PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP0879711 23.08.2001
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0879711
Titel Bildempfangsblatt für die thermische Übertragung
Anmelder Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Tokio/Tokyo, JP
Erfinder Inoto,Kazunobu,, Tokyo-to, JP;
Oshima, Katsuyuki, Tokyo-to, JP;
Nishikawa, Hideki, Tokyo-to, JP
Vertreter Müller-Boré & Partner, Patentanwälte, European Patent Attorneys, 81671 München
DE-Aktenzeichen 69521817
Vertragsstaaten DE, FR, GB
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 17.03.1995
EP-Aktenzeichen 981127657
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 25.11.1998
EP date of grant 18.07.2001
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 23.08.2001
IPC-Hauptklasse B41M 5/40

Beschreibung[en]

This invention relates to a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet.

Various thermal transfer recording systems are known in the art, and one of them is a thermal dye transfer system using as a colorant the so-called sublimable dye which is sublimated or diffused upon exposure to heat. In this system, a thermal transfer sheet is used wherein a dye-holding layer comprising a sublimable dye held in a binder resin is provided on one side of a'support such as a polyester film. The thermal transfer sheet is prepared by printing or coating, on'a heat resisting support, an ink or a coating solution comprising a mixture of a binder resin with a sublimable dye and drying the resultant coating or print.

The thermal transfer sheet is, subjected to selective heating from the back side thereof in a printer having heating means, such as a thermal head, to form an image on a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet comprising a substrate sheet and a dye-receptive layer dyable with a dye.

The dye image thus formed, since a dye is used as the colorant, has excellent sharpness and transparency, offering excellent color reproduction and half tone reproduction. By virtue of this nature, the thermal dye transfer system is suitable for the reproduction of a full-color image, wherein many color dots of three or four colors are transferred onto a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet, and can form an image having a high quality comparable to that formed by the conventional offset printing or gravure printing and a full-color photographic image. For the above reasons, the thermal dye transfer system is convenient for easily providing a full-color hard copy of a computer generated or processed image and a video image in a very short time and in fact has been widely used for this purpose.

Due to the structure or mechanism of a printer, however, it is very difficult to form a dye image directly on an object other than a sheet-form object like a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet. This has led to an attempt to produce a dye image using the above thermal transfer sheet on an object having any desired shape other than sheet.

For example, Japanese Patent Laid-Open Nos. 66997/1987 and 203494/1985 propose a method wherein a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet with a dye image formed thereon is attached, like a label, onto an object. This method has the problem that the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet attached on the object, due to the thickness of the sheet, is easy to peel off from the object.

EP-A-0 535 718 relates to methods and an apparatus for the formation of images as prints on objective bodies through transfer of images performed by the sublimation transfer technique, and in particular to such systems as adapted for the formation of images on any selective objective body such as carts, closes, papers, and transparent sheets.

JP-A-02 167 794 describes a heat transfer image receiving material by which curling under low moisture condition can be eliminated and an image and the time of preservation can be prevented by providing at least one layer of a quantity of substantially hydrophilic binder between a support and an image receiving layer.

EP-A-0 455 213 relates to a subbing layer for dye transfer receivers, and more particularly to the use of a subbing layer in an intermediate receiver for use in a process for thermal dye transfer to arbitrarily shaped final receivers.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 229292/1992 proposes a method which comprises the steps of peeling a dye-receptive layer, with a dye image formed thereon, from the substrate sheet of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet, bringing the dye-receptive layer into contact with an object, heating the dye-receptive layer at a high temperature to transfer the dye image to the object, and peeling the dye-receptive layer from the object.

This process requires such a troublesome step that a dye-receptive layer is once peeled off from the substrate sheet of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet and then pressed against an object. Further, the need for the peeling of a dye-receptive layer imposes a limitation on the selection of materials for both the substrate sheet and the dye-receptive layer. Furthermore, since the peeled dye-receptive layer alone is handled, it should have proper strength and thickness, again imposing a limitation on the selection of materials.

Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet which can be used in a simple method for producing an image on an object which enables a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet, as such, to be used without peeling the dye-receptive layer from the substrate, and which can achieve good color reproduction without causing a color change and produce a high-density and sharp image on an object.

To achieve the foregoing object and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet comprises a substrate sheet (21), a dye-receptive layer (22), a dye release layer (23) comprising a hydrophilic material provided between said substrate sheet and said dye-receptive layer, and a back surface layer (24) comprising a resin having a glass transition temperature of 160°C or above provided on the surface of the substrate sheet remote from the dye release layer.

The thermal transfer image-receiving sheet of the present invention can be used in a method for forming an image on an object comprising the steps of thermally transferring a dye from a thermal transfer sheet to the dye-receptive layer of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet thereby to form a dye image on the sheet; contacting the dye-receptive layer side of the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet with an object; thermally transferring the dye image on the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet to the object by heating of the sheet; and peeling the sheet from the object.

With the method for forming an image on an object as described above, there is no need of peeling the dye-receptive layer of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet from the substrate sheet, and what is needed is only to attach the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet, as it is, to an object and thus the formation of an image on the object can be achieved in a simplified manner. high temperature conditions without entailing deterioration of the image.

When the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet of the present invention is used in the above method, since the dye release layer promotes transfer of a dye image formed on the sheet to an object, a high-density and sharp image can be formed on an object.

  • Fig. 1 is a diagram showing the step of thermally transferring a dye from a thermal transfer sheet to a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet in the method for producing an image as described above;
  • Fig. 2 is a diagram showing a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet with a dye image formed thereon by the step shown in Fig. 1;
  • Fig. 3 is a diagram showing the step of thermally transferring the dye image on the sheet of Fig. 2 onto an object (a mug);
  • Fig. 4A and Fig. 4B are respectively a diagram showing a mag cup having a transferred dye image after peeling of the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet from the mug following the step of Fig. 3 and a diagram showing a spent thermal transfer image-receiving sheet;
  • Fig. 5 is a longitudinal sectional view of an embodiment of the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet according to the present invention.

<Method for forming image on object>

The method for forming an image on an object as described above will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

At the outset, the formation of a dye image on a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet using a thermal transfer sheet may be carried out by any conventional method using a known thermal transfer printer such as a thermal printer or a video printer. Fig. 1 shows the step of transferring a dye from a thermal transfer sheet 1 to a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet 2 by means of a thermal transfer printer using a thermal head 5 to form a dye image 3 on the sheet 2. Thus, a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet 2a with a dye image 3 formed thereon, as shown in Fig. 2, is provided as an intermediate medium.

The dye image 3 is then thermally transferred from the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet 2a to an object. In Fig. 3, the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet 2a is being contacted with the outer surface of a mug 4, a . ceramic drinking cup having a quadratic outer surface, and then heated to transfer the dye image to the object.

More specifically, the dye-receptive layer side of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet with a dye image transferred thereto is brought into contact with an object. In the contact of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet with an object, the presence of a gap therebetween results in lowered dye image density or cause the resultant dye image to blur. For this reason, a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet is press-contacted with an object.

In the press contact, what is needed is to bring a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet into contact with an object to such an extent that the sheet neither rises nor shifts in the course of dye transfer, and no large force is required for pressing a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet against the surface of an object. In order to keep a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet tightly contacted with an object, force can be applied through an elastomer less likely to adhere to the object, thereby press-contacting the sheet with the object. Heating may be carried out from the side of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet, from the side of an object, or from both sides of thermal transfer image-receiving sheet and the object. In the case where the object is a cylindrical one like a mug, a dye image can be transferred from a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet to the object by, for example, applying the sheet to the outer surface of the object, covering the sheet with a rubber sheet, further covering the rubber sheet with a circular heater, and conducting heating with the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet being press-contacted with the object.

The heating temperature and heating time for the transfer of a dye image from a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet to an object are such that dye molecules are fully transferred to the object without causing fusion-bonding of the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet to the object and color change of the dye by heat. They vary depending upon the heat resistance, thermal capacity, and other properties of the object. For example, when the object is a mug as shown in Figs. 3 and 4, heating is usually carried out at 100 to 250°C for about 1 to 10 min. Upon the completion of heating for a required period of time, the object is air-cooled or water-cooled near to room temperature, and the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet is then peeled off from the object. Thus, a dye image is formed on the object.

