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Drupa update: SunJet and Durst develop solution for the thermoforming of UV cured images

SunJet, the inkjet ink division of Sun Chemical, has introduced UV cured inks for printing on thermo-formable media designed specifically for use with Durst digital presses. Both SunJet and Durst are demonstrating the new technology at Drupa 2008.

The introduction of thermoforming UV curing inks will be known as SunJet T-Form.

New opportunities are seen such as the coordination of traditional advertising and point of sales displays with moulded and formed displays. Durst and SunJet also see huge opportunities in the customisation of sports and protective equipment such as cycle helmets. 

Technically, the new ink and printer system allows full forming on styrene, acrylic and many other plastic materials commonly used in displays and functional equipment. Highly challenging moulds with 90 degree edges and more than 10cm (4 in) depth showed exceptionally good results on a wide variety of thermoplastics in customer trials.

SunJet has developed new and novel ink chemistry to satisfy the technical requirements of inks which stretch and extend during the forming process after they have been cured with exposure to UV energy. Durst has worked with companies involved in the manufacture of formed displays and protective equipment to ensure that print quality and post formed articles achieve full acceptance. The cooperation between the Durst and SunJet has enabled delivery of this thermo forming technology in less than three months.

Nigel Caiger, director of digital technology for Sun Chemical, said: “We have succeeded in developing inks with extraordinary ability to thermoform and extend. At typical print thicknesses, elongations of the order of 500% (5x) have been achieved through careful formulation of novel monomer technology. That said, having the right thermoforming properties is only part of the story - the ink has to cure at high speed to be of use in today's printing equipment. Getting the cure speed to around 150mJ/cm2 for a 12 micron layer of ink was a challenge for a monomer matrix which formed to this extent but we achieved it through new monomer and photo initiator formulation.”

Peter Saunders, SunJet sales and marketing manager, said: “We are fortunate to have been able to work with Durst on this development. Their understanding of customers’ needs and their market research really enabled us to focus our development on hitting the key performance criteria. Durst’s vision has opened a new channel for our technology.”

Sun Chemical