The chart below provides a brief overview of a number of critical parameters for our customers. The degree of applicability with our production streams is displayed in this chart.
Print in the open pores of anodised aluminium
Printing in the anodised layer of aluminium was the basis of Aluscreen’s origin and is today still one of our core activities because of its sustainable character.
Anodising is an electrochemical process where the aluminium at the surface is converted into its oxide. The main features of the oxide layer are:
- Resistance against corrosion (increases with the layer thickness)
- Hardness (approx. 7 times greater than aluminium itself)
- Colourability: the anodic layer is porous during the anodising phase. Thanks to screen printing / printing the desired image is transferred.
- Adhesion: the anodic layer forms an integral part of the metal, it cannot detach.
- High chemical resistance
- Higher colour transfer: the pores are between 15-20 micron and are filled with ink. A classic print transfers only 2-3 micron ink. The result is that more pigment is being transferred.
The following steps illustrate the process:
||Anodising: Porous oxide layer is formed.
||The colours are transferred (screen print/print) and the pigments penetrate the oxide layer and dry after the solvents have evaporated.
||Sealing: The pores close in a bath of hot water. The colours are now locked in the aluminium oxide layer. This results in a high chemical, thermal and mechanical resistance.
The principle of the screen printing technique is print-through: a piece of fine gauze is stretched across a frame. The screen printing frame is subsequently fitted with a light-sensitive layer that is exposed by means of a film. After washing, permeable spots arise, where the ink is printed through.
The ink is applied to the frame and spread by means of squeegee, causing the shape of the stencil to be printed on the object that must be printed (substrate). This technique can be repeated with various colours and shapes that are printed along or across each other. The principle is fairly simple but because screen printing can be deployed in all areas where something must be printed, it becomes more complicated. Every material has its own features and for various materials various sorts of ink are required.
Screen printing ink boasts a decent coverage, allowing to print on darker substrates.
The advantages of screen printing compared to other printing methods:
- High quality and therefore also lifespan (due to the transfer of large pigments, the thick layers and the many sorts of existing inks).
- The independence of shape: also large objects or very small ones can be printed.
What is the disadvantage of screen printing?
- Relatively high start-up costs (for small volumes and multiple colours)
- Only flat materials can be printed. That does not mean that the object must be flat; we can print housings and cabinets, as long as the part that must be printed is flat.
During digital printing, the full process runs digitally, from design to print.
This procedure is applied for full colour images and small volumes (due to the low start-up cost).
We print digitally both on soft materials (vinyl, polyester film, irremovable labels, etc.) and in the open pores of the anodic layer of aluminium.
Our 2 CNC controlled milling machines ensure that all non-ferrous metals (aluminium, copper, brass, forex, plexi, dibond, etc.) and ferrous metals (stainless steel) can be milled into shape.
Doming is applying a transparent layer of polyurethane resin with a thickness of a number of millimetres.
First, the labels are printed (screen print or digital print), afterwards the resin in 3D is poured on the label which cures upon contact with the air. Thanks to the resin layer, the label gets an exclusive appearance.
Domed labels are UV resistant and scratch and wear resistant.
We can dome almost any type of substrate: polyester, vinyl, aluminium, etc. and this in all possible dimensions and shapes.
Applying a relief by pressing with an embossing plate and counter mould.
Both hard (aluminium) and soft materials (embossing foil, polyester front foil, etc.) can be embossed.
Possible applications are push buttons of front foils, logos in embossing foil (can be domed afterwards for extra appearance if desired), etc.
Punching and computer-controlled cutting
Punching or die cutting: cut out a certain shape from the material by means of a specific die cutting frame. This is done in case of larger volumes.
For smaller volumes computer-controlled cutting is more cost-efficient.
Both methods are applicable on both soft and hard materials.