tech.day 2022: Digital printing transforms silicone components into design products
In addition to their softness, flexibility, resistance to high temperatures and resilience, the popularity of silicone components is primarily due to their surface properties. However, this is exactly what has made digital printing impossible to date, due to poor adhesion. Silcos GmbH in Reutlingen, Germany has developed a unique process which finally enables the realisation of full-colour designs on silicone surfaces through digital printing.
The use of digital printing processes has been on the rise for many products in recent years, due to their speed and flexibility. The option to create individual printed images for small series or even individual pieces more or less at the push of a button is particularly advantageous. Consecutive serial numbers or changing information such as company logos can be printed as a result. Photorealistic printing is also possible, as is simple coding that conforms to the requirements for product traceability. As the set-up time for digital printing is insignificant, it has long established itself as a process for refining numerous plastic products.
The decisive advantages inherent in digital printing have for the first time being applied to silicone components. The process developed by Silcos also enables individual printing on silicone components. The component surface is first activated and the surface tension modified, then printing, drying and the application of clear varnish follow. Clear varnish protects the print while also reducing the coefficient of friction of the silicone. This is particularly advantageous for applications involving skin contact, thus conforming to the strictest requirements of the automotive industry. Added to this are products for the consumer goods industry such as wearables, but manufacturers of white goods and medical devices are also extremely interested in digitally printed silicone components.
With more than 15 years of professional experience in the printing industry, Ramon Willendorf has been the Business Development Manager for a year now at Silcos GmbH in Reutlingen, Germany. Active on a global level, Silcos is a solution provider for plastics, silicone and surfaces and has for many years now been a partner of starlim. With 110 employees, the company was established in 2001 and manufactures plastic and silicone components, refining these on request with real metal coatings. Further refining processes include painting and printing. Services involving feasibility studies, prototypes, design and mold construction round of these solutions.