Whether you are making plastic parts or products for automotive, consumer electronics or packaging, you are quite aware of how molded thermoplastics are increasingly achieving new heights in decorative appearance and quality.
Many striking aesthetic effects are now possible by employing new polymer blends coupled with a diverse range of decoration and surface treatment technologies. They can product 3D and tactile finishes, high-definition images, flawless high gloss and metallic surfaces, as well as effects ranging from imitation materials, interferential colors, color gradients, color change and travel, gloss and matte combinations, and even acoustic or olfactory effects.
Manufacturing processes to achieve these effects include several types of in-mold film, coating or decorating technique, relatively recent technologies to improve surface quality, as well as traditional separate decorating or coating processes such as dry offset, flexographic; inkjet; pad and screen printing; foil transfer; labelling; laser marking; plating; spray coating; and vacuum deposition. The new publication, “Innovation Trends in Plastics Decoration and Surface Treatment”, from UK’s Smithers Rapra analyzes and compares recent trends in each of over 20 types of mainstream manufacturing processes and 10 classes of sensory effects they can produce.
According to author and consultant Ed Crutchley the book covers well over 1000 different innovations. Raw materials covered include: color or reflectivity change materials and additives; effect and other special color materials; films, foils and labels; inks, paints, coatings; and substrate polymer resins, blends and additives. In-mold processes addressed include: coloration, co-injection, multilayer molding, multiple material molding; in-mold coating, on-mold painting; in-mold film techniques; in-mold printing, marking, or use of engraved cavities; and, in-mold surface improvement.
The sixteen stand-alone or in-line processes discussed range from atmospheric plasma deposition or thermal spray and foil transfer processes to laser and irradiative marking and liquid coating techniques and pigment orientation techniques to sublimation printing and vacuum deposition. The $140 book can be ordered at www.polymer-books.com