The present invention relates to the manufacturing of decorative surfaces using inkjet technology.
Gravure, offset and flexography are being increasingly replaced for different applications by industrial inkjet printing systems, which have now proven their flexibility in use, such as variable data printing making short production runs and personalized products possible, and their enhanced reliability, allowing incorporation into production lines.
Inkjet technology has also caught the attention of manufacturers of decorative surfaces, such as laminate floors, which currently employ rotogravure printing on porous decor paper with ink having a viscosity at 25°C of 1 to 2 Pa.s. The printed decor paper is then impregnated with a thermosetting resin and together with a MDF or HDF board as core layer heat pressed into a decorative panel. A manufacturing method of such decorative surfaces using inkjet printing instead of gravure printing is disclosed by EP 2293947 A
(HUELSTA), however no specific inkjet inks are disclosed.
For achieving high productivity, single pass inkjet printing using page wide print heads or page wide staggered print heads is the preferred option. However, it is then necessary to have an extremely high inkjet printing reliability, since a single failing nozzle creates a line defect in the printed image.
Many factors control the reliability of a print head during use. They are print head related factors, such as the waveform and jetting conditions like drop velocity and frequency, or otherwise ink related factors such as the components and the physical properties of the ink.
An important factor for single pass inkjet printing is latency. Latency is the ability of an inkjet ink to print correctly after sitting idle in a print head for a period of time. Poor latency is often caused by the drying of the ink in the print head. Improvements in latency has been accomplished by including a block polymer and a polymer latex, as for example disclosed by US 2012075381
(FUJIFILM), or by including specific humectants, as for example disclosed by US 2008060548
Also extra constraints are put on the ink set by the requirements for decoration, such as light fastness and metamerism. Metamerism is a phenomenon which occurs when two materials match in colour under some lighting conditions but not under other lighting conditions. A customer expects all parts of e.g. a kitchen cabinet that have the same colour to match whether viewed in daylight, under an incandescent light bulb or under halogen lighting. The selection of the pigments in the different inkjet inks plays an important role for metamerism. EP 1966332 A
(HP) discloses an inkjet ink set exhibiting good metamerism, which includes a neutral black ink comprising an ink vehicle, and a black pigment (K), cyan pigment (C), and violet pigment (V); and a yellow ink comprising an ink vehicle and a yellow pigment having comparable lightfastness as the neutral black ink. Metamerism can also be improved by using additional inkjet inks in the ink set. EP 1489150 A
(SEIKO EPSON) discloses that metamerism is improved by using an inkjet ink set including a yellow ink, a magenta ink, a cyan ink, a red ink, and optionally a black ink.
 EP2623567 A
(AGFA) discloses an inkjet ink set consisting of a black inkjet ink, a cyan inkjet ink and two inkjet inks (A) and (B), optionally complemented by a white ink and/or a colourless ink, wherein the inkjet ink (A) has a hue angle H* between 70 and 85 and a chroma C* between 30 and 80; the inkjet ink (B) has a hue angle H* between 20 and 40 and a chroma C* between 30 and 80; and the CIE L* a* b* coordinates were determined on polyethylene coated white paper for a 2 DEG observer under a D50 light source.
 WO 2013131924 A
(OCE) discloses an aqueous ink composition suitable for being ejected from a single pass inkjet marking device at an operating temperature. The ink composition comprises a water-dispersible resin and has a dynamic surface tension of below 35 mN/m and a static surface tension of above 21 mN/m both determined at the operating temperature.
In manufacturing methods of decorative surfaces, there is still a need for improved inkjet technology having high printing reliability and high productivity.
Summary of invention
In order to overcome the problems described above, the present invention relates to a method for manufacturing decorative surfaces as defined by claim 1. In particular the invention relates to such methods where a red ink in addition to a CMYK aqueous inkjet ink set is used or a red ink is used instead of the magenta ink to form a CRYK aqueous inkjet ink set.
Further advantages and embodiments of the present invention will become apparent from the following description.
Brief description of drawings
Fig. 1 shows a cross-section of a decorative panel (30) including a core layer (31) with a groove (32) and tongue (33) which is laminated on the top side by a decorative layer (34) and a protective layer (35) and on the back side by a balancing layer (36).
Fig 2. shows a cross section of a decorative panel (30) having a mechanical join by a tongue (33) and a groove (32) requiring no glue.
The term "alkyl" means all variants possible for each number of carbon atoms in the alkyl group i.e. methyl, ethyl, for three carbon atoms: n-propyl and isopropyl; for four carbon atoms: n-butyl, isobutyl and tertiary-butyl; for five carbon atoms: n-pentyl, 1,1-dimethyl-propyl, 2,2-dimethylpropyl and 2-methyl-butyl, etc.
Unless otherwise specified a substituted or unsubstituted alkyl group is preferably a C1
Unless otherwise specified a substituted or unsubstituted alkenyl group is preferably a C1
Unless otherwise specified a substituted or unsubstituted alkynyl group is preferably a C1
Unless otherwise specified a substituted or unsubstituted aralkyl group is preferably phenyl group or naphthyl group including one, two, three or more C1
Unless otherwise specified a substituted or unsubstituted alkaryl group is preferably a C1
-alkyl group including a phenyl group or naphthyl group.
Unless otherwise specified a substituted or unsubstituted aryl group is preferably a phenyl group or naphthyl group
Unless otherwise specified a substituted or unsubstituted heteroaryl group is preferably a five- or six-membered ring substituted by one, two or three oxygen atoms, nitrogen atoms, sulphur atoms, selenium atoms or combinations thereof.
The term "substituted", in e.g. substituted alkyl group means that the alkyl group may be substituted by other atoms than the atoms normally present in such a group, i.e. carbon and hydrogen. For example, a substituted alkyl group may include a halogen atom or a thiol group. An unsubstituted alkyl group contains only carbon and hydrogen atoms
Unless otherwise specified a substituted alkyl group, a substituted alkenyl group, a substituted alkynyl group, a substituted aralkyl group, a substituted alkaryl group, a substituted aryl and a substituted heteroaryl group are preferably substituted by one or more substituents selected from the group consisting of methyl, ethyl, n-propyl, isopropyl, n-butyl, isobutyl and tertiary-butyl, ester, amide, ether, thioether, ketone, aldehyde, sulfoxide, sulfone, sulfonate ester, sulphonamide, -Cl, -Br, -I, -OH, -SH,-CN and -NO2
Methods of Manufacturing Decorative Surfaces
In a preferred embodiment, the method for manufacturing decorative surfaces includes the steps of: a) inkjet printing a colour pattern on a paper substrate with one or more aqueous inkjet inks of an aqueous inkjet ink set; and thereafter b) impregnating the paper substrate with a thermosetting resin, wherein the aqueous inkjet ink set includes a cyan aqueous inkjet ink containing a copper phthalocyanine pigment; a red aqueous inkjet ink containing a pigment C.I Pigment Red 254 or a mixed crystal thereof; a yellow aqueous inkjet ink containing a pigment C.I Pigment Yellow 151 or a mixed crystal thereof; and a black aqueous inkjet ink containing a carbon black pigment; with the proviso that the aqueous inkjet inks do not include a polymer latex binder.
