A new hardcoated polyester-based film from MacDermid Autotype (Rolling Meadows, IL) takes advantage of a new development in its film conversion operation that accurately mimics a steel finish. The film is marketed by the company for use in applications such as membrane switches, keypads, and fascia panels.
Called Autotex Steel, the film is manufactured using a conventional flexible polyester substrate, which is then coated with an ink adhesion layer on the reverse side and a tough hardcoat outer layer, which is chemically bonded to the substrate. The hardcoat layer has a textured finish which, when the film is printed on the reverse side with standard chrome, metallic, or silver inks, creates the appearance of a brushed stainless steel or other metallic-look panel.
According to the converter, the film not only is less costly than steel but also, obviously, offers a significant weight advantage. It also does not show fingerprints, and can be printed with clear display windows or other graphics.
It can be embossed, and Autotype says the embossed areas have a flex modulus sufficient for a lifespan on domed keys in excess of 5 million actuations. The hardcoat layer resists common household cleaners and industrial solvents, including alcohols, ketones, weak acids, and hydrocarbons. The film is offered in thicknesses of either 150 or 200 microns (0.006” or 0.008”). —[email protected]