"This new ink will change the way vacuum molded - or thermoformed - applications are created," says Mike Horsten, General Manager Marketing EMEA at Mimaki Europe. "It brings the benefits of digital printing to this segment of the market, addressing requirements for fast turn, short-run molded objects with exceptional graphic quality. Previously, objects had to be formed and then have the images applied manually or with screen printing, a time-consuming and expensive process. Now thermoformed objects can be imaged before forming, using Mimaki digital printers with an ink that will not crack or otherwise be damaged during the heat-based forming process. It will provide a beautiful finish for applications such as car parts, mock-ups, molded signs, kiosks and more."
Mimaki LUS-350 ink will stretch up to 350% when heated to between 120⁰C and 200⁰C. After cooling to room temperature, the ink’s rigidity is restored, while securely adhering to the molded product without cracking or peeling. Thus, the ink is unique in providing rigidity, durability and stretchability to serve a broad range of applications with no-compromise image quality. Images are printed on flat substrates using specialized imaging software and then formed into the desired shape using vacuum, thermoforming or other molding techniques.
"The beauty of this ink when used in the thermoforming process," Horsten adds, "is that intricate textures and designs in fine decorative prints are retained even after molding. What’s even more exciting is the ability to apply multiple layers of ink to create raised areas in the image for further enhancement, without worrying about cracking or the quality of the adhesion."
Mimaki’s LUS-350 clear ink is also unique in the market, adding texture or a glossy finish that can’t be achieved with colored ink alone.+