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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R011761/1
Title: Woodbury and Lippmann: A new approach to continuous tone and full colour non-impact printing
Principal Investigator: Klein, Dr S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Hewlett Packard Inc Siltech Corporation University of Leeds
Department: Fac of Arts Creative Ind and Education
Organisation: University of the West of England
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 15 January 2018 Ends: 30 September 2023 Value (£): 1,238,329
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Nov 2017 Manufacturing Fellowships 6 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Our society has an unsatisfiable hunger for images. The UK printing industry is the 5th biggest in the world with a turnover of £13.5 billion employing c.122 000 people. The internet is now the main platform for advertising, with 39% of advertising expenditure, print comes second with 32% and is fast growing. A historic development, the CMYK halftone process and the ruled glass screen patented by Frederick Ives, has led to the reproduction of almost all present day images as pixelated CMYK prints. Historic processes, such as those invented by Woodbury and Lippmann produce prints far superior to anything which is commercially available at the present time. Those processes have been largely forgotten as they were not commercially competitive. The applicant, with her expertise in colloidal chemistry, optics and 3D printing, aims to lift those technologies from obscurity to the forefront of modern developments. The new incarnations of old printing technologies will allow production of high quality prints for advertising, packaging, fashion and, at the same time, include impossible to replicate security features.

By transferring the principals of historic, high quality, continuous tone printing processes to non-impact printing, the processes will be freed from dimensional restrictions and restrictions of shape and material of the substrate. Woodburytype was the first, and still is the only photomechanical process that can reproduce truly continuous tone. A topographic print of pigmented gelatin layers, the image is generated by the absorption of light in those layers. The applicant aims to generate the layers by an additive process, for example ink jet printing, instead of an imprint from a plate. With especially formulated inks and modified printers which allow multipath printing, the continuous tone print can then be generated on a multitude of substrates and shapes. Combining this new process with Lippmann photography will lead to a full colour, non-pixelated printing process with in-built security features. Lippmann photography does not contain any dyes or pigments, but still reproduce the biggest colour gamut possible on the basis of interference colours like the ones observed on the surface of soap bubbles. Light is selectively reflected by resonance cavities which makes the print change colour under different viewing angles. This characteristic cannot be copied by simple means and can therefore be exploited as a security feature. In classic Lippmann photography, the reflective layers of the cavities consist of very fine metallic silver grains separated by layers of gelatin. The layers are generated by a direct photographic process making Lippmann photography a one-off method. In collaboration with industrial partners, the applicant aims to formulate two inks, one transparent and the other reflective and aims to print a hybrid Lippmann/ Woodburytype by non-impact methods. The hybrid type will have no dimensional restrictions and can be customized. On an ID card or driving license, a Lippmann/Woodburytype could be included as an owner specific security feature. Creating the cavities by direct print will be a challenge, but materials exist which can be printed and organize themselves in periodic structures: chiral liquid crystals for example. Liquid crystals interact with light and are the active layer in most displays today. In chiral liquid crystals the molecules are organized in helical structures. When the spacing of the helix fulfils a specific condition, colour is generated. The final print will consist of a variety of liquid crystal and containment layers which will have additional functionality. An electric or magnetic field can switch the liquid crystal, i.e. the print is rewritable which can be exploited as a security feature. By hosting the fellowship at the Centre for Fine Print research, an ideal combination of printing and material expertise is achieved guaranteeing the success of the project.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.uwe.ac.uk