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(12) United States Patent ao) Patent No.: us 6,472,034 Bi
Bourdelais et al. (45) Date of Patent: Oct. 29,2002
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FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS
EP 0 243 703 11/1987
EP 0 712 045 5/1996
JP 63-25647 2/1988
JP 8-100110 4/1996
WO WO 97/04339 2/1997
WO WO 99/08938 2/1999
JP Abstract 9300815-A Nov. 25, 1997.
JP Abstract 8100110-A Apr. 16, 1996.
JP Abstract 63025647-A Feb. 3, 1988.
JP Abstract 1254992-A Oct. 11, 1989.
* cited by examiner
Primary Examiner—Harold Pyon
Assistant Examiner—Sow-Fun Hon
(74) Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Paul A. Leipold
The invention relates to a package comprising a flexible substrate having a silver halide formed image.
15 Claims, 1 Drawing Sheet
PACKAGE AND METHOD OF FORMATION
UTILIZING PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates to packaging materials. In a preferred form it relates to the use of silver halide for the printing of text, graphics, and images onto packaging material.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Printed materials applied are applied to packages to build brand awareness, show the contents of the package, convey a quality message regarding the contents of a package, and supply consumer information such as directions on product use, or an ingredient listing of the contents. Printing is typically applied directly to the package or a printed media; typically they are printed using gravure printing or flexography to apply print to the package. The three types of information applied to a package are text, graphic, and images. Some packages only require one type of information while other packages require more than one type of information.
Flexography is an offset letterpress technique where the printing plates are made from rubber or photopolymers. The printing is accomplished by the transfer of ink from the raised surface of the printing plate to the surface of the material being printed. The rotogravure method of printing uses a print cylinder with thousands of tiny cells which are below the surface of the printing cylinder. The ink is transferred from the cells when the print cylinder is brought into contact with the material to be printed at the impression roll. Printing inks for flexography or rotogravure include solvent based inks, water based inks and radiation cured inks. While rotogravure and flexography printing does provide acceptable image quality, these two printing methods require expensive and time consuming preparation of print cylinders or printing plates which make printing jobs of less than 100,000 units expensive as the set up cost and the cost of the cylinders or printing plates is typically depreciated over the size of the print job.
Recently, digital printing has become a viable method for the printing of information on packages. The term digital printing refers to the electronic digital characters or electronic digital images that can be printed by an electronic output device capable of translating digital information. The two main digital printing technologies are ink jet and electrophotography.
The introduction of piezo impulse drop-on-demand (DOD) and thermal DOD ink jet printers in the early 1980's provided ink jet printing systems. These early printers were very slow, and the ink jet nozzles often clogged. In the 1990's Hewlett Packard introduced the first monochrome ink jet printer, and, shortly thereafter, the introduction of color, wide format ink jet printers enabled businesses to enter the graphic arts market. Today, a number of different ink jet technologies are being used for packaging, desktop, industrial, commercial, photographic, and textile applications.
In piezo technology, a piezo crystal is electrically simulated to create pressure waves, which eject ink from the ink chamber. The ink can be electrically charged and deflected in a potential field, allowing the different characters to be created. More recent developments have introduced DOD multiple jets that utilize conductive piezo ceramic material which, when charged, increases the pressure in the channel
and forces a drop of ink from the end of the nozzle. This allows for very small droplets of ink to form and be delivered at high speed at very high resolution, approximately 1,000 dpi printing.
5 Until recently, the use of color pigments in jet inks was uncommon. However, this is changing rapidly. Submicron pigments were developed in Japan for ink jet applications. Use of pigments allows for more temperature resistant inks required for thermal ink jet printers and laminations. Pig
1° mented water-based jet inks are commercially available, and UV-curable jet inks are in development. Pigmented inks have greater lightfastness and water-resistance.
Digital ink jet printing has the potential to revolutionize the printing industry by making short-run, color print jobs
15 more economical. However, the next commercial stage will require significant improvements in ink jet technology; the major hurdle remaining is to improve print speed. Part of this problem is the limitation of the amount of data the printer can handle rapidly. The more complex the design, the
20 slower the printing process. Right now they are about ten times slower than comparable digital electrostatic printers.
Electrophotography was invented in the 1930's by Chester Carlson. By the early 1970's, the development of an
25 electrophotographic color copier was being investigated by many companies. The technology for producing color copiers was already in place, but the market was not. It would take many more years until customer demand for color copies would create the necessary incentive to develop
3Q suitable electrostatic color copiers. By the late 1970's a few companies were using fax machines that could scan a document, reduce the images to electronic signals, send them out over the telephone wire and, using another fax machine, retrieve the electronic signals and print the original
35 image using heat-sensitive papers to produce a printed copy. In 1993 Indigo and Xeikon introduced commercial digital printing machines targeted on short-run markets that were dominated by sheet-fed lithographic printers. Elimination of intermediate steps associated with negatives and plates used
40 in offset printing provides faster turnaround and better customer service. These digital presses share some of the characteristics of traditional xerography but use very specialized inks. Unlike inks for conventional photocopiers, these inks are made with very small particle size compo
45 nents in the range of 1 micron. Dry toners used in xerography are typically 8-10 microns in size.
