to excitement in automotive, appliance, and electronics industries, at least 19 companies are showing materials or equipment for in-mold film-insert decorating or labeling (IMD, IML) for injection molding and thermoforming. And one firm—Ube Machinery—is finally commercializing in-mold painting for injection molding—a technology first exhibited in prototype form at NPE 1988.
Six companies are introducing a variety of pad printing equipment at the show. Among them, ITW Trans Tech is showcasing the Gemini 130, which has two printing heads in a unique “V” configuration that allows two-color printing applications using a single part fixture. It also allows ink pickup, printing, and pad cleaning to proceed simultaneously. Pad Print Machinery of Vermont is unveiling a new high-speed, digital on-demand pad printer as well as its new XE series with a Windows-based operating system driving a servo-controlled print head and conveyor unit with 20GB hard drive that allows for vast storage of jobs.
Tampoprint is showing off its new two- or three-lane Rotoprint rotary pad printer for cap closures. It can mark up to 150,000 caps/hr in one to three colors. Teca-Print is introducing its fastest pad printer to date, the TPS 111, with a cycle time of 0.7 sec. When it comes to speed, Apex Machine claims a breakthrough for its new C-506 cylindrical part printer, which allows a 6-color ink and plate change in 5 min.
In screen printing, Proell is showing Nori-Cure UV-L3, a scratch-resistant, uv-cure screen printing lacquer and special effects such as rainbow metallic and mirror-like chrome.
At least six companies will be discussing laser marking. One of them, LPKF, will present its technology for using a laser to “draw” electrical circuitry onto the surface of parts containing a suitable metal additive. Tampoprint is featuring the Alfalas Promo-MOF (Mark-on-the-Fly) laser system for marking the underside of up to 60,000 caps/hr.
Hot stamp it
Heat-transfer decorating is going high-tech at the show. Cassco Machines is featuring its new Command Center, a control platform that runs all the company’s hot-stamping, heat-transfer, and assembly systems.
Kurz Transfer Products is showcasing the LS 102 LK, a new hot stamping machine with up to five heads for applying foil to extruded profiles. Kurz is also introducing the Hastings Model ES1000 electronic heat-transfer press with servo control of X-Y registration of the stamping head. Registration is assisted by a laser sensor on the stamping head, resulting in placing a heat transfer within ±0.004 in.
Something unusual to look for is Vergason Technology’s new Press-Side Rapid Cycle Metalizer. It vacuum metalizes parts in 3 to 6 min. Its coating chamber measures 28 in. diam. x 48 in. high.
Another out-of-the-ordinary decorating exhibit is Water Transfer Printing at a company of the same name. It applies decorative patterns to flat or 3D parts without leaving voids or seams. A film with the printed pattern is floated on the surface of a water bath. Then the part, which has been spray-coated with a chemical activator is placed in the tank to receive the transfer. Finally, after washing and drying, the decorated part is sprayed with a protective acrylic finish.