A film technology has been developed by MacDermid Autotype that combines the benefits of hardcoated PET films with the cosmetic advantages of brushed stainless steel. Although cosmetically pleasing and durable, steel is easily marked by the touch of a finger, and will indent easily, with major dents deforming the material permanently, and drilling can result in liquid ingress.
Autotex Steel, however, has an ink receptive layer on the reverse surface and a specially developed hardcoated outer layer, which is chemically bonded and UV cured. The hardcoat layer has a textured finish which, when the film is printed on the reverse with standard metallic or newly developed mirror inks, creates the appearance of a brushed stainless steel panel.
The film – which has been developed for use as a graphics overlay material in keyboards, fascias and instrument panels – is said to be easy to handle and print, combining high levels of colour reproduction and definition with a tough outer surface that offers excellent resistance to abrasion, surface impact and a wide range of chemicals and solvents. Benefits include the ability to produce high quality keyboard or graphics panels at a far lower cost using standard screen processes, to easy embossing. It also does not show fingerprints, and can easily be printed to create clear display windows or contain secret-until-lit graphics, with the film offering excellent colour rendition and light transmission in clear areas. Graphics are normally reverse printed, so are protected from wear and abrasion by the body of the film substrate and the textured hardcoat top surface. This surface has also been formulated to resist a wide variety of common industrial solvents and cleaning fluids, In addition, overall weight can be greatly reduced.