How do you print on plastics?

Plastics refer to synthetic materials which are composed of polymers and can be moulded or otherwise shaped into products which have certain desirable qualities. Plastics are used for anything and everything these days and with their unique qualities which can be changed as desired by selecting the type of polymer, they were almost considered a miracle material. Although these days plastic is universally accepted as being bad for the environment and causing pollution when disposed of, it is still used in a wide variety of products. There are hundreds of types of plastic with a blend of interesting properties making it ideal for any consumer or industrial product while remaining cost effective as it can be produced without difficulty. But have you ever wondered how we printed on plastics? Printed plastics are commonplace and eliminates the need for printing labels and pasting them on products. Read on to find out how it’s done.

Inkjet Printing

Inkjet printing is not unique to plastic printing, and in fact is the most popular technique of printing on paper as well. It makes use of a continuous spray of link through a tiny nozzle into the printing surface which dries and forms the image. It allows for high quality printing due to the small size of the nozzles used, and also allows for printing on very small surfaces such as rulers, pens, doors, electronics etc. Services that offer personalised merchandise such as promotional pens Brisbane often use Inkjet printing to make their products.

Flexo Printing

Flexography uses a flexible relief plate with recesses which are covered in ink which can be pressed against the printing surface to print on it. This allows printing of almost any surface and even thin surfaces such as polythene, nylon and similar plastics which can melt or deform when subject to inkjet or laser printing and can tear with other types of impact printing. Due to the use of the relief plate, it is suitable for printing large areas of solid colour and less suited for smaller, more intricate prints. Hence it is used for printing on non-porous surfaces such as food packaging.

Laser Printing

The same technology used in household printers can be used to print on plastics as well. Laser printers use electrostatic forces to stick powdered ink onto the printing surface. The surface is subsequently heated to allow the ink to permanently fuse onto the surface resulting a high-quality print. Laser printing is extremely fast and economical. It is well suited for printing text such as expiry dates, manufactured dates etc. on plastic containers and less suited for printing artwork or pictures. It should also not be used on very thin plastics or those with poorer resistance to heat such as polythene as the plastic can melt or deform under the heat used to fuse the ink onto the surface.

Plastic is an interesting material, and its usefulness is expanded by printing on it. The ink used to print on plastics should be waterproof, non-toxic, and durable for effective use.

 

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