In a more preferred embodiment of the manufacturing method, the aqueous inkjet ink set consists of a cyan aqueous inkjet ink containing a copper phthalocyanine pigment; a red aqueous inkjet ink containing a pigment C.I Pigment Red 254 or a mixed crystal thereof; a yellow aqueous inkjet ink containing a pigment C.I Pigment Yellow 151 or a mixed crystal thereof; and a black aqueous inkjet ink containing a carbon black pigment; with the proviso that the aqueous inkjet inks do not include a polymer latex binder. The advantages of using the above inkjet ink set are mainly economical benefits. By using only the specific four inkjet inks, CRYK, less expensive inkjet printing devices can be used and consequently cheaper maintenance is obtained, although an excellent reproduction of wood colour patterns is still achieved.
The inkjet printing in the manufacturing method is performed by a single pass printing process.
The aqueous inkjet inks are jetted at a jetting temperature of not more than 35°C, more preferably between 20°C and 33°C. This ensures a good printing reliability. Using higher temperatures, e.g. 45°C accelerates water evaporation at the nozzle, causing latency problems.
The manufacturing method preferably uses a melamine based resin as the thermosetting resin.
The manufacturing method preferably includes the step of: c) heat pressing the thermosetting paper carrying the colour pattern into a decorative panel selected from the group consisting of flooring, kitchen, furniture and wall panels. These decorative panel preferably include a tongue and a groove capable of achieving a glue less mechanical join between decorative panels. The decorative panel preferably includes a protective layer containing hard particles in an amount between 1 g/m2
and 100 g/m2
The use of such an aqueous CRYK inkjet ink set allows reducing the amount of inkjet ink required to reproduce a wooden decor for a floor laminate.
In a preferred embodiment, the method of manufacturing a decorative surface comprises the step of hot pressing at least the core layer and the decorative layer which includes a colour pattern and a thermosetting resin provided paper. Preferably the method of the invention forms part of a DPL process as above described, wherein the decorative layer is taken up in a stack to be pressed with the core layer and a balancing layer, and preferably also a protective layer. It is of course not excluded that the method of the invention would form part of a CPL (Compact Laminate) or an HPL (High Pressure Laminate) process in which the decorative layer is hot pressed at least with a plurality of resin impregnated core paper layers, e.g. of so called Kraft paper, forming a substrate underneath the decorative layer, and wherein the obtained pressed and cured laminate layer, or laminate board is, in the case of an HPL, glued to a further substrate, such as to a particle board or an MDF or HDF board.
The method of manufacturing a decorative surface preferably includes providing a relief in at least the protective layer, more preferably by means of a short cycle embossing press. The embossing preferably takes place at the same time that the core layer, the decorative layer and the protective layer, and preferably also one or more balancing layers, are pressed together. The relief in the protective layer preferably corresponds to the colour pattern.
Preferably the relief comprises portions that have been embossed over a depth of more than 0.5 mm, or even more than 1 mm, with respect to the global upper surface of the decorative panel. The embossments may extend into the decorative layer.
The balancing layer of a decorative panel is preferably planar. However, a relief might be applied in the balancing layer(s) for improving gluing down of the panels and/or for improved slip resistance and/or for improved, i.e. diminished, sound generation or propagation.
It should be clear that the use of more than one press treatment is also advantageous for the manufacturing of decorative surfaces. Such technique could be used in the manufacturing method of claim 1, wherein this panel comprises on the one hand a wear resistant protective layer on the basis of a thermosetting synthetic material, possibly a carrier sheet such as paper, and hard particles, and, on the other hand, one or more layers underlying the wear resistant protective layer on the basis of thermosetting synthetic material. The underlying layers comprise a decorative layer, being an inkjet printed paper, thereafter provided with thermosetting resin, wherein the inks comprise a red aqueous ink with the pigments mentioned in claim 1. As a core layer, such panel might essentially comprise a board material with a density of more than 500 kg/m3
, such as an MDF or HDF board material. The manufacturing panels with a plurality of press treatments is preferably put in practice with the so-called DPL panels (Direct Pressure Laminate). In the latter case, during a first press treatment, at least the decorative layer provided with thermosetting resin, is cured and attached to the core material, preferably an MDF or HDF board material, whereby a whole is obtained of at least the decorative layer and the board material, and possibly a balancing layer at the side of the board opposite the decor layer. During a second press treatment, the wear resistant layer is cured and attached to the obtained whole.
In another embodiment, the method for manufacturing a decorative surface according to the present invention is used in combination with the methodology disclosed by US 2011008624
(FLOORING IND), wherein the protective layer includes a substance that hardens under the influence of ultraviolet light or electron beams.
In a very preferred embodiment, the method of manufacturing of decorative surface includes the following steps: 1) inkjet printing, as described above, a colour pattern on a paper substrate to produce a decorative layer by means of inks that include a red ink with the pigments mentioned in claim 1; 2) thereafter impregnating the paper with a thermosetting resin; and 3) applying the decorative layer and a protective layer including a thermosetting resin impregnated paper on a mostly wood-based core layer by means of a short cycle embossing press and optionally at the same time creating relief in at least the protective layer. The thermosetting resin used in step 2) and/or 3) is preferably a resin or a combination of resins selected from the group consisting of melamine resin, urea resin, acrylate dispersion, acrylate copolymer dispersion and polyester resins, but is preferably a melamine resin. The mostly wood-based core used in step 3) is preferably MDF or HDF.
In an even more preferred embodiment, the decorative layer and the protective layer are applied on a mostly wood-based core layer by means of a short cycle embossing press and at the same time a relief is created in at least the protective layer.
The decorative panel obtained using the above described inkjet printing methods preferably includes at least: 1) a transparent, preferably melamine based, protective layer; 2) an inkjet printed colour pattern printed with at least a red ink containing the pigments mentioned in claim 1; 3) a core, preferably an MDF or HDF core; and optionally 4) a relief at an upper surface. In a preferred embodiment, the decorative panel includes the relief at the upper surface. In a preferred embodiment, the decorative panel has an AC3 classification, more preferably an AC4 classification in accordance with EN 13329.
For having a good ejecting ability and fast inkjet printing, the viscosity of the one or more aqueous inkjet inks at a temperature of 32°C is preferably smaller than 30 mPa.s, more preferably smaller than 15 mPa.s, and most preferably between 1 and 10 mPa.s all at a shear rate of 1,000 s-1
. A preferred jetting temperature is between 10 and 70°C, more preferably between 20 and 40°C, and most preferably between 25 and 35°C.
Aqueous Inkjet Ink sets
The invention further relates to an aqueous inkjet ink set for manufacturing decorative surfaces consisting of a) a cyan aqueous inkjet ink containing a copper phthalocyanine pigment; b) a red aqueous inkjet ink containing a pigment C.I Pigment Red 254 or a mixed crystal thereof; c) a yellow aqueous inkjet ink containing a pigment C.I Pigment Yellow 151 or a mixed crystal thereof; and d) a black aqueous inkjet ink containing a carbon black pigment; with the proviso that the aqueous inkjet inks do not include a polymer latex binder.
The pigment concentration in all aqueous inkjet inks is preferably more than 2 wt%, more preferably the pigment concentration is between 2.2 and 6 wt% and most preferably the pigment concentration is between 2.5 and 5 wt% with all wt% based on the total weight of the ink. Higher pigment concentration limit the number of colours that can be produced and increases the graininess.
