What is the Strataprinter?

The Strataprinter is a miniature screen printing device made for high quality decoration of arts and crafts and novelty souvenir products. Because it applies a unique approach to screen printing that uses atmospheric pressure instead of the normal squeegee, it can print engraving-quality lines as fine as 1 mil and it can print multiple colors in a single impression. The Strataprinter is made as a turnkey "system" with all operations required for printing contained in one group of small modular devices that fit on a single desktop.

Technically speaking...

Strataprinter technology is based on patents that define a process and devices for integrating the imaging of a photographic screen (stretched woven screen as in silk screen, not screen as in half tone screen) with printing from that same screen. The same control unit and printhead used for fixing the image on the screen are used for the devices that print the screen, thus making the Strataprinter a turnkey system performing all pre-press and printing functions. The unit that controls all these functions is the Strataprinter Control Module. There are four currently available auxiliary devices that are operated by the Control Module.

Functionally speaking...

The Strataprinter made history at "Woodstock II" in 1994 with the introduction of the first full color, screen-printed event dog tag. Over 50,000 were sold.

Within 8 months of the first sale dozens of printed dog tag designs were selling at such diverse retail outlets as: MTV; Columbia House Catalog; MOR Music Television; West Point Gift Shop; Kennedy Spaceport; VA Hospital Canteens; and mall T-shirt shops. All of these dog tags were produced utilizing: materials costing no more than 35 cents each, a printing machine small enough to fit on a kitchen table, and a unique process that allows all of the colors to be printed at one time in just a fraction of a second at over 400 impressions per hour. Only one machine proved capable of doing this.

That machine is the Strataprinter: patented squeegeeless screen printing with screenmaking, printing and automation control built into one small 10 pound control box... the easiest-to-use, most versatile printer ever. Everything you need for printing built into one desktop system!

How does it print? (in practical terms)

1. Expose the Screen...

The artwork is printed-out onto a transparancy from a computer printer or a darkroom camera. Screen preparation for the Strataprinter is simple. Strataprinter screens come individually packaged as photosensitive cartridges. The cartridge screen is automatically tensioned by "snapping" it into the Strataprinter Printhead. Simply tape the art to the screen and expose it in the Strataprinter Exposure Module. The exposure is automated by system controls in the Master Control Module. Together the cartridge and printhead act as a vacuum frame for precise, high definition screenmaking. Finally, the exposed screen is developed with an air brush spraying a mist of tap water.

2. Apply ink to the Screen...

Many artistic techniques can be used for inking the Strataprinter screen. Strataprinter inks packaged in convenient air syringes permit the fast, easy, and accurate application of many colors to the screen. With the Strataprinter all colors can be printed at the same time.

3. Print!

The ultra-efficient Strataprinter printhead and solid state control sensors have finally made "vacuum" screen printing a reality! The remarkable Strataprinter Printhead has been designed into a variety of manual and semi-automatic machines for printing on virtually any shape or material imaginable Use the Strataprinter's basic printing module for tags, tiles, magnets, nameplates, dial faces and other small flat objects. Use the Strataprinter's pad transfer module for printing irregular surfaces. You can even print with nothing but the printhead, holding it in your hand for printing in remote locations.

The Strataprinter is a totally new concept in printing and the most versatile screen-printing machine available today. Every day exciting new applications are being discovered for the Strataprinter.

How does it print? (in technical terms)

In this new technology, called the DiaStrata Process, a screen (the DIAPHRAGM) is highly tensioned to a precisely measured limit and is placed in a sealed chamber created above the surface that is to receive the deposit (the STRATA). The screen is measurably depressed down to contact with the surface by the method of exhausting atmosphere from the chamber to a precise measure of low atmospheric pressure (percentage of vacuum) and held in this contact state for a period of time long enough to transfer the fluid (ink) to a controlled deposit height on that surface. The depression of the tensioned screen is incremental from the geometric center of the screen outward toward the tension holding device (frame/gasket) because of a precise balance between the resistance of the tension to further elongation and the level of vacuum draw necessary to stretch a measurable area of the screen. The pressure and the time adjustments used in these measurements are contained in a remote solid state, sensor controlled device.

The DiaStrata Process further works by integrating precise data gathered in the stencil image manufacturing stage and applying this information for the control of printing quality. Supporting this function, printing controls also have the capability of controlling exposure for stencil manufacture. The Strataprinter System includes an exposure lamp that is switched responsive to the same signals that are used for the printing functions of the process. This feature is built into the single, multi-task process control unit.

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