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icmPrint — NEW INTEGRATED PRINT INDUSTRY RESSOURCE
The International Centre for Manufacture by Printing

May, 2015 - The new International Centre for Manufacture by Printing — icmPrint — brings together leading industry organisations to create a comprehensive resource centre for best practices, technical advice, training and the underlying science, along with innovation development for products where printing plays an essential role in their manufacture. The scope includes all printing processes — offset, flexo, gravure, screen, pad, ink jet, aerosol and 3D — and their associated technologies for applications ranging from publication, packaging, security, fabrics, ceramics, product decoration, polymer electronics, and biosensors to wearable technology, etc.

The icmPrint centre combines the Print Process Champions’ generic best practices platform with the Advancing Printing Network created by the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating within Swansea University’s College of Engineering.

• Print Process Champions (PPC) is an international platform that collects, structures and publishes generic best practices for all printing processes — from prepress to postpress, materials and logistics. Best practices are fundamental tools to optimise quality, reliability, and economic and environmental performance. The platform hosts contributions from printers, suppliers, universities, and industry institutions.

• The Advancing Printing Network (APN) was established by the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) to provide access to its expertise and experience for the printing industry. The WCPC is a long established research centre within Swansea University’s College of Engineering. It has an international reputation in fundamental and applied research into printing as a manufacturing process. It has focussed on the underlying science and understanding of volume printing processes and is a major player in the application of printing to innovative concepts like 3D printing, printed electronics, smart packaging and health care.

Their combination improves and diversifies resources and networks to provide pertinent services and benefits with optimised costs.

The new icmPrint website will become the repository for open access materials, and will host open webinars with guest speakers. The current web sites printprocesschampions.com and wcpcswansea.com will continue until the new site if fully commissioned.

icmPrint membership

Membership is open to printers, suppliers, institutions and companies that want to extend their understanding and application of printing manufacturing within an expert network at a relatively low cost. It will include

• Access to highly competent scientists, technicians and specialists.
• Members’ help and advice line.
• Participation in new research and best practice projects.
• Monthly technology webinars and quarterly workshops.
• Networking events – European Symposium, Advanced Manufacture by Print Seminars,
• WCPC Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition & Print Forum Wales
• Free downloads of guides, reports and posters in multiple languages.
• Newsletter updates on science, technology and best practices.
• Members’ library of R&D studies and reports.
• Reduced rates for services, courses, etc.

Members will benefit from projects currently being run by WCPC and Print Process Champions. These include best practice projects on Optimised Paper Handling and Logistics, Lean and Green Sustainable Printing Plants, and underpinning science projects on flexo, gravure and screen printing, characterisation of printing inks, and applications projects to packaging, graphics, printed electronics and biosensors.

Membership makes a bold statement about a company and the individuals who take an active network role. Benefits include being at the leading edge to improve products through a better understanding of processes and raw materials, access to best practices based on sound scientific principles, access to expert resources, encouraging excellence from suppliers, delivering products to the right standards and fostering innovation.

icmPrint will be based at Swansea University in the UK,. Its management team includes Prof. Tim Claypole and David Gethin (WCPC), Nigel Wells (PPC) with other members from the UK, France, Germany and Italy. More information Tim Claypole t.c.claypole@swan.ac.uk, Nigel Wells vimw@wanadoo

WCPC functional and graphic printing research

November, 2013 - The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) lived up to its reputation as an internationally renowned research centre with it’s ninth annual technical conference that attracted 70 participants from universities, research institutions and industry from the UK and Europe. Research projects include functional printing for medical, electronic and industrial applications using all print processes made by doctoral and post-doctoral researchers from the UK and Europe.

“A better understanding of the underlying process mechanisms allow optimisation of printing processes and their materials for all applications,” said Tim Claypole, founder of WCPC and Professor at the College of Engineering, Swansea University. WCPC is dedicated to advancing the understanding and productivity of printing and coating processes, to exploit novel manufacturing and apply its scientific findings to the benefit of its international industrial partners. Their facilities include printing presses, extensive laboratories and access to those of engineering and medical faculties. Joint research projects with multiple academic bodies and industry are fundamental for success to ensure synergies from combined resources.