Figs. 4A and 4B respectively show a mug 4a with a dye image 3 transferred thereto and a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet 2b from which a dye image has been transferred to the mug.

<Thermal transfer image-receiving sheet>

The thermal transfer image-receiving sheet of the present invention will now be described in detail. Fig. 5 is a longitudinal sectional view showing an embodiment of a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet according to the present invention. In the drawing, a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet 2 comprises a substrate sheet 21, a dye-receptive layer 22, and a dye release layer 23 interposed between the substrate sheet 21 and the dye-receptive layer 22.

Further, in the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet of the present invention, a back surface layer 24 is provided on the back surface of the substrate sheet 21. When a dye image is transferred from the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet to an object by applying force to the sheet from the back surface thereof by means of an elastic material such as rubber, the back surface layer serves to prevent the sheet from adhering to the elastic material.

Examples of the substrate sheet 21 used in the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet 2 include synthetic paper, such as polyolefin and polystyrene synthetic paper; coated paper, such as art paper, coat paper, and cast coated paper; thin paper such as glassine paper, capacitor paper, and paraffin paper; other types of paper, such as wood-free paper; films of polyester resins, such as polyethylene terephthalate, polyethylene naphthalate, and 1,4-polycyclohexylene dimethyl terephthalate, polycarbonate resins, cellophane, cellulosic resins, such as cellulose acetate, and other resins, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyphenylene sulfide, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene chloride, nylon, polyimide, polyvinyl alcohol, fluororesins, chlorinated rubbers, and ionomers; nonwoven fabrics; and composites formed by combining the above synthetic papers, papers, and resin films, for example, a laminate of paper combined with a resin film and a composite of a resin coated on paper. Furthermore, it is also possible to use a composite formed . by adding a white pigment or a filler to a resin, forming the mixture into an opaque or foamed sheet, and providing the above layer on the sheet by melt extruding or the like.

The substrate sheet may be transparent or opaque. The thickness of the substrate sheet is usually 30 to 300 µm, preferably 150 to 200 µm.

The dye-receptive layer 22 serves to receive a dye being thermally transferred from the thermal transfer sheet 1, thereby forming a dye image. Thereafter, it again transfers, i.e., releases, the dye image to a final object by taking advantage of heat. That is, the dye-receptive layer 22 serves as an intermediate medium.

Thus, the dye-receptive layer 22 is required to have a combination of the receptivity to a thermal transfer dye and the releasability of the dye, which properties are seemingly contradictory to each other. However, the purpose of the dye-receptive layer can be basically attained to considerable extent by properly selecting temperature conditions for receiving the dye, temperature conditions for releasing the dye, dye used, and materials such as resins for constituting the dye-holding layer and the dye-receptive layer of the thermal transfer sheet even when the conventional resins commonly used for constituting a dye-receptive layer 22 are used. However, the use of a resin which is less likely to fuse to the surface of an object during the transfer of the object is preferred.

The above dye-receptive layer 22 may comprise a conventional thermoplastic resin, and examples of the thermoplastic resin include polyolefin resins, such as polypropylene; halogen-containing resins, such as polyvinyl chloride and polyvinylidene chloride; vinyl acetate resins, such as polyvinyl acetate, ethylene/vinyl acetate copolymer, and vinyl chloride/vinyl acetate copolymer; polyvinyl acetal resin; acrylic resins, such as poly(meth)acrylic ester; polystyrene resins, such as polystyrene; copolymer of olefin, such as ethylene or propylene with other vinyl monomers; polyester resins, such as polyethylene terephthalate and polybutylene terephthalate; polycarbonate resin; cellulosic resins, such as cellulose acetate; polyamides; and ionomers. They may be used alone or in the form of a mixture of two or more.

