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Researchers of the LGP2
(May 2011)
 
Grenoble INP-Pagora, International school of paper, print media and biomaterials
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Laboratory of Pulp and Paper Science and Graphic Arts

IV - Printing Processes

IV - 1 - Introduction

The field of activity of the Graphic Science and Technology group is relatively wide and multidisciplinary. Indeed, it integrates all the stages of the graphic chain, from the design of the document (prepress) to its printing. This implies a perfect knowledge of the materials, their characterization, their processing and the process parameters in order to control the final quality of the printed product. More recently, printed electronics became a major field of research. Consequently, the group currently develops research actions in the functionalization of surfaces and printed products for applications which do not use traditional materials and substrates.

Nevertheless, papers, paperboards and other substrates containing biomaterials are strong links which connect our group with the other groups of the laboratory. The study of their structure and their physical properties is an essential element for their use in the printing processes. The knowledge of inks, toners and other functional fluids, of their compositions and their behaviours (rheological and physicochemical) is crucial. Their formulation is complex because it must allow a good compatibility with a great diversity of printing substrates, the choice of the process and the final application of the product integrating its operational requirements (lifespan, environment, recycling…). The analysis of the interactions fluid/substrate is thus essential for the control of the ink transfer and requires the study of surfaces and interfaces (physicochemistry, topography,...). In certain cases (offset, flexography, gravure printing), the transfer of ink is not direct and a printing form specific to the process is used to transfer the ink to the substrate. The manufacture of this element, essential for the final quality of the printing, requires as well knowledge in the use of specific softwares devoted to the optimisation of digital flows as knowledge in chemistry and physico-chemistry of materials.

Finally, nothing would be possible without the control, the adaptation and the optimization of the printing processes which must take into account the technical requirements resulting from materials used and productivity. To reach these objectives, our group works on three research topics coherent with the research orientations of the LGP2 and those of the competence center “Materials”:

Thus, our research can progress according to a methodology which starts from the study of materials to the printing processes. Current studies concentrate on one hand on the numerical processes which reach an industrial dimension and require more and more development in the management of the numerical data and on the other hand, on the use of the printing processes in order to functionalize surfaces and materials. The applications are very varied (batteries, selective masking of metal surfaces, pressure sensitive adhesive labels, RFID, OLEDs, photoluminescence,…). However, they meet in a common point: to allow the manufacture of elements at low cost and large area by optimizing and adapting the conventional printing processes.

Obviously, these three thematics are never studied distinctly and a lot of researches in progress within our group treat them at different degrees. The next pages illustrate the most relevant projects.

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