For more information see www.wcpcswansea.com

Printed Electronics

Functional electrical paths are commonly manufactured by screen, gravure, flexo and inkjet printing for Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED), displays, sensors and transistors. Very high functional reliability, stability, consistency and reproducibility are critical for these devices and this is the focus of current research:

Electronic device functionality depends upon the quality and thickness of multiple nanometer thick layers on a substrate and their manufacturing requires better monitoring of their topography and thickness. A collaborative project between the WCPC and Cambridge Display Technology has found that white light interferometry (WLI) provides a fast and accurate non-contact analysis of these layers.

Printed humidity sensors for wireless monitoring of atmospheric humidity in buildings are being developed to replace complex and costly ceramic sensors. WCPC investigated their replacement by manufacturing electrodes on conductive polymers and papers using flexographic printed nanoparticle silver ink. The conductive polymer sensors showed promising performance but sensors printed on paper ares not suitable for most uses.

Hot foil stamping has a high potential to manufacture electrical paths according to work from Darmstadt University. This research found that the variations of time, temperature, pressure, stamp tool and the foil have relative similar influence on the quality of printed conductive lines.

Energy Capture And Storage

There is a huge potential market to transform buildings into power stations to deliver environmental and economic benefits while reducing CO2 emissions — but this must overcome the obstacles of material and processing costs for very large areas. This is the goal of SPECIFIC — the Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Industrial Coatings — a joint academic-industrial consortium led by Swansea University with Tata Steel as the main industrial partner, along with other leading UK universities and international companies. Recent work at the SPECIFIC centre is bridging the gap between laboratory and factory:

Metallic conductors are fundamental to large area circuitry and it is imperative to print them to reduce their processing cost. However, silver ink is far too costly at 700 €/kg and a move to nano copper at 7 €/kg is essential. While the conductivity of copper is close to silver, it oxidises very quickly and requires an organic barrier coating that needs to be rapidly cured and sintered. SPECIFIC, found that a good method for curing metallic component screen printed inks is NIR curing on glass, plastic and metallic coated substrates.

Photovoltaic coatings for building materials can integrate dye sensitised solar cells (DSC) to generate electrical power in the building envelope. These use composite electrodes combining a transparent, moderately conductive polymer with a fine flexographic printed grid of opaque conductive metallic ink that allows optical and electronic performance to be tuned for specific applications and are a viable alternative to more expensive materials. However, the electrical characterisation of composite electrodes is problematic and this led WCPC and SPECIFIC to use a Scanning Vibrating Electrode Technique to successfully map printed grid electrodes to assess its corrosion and to imply density and activity. The map shows the behaviour of the electrode that cannot be obtained by other methods and this could become a development tool for evaluating processing manufacture of printed electronics devices.

Flexible dye sensitised solar cells (DSC) can be printed on metal substrates to minimise their production costs. The counter electrode catalyst is a key component typically made from platinum that requires multiple and costly deposition steps. Substitutes to date have been unsatisfactory, however, a graphene nanoplatelet (GNP) ink has now been developed to allow sufficient transparency while providing catalytic activity. The conclusion of work at WCPC is that flexographic printed GNP can be a robust substitute to platinum with a 75-90% equivalent performance in sunny conditions and equivalent performance in low light.

Batteries can be manufactured by screen printing, although their performances is not yet satisfactory for commercial use. A current issue is that printed battery performance cannot be predicted until now. However, work at Stuttgart HdM has progressed to allow modelling of the physics and chemistry of printed batteries.

Medical Applications

WCPC Swansea University commissioned a new laboratory last year in the Centre for Nano Health within the Institute of Life Science. These facilities enable WCPC to work more efficiently in biomedical applications as part of the Nano and Micro Technologies for Healthcare project and to build links with the schools of medicine, biological sciences and health services:

Diabetes is an example of where biosensors can make an impact on a chronic and incurable disease that can only be controlled by monitoring the blood glucose level of the sufferer to avoid attacks if the blood glucose level is too low/too high. The common diabetes finger prick monitoring method is painful, discontinuous and can miss events when the patient is sleeping. Continuous monitoring is a research goal to use a replaceable sensor integrated with a wireless transmitter and micro needles in a patch worn on a patient’s arm. The Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre, and WCPC, at Swansea University is working on the fabrication of electrochemical biosensors on polyimide with selective area growth of Zinc oxide nanowires using flexographic printing to provide ultra-high sensitivity for sensors with low cost high volume production.