Further, a thermosetting resin prepared by incorporating the organic silicon compound into the above thermoplastic resin or adding a crosslinking agent to the above thermoplastic resin is preferred because it is less likely to fuse to an object.

For the organic silicon compound used, reactive organic silicon compounds, such as silicone oil, having a functional group, such as an amino group, a hydroxyl group, a mercapto group, an epoxy group, an isocyanate group, a carboxyl group, or a vinyl group, are used as a precursor to the organic silicon compound.

The reactive organic silicon compound as the precursor is reacted with a reactive thermoplastic resin having a functional group reactive with the precursor to prepare a graft polymer which is used as the organic silicon compound. The reactive thermoplastic resin used herein may be any member selected from the above thermoplastic resins so far as it has a reactive functional group.

Alternatively, the organic silicon compound may be a graft polymer prepared by providing as a crosslinking agent a polyfunctional reactive compound, such as polyisocyanate. and polyamine, and reacting the above reactive organic silicon compound, having a functional group reactive with the crosslinking agent, with the above reactive thermoplastic resin.

Further, the organic silicon compound may be a graft polymer prepared by copolymerizing a reactive organic silicon compound having a vinyl group, such as silicone oil, with a general monomer having a vinyl group, an acryloyl group, or the like.

The addition of the organic silicon compound thus prepared to the resin for constituting a dye-receptive layer causes a branch polymer portion composed of the grafted reactive organic silicon compound to be distributed on the surface of the dye-receptive layer, while a backbone polymer portion composed of the reactive thermoplastic resin is in such a state as mixed and united with the resin constituting the dye-receptive layer. This imparts, to the surface of the dye-receptive layer, excellent oil repellency and slidability enough to be slidable at the time of printing. Further, it has the effect of preventing the dye-receptive layer from fusing to an object at the time of dye transfer to the object.

The amount of the above organic silicon compound added is preferably 1 to 50 parts by weight based on 100 parts by weight of the resin for constituting the dye-receptive layer. When it is excessively small, the oil repellency and the lubricity become unsatisfactory, making it impossible to provide desired resistance to fingerprint, plasticizer, and scratching. On the other hand, when it is excessively large, the transfer of the dye from the thermal transfer sheet becomes unsatisfactory, making it impossible to provide a transferred image having a high density. This further deteriorates the strength of the dye-receptive layer.

Crosslinking agents to be used for crosslinking the thermoplastic resin include polyisocyanate compounds, polyepoxide compounds having an epoxy group, polyamine compounds, chelate compounds represented by the following formula, alcoholates, and ester gums. Among them, chelate compounds are particularly preferred. (R1-O)m-M(X)n wherein

  • M: metal atom (titanium, aluminum, or zirconium);
  • R1: alkyl group, aryl group, or hydrogen or the like;
  • m + n = 3 or 4;
  • X: glycol, β-diketone, hydroxycarboxylic acid, keto ester, or keto alcohol.

Examples of the form of coordination to metal atom M include those represented by the following formulae (1) to (5). In the formulae, R2 to R9 each independently represents an alkyl group, an aryl group, or hydrogen or the like.

The amount the crosslinking agent used may vary according to the kind and functionality of the reactive thermoplastic resin reactive with the crosslinking agent, the molecular weight and functionality of the crosslinking agent, and other factors. It, however, is preferably about 0.5 to 20 parts by weight based on 100 parts by weight of the thermoplastic resin.

The use of the crosslinking agent has the effect of preventing the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet from fusing to an object.

The dye-receptive layer 22 may be provided on the substrate sheet 21 by any conventional method. Specifically, the provision of the dye-receptive layer 22 may be carried out by a method which comprises dissolving or dispersing the above thermoplastic resin and optionally the organic silicon compound, crosslinking agent and other desired additives in a suitable solvent to prepare a coating solution or an ink for a dye-receptive layer, coating the coating solution on a substrate sheet by any conventional coating or printing method and drying the resulting coating to remove the solvent and, when a crosslinking agent is used, then heat-curing the coating.

The thickness of the dye-receptive layer 22 thus formed is 1 to 10 µm, preferably 2 to 5 µm.