The aqueous inkjet inks preferably have a surface tension between 18.0 and 45.0 mN/m at 25°C. An aqueous inkjet ink with a surface tension smaller than 18.0 mN/m at 25°C includes a high amount of surfactant, which may cause problems of foaming. A surface tension greater than 45.0 mN/m at 25°C often leads to insufficient spreading of the ink on the paper substrate. The aqueous inkjet inks preferably have a surface tension of at least 34 mN.m. Such a surface tension effectively prevents pooling on specific wetting nozzle plates of print heads.
For reasons of light fastness, the colorant in the aqueous inkjet inks are colour pigments and preferably do not include any dyes. The aqueous inkjet inks preferably contain a dispersant, more preferably a polymeric dispersant, for dispersing the pigment. One or more aqueous inkjet inks may contain a dispersion synergist to improve the dispersion quality and stability of the ink.
In a preferred embodiment of the aqueous inkjet inks, one or more pigmented aqueous inkjet inks contain a so-called "self dispersible" colour pigment. A self-dispersible colour pigment requires no dispersant, because the pigment surface has ionic groups which realize electrostatic stabilization of the pigment dispersion. In case of self-dispersible colour pigments, the steric stabilization obtained by using a polymeric dispersant becomes optional. The preparation of self-dispersible colour pigments is well-known in the art and can be exemplified by EP 904327 A
According to the invention the cyan aqueous inkjet ink comprises a copper phthalocyanine pigment, more preferably C.I. Pigment Blue 15:3 or C.I. Pigment Blue 15:4, most preferably C.I. Pigment Blue 15:3 .
In a preferred embodiment, the red aqueous inkjet ink comprises C.I Pigment Red 254 or a mixed crystal thereof.
In a preferred embodiment, the yellow aqueous inkjet ink comprises C.I Pigment Yellow 151 or a mixed crystal thereof.
According to the invention the pigments for the black ink is a carbon black such as Regal™ 400R, Mogul™ L, Elftex™ 320 from Cabot Co., or Carbon Black FW18, Special Black™ 250, Special Black™ 350, Special Black™ 550, Printex™ 25, Printex™ 35, Printex™ 55, Printex™ 90, Printex™ 150T from DEGUSSA Co., MA8 from MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL Co., and C.I. Pigment Black 7 and C.I. Pigment Black 11.
Also mixed crystals may be used. Mixed crystals are also referred to as solid solutions. For example, under certain conditions different quinacridones mix with each other to form solid solutions, which are quite different from both physical mixtures of the compounds and from the compounds themselves. In a solid solution, the molecules of the components enter into the same crystal lattice, usually, but not always, that of one of the components. The x-ray diffraction pattern of the resulting crystalline solid is characteristic of that solid and can be clearly differentiated from the pattern of a physical mixture of the same components in the same proportion. In such physical mixtures, the x-ray pattern of each of the components can be distinguished, and the disappearance of many of these lines is one of the criteria of the formation of solid solutions. A commercially available example is Cinquasia™ Magenta RT-355-D from Ciba Specialty Chemicals.
The pigment particles in the pigmented inkjet ink should be sufficiently small to permit free flow of the ink through the inkjet printing device, especially at the ejecting nozzles. It is also desirable to use small particles for maximum colour strength and to slow down sedimentation.
The average particle size of the pigment in the pigmented inkjet ink should be between 0.05 µm and 0.3 µm. Preferably, the average pigment particle size is between 0.08 and 0.25 µm, more preferably between 0.10 and 0.23 µm.
The pigment is used in the pigmented inkjet ink in an amount of 0.1 to 20 wt%, preferably 1 to 10 wt%, and most preferably 2 to 5 wt% based on the total weight of the pigmented inkjet ink. A pigment concentration of at least 2 wt% is preferred to reduce the amount of inkjet ink needed to produce the colour pattern, while a pigment concentration higher than 5 wt% reduces the colour gamut for printing the colour pattern with print heads having a nozzle diameter of 20 to 50 µm..
The pigmented inkjet ink preferably contains a dispersant, more preferably a polymeric dispersant, for dispersing the pigment.
Suitable polymeric dispersants are copolymers of two monomers but they may contain three, four, five or even more monomers. The properties of polymeric dispersants depend on both the nature of the monomers and their distribution in the polymer. Copolymeric dispersants preferably have the following polymer compositions:
- statistically polymerized monomers (e.g. monomers A and B polymerized into ABBAABAB);
- alternating polymerized monomers (e.g. monomers A and B polymerized into ABABABAB);
- gradient (tapered) polymerized monomers (e.g. monomers A and B polymerized into AAABAABBABBB);
- block copolymers (e.g. monomers A and B polymerized into AAAAABBBBBB) wherein the block length of each of the blocks (2, 3, 4, 5 or even more) is important for the dispersion capability of the polymeric dispersant;
- graft copolymers (graft copolymers consist of a polymeric backbone with polymeric side chains attached to the backbone); and
- mixed forms of these polymers, e.g. blocky gradient copolymers.
The polymeric dispersant has preferably a number average molecular weight Mn between 500 and 30000, more preferably between 1500 and 10000.
The polymeric dispersant has preferably a weight average molecular weight Mw smaller than 100,000, more preferably smaller than 50,000 and most preferably smaller than 30,000.
In a particularly preferred embodiment, the polymeric dispersant used in the one or more pigmented inkjet inks is a copolymer comprising between 3 and 11 mol% of a long aliphatic chain (meth)acrylate wherein the long aliphatic chain contains at least 10 carbon atoms.
The long aliphatic chain (meth)acrylate contains preferably 10 to 18 carbon atoms. The long aliphatic chain (meth)acrylate is preferably decyl (meth)acrylate. The polymeric dispersant can be prepared with a simple controlled polymerization of a mixture of monomers and/or oligomers including between 3 and 11 mol% of a long aliphatic chain (meth)acrylate wherein the long aliphatic chain contains at least 10 carbon atoms.
A commercially available polymeric dispersant being a copolymer comprising between 3 and 11 mol% of a long aliphatic chain (meth)acrylate is Edaplan™ 482, a polymeric dispersant from MUNZING.
Suitable biocides for the aqueous inkjet inks used in the present invention include sodium dehydroacetate, 2-phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, sodium pyridinethion-1-oxide, ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate and 1,2-benzisothiazolin-3-one and salts thereof.
Preferred biocides are Proxel™ GXL and Proxel™ Ultra 5 available from ARCH UK BIOCIDES and Bronidox™ available from COGNIS.
A biocide is preferably added in an amount of 0.001 to 3.0 wt.%, more preferably 0.01 to 1.0 wt. %, each based on the total weight of the pigmented inkjet ink.
Suitable humectants include triacetin, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, 2-pyrrolidone, glycerol, urea, thiourea, ethylene urea, alkyl urea, alkyl thiourea, dialkyl urea and dialkyl thiourea, diols, including ethanediols, propanediols, propanetriols, butanediols, pentanediols, and hexanediols; glycols, including propylene glycol, polypropylene glycol, ethylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, tetraethylene glycol, and mixtures and derivatives thereof. Preferred humectants are 2-pyrrolidone, glycerol and 1,2-hexanediol, since the latter were found to be the most effective for improving inkjet printing reliability in an industrial environment.
The humectant is preferably added to the inkjet ink formulation in an amount of 0.1 to 35 wt% of the formulation, more preferably 1 to 30 wt% of the formulation, and most preferably 3 to 25 wt% of the formulation.
The aqueous inkjet ink preferably includes a humectant selected from the group consisting of 2-pyrrolidone, glycerol and 1,2-hexanediol, more preferebly a combination of glycerol and 1,2-hexanediol.
