This year artist, decorating the bottle for the Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2000, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, is the American painter Robert Rauschenberg, well-known for his “Combine” works that integrate the aspects of painting and sculpture. The Rauschenberg Bottle, is encased in a moulded “shell” of DuPont Crastin PBT, and decorated using DuPont dye-sublimation technology – selected for its ability to accurately reproduce delicate artwork on complex shapes.
The artwork created by Rauschenberg for the 11th edition of Taittinger Champagne uses a largely chromatic, but a very subtle palette of colours, with very light and “faded-looking” tones of mauve, brown and yellow, together with large areas of dark grey and black.
3D-sublimation printing was the most effective way of reproducing these very delicate colours on such a complex shape. 3D-sublimation printing requires a material for the shell that resists the temperatures incurred during the sublimation process. This ruled out ABS, the polymer initially foreseen for the application and used in previous years, while DuPont’s Crastin demonstrated to provide the best combination of temperature resistance, colour reproduction and post-shrinkage.
Dye sublimation is a dye-transfer process, developed in the 1960s for use in textiles, since then advanced to provide wear-resistant, full-colour surface decoration of three-dimensional products.
Developed by Kolorfusion International Inc., the technology allows for transfer of a full spectrum of colours, shades, and designs to a variety of surfaces, including plastics, metals and glass.
When the dyes are heated in this transfer process, they vaporize, and if they are in close proximity to a suitable substrate, such as a plastic or coating, the vapours penetrate the adjacent substrate by around 0.002 in. (0,005 mm) up to 0.25 in. (0,635 mm). The plastic substrate must be able to withstand temperatures of 280 to 375 ºF (138 to 190 ºC) necessary to vaporize the dye.
Since the dyes are transparent, the substrate should be light in colour (white, light grey or beige). If the plastic substrate is translucent, it will remain translucent after colouring. The lighter the substrate colour, the better the result of this process.
For 3D decoration, Kolorfusion typically prints the design on an air-permeable and flexible textile-based medium called Kolortex. This is then placed around the object, which is put into a high-temperature film bag from which the air is pulled, forcing the textile to tighten around the substrate. The vacuum bag with the part is then placed in an oven for 5 to 40 min.
The process was developed as an alternative to the dipping process developed by Cubic Printing of Japan. That method involves floating a pre-printed film on a pool of liquid, allowing the film to dissolve and leaving a floating layer of inks into which the substrate is dipped. This is a very expensive process and not as durable as dye sublimation, as it does not penetrate the part. Compared with the dip process, dye sublimation is some 20% to 40% lower in cost.
DuPont’s PBT, PET, acetal, and nylon resins are among those materials that are suited to the process.
The dye sublimation technology for the Taittinger Champagne bottle was developed by DuPont in partnership with Pacific Colour, of Lons-le-Saunier, France.