The Kurz Group (U.S. office in Charlotte, N.C.) unveiled two new decorating technologies. First, its patented 3DHS finishing process is a method of decorating 3D geometries. The system consists of the 3DHS hot-stamping foil, tooling system, and hot-stamp machine. Kurz offers the 3DHS foil in chrome, brushed metal, or colors. The highly elastic foil can be heat formed prior to hot stamping to match 3D part geometry.
The tooling system comprises fixing elements for securing the foil to be shaped and a hot-stamp die developed by Hinderer + Muhlich, a member of the Kurz Group. Another subsidiary, Baier, developed the 3DHS hot-stamp machine. At the show, Kurz partially coated an auto air-vent panel with chrome. The part’s 3D geometry cannot be hot stamped conventionally. It would typically require two molded parts—an undecorated base and a chrome-plated ring.
The second new process was developed by Kurz and its German subsidiary, PolyIC, to combine in-mold labeling (IML) and in-mold decoration (IMD) in a single injection molding process for touchscreen and touch-sensitive buttons used in communication devices, vehicles, and appliances. In addition to special mold technology, it is primarily the IML-capable PolyTC sensor films—clear, flexible PET films with electrically conductive coatings—that enable new possibilities in RFID tags, displays, and solar cells.
The conductive material typically used for such coatings is indium-tin-oxide (ITO), which suffers from high preparation costs, low conductivity for large surface areas, and brittleness. PolyIC uses very fine (down to 10 microns) silver mesh to make the film conductive with only a very small portion of its area covered by the mesh. PolyIC’s sensor films are flexible and can be incorporated in curved surfaces.
In the three-step molding process, the IML PolyTC label is first laid in the stationary injection mold half. The IMD foil with decorative coating is positioned by roll-to-roll feeding in the other mold half. Plastic is injected between the label and IMD foil to create a finished component.
This process was demonstrated at the show by Sumitomo (SHI) Demag (U.S. office in Strongsville, Ohio).