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SPE Decorating & Assembly Division to Sponsor Extensive Programming at ANTEC™ 2009

For the first time in ANTEC™ history, the SPE Decorating & Assembly Division will present a full day of sessions at the 2009 ANTEC, June 22-24, in Chicago, Ill. From surface treatments, optical coatings, and inkjet decoration to ‘smart’ materials, plastic plating, and laser welding, the division has orchestrated a strong line-up of technical papers addressing emerging trends in decorating and assembly technologies – more than doubling the papers presented in 2008!

The following programs are just a sampling of the Decorating & Assembly Division’s technical papers that will be presented on June 24, 2009, during ANTEC 2009:

  • Surface Modification of Inks, Coatings, and Adhesives – The Inter-Facial Effects, Enercon Industries Corp.

  • Join the Jet Set – Developments in the Use of UV Ink Jet for Industrial Coating, Hexion Specialty Chemicals

  • Laser Welding Using Infrared Absorbing Films, Gentex Corporation

  • Considerations for Producing High-Quality Plated Plastic Components, MacDermid Industrial Solutions

For a complete list of programming, visit www.plasticsdecorating.com.

ANTEC 2009 will run in conjunction with NPE 2009, June 22-26, in Chicago. ANTEC sessions will take place June 22-24. For information on ANTEC 2009, visit www.4spe.org or call (203) 775-0471.

Q&A: Which Type of Laser Is Best for Marking on Plastics?

By Scott Sabreen, The Sabreen Group

Q: Our company is planning to buy a laser for the purposes of marking text and 1-D/2-D barcodes on plastics. We’ve received quotations from several laser equipment companies.  One company recommends a 75-watt lamp-pump Nd:YAG system, while another suggests a 20-watt diode-pumped Nd:YAG. Can you help us decide which laser is better and why?    

A: When procuring laser systems it is important to remember there is not a single universal answer. Important general facts between diode and lamp-pumped systems (referred to as ‘lamp/YAG’ and ‘diode/YAG’) can be summarized. However, we must compare near equivalent high-power lasers, e.g., 100-watt. For the sake of brevity, I will not discuss technical differences between ‘side’ and ‘end’ pumped diode). Both types of lasers, lamp/YAG and diode/YAG, potentially can yield acceptable marking results relative to marking contrast and speed. Each application is unique relative to the plastic substrate composition and color, marking quality, speed, laser efficiency and size, contrast (dark-on-light, light-on-dark, or custom color), and total system costs. 

Diode/YAG lasers are inherently more efficient in terms of output beam power as a fraction of input electrical power. Diode/YAG lasers rely on a bank of laser diodes as the optical ‘pump’ source for the YAG laser rod, rather than a krypton arc lamp. Laser diodes are more sensitive to electrical noise than arc lamps are, so greater circuit protection is required. Contrary to common perception, both diode- and lamp-pumped high-power lasers require a cooling system, although diode systems can use smaller cooling units but require greater temperature control. Low-power diode/YAG systems are air-cooled. Diode/YAG lasers produce TEM00 beam output quality, resulting in higher peak power and subsequent fast marking. Both lamp/YAG and diode/YAG systems can produce TEM00 beam output quality, or near TEM00 outputs, with proper apertures and collimation to produce similar spot sizes. 

Lifetimes of laser-diode bank versus arc lamps are an important consideration. Most commonly advertised lifetime of laser diodes operating in Q-switch mode are in the range of 10,000 hours, although the actual lifetime depends on a variety of factors and can vary significantly. When replacing a bank of diodes, the laser head is returned to the factory and the replacement cost can be in the range of $12,000 to $15,000. In contrast, arc lamps have an operating range of 400-600 hours, based upon average usage conditions, and can be easily replaced by a skilled technician for about $100 or less. Advantage goes to diode/YAG lasers relative to beam power stability since arc lamps age over time. At present, lamp/YAG lasers are significantly less expensive to procure. Lamp/YAG has been in use for decades. Diode/YAG lasers are the newer technology, and they have longer mean time between maintenance intervals and lower electrical consumption and heating requirements. Lamp/YAG lasers often can be more versatile when marking of various substrates is required. The diode/YAG is a more specialized laser machine.

To find out about the use of lasers for product security, join Scott Sabreen in an informative webinar: Laser Marking and Machine Vision Codes for Product Security and Traceability, Jan. 20, 2009 - Register Now!

Get Noticed! Give Your Website a Facelift

By Joanna L. Krotz

How many times have you refreshed the graphics or content of your website? Twice? Once? Not at all?

Many businesses are still hosting first-generation sites that went up at the turn of the millennium. The majority of these sites are passé by today’s ‘make-it-useful’ standards. Sometimes embarrassingly so. Internet-savvy businesses will refresh the content on their websites regularly. Think about the impression a site that’s a year out of date will have on visitors. It takes a little dated information for visitors to conclude they’ve hit a dead end.

Site Specific Suggestions
Business sites obviously are varied. But for the purposes of site facelifts, differences come down to how frequently you must make changes. Consulting services may update sites only quarterly or even annually. E-commerce sites or research companies may require updates by the hour.

Whatever your needs, you can now find appropriate and affordable off-the-shelf software and third-party service providers to do the job. You can, for instance, put a fresh look on your old site without disrupting any functionality.