In a preferred embodiment, the aqueous inkjet inks comply with a ratio of a weight percentage glycerol over a weight percentage of 1,2-hexanediol larger than 6.0 wherein both weight percentages are based on the total weight of the inkjet ink. Such a ratio is advantageous for pooling of ink on the nozzle plate of certain inkjet print heads.
The aqueous inkjet inks may contain at least one pH adjuster. Suitable pH adjusters include NaOH, KOH, NEt3
, HCl, HNO3
and (poly)alkanolamines such as diethanolamine, triethanolamine and 2-amino-2-methyl-1-propaniol. Preferred pH adjusters are diethanolamine, triethanol amine, NaOH and H2
The one or more aqueous inkjet inks may contain at least one surfactant. The surfactant(s) can be anionic, cationic, non-ionic, or zwitter-ionic and are usually added in a total quantity less than 5 wt% based on the total weight of the inkjet ink and particularly in a total less than 2 wt% based on the total weight of the inkjet ink.
The one or more aqueous inkjet inks preferably have a surface tension between 18.0 and 45.0 mN/m at 25°C, more preferably between a surface tension between 21.0 and 39.0 mN/m at 25°C.
Suitable surfactants for the aqueous inkjet inks include fatty acid salts, ester salts of a higher alcohol, alkylbenzene sulphonate salts, sulphosuccinate ester salts and phosphate ester salts of a higher alcohol (for example, sodium dodecylbenzenesulphonate and sodium dioctylsulphosuccinate), ethylene oxide adducts of a higher alcohol, ethylene oxide adducts of an alkylphenol, ethylene oxide adducts of a polyhydric alcohol fatty acid ester, and acetylene glycol and ethylene oxide adducts thereof (for example, polyoxyethylene nonylphenyl ether, and SURFYNOL™ 104, 104H, 440, 465 and TG available from AIR PRODUCTS & CHEMICALS INC.).
Preferred surfactants are selected from fluoro surfactants (such as fluorinated hydrocarbons) and/or silicone surfactants.
The silicone surfactants are preferably siloxanes and can be alkoxylated, polyester modified, polyether modified, polyether modified hydroxy functional, amine modified, epoxy modified and other modifications or combinations thereof. Preferred siloxanes are polymeric, for example polydimethylsiloxanes. Preferred commercial silicone surfactants include BYK™ 333 and BYK™ UV3510 from BYK Chemie.
A particularly preferred commercial fluorosurfactant is Capstone™ FS3100 from DU PONT.
However to avoid pooling of the aqueous inkjet ink set on a nozzle plate of a print head, the aqueous inkjet ink preferably contains no surfactant.
Preparation of Inkjet inks
The one or more aqueous inkjet inks may be prepared by precipitating or milling the colour pigment in the dispersion medium in the presence of the polymeric dispersant, or simply by mixing a self-dispersible colour pigment in the ink.
Mixing apparatuses may include a pressure kneader, an open kneader, a planetary mixer, a dissolver, and a Dalton Universal Mixer. Suitable milling and dispersion apparatuses are a ball mill, a pearl mill, a colloid mill, a high-speed disperser, double rollers, a bead mill, a paint conditioner, and triple rollers. The dispersions may also be prepared using ultrasonic energy.
If the inkjet ink contains more than one pigment, the colour ink may be prepared using separate dispersions for each pigment, or alternatively several pigments may be mixed and co-milled in preparing the dispersion.
The dispersion process can be carried out in a continuous, batch or semi-batch mode.
The preferred amounts and ratios of the ingredients of the mill grind will vary widely depending upon the specific materials and the intended applications. The contents of the milling mixture comprise the mill grind and the milling media. The mill grind comprises pigment, dispersant and a liquid carrier such as water. For aqueous ink-jet inks, the pigment is usually present in the mill grind at 1 to 50 wt%, excluding the milling media. The weight ratio of pigment over dispersant is 20:1 to 1:2.
The milling time can vary widely and depends upon the pigment, mechanical means and residence conditions selected, the initial and desired final particle size, etc. In the present invention pigment dispersions with an average particle size of less than 100 nm may be prepared.
After milling is completed, the milling media is separated from the milled particulate product (in either a dry or liquid dispersion form) using conventional separation techniques, such as by filtration, sieving through a mesh screen, and the like. Often the sieve is built into the mill, e.g. for a bead mill. The milled pigment concentrate is preferably separated from the milling media by filtration.
In general it is desirable to make the colour ink in the form of a concentrated mill grind, which is subsequently diluted to the appropriate concentration for use in the ink-jet printing system. This technique permits preparation of a greater quantity of pigmented ink from the equipment. If the mill grind was made in a solvent, it is diluted with water and optionally other solvents to the appropriate concentration. If it was made in water, it is diluted with either additional water or water miscible solvents to make a mill grind of the desired concentration. By dilution, the ink is adjusted to the desired viscosity, colour, hue, saturation density, and print area coverage for the particular application.
The decorative surfaces are selected from the group consisting of kitchen panels, flooring panels, furniture panels, ceiling panels and wall panels.
A decorative panel (30), illustrated by a flooring panel having also a tongue and groove join (33, 32) in Fig.1, includes preferably at least a core layer (31) and a decorative layer (34). In order to protect the colour pattern of the decorative layer (34) against wear, a protective layer (35) may be applied on top of the decorative layer (34). A balancing layer (36) may also be applied at the opposite side of the core layer (31) to restrict or prevent possible bending of the decorative panel (30). The assembly into a decorative panel of the balancing layer, the core layer, the decorative layer, and preferably also a protective layer, is preferably performed in the same press treatment of preferably a DPL process (Direct Pressure Laminate).
In a preferred embodiment of decorative panels, tongue and groove profiles (33 respectively 32 in Fig.1) are milled into the side of individual decorative panels which allow them to be slid into one another. The tongue and grove join ensures, in the case of flooring panels, a sturdy floor construction and protects the floor, preventing dampness from penetrating.
In a more preferred embodiment, the decorative panels include a tongue and a groove of a special shape (e.g. 33 respectively 32 in Fig.2) which allow them to be clicked into one another. The advantage thereof is an easy assembly requiring no glue. The shape of the tongue and groove necessary for obtaining a good mechanical join is well-known in the art of laminate flooring, as also exemplified in EP 2280130 A
(FLOORING IND), WO 2004/053258
(FLOORING IND), US 2008010937
(VALINGE) and US 6418683
The tongue and groove profiles are especially preferred for flooring panels and wall panels, but in the case of furniture panels, such tongue and groove profile is preferably absent for aesthetical reasons of the furniture doors and drawer fronts. However, a tongue and groove profile may be used to click together the other panels of the furniture, as illustrated by US 2013071172
The decorative surfaces, especially decorative panels, may further include a sound-absorbing layer as disclosed by US 8196366
In a preferred embodiment, the decorative panel is an antistatic layered panel. Techniques to render decorative panels antistatic are well-known in the art of decorative surfaces as exemplified by EP 1567334 A
The top surface of the decorative surface, i.e. at least the protective layer, is preferably provided with a relief matching the colour pattern, such as for example the wood grain, cracks and nuts in a woodprint. Embossing techniques to accomplish such relief are well-known and disclosed by, for example, EP 1290290 A
(FLOORING IND), US 2006144004
(UNILIN), EP 1711353 A
(FLOORING IND) and US 2010192793
In a preferred embodiment, the decorative panels are made in the form of rectangular oblong strips. The dimensions thereof may vary greatly. Preferably the panels have a length exceeding 1 meter, and a width exceeding 0.1 meter, e.g. the panels can be about 1.3 meter long and about 0.15 meter wide.
