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FLEXO Magazine : August 2014
A New Type Of Shine Pattern Metallization & Its Vacuum Printing Process Fabiano Rimediotti and Giancarlo Caimmi Printing and vacuum metallization represent two fundamental and integrated processes for many applications employing exi- ble substrates, such as exible packaging, labels, decoration and the like. In general, the glossy metallic background highlights the printed graphics, providing the special look that characterizes metal- lized products. In the broad exible packaging sector, for example, most products are converted by laminating a metallized lm with a printed one. But there are also popular examples of single ply metallized and printed materials with a variety of sequences, such as reverse printing and metallizing, surface printing on metallized lm, or paper, as in the case of paper or lm for labels. A decidedly less conventional metallizing printing combination is "pattern metallization," consisting of a very peculiar "vacuum" print- ing process, performed by a printing unit positioned inside a vacuum metallization chamber. Here we are dealing with the integration of metallization and printing. By means of a printing process where ink is substituted by a masking uid, it is possible to arrange the metal deposition in graphic shapes. PATTERN METALLIZATION Vacuum metallization consists of a very thin metal deposition onto a plastic lm or any other exible substrate. In the most common case, aluminum vapors are generated inside a vacuum chamber, evacuat- ed from the air and maintained at very low pressure (less than one millionth of atmospheric pressure) at a temperature close to 1,500 degrees Celsius/2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Condensation occurs as the web crosses the metal vapors while carried by a chill roller, forming a very thin metal layer a few tenths of a nanometer in thickness---a hun- dred times thinner than the aluminum foil, which metallized lms closely resemble in their mirror like look. Pattern metallization is a recent evolution of metallization, to extend the process to other products and applications. As the name suggests---as well as the large variety of synonyms like "selective," "window" and "inline printing" metallization---the process produces metallic surfaces with multiple shapes of clear graphic motives. at may include: • Simple lines or strips • Scripts • Geometric shapes • Pictures • Any selected pattern 42 FLEXO | AUGUST 2014 PLANTS & PROCESSES