Imaging technology for 3D decoration

Paul Boughton

Pictaflex is a new 'full wrap' decoration technology developed by ICI Imagedata in conjunction with Applied Effects Laboratories Ltd, specialists in decorative technology, and material scientists at Warwick University.

The Pictaflex process enables any 3D object to be decorated with a full colour design or photographic quality image by dye diffusion, actually bonding it into the surface.

A specially coated recyclable polyester film is printed using aqueous inkjet technology. The ink is then fused into the surface of the object by application of heat and pressure in the Pictaflex press.

This new technology, which is suitable for large scale production or individual product personalisation, will revolutionise the decoration of finished parts and components made from plastics, metals, wood, glass, as well as composite materials.

Because of the flexibility of the process and the breadth of materials that can be imaged, the decorative possibilities for Pictaflex in the transport industry are numerous - and sure to be of interest to both designers and manufacturers.

Pictaflex can be used to decorate interior and exterior trim components, as well as personalised items featuring corporate branding.

In addition to its unique capabilities, Pictaflex has many advantages over existing decoration technologies.

What is more, it is versatile, providing users with a blank canvas for their ideas.

Literally any digital image can be reproduced on the chosen part, enabling product designers to create their own visuals or use existing imagery from photographs or scans. The process can print highly complex 3D parts and can even wrap around angles tighter than 90° angles.

Parts can be printed 'in-register' so the design can be positioned to match the form of a particular object.

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