The thermal transfer image-receiving sheet according to the present invention, as shown in Fig. 5, comprises a substrate sheet 21, a thermal transfer image-receiving layer 22, and a dye release layer 23 provided between the substrate sheet 21 and the thermal transfer image-receiving layer 22 and a back surface layer 24. The dye release layer 23 serves to accelerate the transfer of the dye image, which has been once transferred on the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet, to an object.

The dye release layer 23 is a layer, comprising a hydrophilic material, in which a dye is less likely to be dispersed. Specific examples of the hydrophilic material include extracts from algae, such as agar and sodium alginate; viscous substances derived from plants, such as gum arabic and Hibiscus manihot L.; animal proteins, such as casein and gelatin; viscous substances derived from fermentation, such as pullulan and dextran; starch and starch-like substances; cellulosic substances, such as methyl cellulose, carboxymethyl cellulose, and hydroxyethyl cellulose; synthetic polymers, such as polyvinyl pyrrolidone, polyvinyl ether, polymaleic acid copolymers, polar group-containing acrylic copolymers and polyvinyl alcohol; and inorganic polymers, such as sodium polyphosphate.

Among them, polyvinyl pyrrolidone resin and alkyl vinyl ether/maleic anhydride copolymer resin are particularly preferred. These resins are characterized by a high dye releasing capability, an excellent adhesion to various substrate sheets and dye-receptive layers, high strength in the form of a coating, and excellent heat resistance. Therefore, when an image is formed on a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet or when the image is transferred to an object, they can prevent delamination of the dye-receptive layer from the substrate sheet and heat fusing between the object and the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet.

The polyvinyl pyrrolidone resin and alkyl vinyl ether/maleic anhydride copolymer resin are soluble in water and, at the same time, highly soluble also in organic: solvents including alcohol solvents, such as ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, and ketone solvents, such as methyl ethyl ketone and methyl isobutyl ketone, which organic solvents have a relatively low boiling point and, hence, can be easily removed upon drying of the resultant coating. They are highly miscible with various resins which are soluble in organic solvents. By virtue of the above properties, the above resins have excellent adhesion to various organic and inorganic materials.

Various additives may be, if necessary, incorporated into the resin for constituting the dye release layer and the resin for constituting the dye-receptive layer for the purpose of improving the whiteness, improving the strength and hardness, and imparting light fastness and other purposes.

An improvement in whiteness makes it possible to determine whether or not a dye image formed on a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet, i.e., an intermediate image, have a high quality enough to be transferred to a final object.

Examples of the additive include fillers, for example, inorganic fillers, such as silica, alumina, clay, talc, calcium carbonate, barium sulfate, white pigments, such as titanium oxide and zinc oxide, particles or fine particles of resins, such as acrylic resin, epoxy resin, polyurethane resin, phenolic resin, melamine resin, benzoguanamine resin, fluororesin, and silicone resin, fluorescent brightening agents, ultraviolet light absorbers, and antioxidant.

The amount of the additive used is in the range of from 10 to 30 parts by weight based on 100 parts by weight of the resin for constituting a dye release layer, and, for fluorescent brightening agents, the use thereof in a small amount suffices for contemplated purposes.

Besides the above resins for constituting the dye release layer, other resins may be optionally used in combination with the above resins for the purpose of improving the adhesion between the substrate sheet and the dye-receptive layer in such an amount as will not be detrimental to the effect of the dye release layer.

The dye release layer 23 may be provided on the substrate sheet 21 by any conventional coating method. For example, the provision of the release layer 23 may be carried out by a method which comprises providing the above resin and optional additives, dissolving or dispersing them in a suitable solvent, such as methanol, isopropyl alcohol, water, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ' toluene, xylene, or cyclohexanone to prepare a coating solution or an ink for a dye release layer, applying the coating solution or ink onto a substrate sheet by any conventional coating or printing method, for example, gravure coating, reverse-roll coating, gravure reverse-roll coating, gravure printing, or screen printing, and drying the resultant coating to remove the solvent.

