Trade Resources Industry Views Functional Printing To Shine At Drupa 2016

Functional Printing To Shine At Drupa 2016

Functional printing will be a big focus at global printing trade fair drupa in May.

Functional Printing To Shine At Drupa 2016

The European Specialist Printing Manufacturers Association will host a pavilion dedicated to functional and industrial printing, with member companies such as SPS demonstrating screen printing equipment used for food decoration and other special effects achievable at high-operation speed.

ATMA will showcase latest developments in machines for conductive and technical printing, and stencil specialist KIWO will present printing of pressure-sensitive adhesives with high electrical conductivity.

A variety of decoration techniques for glass and other rigid materials will be in the spotlight in the ESC booth and another ESMA member, Marabu, will present applications of their inks for touch panels, tablet and smartphone masks.

Visitors to ESMA Lounge will learn about recent projects around smart tags, smart sensors, flexible and washable conductive inks used in textile industry, and the overall employment of various print technologies for the Internet of Things.

Intrinsic Materials, a specialist in nano-materials, will also show its achievements in conductive inks and printed electronics components applied by the medical industry, such as disposable testers with smart tags.

In its early days, functional printing relied on chromatic inks which changed colour due to external influences such as light (UV/black light), temperature (heat), pH changes or water contact. They found their applications in printed gadgets, especially packaging which took marketing advantage from the distinctive special effects.

The glowing and phosphorescent decoration started years ago and reappears on the market on continuous basis.

More advanced and more functional opportunities have followed and entered new industries.

Evolution in conductive inks and electroluminescence (EL) not only benefited branding purposes (e.g. light-emitting packaging of Bombay Sapphire Gin) but delivered solutions also for solar panels (fingers and busbars).

Initial applications have pushed the boundaries of functional printing.

Printed circuit boards (PCB) and flexible antennas combining FM, TV, mobile, GPS in one antenna and used e.g. in automotive, gave rise to car radar systems for adaptive cruise control.

Nowadays, near field communication (NFC) and RFID antennas are standard features in electric devices and the integration of printing in the manufacturing process constantly improves their cost-efficiency.

As far as electroluminescence is considered, a technological jump took place towards OLED (organic light emitting diodes).

Flexible OLEDs integrated in fabric pave the way for smart textiles and wearables, as shown in one of the recent ESMA-powered international projects – POLEOT (Printing of Light Emitting Devices on Textile).

The door to the future of printed electronics, conductive inks and coatings is now wide open.

Batteries (flexible, thin, rechargeable), energy harvest systems (based on Peltier effect), smart tags and sensors are becoming common consumable goods, many of them disposable.

Smart wearables and smart sensors increasingly find applications in medical and pharmaceutical sectors.

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