ESMA Shows Functional Printing Potential At drupa 2016

CHICAGO, Ill. — February 2016 — At drupa 2016, the world’s leading trade fair for print and cross-media solutions, the European Specialist Printing Manufacturers Association (ESMA) will be present in two pavilions. The pavilion in hall 3 (stand A70) will be dedicated to functional and industrial printing with member companies such as SPS demonstrating screen printing equipment used for food decoration (e.g. chocolate) and other special effects achievable at high operation speed. SPS’s partner ATMA will showcase latest developments in machinery for conductive and technical printing. KIWO, the German specialist in stencils, will present printing of pressure sensitive adhesives with high electrical conductivity. A variety of decoration techniques for glass and other rigid materials will be the focus at the ESC booth while another ESMA member, Marabu, will show applications of their inks for touch panels, tablet and smart phone masks. drupa will take place from May 31 – June 10, 2016 at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany.

At the ESMA Lounge visitors will get information about the latest projects concerning smart tags, smart sensors, flexible and washable conductive inks used in textile industry and the overall use of various print technologies for Internet of Things. Further innovations will be highlighted in the ESMA pavilion in hall 6 where Color Passport will present their revolutionary approach to color management and reproduction on different substrates. Another expert in color management, ColorGate, will come to drupa with development stations and state-of-the-art RIP technology for industrial printing with inkjet. Intrinsic Materials, a specialist in nano-materials, will show their achievements in conductive inks and printed electronics components applied by the medical industry, such as disposable testers with smart tags.

Functional printing will build the core of the ESMA presence at drupa. In its early days, functional printing relied on chromatic inks which changed color due to external influences such as light (UV/black light), temperature (heat), pH changes or water contact. They were used for applications on printed gadgets, especially packaging which used the distinctive special effects for marketing purposes. The glowing and phosphorescent decoration started years ago and reappears on the market on a 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 and GPS in one antenna and used for example 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 demonstrated in one of the recent ESMA international projects – POLEOT (Printing of Light Emitting Devices on Textile).

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 also disposable. Smart wearables and smart sensors increasingly find applications in medical and pharmaceutical sectors, for instance quick test strips for diabetics, blood analyzers and smart blister packs. Healthcare is one of the markets which embrace new solutions and make successful business cases for printers who decided to “go functional” possible. Quad Industries has developed temperature logger labels for blood bags used in transport. The smart tag registers and transmits data to a smartphone app to ensure the correct transport conditions.

When it comes to smartphones, many of its components are facilitated by printing techniques. Capacitive switches, batteries, touch panels and screens – printing once again replaces expensive and highly energy-consuming processes. Marketing departments come on board as well. One of the recent Audi TT brochures included printed controls which, after correctly aligning with the smartphone, turned the page into a controllable experience of the new model’s cockpit display. Functional printing partners with anti-counterfeiting technologies and delivers combinations of inks, coatings and substrates to create invisible markers. Both for monetary needs and luxury goods, security print is the most efficient and cost-attractive protection against counterfeiting. Current possibilities even offer fingerprint recognition surfaces.

Many of these applications are included in the in-mold decoration process, be it for automotive or electronic devices – ranging from the integration of antennas in car mirror caps and in the car console to capacitive buttons on 3D thermoformed parts and surfaces. The industry is growing and provides new, creative development dimensions for printers, manufacturers and product designers. They will all meet for 18 technical talks and business cases presented during the 3rd Advanced Functional and Industrial Printing conference (AFIP) on March 2 and 3, 2016 in the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel in Düsseldorf. On March 1, 2016, the CST GmbH invites all attendees for a guided factory tour, showing the company’s involvement with functional printing technology. More information about the event’s program and conditions is available at

Posted February 24, 2016

Source: Messe Düsseldorf North America