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First, always test, don't guess! Before running a job in production, you should evaluate Claritex® ecosolvent printable polycarbonate for compatibility with the inks, backer films, overlaminates and transfer adhesives. You should also test samples under the same conditions in which the finished product will be used. Prior to applying a backer film or overlaminate to the printed image, it is critical that the ink is thoroughly dry. Several factors can affect drying times, including printing environment, ink formulation and ink saturation. Ideally the ambient shop temperature should be approximately 21º C (70ºF) at 50% RH.
If you want to reproduce bold, rich colors, you need a good deposit of ink. Without the right ink setting, you potentially could not reproduce a full range of the color gamut. Not printing enough ink results in a print that will look washed out. Sufficient ink density is especially important when printing on a clear film for using in backlit displays. Printing too much ink, however, is as bad as printing too little. Ink saturation should not exceed 270% to 300%. High ink densities can result in print problems. Over-saturation of ink can cause the ink to bleed. Also with dot gain, the individual ink droplets can bleed together or coalesce, resulting in the loss of contrast and image definition. As ink dots bleed, hue of a color can also change.
While the top coating on the polycarbonate film is designed to absorb a heavy ink load, its ability to absorb ink has a limit. Once that limit has been exceeded, the print often exhibits a defect that looks as if the ink has crinkled. To ensure optimal printing results, we recommend printing in the unidirectional print mode. When printing on clear Claritex® polycarbonate films for backlit applications double strike printing may be required so the print would not wash out when a backlit display is illuminated. When printing on the white Claritex® film, the single strike setting is typically used. Heat settings should not exceed 38º C (100ºF). High heat settings can distort the film, which can result in head strikes. Printer settings, however, will vary from one brand of printer to another, and from one shop environment to another.
Printing with generic profiles for glossy vinyl and for frontlit/backlit films usually produce acceptable results. Profiles for Premium Backlit Film and Premium Cast have been used successfully. Profiles for the most popular ecosolvent printers and RIPs will soon be available here on the website.
As a general rule of thumb, always wait at least 24 hours before laminating a print. Higher ink levels often require additional drying time. If you must roll a laminated print for shipping, never roll the film on a core smaller than six inches in diameter.