Chemstream: Tapping into high end R&D

Frank De Voeght, Chemstream

Frank De Voeght, Chemstream

Chemstream is an innovative chemical R&D company with a specialty in translating material problems in sustainable formulations with a focus on high-end nano dispersions, functional coating and inkjet inks. Managing Director Frank De Voeght and I caught up recently and I found out more about this specialist chemistry company based in Belgium.

How did you get to be part of the speciality print industry?

“I began my career after gaining a degree physical chemistry in 1983. There I studied interfacial chemistry which dealt with multi layer coatings on substrates, wet in wet printing and then began my career at Agfa in the technical coating division responsible for developing coatings. The rheology of coating is similar to an inkjet process. There was an innovative roadmap that we needed to develop within a company focused more on analogue printing. I always felt that we had to broaden the business to a more digital environment for inkjet ink research and to develop our competences into a complete inkjet ink process. It was a great time but it was mainly focused upon the graphic arts market. However 6-7 years ago we have a broader scope in our minds.”

What led you to launch Chemstream?

“Well the world really began changing and we saw a new need for industrial functionalised patterning and this sparked an ambition for us to approach all those new opportunities with functionality particularly for industrial inkjet.

With industrial inkjet we had to have a kind of translation into new chemical formulations and new chemistry which has to be very fast because it was ever changing. We found that with some large companies, the reaction time was too slow for the customer. At the end together with two of my colleagues, we decide that it is better that we start on our own and create a new independent R&D company where we develop our ideas in new innovative applications.”

So that was the start, what is it you are doing now?

“These days, what we are doing now is to translate high end user requirements into new chemical formulations for coating, printing or inkjet ink. The functionality we apply is mainly based upon Nano-dispersion technology. Therefore we have our own synthesis and dispersion capacity in house to make our own formulations so we can change the functionality according to the end user requirements. To be short, we can introduce high functionality in chemical formulations that we implement in an integrated way for customers into their production line.
The applications themselves are for a low amount of inks but with high functionality so they are very high added value. It means we are simply not competing with ink manufacturers for CMYK systems. Chemstream’s aim and purpose is to create solutions for specific problems within high end manufacturing.

Nowadays, most manufacturers are aiming to improve their sustainable workflow within their manufacturing and they therefore like the idea of digitising their processes. So they are in the process of changing their manufacturing processes and this is where we come in to help. We can design the right inks for their new digital factories. And being the size we are, we can offer very fast answers.”

What application areas do you tend to work in?

“A lot of our work, by its nature is secretive. Mostly we have NDA’s with our customers as we are on the front line of their research. For InPrint I will be presenting the development process of an inkjet ink, used as a barrier layer printed onto Silicon Nitride for OLED’s . We also have specific inkjet ink applications for higher resolution 3D Printing.

We will also be showing the formulations that we have created already and we also have a patent pending for functionalised dispersion agents that can be used, for example, within our nano-technology for conductive inks. This innovative substance really helps during production processes where you have to get rid of the organic stabilisers . 

Our inkjet development approach is based on a modular printing device which is constructed in such a way that you can easily change heads and inks. This allows us to make the right ink printhead combination already in the beginning of the feasibility phase by evaluating printed samples and enhancing both image quality and physical properties. For research purposes we even can mimic the process of direct to container printing.”

So a lot of your business is based upon expertise and specialty production, what will you show at InPrint 2015?

“We will be demonstrating our technology approach by printing on the modular printing device a 3D simulation and during this printing process we will add into this functionality. We will print 100-200 microns of UV-LED curable samples with an embedded functionality – this printed functionality can be whatever you like but we will show the principle by printing an invisible ink, readable with black light.

The most interesting cases are OEM partners which are introducing digital printing systems in their processes to create a specific end user product. It is mostly for such specific applications in a prototype environment where we can produce batches of 50-100 litres of ink. We are R&D people who want to do R&D and not mass manufacturing so our customers have specialised requirements and are attempting to do something new and innovative. We like working in this way.”

If you are interested in meeting Chemstream at InPrint 2015 register for FREE here