The thickness of the dye release layer 23 thus formed is 0.05 to 5 µm, preferably 0.1 to 3 µm. When the thickness is excessively small, problems are likely to occur including a deterioration in density of a dye image transferred onto an object and a deterioration in adhesion of the dye release layer to the substrate sheet, resulting in delamination of the dye-receptive layer. On the other hand, the formation of the dye release layer in an excessively high thickness is cost-ineffective.

When the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet of the present invention is used in a method for producing an image as described above, the interposition of a dye release layer between the substrate sheet and the dye-receptive layer of the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet accelerates the transfer of a once transferred dye image on the dye-receptive layer to a final object. Although the mechanism for this effect has not been fully elucidated, the reason why the above effect can be attained is believed to be as follows.

The dye release layer is formed of a hydrophilic. material, and the dye used is insoluble in water. Therefore, the dye and the dye release layer have poor affinity for each other, which is the first reason why the above effect can be attained because the dye release layer serves as a barrier layer for the back side of the sheet and, during transfer of the dye image to an object, prevents dye molecules from diffusing and migrating toward the back side of the sheet, accelerating the diffusion and transfer of the dye molecules toward the object.

The second reason is that the hygroscopicity of the dye release layer is higher than the other layers. Due to the hygroscopic nature of the dye release layer, water which is absorbed in the dye release layer causes diffusion or migration into the dye-receptive layer in the step of dye transfer to an object. In this case, the poor affinity of the water-insoluble dye for water creates repulsion, and, at the same time, water acts, like a plasticizer, on the resin constituting the dye-receptive layer, increasing the rate of diffusion of dye molecules present in the dye-receptive layer.

The above function of the dye release layer contributes to an improvement in density of a dye image produced on the object.

Further, the acceleration of the dye transfer results in reduced quantity of heat and time necessary for the dye transfer to an object. This reduces the amount of dye molecules diffused in the lateral direction relative to that diffused in the perpendicular direction for both the dye-receptive layer and the object in its layer on which a dye image is to be formed, rendering the dye image less likely to blur.

Furthermore, reduced quantity of heat and time necessary for dye transfer to an object make it difficult for the dye-receptive layer of the thermal transfer dye-receiving sheet to fuse to the object.

Polyvinyl acetal resins, such as acrylic resin, polyvinyl acetoacetal, and polyvinyl butyral, cellulosic resins, polyimide resins, and polyaramid resins may be used for the provision of a back surface layer 24 on the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet. However, in order to prevent the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet from being deteriorated by heat upon the transfer of the dye image from the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet to an object, the glass transition temperature of the resin constituting the back surface layer is 160°C or above, preferably 180°C or above. In this respect, the use of cellulosic resins, such as cellulose acetate, polyimide resins, and the like is preferred. Further, inorganic fillers, such as silica and talc, and fine particles of resins including fluororesins, such as Teflon, silicone and polyamide resin, waxes, such as polyethylene wax and carnauba wax, lubricants, such as modified silicone oil, and the like may be incorporated into the back surface layer. In the method for producing an image as described above, wherein a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet once receives a dye image transferred from a thermal transfer sheet and again transfers the received dye image to a final object, the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet of the present invention can be advantageously used as an intermediate medium. However, it can also be used as a final object, which is common in the thermal dye transfer system.

<Object>

The object used in the method for producing an image as described above will now be described.

Unlike the formation of a dye image on a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet by means of a printer, the object used in said method is not restricted by printer mechanisms. Factors which impose restriction on the object include the thickness, size, heat capacity, and external shape of the object. Therefore, all objects in any form may be used in the method of the present invention.

Specific examples of the object include a cup like a mug for beverages, as shown in Fig. 4, made of earthenware, porcelain, enamel, metals, or plastics.

That a dye image can be formed even on an object having a curved surface is an advantage of a transfer method using a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet as an intermediate medium.

As described above, the material for the object is not particularly limited, and examples thereof include earthenware, porcelain, ceramics such as glass, metals, enamel, and plastics.

