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NEC achieves advanced scratch resistance and maki-e style printing on luxury lacquerware tone bioplastic

- Supporting practical use of "Urushi black" tone bioplastics -

February 6, 2018
NEC Corporation
Japan Science and Technology Agency

NEC today announced a breakthrough in the scratch resistance of its "Urushi black" tone bioplastic (*1) that resembles traditional craft Japanese lacquerware. The bioplastic has been developed in collaboration with Dr. Yutaro Shimode, a renowned Japanese lacquerware artist who is a professor of Kyoto Sangyo University and is a third-generation president of the Shimode makie-studio. Moreover, maki-e style printing has been developed, which enables high-level reproduction of elaborate, three-dimensional maki-e (*2) drawn on the surface of lacquerware.

NEC has an accomplished history of developing bioplastics with plants as raw materials, which helps to reduce CO₂ emissions that contribute to global warming. NEC's "Urushi black" tone bioplastic in particular has attracted great interest, and in order to promote the practical use of this bioplastic, high scratch resistance and greater decorativeness are expected.

As part of this, NEC developed a compound technology of additives that prevents scratching, even after repeated rubbing with cloth or paper, and maintains the optical characteristics of "Urushi black." With this technology, one of the highest levels of scratch resistance has been achieved among plastics used for decorative purposes. Further, digital image processing has been applied based on elaborate, three-dimensional, first-class maki-e drawn by Dr. Shimode. This is in addition to ink composition, coloring components, and printing conditions that have been optimized in cooperation with a printing manufacturer that excels at special printing. Through these processes, NEC has succeeded in advanced maki-e style printing that enables near faithful reproduction of the actual works.

"In the future, NEC aims to collaborate with resin material manufacturers to promote the practical use of this material in durable products and luxury commodities that contribute to a decorative atmosphere and environmental friendliness," said Mr. Soichi Tsumura, General Manager, IoT Device Research Laboratories, NEC Corporation.

"Urushi black" tone bioplastic samples with maki-e style printing

This technique has been partially developed as part of the Japan Science and Technology Agency's (JST) ALCA project.

***

Notes:
  • *1Press release; August 17, 2016
    NEC develops non-edible-plant-based bioplastic featuring the elegance of traditional Japanese lacquerware
    http://www.nec.com/en/press/201608/global_20160817_01.html
  • *2Maki-e: A traditional Japanese craft. A picture drawn with a brush on the surface of lacquerware that is coated with lacquer and then polished.

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