In today's rapidly evolving world, where innovation drives progress, the field of printing technology stands at the forefront, showcasing a unique blend of aesthetics and functionality.
Imagine walking through an art gallery, where each piece not only pleases the eye but also serves a practical purpose. This isn't just imagination—it's what's happening in the compelling world of functional and graphical printing.
FUNCTIONAL PRINTING VS. GRAPHICS PRINTING
While graphical printing captivates with its aesthetic focus, creating designs that capture the imagination and hold the gaze, functional printing goes a step further. It embeds products with specific, often revolutionary functionalities, surpassing mere appearance.
As we explore the applications of both functional and graphical printing, we'll uncover how techniques like screen and flexographic presses are shaping the industry and redefining the boundaries of what printed materials can achieve.
Known as industrial or specialty printing, functional printing is about creating printed materials that do more. They’re not just seen; they interact, respond, and perform.
Flexible Electronics: Printing conductive materials on flexible substrates for applications like flexible circuits, RFID tags, and wearable electronics.
Biosensors: Printing biological and chemical materials to create sensors for detecting various substances, such as glucose sensors for medical applications.
Smart Packaging: Integrating printed sensors and indicators into packaging for real-time monitoring of product freshness, temperature, or tampering.
At Tapecon, we also have close relationships with the leading materials suppliers to bring our customers the latest and most advanced functional printing solutions. From design consulting, testing, to custom converting, our team is here to help shape the future with innovative devices and components.
To learn more about the future of sensors, printed electronics, and wearable technology, check out our podcast with Brad Hull, Tapecon’s Printed Electronic Solutions Business Unit Director.
On the other side, we have the traditional appeal of graphics printing. Here, the goal is to captivate with high-quality images and designs, using techniques like flexographic, digital, and screen printing. This field brings us:
Durable Graphics: Fabricating resilient graphics for equipment and devices to withstand extreme environmental conditions.
Labels and Packaging: Creating visually attractive labels for products and packaging materials.
Graphic Overlays: Crafting detailed and resilient overlays for membrane switch keypads and human-machine interfaces.
While the printed material may not serve as the primary purpose of the device, the graphics or coating adds some value or function. At Tapecon, we understand that no two customers or projects are alike. That’s why we get to understand your product and specifications before we recommend the optimal printing solution.
SCREEN PRINTING AND FUNCTIONAL PRODUCTS
Screen printing, known for its versatility and wide usage, is integral in the production of functional products. Its ability to adapt to various materials and substrates makes it ideal for use on both flat and curved surfaces. In functional printing, screen printing finds several critical applications:
Electronics: Screen printing is commonly used to apply conductive inks onto substrates, enabling the creation of flexible circuits and electronic components.
Solar Cells: Printing photovoltaic materials onto solar cells using screen printing helps optimize energy absorption.
Medical Devices: Screen printing is utilized in the production of biosensors and diagnostic devices for healthcare applications.
At Tapecon, we can advise on the best printing technology to meet the application requirements on cleanability, durability, chemical resistance, and branding.
FLEXOGRAPHIC PRINTING AND Serviceable PRINTING
Then there's flexographic printing, a technique that stands out in functional printing for its use of flexible plates and rapid-dry inks. Applications of Flexographic Printing in Functional Printing include:
Packaging Sensors: Flexographic printing is employed to incorporate sensors and indicators into packaging materials for product monitoring.
RFID Tags: Printing conductive inks with flexographic presses facilitates the production of RFID tags for tracking and identification purposes.
Printed Visual Indicators: Flexographic printing is used to create color-changing labels and packaging, responding to environmental changes for product safety and monitoring.
For larger volume runs, flexographic printing may be just what you need. This printing process uses a flexible plate and rollers to print onto your desired substrate. Converting processes, such as laminating, die-cutting and slitting, can also be performed on these presses, allowing for more manufacturing efficiency.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRINTING PARTNER
The evolution of these printing technologies signifies more than just the production of materials; it's about creating solutions that are both aesthetically pleasing and functionally innovative. When considering a shift to incorporate functional printing alongside traditional graphical techniques, it's important to collaborate with a partner who understands the nuances of both.
At Tapecon, we pride ourselves on being more than just a printing service provider; we are innovators and problem solvers. Our expertise spans the full spectrum of printing technologies, blending the artistic appeal of graphical printing, with the technological sophistication of functional printing.
LET’S MAKE SOMETHING GREAT
With over 100 years of manufacturing experience, Tapecon works with product teams to solve challenges, create products, and enhance lives. Learn more about our industrial printing and converting services.