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Coating decorative film for furniture

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New process line „atmoFlex“ enables fragile and extremely thin vacuum-deposited layers

2018-01-10

Films used for a wide range of applications can be coated with a new process line called "atmoFlex", from decorative film for furniture to permeation barriers for food packaging and organic electronics. Specialized modifications to the conveyor design permit the utilization of both smooth and textured films.

 - With the new process line, 1,200 mm-wide slot die for contactless coating of fragile substrate can be heated up to 50°C.
© Fraunhofer FEP / Jürgen Lösel
With the new process line, 1,200 mm-wide slot die for contactless coating of fragile substrate can be heated up to 50°C.

“atmoFlex considerably broadens the spectrum of our services. It will enable fragile and extremely thin vacuum-deposited layers to be protected by coatings applied directly at normal atmospheric pressure, for example. These types of combined layers are even reliable enough for outdoor use,” explains Dr. Steffen Günther, group manager responsible for the research at Fraunhofer FEP. High temperatures normally necessary for drying coatings can impair very thin substrate films. An alternative drying and curing process is therefore employed in atmoFlex. This new process uses electron beams for curing coatings as well as for surface treatment. The electron beams are even able to penetrate a protective film applied over top and cure the layers beneath. Processing under clean-room conditions to keep layers free of particulates is therefore not necessary.

But the new process line is capable of treating not only plastic films. It is also available for coating other flexible substrates such as metal foil, thin glass, and textiles. Substrates widths up to 1,250 mm can be processed at speeds of up to 150 m/min. The modular character of the process line also offers sufficient adaptability for integrating future technological advancements and researching new processes. The new plant has recently been fitted with a web cleaning system. Contaminants already present on substrate films can be effectively removed this way.