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EFI, a provider of products and technology for digital printing, announced that Interstate Graphics Inc. (IGI) has become the first customer to install the new EFI VUTEk GS Pro-TF thermoforming system, a UV printer and ink offering that brings inkjet printing to the thermoformed product decoration market.

PlasticsToday Staff

November 4, 2013

2 Min Read
Thermoforming: a new frontier for digital printing?

EFI, a provider of products and technology for digital printing, announced that Interstate Graphics Inc. (IGI) has become the first customer to install the new EFI VUTEk GS Pro-TF thermoforming system, a UV printer and ink offering that brings inkjet printing to the thermoformed product decoration market. 

GI's installation, which was completed earlier this month, includes a 2-meter VUTEk GS2000 Pro-TF printer operating VUTEk GS-TF inks. The system prints on flat sheets of plastic media that are designed to be thermoformed into 3D shapes, which EFI says eliminates potential costly and time-consuming screen printing, hand painting and vinyl lettering processes.
Interstate Graphics executives John and Jim Norwood in front of their new VUTEk GS-TF printing system IGI is using the system to offer high-quality, shorter-run thermoformed work, including test runs and prototypes that are "not cost-effective to produce using analog printing methods."
 
"Today, we do screen printing for customers who want thermoformed work," said IGI President John Norwood. "Our new EFI VUTEk GS Pro-TF system is an option for them to go digital." 

The VUTEk GS Pro-TF system can print on a wide range of polystyrene, high-impact polystyrene, PETG, polycarbonate, PVC and acrylic substrates. The versatility in compatible media reportedly gives companies like IGI the ability to digitally print products that can benefit from 3-D thermoforming enhancements, such as outdoor, point-of-purchase and beverage signage, as well as vending and gaming panels.

Printing companies can also use the VUTEk GS Pro-TF system to develop new, custom-decoration applications for the automotive, marine, aircraft and other industries.

IGI says its new ink and printer technologies transcend previous limitations with inkjet, where inks could not withstand the heat and pressure of the forming process. VUTEk GS-TF Ink is a patented, eight-color plus white ink set that provides "excellent adhesion and outstanding retention of hue and opacity on both first- and second-surface deep-draw thermoformed applications, withstanding post-process heat forming, cutting and routing without chipping, cracking or flaking."

"Experienced and innovative firms like IGI know the challenges and opportunities that exist in high-quality thermoformed products," said Frank Mallozzi, senior VP of worldwide sales and marketing for EFI. "The new EFI VUTEk GS Pro-TF system provides this knowledgeable customer with an immediate competitive advantage while opening the door to new digital printing jobs that did not exist before."
 
The VUTEk GS Pro-TF is one of two new VUTEk products IGI has installed in 2013. Earlier this year, the company became one of the first to install an EFI VUTEk HS100 Pro, a high-speed 3.2-meter inkjet press offering the productivity of screen printing and image quality approaching offset. IGI manages its VUTEk printers using EFI Fiery proServer digital front ends. 

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