Honda Cheng, the Technical Manager of Giant, one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the world, had a problem: how to produce the famous liquid metal surface effect on their bicycles more flexibly and cheaply, without sacrificing their highly polished appearance, so beloved by consumers?
Unbeknownst to him, it was a problem which would present an array of technical and application challenges. Giant’s previous technologies, off-line metallization and chrome plating, produced highly reflective effects which were difficult to reproduce on paint bodywork and printed adhesive decals with conventional metallic paint or ink. These use ‘ball-milled’ aluminum particles, which are simply not sufficiently mirror-like when applied to the bicycle, producing dull effects.
It required the advent of the Ciba® XYMARA™ METASHEEN® products for Giant to find an answer to their problem. The products in this range are very thin, flat and smooth aluminum flakes produced by vacuum metallization. In application, the behavior of these vacuum metallized pigments (VMP) is comparable to off-line vacuum metallization directly onto a surface.
For their bicycle decals, through use of Ciba XYMARA METASHEEN in a specially optimized ink formulation, Giant was able to achieve screen-printed designs on the press which met all Giant’s requirements. In addition to the shiny visual impact, screen-printing with Ciba XYMARA METASHEEN permits more complex styling for the labels and the design can be changed quickly and cheaply and the chrome effect ink can be printed in line with the other colors.
For the paintwork on the bicycle frames, a carefully optimized electrostatic spray paint formulation and process based on Ciba XYMARA METASHEEN again brought Giant the bright and brilliant surfaces they required, while improving the versatility, convenience and cost-effectiveness of application.
Giant now use the VMP pigment in their production models. ‘“Dreamsilver” is one of the most popular color choices for our current range, and has received a very positive market reaction,’ says Giant’s Product Marketing Manager Rory McMullan. Chromelike mirror-effect coatings with excellent image clarity fit exactly the current trend in color development and create a high quality, high-tech feel to any finished product.