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Multitechnic introduces Duraseal to the UK sign market

Unsealed aluminium sheet being printed by Multitechnic's Duraseal machineMultitechnic has invested in the technology to bring a revolutionary product to the UK sign industry.

Until now, digital printing onto metal signs has meant applying vinyl or printing onto the surface, and both can be easily scraped or peeled off meaning durability has been a major problem. The Duraseal technology prints full colour highest quality digital images inside the anodised layer of aluminium. Not on the surface, actually within the hard anodised layer. This gives exceptional durability both to physical and chemical endurance.

To understand the advantages properly, it is essential to understand how anodising works. The anodised layer is created by modifying the surface of the aluminium sheet. An electrical charge and an anodising solution change the surface to aluminium oxide. This is an extremely hard substance, so hard that it is used for making abrasives. The aluminium oxide remains porous like a microscopic sponge, so the longer it is in the solution the deeper the oxide layer forms into the metal surface. When the desired thickness is reached, the sheet is taken out of the solution and the porous aluminium oxide is sealed, like filling a sponge with concrete. After that the hard surface is no longer porous and is extremely chemical resistant.

The Duraseal technology has been developed to print highest quality full colour digital images into the anodised layer before it is sealed The sheet of printed anodised aluminium is then sealed in the normal manner, trapping the image permanently inside the hard aluminium oxide surface.

Printed panel being immersed in sealing solution as part of the annodising processIt is because of this durability that Multitechnic's customers have identified internal signage for public buildings as the most popular use for the new process. Durability can be a real problem, applied vinyl is easily peeled off, surface printing can be scraped away, signs soon become unusable and have to be replaced. Duraseal signs cannot be damaged in this way and can be relied on to give long service, a key selling point when bidding for such contracts.

Multitechnic have been around for a long time and are well established as trade-only suppliers of chemical etching to the sign trade.

Managing Director, Colin Edge says: "Our customers are always looking for new products that can give them an advantage to win business, and they have been very keen for us to bring Duraseal to the UK sign market.

We expected our customers to welcome the fantastic design possibilities of digital printing into a metallic surface, but it is the durability for internal signage that has really taken off. If they are bidding for a new school or court building contract they know that Duraseal can help win them the job compared to vinyl or traditional printing."

Multitechnic are hoping that sign designers will start to use the creative aspects of the technology, as well as the durability. There is no white print, the anodised surface serves as the background, so colours blend seamlessly into the aluminium panel. If a satin or glossy anodised coating is used, amazing reflective and metallic effects can be achieved. This can bring tremendous life and interest to information signs.

Finished sign created by Multitechnic's Duraseal machineFor even more durability for exterior information signs, Multitechnic have teamed up with a specialist coatings supplier to apply an anti-graffiti lacquer. The initial idea was for a coating that would take most of the abuse in extreme locations where signs tend to get a very hard life and can soon look untidy. As part of routine maintenance when the frames or stands are renovated the Duraseal panels could be returned to be stripped and relacquered, much more economical than replacement.

Colin Edge explains: "It seemed daft to apply a lacquer at first, but we found that it vastly improved the self cleaning aspects, deposits from the environment wash themselves off the lacquered surface much better than from the bare aluminium. The other advantage of course was better UV protection, and although the test results for Durasal are very good, the lacquer we have chosen will give excellent results, even in exposed south facing locations."

Ordering Duraseal panels is the same as for any other digital printing. The only difference is getting used to the amazing creative possibilities if using the satin or glossy surface finishes. For further information telephone Multitechnic on 01670 512090 or email sales@multitechnic.co.uk

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