The purpose of printing 3D scaffolds is to replicate the structures found within the human body such as hard tissues like bones, or soft tissues like skin. WCPC and the College of Medicine, Swansea University, are currently collaborating to grow bones. The novelty of their research lies in linking the existing work in regenerative scaffolds with the recent advances in 3D printing. Filament deposition provides more controllable porosity, uses a larger selection of materials, and allow direct production from a CAD file specific to a patient. Filament deposition by 3D can print multiple shapes with a structure that allows good control over the porosity for the materials used for hard tissue scaffolds

Current cardiovascular monitoring technologies are reliable, but use a wire to a heart catheter that limits their use to hospitals. A move to home monitoring is possible from using lower cost non-invasive photodetection measurement that converts light into electronic signals. Doctoral work at WCPC is looking at printing to manufacture semi-conductive components from inks deposited on a flexible Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes (SWCNTs) whose structure allows controllable electronic and optical characteristics. The photodiode trialled produced on an Optomec aerosol printer showed fast response, high sensitivity and linear response.

Technologies For Functional Printing

Printed electronic devices have a far more critical quality criteria to ensure high functional reliability, stability, consistency and reproducibility. They also use more complex functional materials. This means that process understanding and control needs to be extended beyond what is commonly good enough for publishing and packaging printing. A unifying theme of research at WCPC is to link together currently diverse process knowledge for a wide range of applications.

Screen printing is a preferred method to deposit thick ink films on to difficult substrates, but it is a complex process with multiple parameters affecting quality the electrical properties of screen printed conductive inks. Print trials were made at WCPC to study print quality for several ink/screen combinations. The snap off gap, squeegee load, flood speed, print speed, and image were kept constant while three parameters were varied — ink, mesh, and squeegee. The results show a good correlation, with the screen mesh having the biggest impact on line and sheet resistance, and validates screen printing for manufacturing electronic devices.

The functional efficiency of screen printed electronic devices depends significantly on the amount of ink deposited, however, the metallic particles in these inks abrade the squeegee and change its performance over time. To better understand this, WCPC made a comparative evaluation of squeegee characteristics and comparative print tests using a conductive silver ink for squeegee that were both worn and unworn to establish the effect of controlled wear on ink transfer. These showed that wear increases ink transfer and the width of printed lines, leading to both higher ink consumption and risk of product failure. There is a correlation that ink film thickness is inversely proportional to squeegee hardness and resistance to deflection and that resistance to flexing is an effective indicator.

Dynamic wetting is a fundamental phenomenon for printing and coating. However, until now there have been contrasting and discontinuous theories that limit modelling printing process dynamics. A new method has been proposed and tested at WCPC using the dynamic contact angle (DCA) and introduces a force function to capture the balance of forces in the contact region. The approach is expected to play an important role in the future modelling of printing and coating processes.

Commercial flexography printing of flexible electronic circuits requires a better understanding of print process parameters on functional performance. A recent WCPC investigation of carbon ink transfer defined several influences on this including the physical engagement of the plate with the substrate, the profile of the line on the image carrier, the degree to which this is distorted when it contact with the substrate, the surface properties of the image carrier, and the substrate. An Addless™ system was used to produce a plate with a very accurate cylinder kiss contact compared to the variables of conventional systems. Test printing showed that line profiles change with the engagement of plate to impression cylinder, and with the angle of the line to the print direction.

Gravure can also be used for functional printing of electronics and bio sensors — it has excellent process control with precise and simple ink dosing, it is also impervious to a range of solvents, and for bio materials it can be sterilised. A WCPC study on the effect of forces within the gravure printing nip looked to see if there are significant differences between conventional doctoring and enclosed systems commonly used in flexography. The evaluation shows that enclosed systems are suitable for use in functional printing.

