ZoMazz D-IMD Empowers Designers To Serve Consumers, OEMs

May 25th, 2015

Today’s industrial designers are already empowered with visualization technology like never before, thanks to computer software tools and groundbreaking prototyping capabilities, such as 3-D printers. Whatever form or shape today’s designers envision can be rendered onto a computer screen, rotated on two axes in real-time, and printed on both 2-D and 3-D printers.

What designers have been lacking is a decoration methodology for injection molded parts that addresses complex geometries and provides superior graphics quality, while doing so at either low- or high-production volumes. With ZoMazz digital in-mold decoration (D-IMD), these constraints are substantially reduced freeing designers to make more of their visions realities.

Decoration Important To Consumers, OEMs

While a well-designed product was enough for yesterday’s consumers, the constant drive to differentiate product and increase brand awareness coupled with consumers’ need for individual expression renders product decoration vital in today’s market. OEM and consumer interest in decorated products is manifesting itself in initiatives like interchangeable laptop covers, and the myriad of designers and manufacturers of cases for smart phones offering decoration. This demand is driving technology to decorate those parts; however, solutions to date fail in one or more categories: image quality, durability, cost, surface performance, speed to market and scalability. ZoMazz D-IMD addresses these issues, and more.

ZoMazz D-IMD—A Game Changer

ZoMazz D-IMD performance characteristics are what give the designer real freedom of expression. Key performance factors required for a successful IMD program are part-specific so we’ll use a game controller as an example.

For a game controller, the image must be clear and crisp over the entire part, with little to no deformation or breakage on the highly contoured surfaces. The product designer may require photo-realistic image quality, resistance to hand oils and other chemicals, and impact resistance. Traditional IMD, using screen-printed or analog graphics, won’t fulfill the requirements, but ZoMazz D-IMD will.

Since the ZoMazz graphic is created digitally, there are no minimum quantity requirements, nor limited graphics and color possibilities. Printing one is the same as printing 1,000,000. Consider the ramifications under the following scenario. You are commissioned to design a product that will be decorated, but you have numerous designs or variations of the same design, different color palettes of the same design, and so forth. With analog IMD, this would be either prohibitively expensive or would require a prohibitive amount of time, or both.

Now, with the ZoMazz digital printing technology, this is not a problem. Samples of every decoration variation can be provided, identical to production grade, on film rather than paper proofs, and new images are printed on film in hours. This enables a viable design-testing opportunity, and a “time-to-market” advantage that is not achievable any other way.

Also, since the images are digital, the resolution is not constrained by line screens and screen-printing limitations. ZoMazz D-IMD is in fact a revolution in the decoration of plastic parts, for designers, their clients, and consumers wanting to differentiate and express themselves through their possessions.

D-IMD: New Opportunities for OEMs

May 25th, 2015

ZoMazz has developed and engineered the world’s first scalable method for digital in-mold decoration (D-IMD) of injection-molded parts. With the introduction of D-IMD, gone are many of the limitations of the analog processes it will replace. With D-IMD, designers now have the freedom to decorate as never before, and OEMs have the flexibility to offer products decorated with compelling designs, and to respond to market demand, and create new business models, in ways never before possible.

To realize the importance of D-IMD, it helps to understand the present marketplace for consumer products, and the characteristics of past decoration methodologies.

In the rapidly developing consumer electronics industry, most personal electronic products meet customer expectations from an absolute performance perspective. Value is now driven by design and styling by way of product decoration. Unfortunately, providing decorated products to consumers has been a challenge to OEMs, because they’ve been hindered by the limitations of scalable decorations technology, most notably analog-printed in-mold decoration (IMD).

For the past thirty years, injection-molded plastics when produced in larger volumes have been decorated via IMD, which has become a world-class decoration technology. Decorative styling is printed through analog processes on plastic films, which are then pre-formed to fit into the injection-molding cavity. Hot, flowing resins are shot into the mold and onto the back of the films. The finished, molded part displays a decorated finish that has now adhered to the solidified plastics behind it.

Printed, decorative films for use with IMD processes must survive a pre-forming process as well as severe conditions within the injection mold. IMD films are printed with high-temperature inks that will withstand forming and stretching. These inks are developed for silk-screen printing and for offset lithography printing, both analog printing methods. Both methods require long lead times, expensive set-ups and large volume runs, through which the image development and set-up costs may amortize over many units.

The introduction of ZoMazz D-IMD eliminates the technical limitations of traditional IMD, and changes how OEMs can use decoration as a value driver. First, D-IMD film images can be photo-realistic, and can be formed to aggressive geometries. Second, D-IMD films are not subject to degradation of image quality due to severe molding conditions, nor does D-IMD have issues with delamination. Finally, D-IMD is digital and each image is generated from an Piezo head printer; therefore, OEMs can run one image hundreds of thousands of times, or one image one time.

The advent of ZoMazz digital in-mold decoration is reinventing the IMD industry. Any color, any image and no minimums are now a reality for the product designer and stylist, not to mention the consumer. Consumer demand for customized plastic products can now be met with ZoMazz D-IMD.

ZoMazz D-IMD can replicate many finishes, including wood grain and metallics.

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