Thermoformable Inkjet Inks

As traditional analog process users like screen printers are trying to convert to UV curable inkjet digital printing, the mismatch between the ink/printing system and some applications is becoming more apparent. To address this mismatch, inkjet systems providers are beginning to offer specialty inks designed specifically for a narrower range of applications, such as thermoforming.

Thermoforming has long been a process used in sign and product manufacturing. The process involves specialty thermoforming plastic sheets, which are put through the thermoforming process. Thermoforming is used to create dimensional signs for P.O.P. displays, vending/gaming panels, consumer products and industrial applications. Traditional thermoformed object decoration is done using a screen-printing, hand painting or vinyl lettering processes.

PETG is a polyester thermoplastic resin sheet material that softens when exposed to heat as required in the thermoforming process. Traditional UV printers with arc lamps can create too much heat for this material, warping the plastic film and it may “brown out” the plastic.

Today’s new UV-LED printers cure UV ink without much heat, thus enabling their use in thermoforming without these problems. In addition, the ink must adhere well to the plastic and be able to stretch without losing color density.

EFI offers a thermoformable ink set designed to work with its new VUTEk GS3250 Pro-TF and GS2000 Pro-TF printers (specially modified versions of the VUTEk GS Pro models). This is an excellent solution for shops that do thermoforming signage.

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