Regarding the shape, a cup is one example. Further, the object may be in the form of a glass plate or sheet, a plastic plate or sheet, a tile, or a metal plate or sheet, and, further, may be cylindrical, polygonally columnar, or curved. Furthermore, it may be in a thin sheet form like a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet.

As described above, the shape and material of the object are not limited. However, in order that the receptivity to a dye image from the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet can be ensured or improved to provide a high-density image even when the object is formed of glass, ceramic, or plastic, it is preferred to previously form a layer of a specific dyable resin on the surface of the object.

Such a resin is preferably one composed mainly of an epoxy resin or a modified epoxy resin, and examples thereof include bisphenol A epoxy resin, bisphenol S epoxy resin, phenolic novolak epoxy resin, cresol novolak epoxy resin, brominated epoxy resin, and styrene-modified epoxy resin.

The surface layer is formed of the above resin which has been cured with a curing agent, for example, an amine compound, an acid anhydride compound, phenolic resin, amino resin, a mercaptan compound, dicyandiamide, or a Lewis acid complex compound.

The thickness of the surface layer of the above resin formed on the surface of the object may be such as will be able to successfully receive a dye and generally 0.5 to 20 µm.

The provision of such a resin layer on the object at least in its surface portion onto which a dye image is transferred suffices for attaining the contemplated object.

The following example further illustrates the present invention but are not intended to limit it.

In the example, "parts" are by weight.

Example I-1

A laminate prepared by laminating synthetic paper having in its interior microvoids (FPU-60, manufactured by Oji-Yuka synthetic Paper Co., Ltd.) by the conventional dry lamination on both sides of coat paper (Saten-Kinfuji®, manufactured by New Oji Paper Co., Ltd.; basis weight: 84.9 g/m2) as a core material was provided as a substrate sheet. A coating solution, for a dye release layer, having the following composition was coated by bar coating on one side of the substrate sheet at a coverage of 0.7 g/m2 on a dry basis, and the resultant coating was dried to form a dye release layer. Then, a coating solution, for a dye-receptive layer, having the following composition was coated by bar coating on the dye release layer at a coverage of 1.5 g/m2 on a dry basis, and the resultant coating was dried to prepare a thermal transfer image-receiving sheet. Coating solution for dye release layer Polyvinyl pyrrolidone resin (PVP K-90, manufactured by ISP) 10 parts Isopropyl alcohol 90 parts Coating solution for dye-receptive layer Vinyl chloride/vinyl acetate copolymer (#1000A, manufactured by Denki Kagaku Kogyo K.K.) 20 parts Amino-modified silicone (KF-393, manufactured by Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd.) 4 parts Epoxy-modified silicone (X-22-343, manufactured by Shin―Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd.) 4 parts Toluene 40 parts Methyl ethyl ketone 40 parts

Then, the following coating solution was coated on the surface of the substrate sheet remote from the dye-receptive layer at a coverage of 1.5 g/m2 on a dry basis. Coating solution for heat resisting back surface layer Cellulose acetate resin (L-70, manufactured by Daicel Chemical Industries, Ltd.) 5 parts Methyl ethyl ketone 70 parts Methyl isobutyl ketone 25 parts

<Thermal transfer sheet>

A 6 µm-thick polyethylene terephthalate film, the back side of which had been treated for imparting a heat resisting property, was prepared as a support, and a coating solution, for a dye-holding layer, having the following composition was coated by gravure coating on one surface of the support at a coverage of 1.0 g/m2 on a dry basis, and the resultant coating was dried to prepare thermal transfer sheet A.

