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Voluntary product standard for heat transfer foils.


Heat transfer foils are typically used to decorate the profiled edges, flat surfaces, and routed/embossed parts of high quality wood substrates: medium density fiberboard (MDF), higher grades of particleboard (microboard), and hardwoods. The purpose of this standard is to outline the basic characteristics of heat transfer foils which may likely be controlled, and to set performance criteria or tolerance levels for these characteristics.


This standard covers the performance of the commonly used types of heat transfer foils.


3.10 General

Products represented as complying with this voluntary standard shall meet all of the applicable requirements as set forth in this section.

3.15 Surface Sanding and Treatment

The preparation and treatment of the substrate shall be specified in order to achieve optimum results. The surface quality and internal integrity of the board are key factors in successfully using heat transfer foils.

The recommended surface preparations for edges are: shaped, sanded, and vacuumed or brushed clean of sanding dust prior to foil application. The generally accepted treatment for flat surface or broad area foiling is: sanded, routed/embossed, and vacuumed or brushed clean prior to foil application.

The face of the profile or flat surface will be generally smooth and consistent with the sanding grit used. To achieve acceptable appearance results, the sanding grit used should be no less than 150 grit.

For flat or broad area surfaces, a sealer and filler can be applied prior to sanding to enhance surface quality.

3.20 Product Thickness

Total product thickness will vary greatly based on the level of performance desired, and the individual color or pattern. Product thickness will be specified by the manufacturer.

3.25 Splices

Continuous rolls of heat transfer foil will have splices in their length. The number of splices per roll shall not exceed three.

3.30 Width

The width of individual rolls shall be supplied to the purchaser in fractions of an inch. Normal manufacturing tolerance would be a minimum width of 1/2", and the minimum increments are 1/8". The tolerance shall be plus or minus 1/16". Slitting tolerance at a customer's location would be contingent upon the machinery and individual customer.

3.35 Core Size/Length of Rolls

Manufacturers may sell the product in any roll length desired and per accepted specifications. Depending on roll length, the material can be specified to use 1", 3", or 6" inside diameter cores.

3.40 Storage and Shelf Life

Narrow slit foils for use on edge foiling equipment should be stored flat and in a cool place. Bulk rolls suitable for flat foiling equipment should be supported at the core and stored in a cool place. Temperatures above 110 degrees F can activate the adhesive system and cause blocking. In general, heat transfer foil shelf life is six months.


Heat transfer foils should be carefully examined by the buyer or customer prior to application. Any product reported to be but found not to be in compliance with this standard, shall be replaced to the customer, or at the discretion of the manufacturer, the purchase price of the substandard material refunded.

In no case will the manufacturer be responsible for any liability in excess of the cost of the replacement material.


This section will cover the minimum accepted levels of performance for general purpose heat transfer foils.

5.10 Adhesion to Substrate

After foil application transfer, initial adhesion of the foil to the substrate shall be measured per ASTM D 3359 - 90 using Scotch #610 tape. Adhesion shall be deemed acceptable with less than 10% of the foil being removed from the substrate to the tape. However, if board fibers are present on the tape, the foil adhesion would be deemed acceptable, since this would indicate a lack of board integrity.

5.15 U.V. Stability

UV (ultraviolet) stability shall be measured per ASTM 53 - 88 utilizing a QUV Weatherometer with QFS 40 bulbs. Minimum acceptable requirement shall be 168 hours without fading

5.20 Abrasion Resistance

Abrasion resistance shall be measured via a Taber Abrader using CS-10 wheels and 1,000 gram load. Minimum acceptable requirement shall be 150 cycles. Abrasion can also be measured utilizing a falling sand test method, ASTM D 968 - 81 (reapproved 1991), where the minimum acceptable requirement would be 8 liters whereby the sand is discarded after 25 uses. The sand should be Ottawa Silica Sand (Ottawa, IL) as outlined in the specification. Wood grain product failure will be defined as the point where grain removal begins and solid color product failure will be defined as the point where substrate show through begins.

5.25 Solvent Resistance

Solvent resistance shall be measured in number of MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) "double rubs". One "double rub" shall be defined as one consistent back and forth movement across the sample of 3" in each direction. The test must begin and end with the same test conductor. Minimum acceptable requirement shall be 30 double rubs.

5.30 Moisture and Humidity Resistance

Moisture and humidity resistance shall be measured per LMA Foil Test Method 91-2. Minimum acceptable requirement shall be 120 hours at 40 degrees Celsius and a minimum 95% relative humidity. Cracking or delamination of the foil from the substrate shall be deemed as a failure.

5.35 Stain Resistance

Stain resistance shall be measured per ASTM D 1308 - 87 with the spot/stain test covered with a watch glass.

5.45 Gloss Level

Gloss level shall be measured per LMA Foil Test Method 91-1 using a 60 degree gloss meter. Gloss after transfer shall be as specified by the foil manufacturer plus or minus 5 degrees using an average of three readings.



To measure the percent of reflected light of any flat surface at 60 degrees.


BYK Chemie 60 Degree Pocket Gloss-meter or equivalent; calibrated according to manufacturer's procedure prior to each use.



Prepare an extremely flat panel to be checked as specified in the run information sheet or SOP.


Place glossmeter in standard plate and read display. If the standard reads outside |+ or -~ 2 units of the stated level, adjust the |+ or -~ knob until it reads within |+ or -~ 2 units.