The transition from conventional printing into more complex functional materials presents challenges characterised by complex rheological behaviours that cannot be assessed by currently accepted forms of measurement. Inks are subject to extensive shear flows during printing that may severely affect the rheological behaviour and structure of functional inks. Superposition shear analysis is the subject of PhD work at WCPC to improve the understanding of the effect of shear flows over these new materials.

About Print Process CHAMPIONS

The new Print Process CHAMPIONS is an international platform to collect, structure, share and promote generic best practices for all printing processes - from prepress to postpress, materials and print products. Best practices are fundamental tools to optimise quality, reliability, economic and environmental performance. For more information, see Press Release N°1.

Print Process CHAMPIONS is a non-profit organisation funded by Sponsor Company Members working with international Industry Associates. The joint managing directors are Prof. Tim Claypole MBE and Nigel Wells. Administrative support is provided by the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, Swansea University. The Print-champions.com site has over 100 downloadable PDFs of resources such as guides, reports and posters in multiple languages, many of them are free.

Members & Associates

Sponsor Members include: Böttcher, Kodak, manroland, Muller Martini, Procemex, Quad Tech, SCA, Trelleborg. Associates Members include ClimateCalc, Ecograf, FIPP, IDEAlliance, IDEP France, Pagora University Grenoble, PrintCity, Printing Industries of America, Stuttgart HdM, ViP UK, WAN-Ifra, WCPC Swansea University, WOCG, UNIC.

More information Contact Print-champions.com | Copy to a colleague

First project from new Champions industry platform now also joined by IDEAlliance

September, 2013 - The new Print Process CHAMPIONS cross-industry platform has completed its first project with the launch of 'Processus de standardisation de la couleur'. The French edition of 'Process Colour Standardisation' is a co-publication by IDEP adapted from the original PrintCity version published in English and German in 2012.

Bernard Trichot, Directeur of IDEP, says "our co-publishing initiative makes this international resource more broadly available to promote the better understanding and use of process standardisation to improve workflow quality and efficiency." IDEP is a bipartisan French industrial organization that takes a holistic approach to identify solutions to improve a print company's development strategy in changing markets.

The guide overviews the complete process chain, standards, specifications, certification, control parameters and measurement; along with key influences on quality; implementing standardisation; and achieving faster colour OKs and trouble shooting. Project members have shared their combined competencies to help implement standardisation, along with improved quality, consistency and productivity in offset printing. It is complementary to the work of ISO, PSO, FOGRA, IDEAlliance&trad;, ECI, ICC, and other organisations. An important part of this project was the case study on PSO implementation and certification in Germany. The new edition has two additional case studies from printers in France, and is available on request from www.com-idep.fr.

PrintCity managing director Rainer Kuhn says "we are delighted to make available our innovative work to the international graphic industries with publishing partners like IDEP and the Champions Group." A Russian version is also underway with Champions media partner Publish Russia. IDEP and PrintCity are both Associates of the CHAMPIONS platform.

Printed copies of the new French edition can be requested from www.com-idep.fr. E-versions in English and German are available as free downloads from Print-champions.com or www.printcity.de or from project members Fujifilm, GMG, manroland, Sappi, Sun Chemical, Trelleborg and UPM.

IDEAlliance become a CHAMPIONS Associate

IDEAlliance is a global community of more than 1300 companies comprised of content and media creators, and their service providers, material suppliers and technology partners. The not-for-profit association identifies best practices for efficient end-to-end digital media workflows. Joe Fazzi, Vice President of Media Production Technologies comments "we share similar international objectives with the Print Process Champions and their best practice work that is often complementary like 'Process Colour Standardisation'. While we developed originally in North America, the organisation has expanded globally with activities in China, South Korea, Mexico, Colombia and now Europe, to accompany the internationalisation of the industry, its techniques and customers."

More information contact Print-champions.com

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About Print Process CHAMPIONS

The new Print Process CHAMPIONS is an international platform to collect, structure, share and promote generic best practices for all printing processes - from prepress to postpress, materials and print products. Best practices are fundamental tools to optimise quality, reliability, economic and environmental performance. For more information, see Press Release N°1.