Thermal transfer sheets with layers holding respective color dyes coated thereon were successively connected to one another to form an identical plane. Coating solution for dye-holding layer (A) Yellow component Dye of formula 2 3.2 parts Dye of the following formula (i) 4.8 parts Polyvinyl acetoacetal resin (KS-5, manufactured by Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd.) 3.5 parts Solvent (toluene/methyl ethyl ketone = 1/1) 70 parts (B) Magenta component Dye of the following formula (ii) 2.6 parts Dye of formula 4 3.4 parts Dye of formula 5 2.3 parts Polyvinyl acetoacetal resin (KS-5, manufactured by Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd.) 3.5 parts Solvent (toluene/methyl ethyl ketone = 1/1) 70 parts (C) Cyan component Dye of the following formula (iii) 3.1 parts Dye of the following formula (iv) 1.5 parts Dye of formula 6 3.1 parts Polyvinyl acetoacetal resin (KS-5, manufactured by Sekisui Chemical Co., Ltd.) 3.5 parts Solvent (toluene/methyl ethyl ketone = 1/1) 70 parts

<Mug>

A commercially available ceramic mug was immersed in the following resin composition, and the resultant coating was heat-cured at 150°C for 10 minutes to form a 10 µm-thick epoxy resin layer on the outer surface of the mug. Bisphenol A epoxy resin (Epicort® YD8125, manufactured by Tohto Kasei Co., Ltd.) 100 parts Polyamide curing agent (Goodmide® G700, manufactured by Tohto Kasei Co., Ltd.) 25 parts

<Formation of image on mug>

Dyes were transferred from the above thermal transfer sheet A by means of a video printer (VY-200, manufactured by Hitachi, Ltd.) to the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet prepared in the above example to form dye images on the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet. In this case, 16-step gray scale images were used as the original.

Subsequently, the thermal transfer image-receiving sheet with a dye image transferred thereto was press-contacted with the above mug, and heating was carried out under pressure at 140°C for 2 minutes and at 170°C for 2 minutes, thereby transferring the dye image to the mug.

<Evaluation of transferred dye images>

The density of the darkest portion (the 16th step image) among the gray scale images transferred to the mug as an object was measured with Macbeth® reflection densitometer RD-918. The result is given in Table 1. Image density Ex. I-1 2.4


Anspruch[de]
  1. Thermotransferbildempfangsblatt umfassend ein Substratblatt (21), eine Farbstoff aufnehmende Schicht (22), eine zwischen dem Substratblatt und der Farbstoff aufnehmenden Schicht angeordnete, ein hydrophiles Material umfassende Farbstofffreisetzungsschicht (23) und eine auf der von der Farbstofffreisetzungsschicht entfernten Oberfläche des Substratblatts aufgebrachte, ein Harz mit einer Glasübergangstemperatur von 160 °C oder darüber umfassende Rückseitenschicht (24).
  2. Thermotransferbildempfangsblatt nach Anspruch 1, wobei das die Farbstofffreisetzungsschicht (23) ausmachende hydrophile Material ein Polyvinylpyrrolidonharz oder ein Alkylvinylether/Maleinsäureanhydridcopolymerharz ist.
Anspruch[en]
  1. A thermal transfer image-receiving sheet

       comprising a substrate sheet (21), a dye-receptive layer (22), a dye release layer (23) comprising a hydrophilic material provided between said substrate sheet and said dye-receptive layer, and a back surface layer (24) comprising a resin having a glass transition temperature of 160°C or above provided on the surface of the substrate sheet remote from the dye release layer.
  2. The thermal transfer image-receiving sheet according to claim 1 wherein the hydrophilic material constituting the dye release layer (23) is a polyvinyl pyrrolidone resin or an alkyl vinyl ether/maleic anhydride copolymer resin.
Anspruch[fr]
  1. Feuille réceptrice d'images pour le transfert thermique comprenant une feuille substrat (21), une couche réceptrice de colorant (22), une couche libérant un colorant (23)comprenant une matière hydrophile placée entre ladite feuille substrat et ladite couche réceptrice de colorant, et une couche de surface verso (24) comprenant une résine ayant une température de transition vitreuse de 160°C ou supérieure fournie sur la surface de la feuille substrat à distance de la couche libérant un colorant.
  2. Feuille réceptrice d'images pour le transfert thermique selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle la matière hydrophile constituant la couche réceptrice de colorant (23) est une résine de polyvinylpyrrolidone ou une résine copolymère éther alkylvinylique/anhydride maléique.






IPC
A Täglicher Lebensbedarf
B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
D Textilien; Papier
E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

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