The core layer is preferably made of wood-based materials, such as particle board, MDF or HDF (Medium Density Fibreboard or High Density Fibreboard), Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or the like. Also, use can be made of boards of synthetic material or boards hardened by means of water, such as cement boards. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the core layer is a MDF or HDF board.
The core layer may also be assembled at least from a plurality of paper sheets, or other carrier sheets, impregnated with a thermosetting resin as disclosed by WO 2013/050910
(UNILIN). Preferred paper sheets include so-called Kraft paper obtained by a chemical pulping process also known as the Kraft process, e.g. as described in US 4952277
In another preferred embodiment, the core layer is a board material composed substantially of wood fibres which are bonded by means of a polycondensation glue, wherein the polycondensation glue forms 5 to 20 percent by weight of the board material and the wood fibres are obtained for at least 40 percent by weight from recycled wood. Suitable examples are disclosed by EP 2374588 A
Instead of a wood based core layer, also a synthetic core layer may be used, such as those disclosed by US 2013062006
(FLOORING IND). In a preferred embodiment, the core layer comprises a foamed synthetic material, such as foamed polyethylene or foamed polyvinyl chloride.
Other preferred core layers and their manufacturing are disclosed by US 2011311806
(UNILIN) and US 6773799
The thickness of the core layer is preferably between 2 and 12 mm, more preferably between 5 and 10 mm.
The decorative layer and preferably, if present also the protective layer and/or balancing layer, include paper as substrate.
Preferably, the paper sheets have a porosity according to Gurley's method (DIN 53120) of between 8 and 20 seconds. Such porosity allows even for a heavy sheet of more than 150 g/m2
to be readily impregnated with a relatively high amount of resin.
Suitable paper sheets having high porosity and their manufacturing are also disclosed by US 6709764
The paper for the decorative layer includes one or more ink receiving layers for improving the image quality of the aqueous inkjet inks jetted thereon.
The one or more ink receiving layers may be of the polymer blend type and/or of the microporous type ink receiving layer. For the microporous type ink receiving layer, pigments are included in the ink receiving layer. These pigments are preferably selected from the group consisting of aluminium oxide, aluminium hydroxide, boehmite and silica. The application weight of the ink-receiving layer is preferably 2 to 25 g/m2
The binder in these ink-receiving layer is preferably a hydrophilic polymer, preferably selected from the group consisting of , polyvinyl alcohol, polyvinyl pyrrolidone, polyvinyl acetate, starch, gelatine, carboxymethyl cellulose, ethylene/vinyl acetate-copolymer, styrene/acrylic acid ester copolymers or mixtures thereof.
A commercially available example of such a paper substrate is Technocell™ deco paper MPK9653 available from Schoeller Technocel GmbH.
The paper for the decorative layer is preferably a white paper and preferably includes one or more whitening agents, such as titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate and the like. The presence of a whitening agent helps to mask differences in colour on the core layer which can cause undesired colour effects on the colour pattern.
In a preferred embodiment, unbleached Kraft paper is used for a brownish coloured paper in the decorative layer. Kraft paper has a low lignin content resulting in a high tensile strength. A preferred type of Kraft paper is absorbent Kraft paper of 40 to 135 g/m2
having a high porosity and made from clean low kappa hardwood Kraft of good uniformity.
If the protective layer includes a paper, then a paper is used which becomes transparent or translucent after resin impregnation so that the colour pattern in the decorative layer can be viewed.
The above papers may also be used in the balancing layer.
The thermosetting resin is preferably selected from the group consisting of melamine-formaldehyde based resins, ureum-formaldehyde based resins and phenol-formaldehyde based resins.
Other suitable resins for impregnating the paper are listed in  of EP 2274485 A
Most preferably the thermosetting resin is a melamine-formaldehyde based resin, often simply referred to in the art as a 'melamine (based) resin'.
Such melamine based resin is a resin that polycondensates while exposed to heat in a pressing operation. The polycondensation reaction creates water as a by-product.
Methods for impregnating a paper substrate with resin are well-known in the art as exemplified by WO 2012/126816
(VITS) and EP 966641 A
The dry resin content of the mixture of water and resin for impregnation depends on the type of resin. An aqueous solution containing a phenol-formaldehyde resin preferably has a dry resin content of about 30% by weight, while an aqueous solution containing a melamine-formaldehyde resin preferably has a dry resin content of about 60% by weight. Methods of impregnation with such solutions are disclosed by e.g. US 6773799
The paper is preferably impregnated with the mixtures known from US 4109043
(FORMICA CORP) and US 4112169
(FORMICA CORP), and hence preferably comprise, next to melamine formaldehyde resin, also polyurethane resin and/or acrylic resin.
The mixture including the thermosetting resin may further include additives, such as surface active ingredients, biocides, antistatic agents, hard particles for wear resistance, elastomers, UV absorbers, organic solvents, acids, bases, and the like.
Antistatic agents may be used in thermosetting resin. However preferably antistatic agents, like NaCl and KCl, carbon particles and metal particles, are absent in the resin, because often they have undesired side effects such as a lower water resistance or a lower transparency. Other suitable antistatic agents are disclosed by EP 1567334 A
Hard particles for wear resistance are preferably included in a protective layer.
The decorative layer includes a thermosetting resin impregnated paper and a inkjet printed colour pattern printed thereon before impregnation. In the assembled decorative panel, the colour pattern is located on the resin impregnated paper on the opposite side than the side facing the core layer.
A decorative panel, like a floor panel, has on one side of the core layer a decorative layer and a balancing layer on the other side of the core layer. However, a decorative layer may be applied on both sides of the core layer. The latter is especially desirable in the case of laminate panels for furniture. In such a case, preferably also a protective layer is applied on both decorative layers present on both sides of the core layer.
The colour pattern is obtained by jetting and drying one or more aqueous inkjet inks of an aqueous inkjet ink set including a red ink with a pigment as mentioned in claim 1, on the paper substrate before impregnating it with thermosetting resin .
There is no real restriction on the content of the colour pattern. The colour pattern may also contain information such as text, arrows, logo's and the like. The advantage of inkjet printing is that such information can be printed at low volume without extra cost, contrary to gravure printing.
In a preferred embodiment, the colour pattern is a wood reproduction or a stone reproduction, but it may also be a fantasy or creative pattern, such as an ancient world map or a geometrical pattern, or even a single colour for making, for example, a floor consisting of black and red tiles or a single colour furniture door.
An advantage of printing a wood colour pattern is that a floor can be manufactured imitating besides oak, pine and beech, also very expensive wood like black walnut which would normally not be available for house decoration.
An advantage of printing a stone colour pattern is that a floor can be manufactured which is an exact imitation of a stone floor, but without the cold feeling when walking barefooted on it.
Preferably a further resin layer, a protective layer, is applied above the printed pattern after printing, e.g. by way of an overlay, i.e. a resin provided carrier, or a liquid coating, preferably while the decor layer is laying on the substrate.
In a preferred embodiment, the carrier of the overlay is a paper impregnated by a thermosetting resin that becomes transparent or translucent after heat pressing in a DPL process.
