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The ink must not disappear

Dry quickly, stick perfectly to smooth surfaces and even survive acid baths unscathed:  the Troisdorf based company TECHNOLAM makes great demands on the ink for safely marking the base material of printed circuit boards.  The original product of the inkjet manufacturer was not able to meet these.  It is good that SIMACO had a suitable solution ready.

Horst Roden, the Operations Manager at TECHNOLAM, confirms that the SIMACOLOR product has "very good adhesion".

Whether building automation systems, telecommunications, IT, household electronics or industrial measurement and control technology:  nothing functions nowadays without printed circuit boards as the carrier of electronic components.  Rigids / thin core laminates are required in order to manufacture them.  These are filigree, copper–clad epoxy resin plates reinforced with glass fabric which TECHNOLAM GmbH sells and supplies, as customised products, in Central and Eastern Europe.  The base material is immediately marked with codes, e.g. including information about the product type and its features as well as production data and batch numbers, after the fully automatic bevelling and edge processing so that its customers can identify the properties of this base material at a glance and trace the complete production process.

TECHNOLAM uses an industrial inkjet for this.  It is directly after the two robots which cut the material exactly to the respective customer–specific format using plate shears.  The manufactured laminates are stacked on top of one another immediately after the coding has been applied to the extremely thin, smooth copper surface.  "It is a very short way.  Therefore the ink has to dry very quickly, within two to three seconds, in order to avoid phantom printing", explains Horst Roden, Operations Manager.


Acid resistance as the main criterion

But that is not enough:  exceptional adhesion is just as important.  After all the marking has to resist the necessary treatment with etching solutions based on sulphur and hydrochloric acid for the production of the board at the customer´s.  According to Mr Roden, "the ink must not disappear during this process".  Otherwise there are two problems at the same time:  "the coding is no longer readable and ink particles float in the acid bath and deposit themselves where they do not belong".  At the worst this could paralyse the functionality of the finished board.

These high demands were not fulfilled by the original product of the inkjet manufacturer in series production.  "The ink came off and this was not acceptable", recalls the TECHNOLAM Operations Manager.  An alternative could not be found to start with.  Until someone finally advised Mr Roden to contact SIMACO.  "That was a good idea.  The company provided us with a very good service." SIMACO experts carried out exhaustive tests together with him after extensive consultation and the selection of a potentially suitable product.  With success:  "we treated the boards with acid until they were completely bare and the ink was still there.  It really has very good adhesion".


SIMACOLOR as the perfect alternative

Consequently TECHNOLAM decided on the black methyl ethyl ketone ink FPD2504759 which is already being successfully used for coding carton packaging for milk and dairy products and the corresponding MakeUp FPD2404708.  SIMACO changed the inkjet system over to the two products at the beginning of 2012.  For this it was, among other things, completely cleaned and recalibrated.  Since then approximately 4,000 laminates are marked day after day with the particularly resistant SIMACOLOR ink.  In Mr Roden´s opinion:  "this is going very well".  There has not been a single complaint so far.

The TECHNOLAM Operations Manager is also satisfied with the co–operation:  "flexibility is at the heart of our business model.  We must implement our customers´ wishes quickly and reliably.  We expect the same from our suppliers.  Therefore it is important to us to work together with partners who do not fall apart when individual application–specific solutions are required.  SIMACO is such a partner".