KBA North America, a global press manufacturer forming a new headquarters in Dallas, Texas, is teaming up with FLEXcon, a global manufacturer of pressure-sensitive films and adhesives based in Spencer, Mass., and Megami Corporation, a Japanese ink manufacturer based in Itasca, Ill., to test and qualify 38 different synthetic substrates that can be printed on an offset press. The testing took place over a three-and-a-half week time period at three different locations: KBA?s customer care center in Williston under the direction of Chris Travis, KBA director of technology; at the FLEXcon labs in Spencer under the supervision of Dennis Brunnett, technical service representative for FLEXcon; and at the research and development facility in Japan under the supervision of Terry Murakawa, president of Megami Corporation.
?We collaborated together in an effort to introduce polymeric substrates and UV printing to the offset industry, and provide the confidence necessary to facilitate that growth,? says Chris Travis, KBA director of technology. ?We printed the test sheets on our new Rapida 106 41-inch sheetfed press and produced amazing results that will expand the range for our customers to use new, exciting substrates that they didn?t think possible.?
Joint collaboration produces new substrates
Conventional and UV offset printing on low-surface energy substrates often poses many challenges, but FLEXcon?s testing proved that its primers alleviate the difficulties of printing on low-surface energy materials, while providing consistent print quality. ?We want to inform the offset industry of the collaborative work we have been doing together?a press manufacturer, an ink manufacturer, and a substrate manufacturer?and offer our customers new products that have performance attributes, rather than just serving as printed media. These new substrates adhere to windows, floors, carpets, countertops, and vehicles,? says Dennis Brunnett of FLEXcon.
The goal of the three manufacturers was to test ink adhesion with different primers on films like vinyl, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene, diacetate, cling-vinyl, holographics, and styrene, in an effort to find the best combinations.
Megami tested three of their inks: UV Megacure PV-2, UV Megacure MAC PST4, and UV Megacure FA. ?The result of the testing provided conclusive evidence of superior ink anchorage to the breadth of samples tested, and confirmed that the stigmatism of printing on low-surface energy substrates was no longer accurate,? says Terry Murakawa, president of Megami Corporation. ?Currently we have six different inks for UV applications but by this summer we plan to develop and introduce more inks for these types of applications and set up our own distributorship.?
KBA, FLEXcon, and Megami have worked together before. During an earlier test, KBA?s Travis worked with FLEXcon to produce UV printed samples of a peach on FLEXcon?s PLUSHprint, a 4mil flocked vinyl that has a soft suede-like feel, on their KBA Rapida 106 41-inch sheetfed press at their demo center in Williston VT. The not-yet-commercial PLUSHprint was developed specifically for offset printing to ensure that the precision-cut rayon fibers from the construction did not transfer to the press? blanket. To print the samples, Travis used Megami?s MegaBrite ink. These samples were distributed at Graph Expo 08 with great success.
?While FLEXcon?s strength resides in producing custom products, we have created an inventoried product line engineered specifically for offset printing based on work done with manufacturers like KBA and Megami,? says Brunnett. ?Our current offset product line includes 23 products, soon to be more, which are available in custom sheet sizes up to 80-inches, and shipped within 48 hours.?
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