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Fresh light on visual effects

Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre has developed a printable “holographic-like” film technology for “cost-effective and environmentally friendly” dynamic printing for plastics-based and fibre-based packaging. It is suitable for mass production and can be integrated into existing printing presses. Iscent, a new Finnish enterprise, is commercialising the technology jointly with VTT.

Applications of the technology include the ability to label branded products with a technical solution that is difficult to counterfeit. Printers can reduce the use of inks, and advertising agencies can create striking packages that are environmentally friendly, it is claimed. Applications are said to include transparent films and gift wrappings, which can be made more decorative without compromising transparency.

While commercial holograms are usually printed on narrow web lines, Iscent is investing in the capacity to produce at up to 1,200mm wide; and while commercial technologies are based on metal foiling or coatings, laminated structures and UV curable varnishes, the new “light scattering” method is said to require none of these. The rainbow colours are generated simply by altering the topography of the plastics or paper surface being treated.

The new method is based on a hot embossing technology where a pair of rollers similar to a calender exerts nip pressure on the plastics or paper web run through them. The lattice design on the main roller is copied to the web by the heat and pressure.

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