HelioChrome® NEO boasts impressively low energy requirements of just 20 A/dm² at 40°C. A bath temperature 20 degrees lower than for traditional chrome plating also results in lower emissions. It is currently possible to produce chromium(III) layers up to 25 μm thick. It takes around 20 to 25 minutes to create a layer 6 to 8 μm thick – the normal thickness for gravure printing – which is similar to the speed of chromium(VI) coating.
Interim beta test results
The test phase on a newly developed chrome-plating installation at Huhtamaki Flexible Packaging Germany in Ronsberg started back in 2015 – one year after the first chromium(III) coating of a gravure cylinder. Since then, various electrolyte formulations and modified installations have been tested and undergone further development to arrive at the current status. Several patent applications have now also been submitted for the new chromeplating process. With a Vickers hardness of 900 to 1200 HV, HelioChrome® NEO is very well placed to match the cylinder surface quality achieved using conventional chrome plating, as demonstrated in countless abrasion tests on our tribological test rig at the development center in Munich. The tribological layer properties have been established, as has the electrolyte and installation management, and there is no doubt about the method’s viability.
The first actual print jobs using HelioChrome® NEO coatings based on the new technology have already been successfully completed on the gravure presses at Huhtamaki in Ronsberg. The next step is to confirm the production reliability of electrolyte management and quality assurance for the industrial process.