In 1995 Indigo introduced the Ominus press designed for printing flexible packaging products. The Ominus uses a digital offset color process called One Shot Color that has six
50 colors. A key improvement has been the use of a special white Electroink for transparent substrates. The Ominus web-fed digital printing system allows printing of various substrates using an offset cylinder that transfers the color image to the substrate. In principle, this allows perfect
55 register regardless of the substrate being printed; paper, film, and metal can be printed by this process. This digital printing system is based on an electrophotographic process where the electrostatic image is created on the surface of a photoconductor by first charging the photo-conductor by charge
go corona and exposing the photoconductive surface to a light source in image fashion.
The charged electrostatic latent image is then developed using ink containing an opposite charge to that on the image. This part of the process is similar to that of electrostatic
65 toners associated with photo-copying machines. The latent charged electrostatic image formed on the photoconductor surface is developed by means of electrophoretic transfer of
the liquid toner. This electrostatic toner image is then transferred to a hot blanket, which coalesces the toner and maintains it in a tacky state until it is transferred to the substrate, which cools the ink and produces a tack-free print.
Electroinks typically comprise mineral oil and volatile 5 organic compounds below that of conventional offset printing inks. They are designed so that the thermoplastic resin will fuse at elevated temperatures. In the actual printing process, the resin coalesced, the inks are transferred to the substrate, and there is no need to heat the ink to dry it. The 1° ink is deposited on the substrate essentially dry, although it becomes tack-free as it cools and reaches room temperature.
For several decades a magnetic digital technology called "magnetography" has been under development. This process involves creating electrical images on a magnetic cylinder 15 and using magnetic toners as inks to create the image. The potential advantage of this technology lies in its high press speed. Tests have shown that speeds of 200 meters per minute. Although these magnetic digital printers are limited to black and white copy, developments of color magnetic 20 inks would make this high-speed digital technology economically feasible. The key to its growth will be further development of the VHSM (very high speed magnetic) drum and the color magnetic inks.
Within the magnetic digital arena, a hybrid system called magneto lithography has been built and tested on narrow web and short-run applications developed by Nipson Printing Systems in Belfort, France. The technology appears to provide high resolution, and tests have been conducted using 3Q a silicon-based, high density magnetographic head. Much more work is necessary in the ink development to bring this system to a competitive position relative to ink jet or electrophotography. However, the fact that it has high speed printing potential makes it an attractive alternate for pack- 3J aging applications in which today's ink jet and electrophotography technologies are lagging.
Photographic materials have been known for use as prints
for preserving memories for special events such as birthdays
and vacations. They also have been utilized for large display 40
materials utilized in advertising. These materials have been
known as high quality products that are costly and somewhat
delicate as they would be easily defaced by abrasion, water,
or bending. Photographs are traditionally placed in frames,
photo albums, and behind protective materials in view of 45
their fragile and delicate nature, as well as their value. They
are considered luxury items for the consumers to preserve a
record of important events in their lives. They also have been
considered as expensive display materials for advertising. In
view of their status as luxury items, they have not been 50
utilized in other areas of commerce.
PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED BY THE
There is a need for printed information on packages that is high in quality and at the same time economical for short runs, as well as a printing method that can print from digital information files.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is an object of the invention to provide higher quality images to packaging materials.
It is a further object to provide a silver halide imaging system that can be exposed using a conventional negative working optical system and exposed using optical digital printing systems.
It is another object to provide a printing method that is economical for printing jobs less than 100,000 images.
These and other objects of the invention are accomplished by a package comprising a flexible substrate having a silver halide formed image.
ADVANTAGEOUS EFFECT OF THE
The invention provides improved image quality for packaging materials. The invention includes a printing method that can print text, graphic and images using negative working optical systems or optical digital printing systems for the formation of packaging materials.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an illustration of an imaged silver halide packaging material on a bottle.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
Recently there has been a trend in the marketing of mass consumer items to try to localize the marketing to separately approach smaller groups. These groups may be regional, ethnic, gender, age, or special interest differentiated. In order to approach these different groups, there is a need to provide packaging that is specifically directed to these groups. As discussed above, the traditional packaging materials are generally suited for very long runs of material and to form shorter runs or to provide rapid changes in packaging is impossible or very expensive. Simultaneously with this need for low cost short run packaging materials, we have found silver halide based photographic materials that are suitable for packaging uses. Further, recently there has become available rapid photo processing apparatus suitable for short runs of material. There is also available silver halide processing apparatus that is capable of high speed relatively long continuous runs of material. The combination of low cost packaging suitable photographic material with the processing apparatus available for rapid short and long runs of material has resulted in the opportunity for silver halide material to be utilized in packaging materials. Silver halide materials that have .properties such as flexibility, low cost, and the ability to flex and bend has resulted in materials satisfactory and suitable for packaging.
The utilization of the thin, flexible, and tough silver halide materials results in a packaging material having many superior properties. These materials are capable of having brighter, sharper, and higher color images that anything presently available in packaging. The packaging materials of the invention have a depth of image unsurpassed by existing packaging materials. The packaging materials of the invention may be further provided with a variety of packing materials that are suitable for various packaging needs, such as ultrasonic sealing, cold sealing, hot sealing, folding, and glue sealing. The packaging materials of the invention while having the advantage of superior image are available on thin base materials which are low in cost while providing superior opacity and strength. The packaging materials of the invention, as they may be imaged by flash optical exposure or digital printing, have the ability to be formed in short runs and to be rapidly switched from one image to the next without delay.
65 The silver halide imaging materials of the invention allow packages to be rapidly designed and brought to market. For instance, significant events in sports or entertainment may