by Lara Copeland, writer, Plastics Decorating

CER technology from Industrial Decorating Solutions (IDS), a division of ITW located in Oyonnax, France, utilizes a traditional decorating method that has been around for decades – hot stamp/heat transfer – while incorporating cutting edge technology that facilitates unprecedented decorating rates and product quality. This technology is suitable for companies that want the premium look of a variety of foil colors (metallic and pigment) or the flexibility of heat transfer labels. “CER features outstanding speed, accuracy and flexibility,” said IDS Global Medical Market Manager Chris DeMell.

“The unique modular design of the CER hot stamp/thermal transfer systems enables users to address a wide variety of challenging substrates and shapes, all at a high throughput rate,” he continued.  “When we look at some of the key markets that utilize this equipment, personal care and cosmetics are by far the largest.” These markets can be extremely demanding, as they fully use the packaging to assist in selling the product to the ultimate consumer. This often leads to complex, unique designs that can range from round and square packages to ovals, tapered, polygonal, conical and even crystal shard shapes. The key to the CER technology is the ability to address many different part geometries from the same platform. DeMell said the ULTIMAX series of machines is a good example of this. “This system can decorate multiple part surfaces in a multitude of designs and colors, all from the same system.” This is accomplished with an integrated quality control (CVI) along with registration systems, which save customers space, time and expense.

Companies choose hot stamp and heat transfers for many reasons, from the premium metallic foils available in the full color spectrum to the multicolor, decorative heat transfer labels that contribute to product enhancement. One of the challenges of traditional vertical hot stamp/heat transfer is the relatively slow output speeds typical of these products. Both technologies depend on a combination of heat and pressure to fully transfer the image to the substrate. CER technology utilizes consumables that enable manufacturing speeds up to 8,000 parts per hour. “Typically,” DeMell said, “vertical presses can produce only a fraction of that.”

CER systems are based on a modular design, allowing for a wide range of options to address specific areas of need. A single system can accommodate a wide range of products through tooling or modular adjustments. These printers are all-electric, servo-driven systems, resulting in enhanced reliability and higher throughput. “Rather than acquiring multiple systems that take more labor and more footprint in manufacturing, the adaptability of these units facilitates a reduction in labor costs in addition to plant efficiency,” DeMell noted.

Manufacturing in North America is relying more and more on a reduced labor force, in combination with automated systems. Making systems user friendly is critical in today’s marketplace. CER units are designed with intuitive interfaces so they are easy to use by nonexpert technicians. Vision systems also are employed to enhance accuracy and quality control for the user.

As with all technologies, the goal is to provide the best solution to meet the need. DeMell said there will always be a need for vertical presses and competing technologies – such as pad print, in-mold and screen print – but response has been tremendous, as CER technology allows companies to meet their demanding decorating requirements with highly efficient production rates.

As this technology is vetted in more and more applications, new uses are being found all the time. “In addition to the markets noted earlier, we also are working with automotive, industrial tools, appliances and even medical,” DeMell said. Wherever companies see the need for a highly decorative image with the durability and flexibility of hot stamp and heat transfer, this option should be considered in the evaluation for the best product decoration solution.

Technical details

The CER weighs 3,500 kg. Its maximum printing speed is 30 m/minute, and its minimum printing speed is 2 m/minute. The maximum decoration height reaches 70 mm.