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Durability of Thermal Resin prints

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by ChiknNutz, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    Hello Signs101! Long time no talk, huh? I have a question for Gerber Edge and/or Summa DC4 users. For my current employer, I am researching the real-world durability of thermal resin prints for an industrial application. Having previously owned a solvent-based inkjet, I already am fully aware of the durability of those (coupled with a film overlaminate). However, not having ever owned or really dealt much with thermal printing, I am not fully versed in how durable they truly are. I do know that both offer a foil "scratch guard" overlaminate to improve durability, just not sure how much more durable it really makes them (I think Gerber quotes 30% better).

    To further clarify the environment, this is for an industrial environment where abrasion and various chemicals are present. While I wouldn't say that it is overly harsh, the decals must remain legible and affixed under these conditions as much as possible. They must be durable enough to withstand chemicals such as gasoline, acetone, mineral spirits, phosphate-ester hydraulic fluid, Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), etc.

    Can anyone state with authority that an un-laminated thermal resin print will withstand these conditions? What about with the foil "scratch guard?" If a film laminate is required, then film-laminated solvent-based inkjet prints might be a better choice after all.

    In any case, thanks for any feedback offered.
     
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  2. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Mild solvents such as alcohol will attack thermal resins after about 45 seconds of steady rubbing but harsh solvents such as MEK will pretty much immediately dissolve and remove the same resins instantly. To the best of my knowledge, the UV/Abrasion Guard overprint foils do not provide any additional chemical resistance.

    For prints that need chemical resistance, we've always used a 1 mil Tedlar overlaminate with which we have never had a report of a print failing.
     
  3. Marlene

    Marlene Major Contributor

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    contact your local Gerber rep and ask the same questions as they have the material spec's and will know if it will work or not. they may be able to tell you if there are materials available that will work for this application.
     
  4. jayhawksigns

    jayhawksigns Very Active Member

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    Did some prints off of our DC4sx for a local auto car wash place and the chemicals they clean the equipment with took the print right off. Somethings you just can't get away with not laminating for.
     
  5. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

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    I'll echo what Fred said, Mild solvents are fine, harsh solvents, no chance.
     
  6. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    Pat, no, but that is a possible option and thanks for bringing it up.
     
  7. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    What Fred & Pat said
     
  8. Terremoto

    Terremoto Member

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    I used to work at a screen printers and we used to screen print metal plates with some kind of ink that we baked on using a toaster oven. The metal plates were then riveted in place where they were needed.

    With the solvents you're up against I don't think there's an ink or adhesive that's going to stand up.

    Dan
     
  9. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

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    This is true, I think it's a bit unreasonable to expect a vinyl decal to stand up to MEK, it's like asking a contractor to build you a house that will withstand an atomic bomb.
     
  10. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

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    Hmm..way back when I had a SignArt Nautilus I tested my prints with what I had around the shop and they held up. I hit them with 110 octane race fuel, methanol, synthetic oil, gear lube etc... That printer is a whole other story, but I was impressed with the beating the prints took. That was many moons ago with who knows what for resin technology.
    Not terribly helpful, but thought it worth mentioning.
     
  11. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    I found this about ClearShield Anti-Graffiti liquid laminate and was fairly impressed with what solvents were tested.

    ClearShield Anti-Graffiti has been tested against many common chemicals. It shows no effect on a 10 minute spot test done with the following chemicals: Acetone, Toluene, Gasoline, Ammonia (5%) as well as withstanding 200+ double rubs of MEK. The typical products that may be cleaned from a surface coated with Anti Graffiti are: most common aerosol spray paints (enamels will be more difficult to remove than lacquers), Finger nail polish, Latex Paints and Ketchup. With permanent markers like Sharpie and Marks-a-lot may leave a trace shadowing after cleaning.

    However, they specifically state that it is NOT recommended to be used with Eco-Solvent inks, "It can be applied over most solvent based output; however we do not recommend using over Eco Solvent inks."
     
  12. Jim Doggett

    Jim Doggett Very Active Member

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    Thermal resins have denser pigments, since suspending them in plastic can have greater density than pigments in a carrier fluid, such as solvent, eco-sol, etc. That makes them hold up better in sunlight, and thus are rated 3 to 5 years on vertical installs. (flat on a roof in Phoenix, maybe 1 or 2 years)

    Indoors, with no abrasives or solvents that would break down the resin? Many, many years.

    But with abrasion and potentially harmful fluids? You need to laminate, and thus the TT advantage (outdoor durable without lamination) becomes moot. So I think you might want to stick with inkjet and use a really durable laminate such as a Polycarbonate. You can be more confident that it'll meet the customer spec, I believe.
     
  13. Sign Works

    Sign Works Very Active Member

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    Abrasion resistance and chemical resistance not to mention extended UV resistance, this is why I UV film laminate ALL my thermal resin prints. I have thermal resin vehicle graphics in the field that look great going on 10 years. Yes it's a Roland thermal resin printer.
     
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