A preferred method for manufacturing such an overlay is described in US 2009208646
The liquid coating includes preferably a thermosetting resin, but may also be another type of liquid such as a UV- or an EB-curable varnish.
In a particularly preferred embodiment, the liquid coating includes a melamine resin and hard particles, like corundum.
The protective layer is preferably the outermost layer, but in another embodiment a thermoplastic or elastomeric surface layer may be coated on the protective layer, preferably of pure thermoplastic or elastomeric material. In the latter case, preferably a thermoplastic or elastomeric material based layer is also applied on the other side of the core layer.
Liquid melamine coatings are exemplified in DE 19725289 C
(ITT MFG ENTERPRISES) and US 3173804
The liquid coating may contain hard particles, preferably transparent hard particles. Suitable liquid coatings for wear protection containing hard particles and methods for manufacturing such a protective layer are disclosed by US 2011300372
(CT FOR ABRASIVES AND REFRACTORIES) and US 8410209
(CT FOR ABRASIVES AND REFRACTORIES).
The transparency and also the colour of the protective layer can be controlled by the hard particles, when they comprise one or a plurality of oxides, oxide nitrides or mixed oxides from the group of elements Li, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Ba, Sr, Zn, Al, Si, Ti, Nb, La, Y, Ce or B.
The total quantity of hard particles and transparent solid material particles is typically between 5% by volume and 70% by volume, based on the total volume of the liquid coating. The total quantity of hard particles is between 1 g/m2
and 100 g/m2
, preferably 2 g/m2
to 50 g/m2
If the protective layer includes a paper as carrier sheet for the thermosetting resin, then the hard particles, such as aluminium oxide particles, are preferably incorporated in or on the paper. Preferred hard particles are ceramic or mineral particles chosen from the group of aluminium oxide, silicon carbide, silicon oxide, silicon nitride, tungsten carbide, boron carbide, and titanium dioxide, or from any other metal oxide, metal carbide, metal nitride or metal carbonitride. The most preferred hard particles are corundum and so-called Sialon ceramics. In principle, a variety of particles may be used. Of course, also any mixture of the above-mentioned hard particles may be applied.
In an alternative embodiment of a protective layer including a paper as carrier sheet for the thermosetting resin, the inkjet printing is performed on the paper of the protective layer, before it being impregnated. The other paper substrate including a whitening agent, such as titanium dioxide, may then merely be used to mask surface defects of the core layer.
The amount of hard particles in the protective layer may be determined in function of the desired wear resistance, preferably by a so-called Taber test as defined in EN 13329 and also disclosed in WO 2013/050910 A
(UNILIN) and US 8410209
(CT FOR ABRASIVES AND REFRACTOR).
If the protective layer includes a paper, such a paper is often referred to as a so-called overlay commonly used in laminate panels. Preferred methods for manufacturing such an overlay are disclosed by WO 2007/144718
In a very preferred embodiment, the decorative panel is manufactured using two press treatments, because this results in an extremely high abrasion resistance. Indeed, during the first press treatment, preferably the layers immediately underlying the wear resistant protective layer are substantially or wholly cured. The hard particles comprised in the wear resistant protective layer are thereby prevented from being pushed down out of the top area of the floor panel into the colour pattern or below the colour pattern and stay in the zone where they are most effective, namely essentially above the colour pattern. This makes it possible to reach an initial wear point according to the Taber test as defined in EN 13329 of over 10000 rounds, where in one press treatment of layers with the same composition only just over 4000 rounds were reached. It is clear that the use of two press treatments as defined above, leads to a more effective use of available hard particles. An alternative advantage of using at least two press treatments lays in the fact that a similar wearing rate, as in the case where a single press treatment is used, can be obtained with less hard particles if the product is pressed twice. Lowering the amount of hard particles is interesting, since hard particles tend to lower the transparency of the wear resistant protective layer, which is undesirable. It becomes also possible to work with hard particles of smaller diameter, e.g. particles having an average particle diameter of 15 µm or less, or even of 5 µm or less.
The main purpose of the balancing layer(s) is to compensate tensile forces by layers on the opposite side of the core layer, so that an essentially flat decorative panel is obtained. Such a balancing layer is preferably a thermosetting resin layer, that can comprise one or more carrier layers, such as paper sheets.
As already explained above for a furniture panel, the balancing layer(s) may be a decorative layer, optionally complemented by a protective layer.
Instead of one or more transparent balancing layers, also an opaque balancing layer may be used which gives the decorative panel a more appealing look by masking surface irregularities. Additionally, it may contain text or graphical information such as a company logo or text information.
Inkjet Printing Devices
The one or more aqueous inkjet inks, including the red ink mentioned in claim 1, may be jetted by one or more print heads ejecting small droplets in a controlled manner through nozzles onto a substrate, which is moving relative to the print head(s).
A preferred print head for the inkjet printing system is a piezoelectric head. Piezoelectric inkjet printing is based on the movement of a piezoelectric ceramic transducer when a voltage is applied thereto. The application of a voltage changes the shape of the piezoelectric ceramic transducer in the print head creating a void, which is then filled with ink. When the voltage is again removed, the ceramic expands to its original shape, ejecting a drop of ink from the print head. However the inkjet printing method according to the present invention is not restricted to piezoelectric inkjet printing. Other inkjet print heads can be used and include various types, such as a continuous type.
The inkjet print head normally scans back and forth in a transversal direction across the moving ink-receiver surface. Often the inkjet print head does not print on the way back. Bi-directional printing is preferred for obtaining a high area throughput. A "single pass printing process" can be performed by using page wide inkjet print heads or multiple staggered inkjet print heads which cover the entire width of the ink-receiver surface. In a single pass printing process the inkjet print heads usually remain stationary and the substrate surface is transported under the inkjet print heads.
All materials used in the following examples were readily available from standard sources such as Aldrich Chemical Co. (Belgium) and Acros (Belgium) unless otherwise specified.
is an abbreviation used for Hostaperm™ B4G-KR, a C.I. Pigment Blue 15:3 pigment from CLARIANT.
is the abbreviation for C.I. Pigment Red 254 for which Irgazin™ DPP Red BTR from Ciba Specialty Chemicals was used.
is the abbreviation for C.I. Pigment Red 122 for which inkjet Magenta™ E 02 from CLARIANT was used.
is an abbreviation used for INK JET H4G LV 3853, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 151 from CLARIANT.
is an abbreviation used for Printex™ 90, a carbon black pigment from EVONIK.
is an abbreviation used for Edaplan™ 482, a polymeric dispersant from MUNZING.
is an abbreviation used for the biocide Proxel™ Ultra 5 from AVECIA.
 PEG 200
is a polyethylene glycol having an average molecular mass of 200 from CLARIANT.
 PEG 600
is a polyethylene glycol having an average molecular weight between 570 and 630 g/mol from CALDIC BELGIUM nv.
is triethanol amine.
is Graphtol™ Yellow H2R VP2284, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 139 from CLARIANT.
is IRGAZIN™ YELLOW L 2040, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 110 from BASF.
is NOVOPERM™ YELLOW H2G, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 120 from CLARIANT.
is CROMOPHTAL™ JET YELLOW 8GT, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 128 from BASF.
is HANSA™ BRILLIANT YELLOW 4GX, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 73 from CLARIANT.
is HOSTAPERM™ YELLOW H3G, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 154 from CLARIANT.
is SEIKAFAST™ YELLOW 2500, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 55 from Dainichiseika Colour & Chemicals Mfg. Co.
is Novoperm™ Yellow FGL, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 97 from CLARIANT.
is GRAPHTOL™ YELLOW GG, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 17 from CLARIANT.
is Paliotol™ Yellow D0960, a C.I. Pigment Yellow 138 from BASF.
