The Strataprinter and the Diaphragm Stratagraphy Printing Process

    [ Printing Processes ]
    [ The Diaphragm Stratagraphy Process ]


    Diaphragm Stratagraphy is a new printing process. A brief introduction to printing processes is helpful for understanding the unique capabilities of the new Diaphragm Stratagraphy process.

    Each individual printing process utilizes a distinct type of printing apparatus, printing plate and printing colors.

    The printing apparatus is traditionally referred to as the "PRESS" because it transfers a printing color from a printing plate to the surface to be printed by applying PRESSURE. The print is thus called an IMPRESSION.

    The overall technology related to all printing processes centers on the controls required to precisely transfer the printing color from the printing plate to make the impression. In all printing processes, a deficiency in the design or in the use of the printing apparatus, printing plate, or printing color will directly effect the quality of the impression produced.

    Printing processes are categorized by the physical character of their printing plates. The general categories are: GRAVEUR; LETTERPRESS; LITHOGRAPHY; and, STENCIL.

    • GRAVEUR - In the graveur, or intaglio plate the printing color fills an engraved line and is transferred out of this incised groove to either a smooth rubber roller (offset), a silicon pad (pad transfer), or is directly transferred to the surface to be printed (etching, graveur, engraved block printing).
    • LETTERPRESS - In the letterpress plate the high surface of a cast or carved image is coated with the printing color and transferred directly to the surface to be printed (letterpress, flexography, rubber stamp, block printing, typewriters and impact dot matrix, hot stamp and some forms of thermal wax printing).
    • LITHOGRAPHY - In the lithographic plate a flat, planar surface is prepared in such a way that one area attracts the printing color and the other repels it. This may be a direct transfer as in true stone lithography, colography, xerography, and laser printing or indirect as in offset lithography.
    • STENCIL - In the stencil plate a perforated mask is placed over the surface to be printed and the printing color is wiped, brushed or sprayed through it (stencil, spirit duplicator, silk screen, ink jet printing).

    The Diaphragm Stratagraphy printing plate is a perforated mask making it a stencil printing process.

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    The Diaphragm Stratagraphy process is the subject of patent number 4,649,817. This patent is described in the abstract of the U.S. Patent Office as follows:

    "A stencil manufacturing and printing process reduces printed image distortion by matching screen deflection in the photostencil preparation phase with stencil deflection in the printing phase. The usual squeegee is replaced by atmospheric pressure and screen/stencil deflection is induced by producing a vacuum through a specially constructed air distribution frame. Compressed air can be introduced through the same frame to rapidly release the stencil from the substrate when the printing is completed. A control unit facilitates operator control of the printing process."

    This description covers all the technical concepts necessary for controlling print quality. It also details unique apparatus developments that separate the patented process from most predecessor processes.

    The primary innovation in Diaphragm Stratagraphy is found in the technology that permits the squeegee to be replaced. In screen stencil printing the squeegee is the printing apparatus; the "press". The innovation that replaces the "press" is air distribution controlled through the sensing of air pressure levels at the printing screen, or diaphragm. This method of controlling the printing stencil contact with the substrate to transfer the printing color differs from the normal method of screen printing in a very significant way: the contact is planometric as opposed to line contact. This accounts for the three distinct advantages of the new process:

  • First, there is no scraping of the printing color over the screen stencil. This completely eliminates image distortion and stencil wear from friction and solvent evaporation.
  • Second, the entire plane of the stencil contacts the substrate virtually at once at a precisely controllable extent relative to pre-established sensor settings. This permits many different printing colors to be applied at the same time while the screen is only deflected to the exact area required for the image
  • Third, the entire plane of the stencil image may remain in contact with the substrate for any length of time desired at the pre-determined contact setting. This permits highly controllable deposits of printing colors. Dense formulas may be slowly applied to take advantage of their special characteristics and those less viscous may be used to facilitate extremely high printing speeds.
  • The embodiment of the Diaphragm Stratagraphy method is the Strataprinter system from Diaphragm Stratagraphy, Inc. (DiaStrata). The full range of process advantages have been carefully designed into the Strataprinter system. It not only prints but controls the manufacture of its own photostencils and offers features for the clean dispensing of pre-packaged printing colors and operation of automation features. Because of the unique concept of printing without a press the Strataprinter system is the first complete printing system, ever, that can carry out all the functions required for printing from one lightweight, portable control unit. The entire system is small enough to fit into a desk drawer.

    The Strataprinter is also designed for versatility. The same unit that is capable of functioning as the primary control on a high-speed, automated line is also capable of applying controlled deposits of conductive fluids for printed circuit prototyping or production, for the accurate dispensing of adhesive patterns in manual or automated assembly operations, for manual quality control marking and part coding, and as an artistic technique for decoration in the crafts. The Strataprinter can print on any non-porous, planar surface: hard paper and boards, glass, ceramics, metal, plastics, coated cloth, rubber, etc.

    The Strataprinter is designed to produce quality with a minimum of training. There are only two controls available to the operator. Once these sensor and time controls are set, the quality is internally monitored. Thousands of prints with resolutions as fine as 40 microns are possible from the same control setting. And because of the unique positive action of the printing-plate gasket, misprints in are practically impossible.

    Of all current printing processes, the new Diaphragm Stratagraphy process holds the highest promise of becoming the most broadly used in the future. It is a highly accessible technology and minimal energy consumption and ease of operation make it a suitable tool in even the most primitive conditions. As a tool in the hands of a craftsmen, it alone has the capability of producing the dazzling, multi-color compositions that will inspire new heights of creativity. The new Diaphragm Stratagraphy printing process will inspire yet unimaginable new technologies as its functional parameters enter the vocabulary of the innovative and creative, from fine artists to genetic engineers.

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