New stretchable UV ink from Mimaki expands wide format possibilities

Mimaki has announced that it will be making a brand-new ink available in Summer 2016. Mimaki LUS-350 is a unique, stretchable ink suitable for a wide range of thermoforming applications, especially those requiring exceptional hardness and durability such as automotive parts. Mimaki LUS-350 ink is compatible with the Mimaki UJF-7151plus and JFX200-2513 printers and will be available in CMYK, white and a unique clear ink.

The new ink is set to change the way vacuum moulded, or thermoformed applications are created, with its ability to bring the benefits of digital printing to this important market sector, addressing the requirement for fast turnaround, short-run moulded objects with exceptional graphic quality. Up until now, it was necessary for objects to be formed prior to the images being applied manually or by screen printing, which is a time-consuming and expensive process. This new ink technology now allows thermoformed objects to be imaged before forming, using Mimaki digital printers running inks that will not crack or otherwise be damaged during the heat-based forming process. This process will provide a beautiful finish for a wide range of applications such as car parts, mock-ups, moulded signs and more.

Mimaki LUS-350 ink will stretch up to 350% when heated to between 120 deg.C  and 200 deg.C. After cooling to room temperature, the ink’s rigidity is restored, while securely adhering to the moulded product without cracking or peeling. These characteristics make the new ink unique in providing the necessary rigidity, durability and stretchability to serve a broad range of applications without any compromise in image quality. Images are initially printed on flat substrates using specialised imaging software and then formed into the desired shape using vacuum, thermoforming or other moulding techniques. Intricate textures and designs in fine decorative prints are retained even after moulding, with the  additional benefit of being able to apply multiple layers of ink to create raised areas in the image for further enhancement, without having concerns about cracking or quality of adhesion.

Mimaki’s LUS-350 clear ink is also unique in the market, adding texture or a glossy finish that can’t be achieved with coloured ink alone.

The forthcoming launch of the new ink has been enthusiastically welcomed by Stuart Cole, National Sales Manager – Industrial Products for Mimaki’s exclusive UK & Ireland distributor, Hybrid Services Ltd, who commented; “This is a very exciting development for Mimaki users in the industrial sector who need to produce items with greater creativity in a less time consuming manner and more cost effectively  than previously. Yet again forward thinking technological development from Mimaki will provide end users with greater flexibility and the potential to create and develop an ever wider range of bespoke products.”