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23 Jan 2014

Why Ink Thickness is Critical for Solvent based Inks

Why Ink Thickness is Critical for Solvent based Inks

One of Fascia Graphics® key suppliers MacDermid Autotype are a manufacturer of coated films and blended liquids for the printing industry. They offer a number of products and solutions to aid industrial graphics manufacturers, especially in the more technically demanding applications. They recently wrote an article on why ink thickness is critical for solvent based inks. A summary of their article follows:

The thickness of each individual ink layer and the total thickness of the finished print both have a great effect on ink adhesion when printing solvent based inks.  Naturally, the critical point will vary for each ink range, processing conditions and even the colours used. Nevertheless, a few general principles apply.

Layers of solvent based ink should be printed as thinly as possible, 4-6μ is ideal. This can be achieved by use of a 120 thread/cm mesh (or higher).  What’s more, for a given total thickness, a higher number of thin prints will show better adhesion than a lower number of thicker prints.  However, above a certain total ink thickness, typically 24μ, adhesion will become poor even where the ink normally shows good adhesion. Thicker ink deposits are likely to impact both ink bonding and embossing performance.

Of course, the maximum total thickness is an average figure. It will change slightly for different ink ranges and processing conditions.  Even so, generally speaking, the adhesion of any ink will worsen as thickness increases. Thicker ink deposits can reduce both the ink bond, by impacting on the ink primer performance, and the embossing qualities, such as flexibility, causing back-light issues, and/or reducing the life of the part through ink delamination.  Therefore, the best results will always be obtained if total ink thickness is kept as low as possible.

At Fascia Graphics we always aim to find the perfect balance of ink opacity, whilst still maintaining good ink adhesion. Using an Elcometer ink thickness gauge we measure and record ink weight during the print process. At the same time we carry out adhesion tests, ensuring we always strike the perfect balance of ink thickness and ink adhesion.

In all cases then, it is recommended that optimum printing and drying conditions are established by thorough testing using the ink manufacturer’s recommendations. There are many variants and numerous ink processing/drying combinations.  

Through long-standing working partnerships with companies such as Macdermaid Autotype, Fascia Graphics have established themselves as the market leaders for the production of membrane keyboards, membrane keypads, graphic overlays, and other industrial graphics applications.

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