A touch of magic

13 February 2014

Focusing on scannable packaging features and a new type of film, leading hot stamp technology supplier Leonhard Kurz looks set to make waves in the packaging and touch-responsive technology sectors.

PolyIC, a German-based subsidiary of hot stamping specialist Leonhard Kurz, has recently developed functional films that can be used for manufacturing touchscreen controls and displays using both in-mould labelling (IML) and in-mould decoration (IMD).

Kurz has also acquired an interest in the IT architecture and implementation specialist Adorsys. Located in Nuremberg, Adorsys is the developer of Trustcode, the globally available identification system since used by the "Brand Enhancement" business unit at Kurz. Produced using innovative hot stamping technology, Trustcode allows visual brand enhancement to be combined with mobile information access, serving as both an authenticity feature and decorative eye-catcher on brand name packaging.

End-consumers, retailers or custom officials can use their mobile phones to scan the Trustcode image to verify the authenticity of a product. Purchasers can also retrieve further data, including details of loyalty programs, interactive games or more product information.

From the brand-owner's side, Trustcode offers firms the ability to communicate with customers, as well as to access micromarketing data that can be used to make tailored offers to specifically targeted audiences.

Furthermore, it allows brand-owners to trace the path of an item throughout the supply chain, as all product code queries are logged, analysed and evaluated by the identification system. These reports are accessible to brand-owners at any given time, making it easy to trace the precise movements of an item as well as to identify parallel sales. The high security server infrastructure required to provide 24/7 access to this data is provided by Adorsys and Leonhard Kurz.

Both companies are optimistic about the merger. Adorsys has a great deal of experience in the development of portals for financial services providers, as well as specialist knowledge in the field of high security IT solutions, and connecting the real and virtual worlds in web-based and mobile applications.

"Adorsys ideally complements the comprehensive range of services offered by our group," says Walter Kurz. "We are not just a supplier of hot stamping foils, we develop innovative complete solutions that are precisely tailored to the individual requirements of our customers. Adorsys makes a valuable contribution in this regard by supporting us, for example, in optimally combining brand decoration, brand protection and brand communication."

Benno Schmitzer, general manager at Adorsys, has said that his company will also profit from the new partnership.
"Having Leonhard Kurz as a strategic partner enables us on the one hand, to further develop our know-how in the area of security and to combine this know-how, in particular with physical products, to create unique solutions; and on the other hand to further strengthen the stability of Adorsys by achieving targeted growth - all for the benefit of our customers."

PolyIC'S recently launched PolyTC transparent conductive films - made from PET - can be used in both IMD and IML. Combining the two techniques allows the functional film to be back-moulded in the same injection moulding cycle as a decorative film.

Kurz and PolyIC are said to have received a great deal of interest concerning the potential use of a single injection moulding stage to manufacture touch units. The consumer electronics industry has long soughta solution to the established multi-stage lamination process, which also uses costly indium-tin oxide (ITO) materials.

At the Fakuma exhibition in Germany in October, where the in-mould touch unit production process was first demonstrated, Martin Hahn, head of IMD sales management at Kurz, said that PolyTC films were made from relatively available materials, such as aluminium, silver and copper, and that ITO is not used.

He also revealed that the company had some 20 projects in development with customers. "We are open to projects of 100,000 units per year, but also ones involving millions of units per year."

Current target markets include household and automotive appliances, as well as consumer electronics. According to Hahn, commercial production of items manufactured with PolyTC films in a combined IMD/IML process will begin at the start of 2014.

Kurz has also pointed to a variety of additional benefits from the use of PolyTC films. Thin and flexible, they offer design freedom and the potential for 3D applications. A larger production capacity is also facilitated by the circuits being printed on the film in a roll-to-roll process. Furthermore, the supply line (or tail) is also incorporated into the film.

There is also room for creativity on the decorative side. An eclectic range of patterns, structures and colours feature in Kurz' IMD films, including a sandblasted or brushed surface appearance, luminous metallic shades and variable amounts of gloss. Marble, wood and carbon-look surfaces are also available, which can be used to decorate products with touch sensor panels.

Overall, the combination of IML/IMD with PolyTC films can cut down on the costs of touchscreens and controls, as well as advance manufacturing efficiency, according to Kurz.


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