Printing on anodizing aluminum requires careful preparation in a step-by-step process.
By Wim Zoomer
To apply an ink onto a metal surface and expect durable results, first you must make the surface area receptive. An appropriate pre-treatment of the substrate should be carefully conducted. The kind of pre-treatment depends on the substrate characteristics and print performance requirements.
As a metal, aluminum requires a special pre-treatment prior to further surface processing—such as printing and dyeing—to meet end-product requirements. Decorating and finishing aluminum end products may include: front panels for equipment, nameplates and type for machines, exclusive façade plaques or façade lettering, and name badges.
Depending on the application, specific products may be processed by mechanical engraving, chemical etching, dyeing, powder coating, printing, punching, milling, forming, and others. Prior to processing the aluminum material, the surface requires an adequate pre-treatment to improve the appearance and enhance the corrosion resistance; to create a touch- friendly surface; and to increase the durability—weather resistance, scratch resistance, and solvent resistance.
Anodizing the aluminum surface is an effective technique for preparing the base for the application of adhesives or inks. Colored ink can be applied using full-surface dye techniques or printing and powder coating the image. The anodzed (and successively sealed) aluminum surface must meet both decorative and functional requirements.
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