Digital Lacquer Embossing (DLE) is a patented, in-house development of Hymmen GmbH Maschinen- und Anlagenbau and is the first method which uses digital printing technology for something other than “painting pretty pictures”. A new product has been created; a digitally applied UV protective lacquer. Much like with this technology, Hymmen has developed another method which can create completely new products. It will lead to completely new product opportunities, in particular in the parquet industry.
Benefits of digital printing
Digital printing provides some basic essential benefits: it enables industrial production of small batch sizes, the embedding of digital print in process chains in the decor industry, individualized mass production, speedy reaction to market trends, short retooling times and low warehouse costs. Digital printing creates products which would be impossible with analog technology. Extra-long pattern repeats, designs with 25 or more different boards, without repetition and designs with motifs which spread over multiple boards (logos, mosaic etc.) are just a few examples of decorative options. It is fair to say that printing decorative designs digitally with CMYK inks has become more or less established. The production of digitally printed flooring with Hymmen JUPITER printing lines alone is estimated at 70 million m²/year.
Digital structure printing
The digital structuring of surfaces (DLE) is a very new technology. One of the most important properties, alongside the appearance of the flooring, is quite definitely the surface structure. However, the flexibility of digital printing is confronted by the inflexibility of the analog structuring processes. When it comes to appearance, decorative designs can be changed without losing time, pattern repeats can be infinitely long etc., as already mentioned.
When it comes to the surface feel, the analog structuring processes cannot keep up the pace. This is where Hymmen’s patented, in-house development Digital Lacquer Embossing (DLE) comes into play. It can be connected directly to a JUPITER digital printing line or even be used for digital structuring of surfaces printed and lacquered in other ways.
Staining using digital printing
The basic idea of DLE has now been picked up on in order to create a further product which previously was only possible to produce with analog techniques: furniture finishes and flooring which are decorated with a stain.
Formerly, staining was only ever possible over the entire product surface. The only way to include patterns and shapes in the design was by masking. Taking this method as inspiration, and using the DLE machine technology already developed, a method has been created and the patent is already pending.
In the first step, the wood is fine-ground in order to reduce standing fibers. Digital printing is then used to apply a highly transparent ink to the areas which are not to be stained. The ink is cured and the stain is then applied and distributed. A topcoat is finally applied to seal and protect the wood.
Staining method using digital printing
The applied ink layer is very thin (5-8 µm) and can be removed with a fine “cleaning grind”, meaning that a second passage with another stain color or treatment with an open-pored seal is possible.
At the beginning, every new technology is faced with the same challenge: how do you bring together this new technology with existing products?
And this is where you have to think outside the box. It isn’t always necessary to replace existing solutions with new technology. New technology can create something new or just something extra.