Higher-quality, longer-lasting, more environmentally friendly printing

23.02.2023 Pretreatment with plasma significantly improves printing ink’s adhesion to a wide range of surfaces and produces brilliant, long-lasting results on materials that are difficult or impossible to print on with conventional methods.

Cups made of recycled PP are printed by using UV digital printing and without an additional bonding agent – the result is an impressively high-quality, durable print.
© Photo: Plasmatreat
Cups made of recycled PP are printed by using UV digital printing and without an additional bonding agent – the result is an impressively high-quality, durable print.

At booth 2340 at InPrint in Munich, which will take place from 14-16 March, Plasmatreat GmbH will demonstrate how it is possible to print in high-quality in an efficient and environmentally friendly way on challenging substrates such as plastic, metal and glass – by using special pretreatment methods. Plasmatreat is the global market leader in atmospheric plasma technology, and at Europe’s leading industry get-together for print tech, the company will present innovative surface treatments that can be used for nearly any material.

Universal problem-solver

An ideal printed image should be brilliant, high-coverage, and durable, regardless of the substrate’s characteristics. However, many materials have characteristics that make printing difficult. Creating the required surface quality, it is often necessary to use chemical pretreatment which is harmful to the environment; many companies would like to avoid using conventional solvent-based inks and adhesion-enhancing primers. Plasma technology is rightly an alternative here. It is a universal problem-solver: Plasmatreat’s Openair-Plasma and PlasmaPlus technologies facilitate VOC-free pretreatment of a wide range of substrates, allowing companies to print on them using methods such as digital printing with UV-curing systems. Using UV inks increases the efficiency of the printing process: The inks cure extremely rapidly, without the need for a large number of energy-intensive ovens; this also means that the waiting times before the surfaces can be processed are minimal. At the same time, users also benefit from the well-known advantages of digital printing: efficient manufacturing of products in small batches, or personalised or customised individual items.

Plastic: Brilliant printed images, even on recycled materials

In printing, the cheaper standard plastics such as PP or PE pose particular challenges for the industry. Their low surface energy results in inadequate wettability, making them very difficult to print on. Openair-Plasma pretreatment increases the substrate’s surface energy, significantly improving wettability. The result is a considerable increase in adhesion, which allows printing ink to form a long-lasting, wear-resistant bond with the surface. This highly targeted pretreatment method can be used to create high-quality, long-lasting prints on a wide range of plastic products, from pens and toothbrushes to computer keyboards, parts in automotive like switches and displays and cups made of recycled materials. Additionally, plasma technology is particularly important when it comes to printing on recycled plastics, because the raw materials are not always sorted entirely correctly, and the inconsistent quality of the material makes it difficult to print on. Openair-Plasma also offers an effective solution here. Plasmatreat will demonstrate this solution at InPrint by showing a “crinkle cup” made of recycled PP. It was printed using UV digital printing and without an additional bonding agent – and the result is an impressively high-quality, durable print.

PFW100 Openair-Plasma jet – For flat surfaces

With its new PFW100 plasma jet, Plasmatreat offers the perfect jet for pretreating flat components or surfaces that are used for processes involving high speeds and covering broad areas, such as the phase before the printing process. The PFW100 is particularly well suited for pretreating heat-sensitive materials such as thin plastic films or textiles such as nonwovens. It can also be used for cleaning glass and metal surfaces. The PFW100 delivers consistent pretreatment at a width of 100mm per plasma jet and relative speeds of up to 200m/min. A modular layout of multiple jets allows users to flexibly vary the width of the area to be treated.