Upcoming opportunities for screen printing

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Editor’s Note: For more information on the development and key markets of the screen printing inks industry, please see Part 1 here.

Screen printing remains a key printing process for many products, including textiles, in-mold decoration, printed electronics and more. Although digital printing has impacted the share of screen printing in some areas, the advantages of screen printing will continue to make it the choice for a number of products in the future.

Main advantages of screen printing

Flexibility and productivity remain the major assets of screen printing.

“The main advantage of screen printing is productivity and flexibility,” said Tito Echiburu, General Manager of Avenir’s Special inks company. “Our inks offer a wide range of printing techniques that can help printers achieve the finish they are looking for. Additionally, we have inks designed to work on any substrate they can print on, which can vary from cotton to polyester, or a wide range of blended fabrics that exist on the market today.

Paul Arnold, Marketing Manager, Magna Colorsa subsidiary of Avient, noted that when it comes to garment printing, screen printing is still considered an unbeatable process for large-scale production runs and the overall performance it offers in mass delivery.

“Once a screen printing cycle has been set up and configured, prints can be produced quickly, at scale, and with minimal maintenance and downtime. In turn, this gives printers a lower cost per print than other technologies can’t,” Arnold observed.

“Along with this, water-based garment screen printing offers multiple advantages over other technologies like DTG printing, including stronger ink coverage and higher opacity, especially for large block and vector illustrations,” he added. “There is also a huge range of special effects available in screen printing inks that cannot be achieved in other systems, including metallics, glitter, puffs, textures and high build.”

Dr. Hans-Peter Erfurt, Head of IMD/FIM Technology at Proll GmbHobserved that screen printing is the most versatile printing process.

“Fine details, large areas, transparent and opaque colors, lacquers and special pigments can be applied easily to various substrates in many material thicknesses,” said Dr. Erfurt. “The exceptional brilliance and durability of screen-printed colors, compared to other printing techniques, is of great interest for the decoration of design-oriented IMD/FIM parts.

“Night design applications, which are particularly important for air conditioning panels, keypads and switches, can be achieved in screen printing technology by processing transparent, semi-transparent and highly opaque color shades,” he said. -he adds. “Mirror inks, pearlescent and metallic inks can be screen printed and used for IMD/FIM applications.”

What customers are looking for

Printers look for certain key qualities in screen printing inks, with versatility being one of the characteristics they seek.

“On-screen performance and productivity are the main things we focus on from a production perspective,” Echiburu said. “This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as wet-on-wet printing and Pantone color reproduction. Another extremely important quality is that all our products meet the strictest guidelines in terms of worldwide compliance with restricted substances. Our printers can be confident that Avient ink brands will meet all the compliance parameters demanded by the brands.

“Many of our customers print on a multitude of fabrics, so they are looking for ink systems that can meet a variety of requirements,” said Arnold. “At Magna we need to be able to offer a full range of inks to garment printers to ensure extreme fabric and print conditions are covered, from standard cotton t-shirts, to blends, to polyester where dye migration can be a problem, even durable water repellent or DWR fabrics.

“For example, our MagnaPrint AquaFlex V2 high solids water-based ink can be used on a multitude of fabric compositions,” he added. “It works in combination with our Migration Blocker base ink to prevent dye migration from polyester fabrics, as well as in combination with our DWR Primer ink, which enables water-based screen printing on fabrics for the first time. water-repellent.

“Versatility of ink solutions is critical to customers, as is performance,” continued Arnold. “Our customers require inks with high washout durability, high print opacity and vibrant colors, as well as excellent stretch and elasticity, especially when it comes to apparel applications. sport. Inks should also be easy to use. That’s why we’ve developed water-based formulations with excellent screen-printability and long open times, ready to use right out of the jar.

In-mold decorating inks have their own requirements.

“IMD/FIM ink systems must meet extreme requirements, such as adhesion to film material, formability, resistance to thermal stress and shear during the injection molding process,” said Dr. Erfurt. “Due to the necessary formation of the printed film, screen printing inks that are very flexible and adhere well to the film must be used for the in-mold decoration technique. In addition, the inks must be able to withstand the thermal load and shear applied during in-mold decoration, especially when printing on the back of the film.

Screen printing inks market outlook

Screen printing ink industry leaders say they see many opportunities for screen printing.

“Printed electronics in combination with film insert molding technology is currently at the starting point,” said Dr. Erfurt. “Several automotive interior product applications and home appliance displays are in final development.

“Another future application of screen printing is the decoration of BEV front modules,” added Dr. Erfurt. “The new front emblems/modules are decorated from the second surface of a film or a substrate plate. Screen printing inks must be non-conductive, IR translucent, radar and/or lidar and in addition formable and retro-moldable. The final part needs a scratch resistant front coating, which is not applied by screen printing. In other areas of printing, user-friendly water-based inks for printing on glass, metals and various plastics are increasingly in demand.

“For mass-market garment embellishment, screen printing will continue to be the primary printing process due to the advantages it offers to the processor in terms of speed and scale,” Arnold said. “DTG and hybrid printing technologies will grow in importance as brand and retailers offer greater personalization and localized supply chains to consumers.

“We expect to see sustainability play an even bigger role in the screen printing ink market, with greater attention to resource circularity, sustainable textiles, as well as key advances in ink and paint offerings. biodegradable and biodegradable pigments,” concluded Arnold.

“We remain positive with the growth of new technologies based on environmentally friendly solutions – water-based, silicone-based and PVC-free technologies will continue to attract interest. Low hardening plastisols will also become more prevalent in the coming years,” Echiburu noted. “We continue to focus our development on eco-responsible solutions. For us, this means helping our printers reduce their consumption and waste and reduce their carbon footprint. We look forward to launching these types of products and solutions in the years to come. »

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