 Cab-O-jet™ 450C
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Blue 15:4 in water having an average particle size of 115 nm.
 Cab-O-jet™ 465M
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Red 122 in water having an average particle size of 100 nm.
 Cab-O-jet™ 470Y
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Yellow 74 in water having an average particle size of 170 nm.
 Cab-O-jet™ 300
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Black 7 in water having an average particle size of 130 nm.
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Blue 15:3 in water having a surface tension of 55 mN/m and an average particle size of 100 nm.
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Red 122 in water having a surface tension of 50 mN/m and an average particle size of 145 nm.
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Yellow 74 in water having a surface tension of 55 mN/m and an average particle size of 100 nm.
is a 15% dispersion of C.I. Pigment Black 7 in water having a surface tension of 55 mN/m and an average particle size of 105 nm.
 Emuldur™ 381A
is a 40% solids latex dispersion in water of a polyester-polyurethane polymer having a glass transition temperature of 30°C.
 Capstone™ FS3100
is a fluorosurfactant from DU PONT.
is a 120 g/m2
matt coated paper available as MH 1281 from MITSUBISHI.
1. CIELAB parameters
The reflectance spectrum of each sample was measured three times with a Gretag SPM50 spectrophotometer in the range from 380 up to 730 nm in steps of 10 nm.
Unless otherwise specified, the CIE L* a* b* coordinates as well as chroma C* and hue angle H* were calculated for a 2° observer and a D50 light source.
2. Metameric Index MI
In the CIELAB colour space, a colour is defined using three terms L*, a*, and b*. L* defines the lightness of a colour, and it ranges from zero (black) to 100 (white). The terms a* and b*, together, define the hue. The term a* ranges from a negative number (green) to a positive number (red). The term b* ranges from a negative number (blue) to a positive number (yellow). Additional terms such as hue angle H* and chroma C* are used to further describe a given colour, wherein:
In the CIELAB colour space, ΔE* defines the "colour-distance", i.e. the difference between two colours, such as the colour of the original printed image and the colour of the same image after light fading. The higher the ΔE* number, the more difference between the two colours:
The CIE 1994 Colour Difference Model provided an improved calculation of the colour difference by including some weighing factors. The colour difference measured under the new model is indicated by ΔE94.
and where the weighting factors depend on the application. For decoration applications: KL
=0.045 and K2
For metamerism, two materials are considered. For example, in case of deco printing of wood colours, the first (or reference) material could be a piece of natural wood of some kind or a kitchen cabinet door, produced with rotogravure techniques. The second material may be the best possible reproduction of that first material by means of inkjet printing.
The reflectance spectrum of both materials is calculated for a selected set of light sources out of a list of 19 light sources:
- Equi-energetic light source : CIE illuminant E
- Daylight: D50, D55, D65
- CIE standard illuminants : A (tungsten filament), B (direct daylight), C (shady daylight)
- Fluorescent: CIE F-series F1 up to F12
The reflectance spectrum of each sample was measured three times with a Gretag SPM50 spectrophotometer in the range from 380 up to 730 nm in steps of 10 nm. Calculation involved the reflectance spectrum of the material in combination with the light source spectrum. The CIE L* a* b* coordinates for a 2° observer as well as chroma C* and hue angle H* were calculated for each material and for each light source.
For each light source, the difference values for ΔL*, Δa*, Δb*, ΔC*, ΔH* and the colour-distance ΔE*94 were calculated for the two materials, i.e. the reference material and the printed material, which thus delivered 19 sets of difference values for each reference sample and inkjet printed material. Simple descriptive statistics on the 19 sets of difference values was calculated.
The metameric index for the 2 materials was defined as three times the standard deviation of ΔE*94. The smaller the metameric index, the less colour difference between the 2 materials will be seen when they are compared to each other whilst changing light source within the selected set of 19 light sources. For a true reproduction of wood colours having minimal metamerism, the metameric index should have a value of no more than 1.0.
3. Surface Tension
The static surface tension of the aqueous inkjet inks was measured with a KRÜSS tensiometer K9 from KRÜSS GmbH, Germany at 25°C after 60 seconds.
The viscosity of an inkjet ink was measured, using a Brookfield DV-II+ viscometer at 32°C at a shear rate of 1,000 s-1
5. Average Particle Size
An ink sample is diluted with ethyl acetate to a pigment concentration of 0.002 wt%. The average particle size of pigment particles is determined with a Nicomp™ 30 Submicron Particle Analyzer based upon the principle of dynamic light scattering.
For good ink jet characteristics (jetting and print quality) the average particle size of the dispersed particles is preferably below 250 nm.
6. Ink stability
The inkjet ink is considered to be a stable pigment dispersion if the average particle size did not increase by more than 15 % after a heat treatment of 7 days at 60°C.
The inkjet ink is considered to be a stable pigment dispersion if the viscosity did not increase by more than 10 % after a heat treatment of 7 days at 60°C.
The lightfastness was determined as the colour hue shift ΔE94* between a print sample measured one hour after printing and the same print after 1 week exposure to Xenon light in a Atlas Xenotest™ 150S at an irradiance of 300-800 nm at 1250 W/m2 performed indoor behind window glass.
A colour hue change ΔE94*-value of 1.0 is clearly visible to the naked eye.
8. Blue Wool Scale
The Blue Wool Scale was used as a measure of lightfastness of inkjet printed samples. The test originates from the textile industry, but has been adopted by the laminate flooring industry (see e.g. the website ww.eplf.com from the European Producers of Laminate Flooring).
Two identical samples were made. One was placed in the dark as the control and the other was placed in the equivalent of sunlight for a three-month period. A standard blue wool textile fading test card conform to the ISO 105-b01 standard was also placed in the same light conditions as the sample under test. The amount of fading of the sample was then assessed by comparison to the original colour.
A rating between 0 and 8 is awarded by identifying which one of the eight strips on the blue wool standard card has faded to the same extent as the sample under test. Zero denotes extremely poor colour fastness whilst a rating of eight is deemed not to have altered from the original and thus credited as being lightfast and permanent.
The flooring industry expects a laminate floor to have a rating on the blue wool scale of 6 or more.
Latency is the time that nozzles can be left uncovered and idle before there is a significant reduction in performance, for instance a reduction in drop velocity that will noticeably affect the image quality or even failing nozzles which no longer eject the ink.
Prints were made using a KJ4B Kyocera print head at a head temperature of 32°C at 600 dpi on a glossy microporous paper after having left the nozzles uncovered and idle for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes and 60 minutes. An evaluation was made of the image quality on the printed sample by checking failing nozzles and image unevenness.
If no negative effect was observed at 60 minutes, then the latency was considered to be more than 60 minutes. Alternatively, if after 10 minutes no good image quality was observed, the latency was considered to be less than 10 minutes. An intermediate latency was observed between 10 and 60 minutes, the longer the open head time could be, the better the latency. A latency of more than 30 minutes is desirable.
Pooling is the formation of pools of ink on a print-head nozzle plate as the ink jets over time, causing a loss of image quality and resolution.
