Digital Synthetics? Have No Fear

In talking with printers about digitally printing synthetics, one of the most common things that we hear is that people are reluctant to work with synthetics because they are difficult to run or that they are afraid of damaging their equipment.  So we thought we would use this blog to allay some of the concerns that folks have had about digital synthetics generally, but also to talk about some of the unique advantages that Fusion Digital Paper™ products have to offer, which can solve some of these problems.

Probably the most common runnability complaint that we hear from printers and end users about synthetics is static.  With synthetics, most people are looking for a waterproof and tear resistant substrate, and they are very frustrated with the amount of static related issues that they experience during feeding, printing, and print finishing processes.

Let’s first begin by discussing some of the facts of digital printing.  While computers and digital files are involved in some stage of almost every kind of modern printing, when people are speaking about “digital printing” these days they’re most often talking about one of two kinds of printing: inkjet and laser printing.  While there are plenty of synthetics (including some Fusion Digital Paper products) that are capable of being printed by inkjet printers, most modern sheet-fed digital commercial printing is still done with the laser printing method.

These laser printers and color copiers operate by generating an electrostatic charge on a drum that is transferred to the substrate during the printing process.  When the oppositely charged toner particles are introduced by the equipment, they are attracted to the parts of the substrate that are charged (but not to the other parts of the substrate), and then a heating element fuses the toner to the substrate creating a permanent image.  By the way, it is this heating element that requires digital substrates to be specially designed to withstand the fusing process.  Fusion Digital Paper™ substrates can make it through this process without breaking a sweat (or your equipment!).  Because with Fusion Digital Paper™ the hotter the fusing temperatures the better the toner adhesion.

For most substrates, like paper for instance, this electrostatic charge dissipates relatively quickly.  However, the most commonly used synthetic substrates that are capable of withstanding the high heat of the fusing process are made from a kind of synthetic film that won’t allow the products to lose this static charge easily once they’ve gained it.  In addition to this inherent property of these film products, their very smooth surface results in a coefficient of friction factor that contributes to static, and, in turn, makes these products intimidating to work with.

All this means that until recently there was not a viable alternative for people who wanted a waterproof and tear resistant product that did not cause static issues.  That was, of course, until we introduced Fusion Soft Polyester.

Fusion Soft Polyester is a product that is every bit as durable as the film-based products, but because of the work done by our chemical engineers, it does not have the static issues associated with other digital synthetics.  This means that Fusion Soft Polyester runs almost exactly like normal paper.  As soon as it comes out of the receiving tray of your press, you can jog it, stack it, fold it, bind it, and punch it.  No more issues with static.  Fusion Soft Polyester has a unique velvety feel which is much more pleasing to the touch than a laminated product.  This makes it perfect for waterproof books, manuals, menus, and any other applications where you’d like a waterproof and tear resistant paper product that also provides a rich, tactile sensation.  And compared to the film products that stain easily, Fusion Soft Polyester is also very stain resistant, which is a great bonus for menus or outdoor applications.

So if you’re one of the folks that have had a bad experience with digital synthetics, have been too intimidated to run synthetic sheets because of static concerns, or you’re just flat tired of hassling with all the special care required to run film products, consider giving Fusion Soft Polyester a try.  It’s available in 7.5, 10, and 12 mil calipers.