Print Process CHAMPIONS is a non-profit organisation funded by Sponsor Company Members working with international Industry Associates. The joint managing directors are Prof. Tim Claypole MBE and Nigel Wells. Administrative support is provided by the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, Swansea University. The Print-champions.com site has over 100 downloadable PDFs of resources such as guides, reports and posters in multiple languages, many of them are free.

Members & Associates

Sponsor Members include: Kodak, manroland, MEGTEC, Muller Martini, Procemex, Quad Tech, SCA, Sun Chemical. Associates Members include ClimateCalc, Eurografica, FIPP, IDEP France, Pagora University Grenoble, PrintCity, Printing Industries of America, Stuttgart HdM, ViP UK, WAN-Ifra, WCPC Swansea University, WOCG, UNIC.

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Evolution from Web Offset to Print Process Champions

June, 2013 - The Web Offset Champion Group (WOCG) that has been the 'champion' of best practices since 1998 have now expanded their work to include all printing processes. The Print Process CHAMPIONS is an international platform to collect, structure, share and promote generic best practices for all printing processes - from prepress to postpress, materials and print products.

Best practices are fundamental tools to optimise quality, reliability, economic and environmental performance. The platform will host contributions from printers, suppliers, industry institutions, and universities to provide guides, benchmarking, case studies, resource information, and a diagnostics database at no, or low, cost.

Print Process CHAMPIONS is a non-profit organisation funded by Sponsor Company Members working with international Industry Associates. The joint managing directors are Prof. Tim Claypole MBE and Nigel Wells. Administrative support is provided by the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, Swansea University.

This initiative is a positive response to the printing industry's massive structural and technology changes. A consequence is that sources of process competence are becoming limited, making it important to find cost effective international synergies to answer information needs, not only to transfer to developing countries, but also pertinent for mature markets. Prof. Tim Claypole points out that "Printing processes are global - there is little difference between operating a printing press in Stuttgart, Sydney, Shanghai, or San Francisco. Globalisation requires the effective use of procedures, practices and standards to ensure more consistent performance. More and more companies are beginning to use multiple, and/or hybrid, printing processes to produce a wider range of products increasing the need for broader competencies."

Objectives

  • Provide printers with tools to improve their overall performance at low or no cost.
  • Provide a global industry platform to collect, structure and share best practices.
  • Help consolidate and communicate existing resources and optimise best practices across multiple and hybrid printing processes where there are many common issues.
  • Initiate benchmarking, diagnostic and quality programmes.

The new www.print-champions.com site has over 100 downloadable PDFs of resources such as guides, reports and posters in multiple languages from FIPP, PIA, PrintCity ViP and WOCG. Many of them will be available as free downloadable. Anyone can register to become a Champion Club Member to access downloadable and receive regular e-briefings without charge.

A complimentary initiative from Printing Industries of America is their new Integrated Print Center - an interactive site that will provide print and digital solutions to multi channel marketing and business strategies. Comments Dr Mark Bohan, PIA Vice President, Technology and Research "We are also delighted to be to working with the Champions platform to make available a broad range of high value resources to the international printing industry."

Benefits for whom?

"We have a long and proven track record of collecting, structuring, synthesising and publishing complex data across the production chain and delivering this in clear, compact and understandable formats that provide significant benefits," comments Nigel Wells (co-founder and editor of WOCG). These include helping printing company and plant managers optimise their manufacturing strategy and priorities, define key factors for success, and identify expectations, roles and procedures with customers, sales and production staff. To assist production managers identify, implement and monitor improvement projects; while giving supervisors trouble shooting tools and useful procedures for print production staff and technicians.

Members & Associates

Sponsor Members are leading international companies. Each plays a role in the production chain and the combination of their expertise helps improve the overall performance of printers and their customers. Current members include: Kodak, manroland, MEGTEC, Muller Martini, Procemex, Quad Tech, SCA, Sun Chemical. Associates Members are industry associations, universities, institutions and specialists who promote global cross-industry co-operation. They include ClimateCalc, Eurografica, FIPP, IDEP France, Pagora University Grenoble, PrintCity, Printing Industries of America, Stuttgart HdM, ViP UK, WAN-Ifra, WCPC Swansea University, WOCG, UNIC.

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