Pad Printing on the Railroad

Take a close look at a model train car and you will see that it has been “decorated” with graphics that may represent the railroad’s logo, product advertising and railroad data about the car’s length, width, height and weight. You may also see the inventory car number, car builder’s logo and other markings related to volume, fluid capacity and recently serviced date.

How does this information get put on the car? In the “good old days”, stencils were cut out from cardboard and fastened to the car. Then paint was applied and when the stencil was removed – whalla – you had a graphic! Today, a vinyl decal(s) is used for some of the decorating but there are some jobs that are just to big for a decal.

But what about model trains? Well the stencil process is no longer used, and although you can print your own decals, there is still no better technology then putting paint, or in this case ink, on the car body for authentic reproduction of railroad markings. It is a cleaner look and can be accomplished at a much faster rate then applying decals.

You can see a video of a car being printed by clicking here

Here at Mainline Manufacturing, our services include pad printing not only model train cars, but a multitude of other products from coffee mugs to glassware, clothing to golf balls, and just about anything else you can put your logo or data on. And don’t forget that pad printing can be a multi-color process too.

This “zebra” scheme was applied to a plastic hood for a 1:32 scale speeder car.
1:32 scale boxcar
1:32 scale boxcar
1:32 scale boxcar
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It’s NOT Just About the Plastic

Let’s face the facts. As a new inventor or even an existing product developer, you can spend a lot of time chasing all of the components you need to get your product to market. Design, prototyping, decorating, packaging, distribution and a host of other operations are a well intended recipe often gone bad.

As a full service manufacture, Mainline Manufacturing has the skills, experience, equipment and relationships that can help ease the burden of product development. We know that you may not realize all of the parts of the puzzle, but we see it as a completed work from the start, and offer our customers all of the support they require to “get ‘er done.”

From your first presentation to our completed solution, Mainline moves you from your initial concept through the manufacturing process, and delivers your finished product to you with integrity and timeliness.

Quality, Diversity, Innovation – that’s what we are about! Your product is made in the USA by American workers!

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Since its coming to the 3D printing scene, PLA (polylactic acid) filament has been a popular choice for users of 3D printers. With its lower melting point, a higher temperature of the build platform is not necessary as it is with ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). Labeled as biodegradable and made with renewable resources, one would feel very confident that they are being ecologically sensitive to the pollution revolution. Can that sincerely be achievable? Let’s take a closer look at PLA.

PLA is not a newcomer to the plastics industry. Developed in the early 20th century by E.I. duPont, it was deemed to expensive to produce commercially, as other resins were made using the plentiful petroleum resources of that time. Later in the 20th century (after the oil embargo) was when PLA rose to a commercially manufactured product through the use of corn kernels, although any starch based plant such as sugar cane can be used. That solves the renewable resource question, but what about being biodegradable?

Like every other petroleum based plastic, PLA will take hundreds of years to degrade on its own when buried in a landfill. The conditions are not suitable to begin the reaction to convert it back to lactic acid. PLA will biodegrade however, in a commercial composting facility in under 6 months, but most likely will not biodegrade in a residential composting pile for a long, long time if at all. So, PLA is biodegradable, but not when tossed into your municipal recycle bin!

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Plastic’s Circular World

Statistics exist from many sources about the percentage of plastic that is truly recycled. Estimates range from 9 to 25 percent. The remainder may end up in landfills or be incinerated. A fair amount of these plastics are referred to as “low quality , mixed plastic waste” and consist of LDPE, HDPE, PS and PP.

An England based company named Plastic Energy, Ltd. (PEL) has developed a process that converts these low quality waste plastics into a product called Tacoil. Tacoil is made through a thermal anaerobic conversion (TAC) that is sold to resin manufacturers for producing virgin, food-safe plastic pellets used in manufacturing consumer goods and packaging. PEL has two plants producing Tacoil, both located in Spain.

Sabic (a plastic resin manufacturer and one of Mainline’s resin suppliers), headquartered in Saudi Arabia, has announced agreements made with three strategic customers – Unilever being one of them – to launch a program to use certified polymers made with Tacoil for use in consumer products.

Dubbed “certified circular polymers”, the finished products could be making their way into our households later this year.

The circular world of plastics has now been created!

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