Here are five ideas culled from web marketers and developers that can modernize your site without excessive costs.

1. Reduce the Number of Site Pages
Focus on redesigning only the core 10 to 15 pages, suggests Matt Greer, chief executive at Zeeo Interactive, a web design services company. You can then archive any remaining popular or highly trafficked pages into Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word documents that are suitable for download.

2. Set up an Email Program
Create an incentive for visitors to register or give you their email addresses. Once you have addresses, send out useful emailings. But make sure you have explicit permission to do so – and don’t cause more harm than good by sending email too frequently.

3. Speed Loading Time
Fancy graphics and animations are obstacles in the path of getting to information. Make sure your visitors can easily find what they’re after.

4. Align the Site to the Organization
You might have reinvented your business a half-dozen times over the past few years. How appropriate is your site now? What about secondary channels or pages? "Many businesses grow their sites in piecemeal fashion," notes Kevin McLaughlin at Public/i, a public relations firm. "As new sections are added over time, the same messages or positioning is not always reflected in the copy throughout the company's entire website." Make sure your site's messaging is always in tune with offline marketing.

5. Add Testimonials or Success Stories
“Very few sites do this and there’s no question that they add major credibility for buyers,” says Philippa Gamse, a web strategy consultant. Ask long-time customers for quotes or permission to post their case histories and their satisfaction with your services.

Any of these ideas will help update your online presence. But the real advice is simply not to get lazy. Pay attention to your website whenever you shift direction or significantly grow the business. All marketing and messaging must be seamless – consistent, uniform, multimedia, and multi-channel.

For the full article, Click here.

Need Solutions for Plastics Applications? Attend PLASTEC West 2009!

On Feb. 9-12, 2009, the PLASTEC West Conference & Exposition at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., will offer the latest materials for applications in aerospace/aviation, appliances/housewares, automotive, electronics, medical, packaging, and consumer goods. With more than 1,200 exhibitors and nearly 200,000 sq. ft. of product displays and equipment demonstrations, the event offers the most recent advances in primary processing machinery, computer-aided design and manufacturing, production machinery, materials and mold components, automation technology, materials handling/logistics, and more. Admission to PLASTEC West includes complimentary admission to seven industry-related shows, all under one roof: MD&M West, WestPack, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, Electronics West, and Automation Technology Expo (ATX). Plus, this year’s Lean Factory offers educational sessions on the importance of a data-driven approach to line design, the need to create an environment that supports Lean with the right equipment and infrastructure, and the tools to create a Visual Factory. For more information, call (310) 445-4200 or go to www.plastecwest.com.




The Latest

The Sabreen Group Presents VectorJet™ Laser Marking

The Sabreen Group Inc., Plano, Texas, has unveiled VectorJet™ laser marking for direct plastics laser marking that is both enabling and cost-effective. The VectorJet offers ‘dark’ contrast on light-colored products, ‘light’ contrast on dark products, and custom ‘color’ tone-on-tone (800 dpi resolution), as well as micro-marking, capable of 0.015″ and smaller. The product offers 100 percent readability of 2-D data matrix/barcodes for unit level traceability, plus maximum data content for product security and supply-chain management. The VectorJet offers unlimited graphics capabilities of alphanumeric text, any font styles, logos, schematics, diagrams, etc., and provides exceptionally fast marking speeds and easy setup. In addition, the product does not require recurring expensive consumables necessary for pad screenprinting, inkjet, adhesive labels, and other traditional non-permanent printing processes. For more information, call (972) 250-4664, email vectorjet@sabreen.com, or visit www.sabreen.com.

Monitored and Controlled Plasma Surface Treatment from Enercon

Enercon Industries Corp., Menomonee Falls, Wis., has presented the Dyne-A-Mite™ IT Elite, which etches, cleans, activates, sterilizes, and functionalizes a variety of difficult-to-treat conductive and non-conductive material surfaces. Its advanced blown-ion plasma surface treatment is ideal for promoting adhesion for painting, bonding, casting, flocking, labeling, coating, marking, extruding, and overmolding applications. Quality control is self-regulated by a real time plasma integrity monitoring system for all process variables. The Dyne-A-Mite IT Elite is highly effective at treating and cleaning all types of polymers, elastomers, glass, and conductive surfaces. The new modular system is upgradable with up to four surface treatment heads with quick connect/disconnect capability. A touchscreen interface that provides local control and connectivity to network control systems also is available. For more information, email mplantier@enerconmail.com or call (262) 255-7080.

United Silicone Introduces High-Speed Heat Transfer System for Blow Molded Containers

ITW United Silicone, Lancaster, N.Y., has introduced the Cyclone HT™ heat transfer application system for high-speed application of multi-colored heat transfer labels to round injection and blow molded containers. The Cyclone HT can be integrated in-line with the molder and filler to maximize line production. Photographic-quality heat transfer labels in roll format allow for simple graphics changeover. The system’s precise electronic label positioning offers consistent decoration bottle to bottle. The Cyclone HT accommodates various container sizes and shapes and offers pre- and post-flame treatment options. The permanent, safe decoration offers a ‘no-label look’ on containers and gravure-printed quality. For more information, call (716) 681-8222, email info@unitedsilicone.com, or visit www.unitedsilicone.com.


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