The product is called Holoprint and the idea is not new at all. It has just come closer to a breakthrough in the market. It is the company Stensborg at Risø in Roskilde, Denmark which has now begun to deliver a solution. Among the first customers is a printing company in Austria, which produces vignettes for attachment on the car windows, which shows that the owner has paid his road tax. – It’s funny enough especially in the labeling of vehicles that the first customers have put it into use, says Jan Stensborg, partner and general manager of Stensborg.
It is an old wish for the printing companies that are now being fulfilled. Consider what you can save on time, foil and other costs, if holograms can be directly printed in connection with the printing of the colors. Stensborg has developed a module that can be readily adapted to various printing machines, but in principle it could equally be offset or digital pressure, which, especially because of the speed, fits even better.
Everything must come together
Holoprint – as the technology is called – works in the way that you use a transparent cylinder with a special internal Optical Engine as light source. On the cylinder, a similarly transparent hologram print mold is pressed into a liquid resin and in the same millisecond cures the resin (in the nip itself). Subsequently, the structure is optionally coated with a nanometer thin layer of metal which is applied with an ink jet printer.
It sounds very simple, but the complexity is that holograms work with very fine details in a resolution between 25,000 and 50,000 dpi. Having mechanics, chemistry and electronics to work together to achieve the perfect result is not something you just do. Jan Stensborg says:
– The Holoprint idea itself has been developed and patented 20 years ago in the national research center Risø. With a piece of chalk and a green board Dr. Lars Lindvold and I created the principle of how this should work. But it was only with the self-development of light sources – the last UV LED – and the long-wave UV resins that we could really make an effective system.
In addition to the printing unit itself, all materials are developed specifically for the purpose by Stensborg. So if you are considering using the technique, you should know that printing plates, resin and metal coating are all purchased from Stensborg. They also make the hologram located in the printing plate.
There is a growing need for security printing
On the question of what is Stensborg’s biggest challenge, Jan Stensborg says that the challenge is that they are 20 years ahead of their time. But the timing really fits very well, because he also says the market is screaming for security print solutions. The security challenge is greatest in the major southern European markets and in the US, but we are also starting to see a growing demand in Denmark.
– From 2019, all pharmaceutical products in EU must be sold with visual safe sealing and a scanning code that follows the product from the cradle to the grave. In this connection, it may make sense to secure the products with a visual holographic identification that creates consumer confidence, and Holoprint could be the solution here, says Jan Stensborg.
Stensborg has their focus on the graphic industry but due to their own organizational limitations, they will sell the solution through the major printing machine suppliers only. Although the system originally was developed in a collaboration with Nilpeter, and therefore fits well in the flexo industry, Jan Stensborg is not blind to the fact that it is in digital printing and in particular inkjet that development is most attractive.
Interesting side effects
In addition to the graphic industry, the production of holograms also has great importance in the production of technical applications, eg separators for fiber optic cables. Thus, Stensborg has developed a testing machine for the production of smaller-scale holograms to test various technical applications like Lab-on-a-chip solutions, for example, dropping a blood sample into a chip that screen for various ingredients (drugs) or diseases.
I do want to stress the fact that Stensborg, built into their Holoprint solution, has developed a technique for applying a very thin layer of metal that has astonishing high gloss. It’s a factory secret how to do it, but they use regular Dimatix inkjet printheads. The secret lies in the ink, which is completely transparent when inked on the media, but during heating it becomes metallic. An exciting product, which may have larger perspectives than the hologram itself.