Our regular column building up to drupa (May 6-19, 2004, Düsseldorf) looks at how innovative inks can produce electronic circuits and clever marketing

Print with a living message

Electronic circuits printed on film are a pretty dry subject, but conductive inks certainly liven the place up, making promotional packs a highlight in any child’s room. The little darlings’ hunger is satisfied first of all and then they are left with a fascinating toy. And this is how it works: the offset printed folding carton packs for ready meals also contain small game figures. They are put in specific places on a surface appropriately designed for children. Then specified structures are scratched free, a small amount of current flows, the figures move and the child is delighted.

While this is going on, Mum and Dad are sitting in front of their computer; the children are distracted, after all. Their internet surfing exercise is not accompanied by music from separate loudspeakers. On the contrary: the screen itself is a loudspeaker. A thin, functionally optimized, printed film can take over the job of producing the treble and bass of a loudspeaker.

Talking packs, talking instruction leaflets or musical photographs – there has been nothing magical about any of these for a long time now. Printing always plays a prominent role in them. With up to 20s of talking. Kennedy says: “Ich bin ein Berliner” at normal speed. It is, however, also possible to store the data content of a picture the size of a postcard.

Labels printed with voice information in the form of dots up to 40 micron are another state-of-the-art print issue. The same thing is being tried out in laser printing with a resolution of 1,200dpi (8kB). A handy scanning device is all that is needed so that the elderly, for example, can read or – to be more exact – hear the instructions on their medicine leaflet without any help. It is, however, also conceivable that people with poor sight could “read” a TV guide in this way.

The choice of substrates is extensive: materials finished in this way can be a bar code, a piece of paper, board or film, or a complete pack. The material can be stuck to credit cards, ID cards or other products and give them the ability to speak. Thanks to printed information, a refrigerator then knows how long the milk is fit for drinking – and re-orders automatically via the internet.


Messe Düsseldorf
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