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Autotex XE makes it plain sailing

Autotype International : 14 October, 2005  (New Product)
MacDermid Autotype
Established over three decades ago, Markit Graphics caters for such industrial sectors as energy, manufacturing, electronics and transport as well as manufacturing promotional products, consumer items and point-of-sale material. In particular, the company has been producing membrane switches since 1987, but among many other products, also produces nameplates, electroluminescent panels and overlays.

The yacht, Tiara, was built in Auckland, New Zealand by Alloy Yachts and at 54m (178ft) is their largest project to date, as well as being the largest vessel capable of transiting the Bridge of the Americas at the entrance to the Panama Canal. The fast elegant sloop offers large living areas and extensive accommodation. She has a beam of 11m (36ft), is fitted with a dagger board and draws 5.2m (17ft) with the dagger board up and 8m (24ft) down. Tiara has a 63m (208ft) carbon fibre mast fitted with in boom furling, with carbon spectra sails with a downwind sail area of 2500 sq m (27,000 sq ft). Furthermore, Tiara was specifically designed to accommodate the owner’s seven-seat helicopter and, after completing sea-trials in Auckland in April and May, she landed an EC 130 helicopter on the aft-deck. It is believed Tiara is the first privately owned sailing yacht with a helipad.

Peter Maxwell, Technical Manager at Markit Graphics, explained, “The Tiara application was made more difficult due to the positioning of the controls as they are exposed to all weather conditions. It was therefore essential to make sure that the construction of the membrane control panel was able to withstand prolonged exposure both to harsh weather conditions and sunlight.”

XE stands for Extreme Environment and demonstrates that Autotex XE can resist harsh elements such as high light levels, temperature and humidity that would otherwise quickly affect the operating characteristics of traditional film substrates. Autotex XE is a polyester based film, with specially constructed hardcoat and primer layers. Unlike conventional films, however, that can delaminate, become brittle or flake under extreme conditions, Autotex XE is formulated to resist ultraviolet light, moisture and wide variations in temperature. In addition, XE can be used at an operating temperature of 85C and at a humidity level of 85% RH, without any degradation.

Generally, when conventional films are subjected to UV light they become brittle and yellow rapidly. By contrast, Autotex XE, which incorporates special Autotype UV protection, is extremely resistant to the affects of ultraviolet light, extending operating life by more than 300% compared with conventional textured polyester films. Additionally, the film offers excellent mechanical and optical properties, with switch life in tactile membrane systems being in excess of five million actuations.

Peter continued, “Simply put, Autotex XE was the ideal film for the application, it can resist even the most extreme conditions, it’s easy to handle and is consistent in its reaction to the ink curing processes. For us you could say that it’s the best thing since sliced bread!”
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