Nonwovens in Graphics

By Tim Wright, Editor | April 17, 2013

Nonwovens continue to gain use in graphics applications

Graphics applications are continuing to expand the potential for nonwovens. From designer diapers to high-flying banners in shopping malls, more nonwovens are being produced to help heighten the visual appeal of products and advertisements.

In 2009, DuPont introduced Tyvek Vivia, a recyclable nonwoven particularly suited for UV-cured inkjet and screen-printing. The company says Vivia offers all the high-performance benefits of traditional Tyvek, plus a brighter white surface for more vivid colors and a soft texture that helps resist wrinkles and creases. So wide format media look better longer.

Tyvek Vivia also delivers exceptional print quality across all wide-format printing techniques including digital offset, screen and flexographic processes making it easier to achieve fine details and skin tones.

When used with UV inks, DuPont says Tyvek Vivia produces superior fade-resistance. They are also resistant to tears and adverse weather, helping signs and banner advertisements withstand all types of conditions. Its soft texture makes it easy to sew, grommet, tape or staple—giving designers greater flexibility for wide format applications.

Freudenberg Nonwovens also entered the digital printing market recently with its Evolon technology. Evolon is a unique microfilament fabric combining very good textile and mechanical properties. Like traditional microfiber, it is soft, drapable and light, but it is also very strong at the same time.

Being dense with its compact fiber structure, Evolon has very good barrier and filtration properties. Due to its internal microfilament structure, it is very absorbent, but also quick to dry and breathable. Converters can finish, dye, print, cut and sew Evolon as any traditional textile.

Freudenberg Evolon’s headquarters and manufacturing are located in Colmar, France and says it is shipping product to an ever-expanding worldwide market. The three main sales areas are Europe, North America and Asia.

Evolon printing media for advertising banners is strong, light weight, and anti-wrinkle with what the company says is a unique matt artistic look and textile drape. It can be used indoor or outdoor, for posters, banners, POP advertising, wall coverings, calendars, packaging, racing number applications and more. Evolon is also a PVC-free environmentally friendly solution for digital printing that the company says provides outstanding printed results, sharp pictures and deep colors.

As it can be flame-retardant treated it is suited for indoors, and it is weather-resistant and UV-resistant so that it can be used outdoor while being three or four times lighter than traditional outdoor banner materials.

Freudenberg says users appreciate additional benefits of Evolon, such as breathability and textile feel, for racing numbers, sound absorption for indoor use, softness and surface protection for packaging, non-fraying edges for easier converting.

Evolon is compatible with a wide range of digital printing technologies: sublimation (transfer, direct); inkjet (aqueous, solvent, eco-solvent, UV-cured); and even laser.

Being PVC-free, Evolon is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional banner materials and is available in a diversified range of weights in three product lines: PMI, PMC and PMB. The PMI line is suited for inkjet with water-based inks or UV-cured inks, sublimation, and even laser printing. The PMC line is ideal for inkjet printing with solvent and eco-solvent inks. The PMB line is suitable for (sublimation) transfer printing and UV inks.

Ahlstrom, a global high performance fiber-based materials company, has completed its range of Silco Flat release papers for pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) graphics, with the addition of newly developed products for graphics applications and for plotter cut films.

Large format self-adhesive graphics are applied on large surfaces to create appealing decoration or advertising in architecture, retail, vehicles or exhibitions. Release liners used for such laminates need to be specially designed to perform well during lamination, printing or plotter cutting, in order to deliver outstanding visual effect once the film has been applied on the surface.

As a leading global release papers supplier, Ahlstrom has developed through the years a range of sustainable paper products for PSA graphic laminates, supplied to the key players in this industry. To be aligned with the latest advances in printing and cutting technologies, the Ahlstrom Silco Flat range was recently enlarged with new high performance materials.

Ahlstrom Silco Flat Premium has been developed for the most demanding graphics applications the company says. Its increased top and backside smoothness enhance the vinyl film glossiness while its backside moisture barrier ensures outstanding planarity for faultless performance during printing.

