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Printing technology to benefit environment

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A novel method for coating printing rollers could slash the use of chemicals, water and excess energy in the printing rollers manufacturing industry if a trial by one local company is anything to go by.

The Kirk Group and researchers at CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology believe a clever coating system that uses a ‘Cold Spray’ to apply coatings can revolutionize manufacturing of printing rollers.

Most of the spray coatings are done at high temperature. This has resulted in a swathe of high-temperature side effects such as oxidation, vaporisation, melting, crystallisation, residual stresses and gas release.

On the other hand ‘Cold Spray’ technology allows metallic, non-metallic powders or a mixture of them, to be sprayed onto surfaces at supersonic speed and at much lower temperatures than current thermal spray techniques.

Kirk Group managing director Graeme Kirk says the Cold Spray technology could save his company millions of dollars a year by replacing the electroplating processes currently used to prepare printing rollers.

“We’re working with CSIRO using their Cold Spray facilities to develop coatings, which we are trialling in our plant,” Kirk says.

“So far, they’re proving successful and we’re hoping to replace electroplating with the Cold Spray process.

“The major advantages for us are that we get rid of chemicals in our process. This will replace the conventional electroplating, which is not environmentally friendly at all and is also a big energy and water user.

Dr Mahnaz Jahedi Cold Spray & Tooling Team Leader from CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology says there are useful applications for the Cold Spray technology in just about any industry – from the biomedical to the aerospace industries, in the chemical and mineral processing, and for applications in the electronics, paper, oil, gas and glass industries.

CSIRO is working on different applications for this technology with companies like aluminium mining and production giant Comalco , a division of Rio Tinto.

CSIRO established Cold Spray facilities about two years ago and has focussed on developing leading edge applications for the technology for Australian industry.

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