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Precise Decorative Prints on Large Single-Piece PC Film Formats

SpecialChem / Dec 3, 2010

Using high-pressure forming process with compressed air of up to 20 to 150 bar, Bayer MaterialScience along with Niebling-Junior Kunststoffverarbeitung and Werkzeugbau e.K. from Germany have succeeded in making 500x1000mm extra-large polycarbonate (PC) film formats. This process was until now only limited to prepare DIN A3 format films.

Applications include manufacturing of large-area 3D components, such automotive parts, center consoles, etc and part designs such as decorative trims, heating/ventilation facings, 3-D speedometers & dials, and many more as single-piece components. These parts consist of formable hardcoat film Makrofol® HF coated with ‘Dual-Cure’ coating and backprinted white. After the forming process, UV lamps or flexible polymer organic light-emitting diodes are used for curing the coatings in the single step. The result is a chemical-resistant, scratch-proof, glossy and/or matte surface (as and where required) coating with 3-D molecule network.

To get the tactile effect of real capacitive buttons, the decorative image is printed on the back of the electro-active polymer film before the forming process, which later undergoes the screen printing process. The center console of Makrofol® HF also has symbols that work by the backlit technology. The translucent white backlit films are homogenously adjusted in such a way that they can’t be figured out even when the displays are in ‘switched off’ mode. Unlike thermoforming process, the high-pressure forming process is gentle on printed symbols/characters and matte/textured films, and does not hamper on their visual accuracy.

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