Additionally, Ahlstrom Silco Flat HB has been designed specifically for plotter cut films. Its high internal bond enables a cut with a high degree of precision, even with the most complex shapes or smallest letters. Its high top side smoothness delivers a high gloss and avoids orange peel effect, ensuring perfect finish of the most sensitive vinyls or thin transparent films.

Made of natural fibers, release papers are the most sustainable release liner substrates. Entirely based on renewable raw materials, they are derived from responsible forestry, are recyclable and biodegradable.

Ahlstrom also presented its expanded Ahlstrom Easylife wallcover range at the China Wallpaper Exposition in Beijing, China. The company is developing new products in order to strengthen its leadership in the Chinese wallcover market.

Ahlstrom Easylife product offerings range from 3D appearances to new backing and coated facing materials. Additionally, Ahlstrom will be partnering with HP, presenting its EasyLife digital printing products with HP’s latest latex printing technology. Ahlstrom EasyLife is quickly expanding into the digital arena and is positioned as one of the leading substrates for nonwoven digital wallcover applications.

Furthermore, Ahlstrom sponsored the Ahlstrom EasyLife Cup, Wallcovering Design Contest at the Chinese Wallcovering Expo, March 5-7. Here talented wallcovering designers gathered together, displaying their creative and exquisite work, many of which are based on Ahlstrom EasyLife nonwoven materials. This type of contest is a way to encourage creative and unique designs, facilitating the positive growth of the Chinese wallcover market, according to executives.

All Ahlstrom’s new wallcover substrates have been developed to reduce environmental impact, as sustainability is a key focus for Ahlstrom. All products utilize FSC pulp and are CE and RAL approved. Recycled polyester is used in several new products, a process that has reduced our cradle-to-gate environmental impact by 10%

Teijin Limited announced recently that it has developed a water-resistant, wet-strong printing paper made entirely with the company’s ECOPET recycled polyester fiber derived from used PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles.

As a polyester material, the printing paper is highly water resistant compared to conventional pulp-derived paper and is not easily torn when wet, making it ideal for use in outdoor or wet locations. Potential applications include hazard maps, triage tags and other outdoor or disaster supplies, outdoor posters, recording papers, and labels and price tags for fresh or frozen foods.

The new printing paper is as thin as conventional printing paper, so it can be used normally in regular laser printers with no need for manual feed. Also, unlike conventional water-resistant printing paper made of film, the paper enables easy scoring, gluing and writing with pens or pencils. As a wetlaid nonwoven fabric made with the same method as machine-made Japanese paper, it offers levels of flexibility and texture not achievable with film-based printing paper.

Teijin developed the paper in collaboration with Nisshinbo Postal Chemical Co., Ltd., which will handle sales limited to Japan through trading companies and printer makers.

Teijin’s ECOPET recycled polyester fiber is used in a wide range of products, including apparel, uniforms, interior items such as curtains and carpets, industrial materials such as tents, banners and filters, and civil engineering materials.

J.H. Ziegler recently launched a new and very versatile laminating line in its Achern factory that enables the company to supply not only very thick but also very smooth nonwovens that are suitable for printing. Alternatively, different types of products can be combined or nonwovens can be laminated with very thin special films. Ziegler is very open to the requirements from all kinds of markets. Natural fiber fabrication at its Lambrecht factory was modernized this year, enabling the company to manufacture natural fiber nonwovens for visible applications.

At the interzum 2013 show in Cologne from May 13-16, 2013, Johns Manville says it is presenting an innovative glass fiber nonwoven with a specially developed coating that meets the surface qualities for digital and direct printing. JM says the material offers the advantage of significantly reduced calorific potential compared to traditional decor papers, and is therefore especially suited for HPL and CPL applications that demand higher fire classes, such as those for shipbuilding or railway interiors. The material offers high strength and performs very well as a reinforcement of thinner and lightweight engineered wood panels. Additionally, the material helps improve impact resistance.

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