Consult appropriate SOPs, if necessary.


Lay prepared panel flat on a table and set glossmeter on the panel. Firmly press the glossmeter down on the panel and take a reading. It is suggested that at least three readings be taken in different spots of the panel, however, consult the run information sheet or appropriate document for sampling frequency and orientation. Take the average of the readings.


Report the average of the readings.




If the panel is not flat, wide variation in the readings will occur.


If the glossmeter is out of calibration, variations in the readings will occur.


Gage Reproducibility and Repeatability (GRR) - The GRR of the averages is |+ or -~0.7. For example, the test error for a 50 gloss product would be 50 |+ or -~0.7.


Gage study details:


4 operators


6 laminates (60 degree gloss range 29-124)


4 replications each


This test will have a minimum duration of 1 minute and a maximum duration of 2 minutes



This method covers the evaluation of coatings designed for use on interior wood and wood product substrates by exposure to various environmental conditions.



High Humidity - elevated temperature cabinet set at 95% minimum relative humidity and 40 degrees C (celsius).

2.20 Air - circulation oven set at 40 degrees C.


Freezer set at - 30 degrees C.


10X and 30X magnifying glasses.


The sample must be representative of the final product. If the sample submitted is not the entire piece of the final product (i.e., drawer front) then it must be prepared or sealed so that it would simulate that product. If it is not furnished in this manner then it should be returned to the submitter for proper preparation.
Table HTF-T1-92-B
10 -- Excellent
8-9 -- Very good
6-7 -- Good
4-5 -- Fair
2-3 -- Poor
1 -- Very Poor
10 -- None
8-9 -- Trace
6-7 -- Slight
4-5 -- Moderate
2-3 -- Pronounced
0-1 -- Severe
10 -- None
8-9 -- Trace
6-7 -- Slight
4-5 -- Moderate
2-3 -- Pronounced
0-1 -- Severe
10 -- None
9 -- Few, small
8 -- Few, large
7 -- Moderate, small
6 -- Moderate, large
5 -- Pronounced, small
4 -- Pronounced, large
3 -- Severe
10 -- None
8-9 -- Trace
6-7 -- Slight
4-5 -- Moderate
2-3 -- Pronounced
0-1 -- Severe
10 -- None
8-9 -- Trace
6-7 -- Slight
4-5 -- Moderate
2-3 -- Pronounced
0-1 -- Severe
10 -- None
8-9 -- Trace
6-7 -- Slight
4-5 -- Moderate
2-3 -- Pronounced
0-1 -- Severe
10 -- None
9 -- Few, small
8 -- Few, large
7 -- Moderate, small
6 -- Moderate, large
5 -- Pronounced, small
4 -- Pronounced, large
3 -- Severe
A -- All over
B -- Bottom edge
C -- Center
E -- Outer edge
I -- Intermittent
T -- Top edge



The sample shall be visually inspected for defects and an adhesion test performed prior to starting the environmental cycle tests.


Inspect the sample visually, by 10X and/or 30X magnification prior to cycle testing. Make a note of any defects observed (see 5.10).


Check the initial adhesion of the coating by applying a 4" x 3/4" piece of Scotch #610 tape to a flat surface. Rub the tape with fingertip to assure good adhesion. Pull the tap with a rapid motion at a 90 degree angle to the sample. If loss of adhesion is observed, note the degree of adhesion is observed, note the degree and the location of the splitting (i.e. substrate, size coat, color coat, or I-coat). The area of the adhesion test should be marked on the sample and excluded from evaluation during the cycle test.

Note: It is best to start a cycle at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.


Place a sample in the humidity chamber such that air is free to circulate on all sides of each sample so as to prevent localized overheating. The sample is to be exposed in the humidity chamber for 16 hours.


After 16 hours, remove the sample from humidity cabinet and place in the oven. Place the sample such that air is free to circulate on all sides of the sample so as to avoid localized overheating. The sample is to be exposed for 24 hours.


After 24 hours, remove the sample from the oven and place in the freezer. Place the sample such that air is free to circulate on all sides of the sample so as to avoid localized freezing. The sample is to be exposed for 6 hours.


After 6 hours, remove the sample from the freezer and equilibrate at room temperature for 2 hours. This completes one cycle. The sample may be left at this point in the testing if necessary (such as over a weekend). However, the above four conditions must be completed in sequence with no longer than a 2 minute lapse between conditions.


The number of cycles required for the sample must be designated by the person submitting the sample for testing.


A summary of the environmental cycle test is as follows:

16 hours at 40 degrees C., 100% R.H. 24 hours at 40 degrees C. 6 hours at -30 degrees C. 2 hours at room temperature.


An extensive examination is made of the sample after each cycle (during the room temperature phase after the sample has warmed up). The sample should be examined visually and with a 30X magnifier. When edge pieces are being examined, a 10X magnifier should also be used. The sample should be inspected under strong light and at various angles to the light for possible damage or change. Note any damage found in the base material (plywood, hardboard, particleboard, MDF, solid wood, etc.), in the coating, in a finish or overlay, or on the substrate material. The usual defects seen as a result of cycle testing and a rating scale are shown in Table 91-2-A. Use these as a guideline for the rating. Table 91-2-B is a chart that can be used for the evaluation of cycle testing of 5 cycles or less. If the sample cracks, flakes, or blisters, the location of the defect separation should be noted (see 4.10.1).
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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