About Photo Imaging

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Deco Australia uses the latest photo imaging technology to come from Europe in our plant in Minto, NSW.

Photo imaging is a patented heat transfer process that is based on the physical reaction between special inks and a powder coated substrate.

At the correct temperature and pressure, the pigment inks transfer from paper or film and are absorbed into the powder coating.
Because the images are first printed onto paper or film, the photographic reproduction of any design or pattern is now possible with absolute precision.

Process Description

Photo Imaging is a patented process which was developed in Italy approximately 30 years ago by Decoral System S.R.L. The process involves the physical reaction between special inks and a polyurethane or polyester powder coating. Under controlled conditions of heat and pressure, photographic images are absorbed directly into the powder coating.

The process is known as sublimation, and comprises of two stages. First a polyurethane or polyester powder coating is applied to aluminium or steel. This is similar to standard powder coating however in this case a slightly thicker coating is applied and the curing time is longer.

The second stage involves wrapping the powder coated aluminium or steel in film with the photographic image printed onto it, such as wood grain, marble or any photographic image.

The film is welded along one side to form an open ended 'bag' around the profile, which is then transferred into a frame with vacuum nozzles at each end, extracting the air from the 'bag' so the film is in direct contact with the powder coating.

When the frame is loaded, it is transferred into an oven and the powder coated metal is heated to 200 degrees Celcius, at which point the sublimation inks are fully absorbed into the powder coating, transferring the photographic image to the aluminium.

The inks penetrate the full depth of the powder coating, creating a beautiful and durable finish.
Below is a micrograph of the inks in the sublimation process being absorbed into the powder coating

Steps in the Process

1. QA inspection, tape ends with numbered tape

2. Profiles are ‘bagged’, ultra-sonic welding

3. Trolleys with vacuum nozzle each end

4. Carriage transferred into oven for sublimation

5. After cooling, film is stripped off and recycled

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