Canadian Plastics

Niche Technology Nets Large Orders

With a leading edge water-based transfer printing system, a Quebec-based organization has broken into the large-part market in a big way. Datran (Sherbrooke, QC) uses its water dcor transfer technology to produce innovative patterns, such as camo...

October 1, 2004   Canadian Plastics



With a leading edge water-based transfer printing system, a Quebec-based organization has broken into the large-part market in a big way. Datran (Sherbrooke, QC) uses its water dcor transfer technology to produce innovative patterns, such as camouflage, carbon fiber and others, on ATV and recreational vehicle parts.

The company’s interest in water dcor transfer began many years ago and was accentuated when recreational vehicle manufacturer Bombardier encouraged Datran to investigate transfers as a decorating option for large parts. Datran’s management quickly decided on Cubic Technology’s hydrographic technology and traveled to Tokyo to set up a deal to bring the equipment and know-how back to Canada. In May 2003, a 40,000 sq. ft. plant equipped with a robot was established for the new process. Datran is the only company in North America able to process big parts with this process.

The technology has spurred Datran’s growth. “For example, Yamaha heard about us, and is now shipping parts from the U.S. for its ATVs,” says Michel Robitaille, Datran business manager.

The water dcor transfer technique uses a printed film and a water bath to provide even pressure to apply the film. First, the film is “activated” to rewet the inks, and then floated on water. The clean part is pressed into the film across the water bath. When the part is removed from the bath the ink remains accurately on it. The part is then dried and covered with a protective clear coat.

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Datran also has traditional 1K and 2K painting systems with consistent high-quality application, which it uses mostly for automotive parts.

The company began 12 years ago, refurbishing parts for the telecommunications industry. Then came requests from Bombardier to paint parts for their recreational vehicles. To address this growing market, founder Marcel Lepage opened a second plant in Bromptonville, QC, in 1999. In 2002 the Bromptonville plant was updated and expanded. In May 2003, the Datran facility for dcor transfer was opened in Sherbrooke, QC.

Datran has penetrated the U.S. and Ontario markets, especially in the automotive sector, says Robitaille. A contract to paint parts for Nissan and Toyota opened the door. This painted part business now serves several automakers with a volume of over 2.3 million parts per year.

Hungry for more growth, Robitaille says Datran is now “looking for the next step in our evolution.”


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