An evaluation was made in accordance with a criterion described in Table 4
||no pooling of ink drops is observed on the nozzle plate|
||pooling of ink drops is observed on the nozzle plate|
This example illustrates an aqueous inkjet ink set which is suitable for printing colour patterns for flooring laminates and which also has sufficient reliability for industrial inkjet ink printing, wherein the ink set variant using the red ink R1 is illustrative for the invention.
Preparation of Inkjet Inks
Each of the inkjet inks was prepared in the same manner by diluting a concentrated pigment dispersion with the other ink ingredients.
The concentrated aqueous pigment dispersion was made in the same manner for each colour pigment by mixing a composition according to Table 5
for 30 minutes using a Disperlux™ Yellow mixer.
||to complete 100.00 wt%|
Each concentrated aqueous pigment dispersion was then milled using a Dynomill™ KDL with 0.4 mm yttrium stabilized zirconium beads YTZ™ Grinding Media (available from TOSOH Corp.). The mill was filled to half its volume with the grinding beads and the dispersion was milled for 3 hours at flow rate of 200 mL/min and a rotation speed of 15 m/s. After milling, the dispersion is separated from the beads. The concentrated aqueous pigment dispersion served as the basis for the preparation of the inkjet ink.
The inkjet inks were prepared by mixing the components according to the general formulation of Table 6
expressed in weight % based on the total weight of the ink. The component TEA was used to obtain a pH between 8.5 and 8.2. Water was added to complete the ink to the desired pigment concentration.
|Component (in wt%)||C||R1||R2||Y||K|
||to complete 100.00 wt%|
|Viscosity (mPa.s) at 32°C
|Surface Tension (mN/m)
|Average particle size (nm)
The yellow inkjet ink was found to be the most critical one for performance of the four inkjet inks. As reliability for industrial inkjet printing becomes more critical at higher pigment concentrations, a number of yellow inkjet inks Y1 to Y10 were prepared in the same manner as the inkjet ink Y of Table 6
, except that the concentration of the yellow pigment and the dispersant was increased to 4.70 wt% based on the total weight of the yellow inkjet ink.
|Inkjet Ink||Type of Pigment|
Evaluation and Results
The latency of the cyan, red, black inkjet inks of Table 6
and the yellow inkjet inks of Table 7
having a pigment concentration of 4.70 wt% was tested. The results are shown by Table 8
|Inkjet Ink||Type of Pigment||Latency|
||More than 30 minutes|
||More than 60 minutes|
||More than 60 minutes|
||More than 30 minutes|
||More than 30 minutes|
||More than 30 minutes|
||More than 30 minutes|
||Less than 10 minutes|
||Less than 10 minutes|
||More than 30 minutes|
||Less than 10 minutes|
||Less than 10 minutes|
||Less than 10 minutes|
||Less than 10 minutes|
||Less than 10 minutes|
From Table 8
, the latency of the cyan, red, black inkjet inks exhibited good latency, while only the yellow inks containing the pigments PY151, PY74 and PY120 exhibited good latency.
The ink stability was tested by comparing the average particle size and the viscosity after a heat treatment of 1 week at 60°C. The results are shown in Table 9
|Inkjet Ink||Pigment||Average Particle Size||Viscosity|
|nm||%Increase after 1 week at 60°C||mPa.s||%Increase after 1 week at 60°C|
It can be seen from Table 9
that the inkjet inks containing the yellow pigments PY128 and PY154 exhibited insufficient ink stability for reliable printing in an industrial environment.
A colour patch of 100% surface coverage was printed using a KJ4B Kyocera print head at a head temperature of 32°C at 600 dpi on a MH paper substrate.
The lightfastness of the yellow inkjet ink was again found to be the most critical one. The lightfastness results of the printed samples before and after 1 week of Xenon exposure are shown in Table 10
, respectively Table 11
The best results for Xenon lightfastness were found for the yellow pigments PY151, PY74, PY154 and PY97.
Since the inkjet inks containing PY154 and PY97 failed on reliable inkjet printing and the other yellow inkjet inks performed poorly in the Xenon lightfastness test, only the yellow inkjet inks Y1 and Y2 containing PY151, respectively PY74 were submitted to the Blue Wool Scale test. Table 12
gives the lightfastness results of the yellow inkjet inks Y1 and Y2 by using the Blue Wool Scale test.
|Inkjet Ink||Pigment||Blue Wool Scale|
||6 to 7|
Although the ink Y2 scored a bit better than the ink Y1 on the Xenon lightfastness test, the ink Y2 surprisingly failed on the Blue Wool Scale test using sun light. The yellow inkjet ink Y1 met the expectations of the flooring industry with a rating on the blue wool scale of more than 6.
The metamerism was evaluated using as reference material, a coating of a UV curable yellow inkjet ink Agora™ G2 from Agfa Graphics nv. Such an ink is successfully used for printing on plastic surfaces, for example on furniture side bands of a laminate MDF panel.
The Agora™ G2 inkjet ink was coated at a thickness of 6µm on a PET100 substrate using a bar coater. The coated sample was fully cured using a Fusion DRSE-120 conveyer, equipped with a Fusion VPS/I600 lamp (D-bulb), which transported the sample under the UV-lamp on a conveyer belt at a speed of 20 m/min.
As second material for the metamerism test, a sample was printed of yellow inkjet ink using a KJ4B Kyocera print head at a head temperature of 32°C at 600 dpi on a paper substrate PGA at 100% surface coverage. The results of the metamerism are shown in Table 13
In printing a wide range of decorative patterns already printed by gravure for the flooring laminate industry, it was found that the inkjet ink set CR1YK was more suitable than the inkjet ink set CR2YK for printing wood colour patterns. Not only metamerism proved to better with CR1YK, but also the attainable colour gamut and the generally smaller ink lay-down for wood colour patterns was found to be favourable for the CR1YK ink set.
This example illustrates the manufacturing of a decorative surface.
Manufacturing of Decorative Surface
A decorative layer was obtained by printing a decorative wood pattern on a 100 g/m2
Technocell™ deco paper MPK9653 paper using the CR1YK inkjet ink set in Table 6
and a KJ4B Kyocera print head at a head temperature of 32°C at 600 dpi. The dry weight of the jetted ink was less than 1.0 g/m2
An printed deco paper was impregnated with an aqueous solution containing 60 wt% of melamine-formaldehyde based resin and dried to a residual humidity of about 8 g/m2
. It was found that homogenous impregnation was accomplished in a time frame acceptable for industrial manufacturing.
An assembly was made as shown in Figure 1
, wherein the prepared decorative layer was interposed between a HDF core and protective layer of unprinted melamine-formaldehyde resin impregnated paper containing aluminium oxide for durability. The assembly was then heat pressed. The obtained floor laminate exhibited good quality.
This example illustrates how the ratio in humectants improves pooling on the nozzle plate of certain types of printing heads.
Preparation of Inkjet Inks
Each of the inkjet inks was prepared in the same manner by diluting a concentrated pigment dispersion with the other ink ingredients as shown in Table 14
. The concentrated aqueous pigment dispersion was made in the same manner as in Example 1.
|Component (in wt%)||R-A||K-A||R-B||K-B|
||to obtain a pH =9.0|
||to complete 100.00 wt%|
Evaluation and Results
The surface tension and pooling was evaluated on the nozzle plate of a KJ4B Kyocera print head. The results are shown in Table 15
|Inkjet ink||Ratio Glycerine/1,2-Hexanediol||Surface Tension (mN/m)||Pooling|
Reference signs list