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- SPDI Magazine » Screen Printing
Substrates are quite simply the surface that we print onto. Achieving perfect results is not as simple as it sounds however, because the range of substrates is constantly increasing.
From a printer’s perspective, generally the substrate is determined by the client. What the printer has to do is decide on the ink and drying/curing system that suits that particular substrate and its working environment. Assuming the substrate ink combination will provide suitable adhesion, the printer still has considerable responsibility in ensuring that the partnership remains satisfactory. Maintaining the condition of the ink and its drying technique is crucial, but so is managing the substrate.
Two major changes have influenced ink development in recent times: the abolition of heavy metal pigments such as lead, cadmium and chromium and the need to diminish solvent use. Both changes have been driven by the imperative to reduce Health and Safety and Environmental hazards.
Modern society surrounds us with opportunities to gamble including lotteries, casinos, scratch cards and on-line poker. One sector that remains prevalent is fruit machines and with an increase in jackpot values, their popularity continues to grow.
Thank goodness we are all different in how we look, live, and run our businesses. There are times, of course, when replicating a look or product offering can be appealing and beneficial to our industry, but the power of product differentiation is also key.
Somewhere in Brussels is a mole with contacts in the sign and print industry who is insisting on warning labels, posters and displays being produced for every conceivable human activity. These explain whether you can do it, can't do it or the consequences of same. Be aware that many of these will have to be specific colour matches and lightfast for seven years. So where do we turn to but screen printing where the inks we can use are more stable that those used of other processes.
A steady business with satisfied clients and a growing order book is something to be proud of in today's economic climate. One company with a healthy order book is Stevensons Advertising Plastics, a supplier of screen printing services for ultrasonic welded plastic products.
A trip to India visiting graphics screen printing organisations revealed a host of sophisticated printing facilities. Fully air-conditioned and clean room environments were equipped with kit, inks and chemistry from Europe, US and Japan. The management were highly educated, with several having doctorates and CEOs determined to win the Best Place to Work competition for manufacturing companies.
It is unfortunate that screen printing is sometimes overlooked when in fact most advanced technologies are dependent on the process. This dependency is at the core of advances in electronics. Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are largely produced using screen printing technology and as circuits have become smaller, and the range of applications increased, so screen printing has strengthened its position in electronics production.
What makes screen printing so attractive to production process engineers is the ability to apply a controlled film thickness over large areas relatively quickly and yet with precise positioning. In the graphics industry the material printed is an ink with a coloured pigment or dye that that can be adhered to a range of substrates for visual effect. Being able to control the ink film thickness and the precise position and shape of the image is crucial to the final appearance.
One of the main reasons why screen printing is under pressure is that waste has become part of the culture. Waste can be defined as rejects, both on-line and off-line, unused materials, inefficient use of materials and consumables, wasted manpower, machine downtime and excessive set up time. Any reduction in waste goes straight to profits.
THE CAR is in a treasure trove of printing applications. The speedometer dials, the indicator arms, the air conditioning controls, the windscreen, most of the front facia and the side windows all feature printing of some kind. Open the bonnet and printed electronic circuits are a major feature with dozens of printed sensors sending signals to help the suspension, for example, sense mistimed braking on a corner. Printing is present in almost every modern environment and it allows our technological world to operate.