Friday, May 11, 2007

Inkjet printing directly onto wood

Kodak’s Continuous Inkjet Technology has opened the way for new digital printing applications in industry. Gruppo Frati is using the high-speed Kodak Versamark DS9100 Printing System to print directly onto wood.

Gruppo Frati is an Italian company that specialises in the production of hardwood-based panels, MDF and plastic laminates for a variety of applications in the furnishings sector. It has customers all over Europe, in South America and South Africa.

From printing on paper to printing on wood. The Kodak Versamark DS9100 system with a 9-inch printhead seemed ideal for printing the 20 cm BipanFlor panels but the Kodak system has always printed onto paper and other conventional printing substrates. Both companies were willing to experiment and entered into a trial period to determine if the process could be benefical to both.

From October to December 2006, the Kodak Versamark DS9100 printing system was put through its paces tackling new challenges, from ink coverage to color profiling, because the printing surface is not white. This was a period of intense activity for the Kodak technicians and of close collaboration with Maurizio Macor, the Gruppo Frati production manager, who tirelessly performed tests. In December, the system passed all the tests and the sale was made official.

Direct digital inkjet printing makes it possible to eliminate a number of steps: printing on paper, application of the paper on the panel and application of the protective film. Not only does this mean significant savings, digital printing also guarantees great printing flexibility. “If we got a request for a particular type of decoration we could only accept large orders and had to limit the range of decorations due to the constraints imposed by roto-offset printing,” says Dante Frati. “Now we can indulge ourselves in creating new decorations from wood shading and graining to other fantasy decorations.”

The Kodak Versamark DS9100 printing system can print up to 150 meters a minute with a resolution of 300 x 300 dpi and at such a high standard of quality that for this application it has won the battle against conventional panels printed using offset and laminated. In the configuration provided to Gruppo Frati there are four printheads for the four basic printing colors controlled by the Kodak Versamark CS400 system controller, which activates the printing heads. Each head has the electronics and software to regulate the pumps, valves and filters that control the ink flow.

Gruppo Frati has recently applied for a patent as a result of the experience of fine-tuning the Kodak Versamark DS9100 printing system for printing onto wood, including integration in a material transport and profiling system. This has led to a commercial agreement with Kodak to sell the system internationally.

For more information on Kodak’s graphic and industrial printing solutions, go to: http://www.graphics.kodak.com/

Posted by Royce Bair on 05/11 at 08:32 PM
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