US20030224151A1 - Direct thermal printable pull-aparts - Google Patents

Direct thermal printable pull-aparts Download PDF

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Publication number
US20030224151A1
US20030224151A1 US10408389 US40838903A US2003224151A1 US 20030224151 A1 US20030224151 A1 US 20030224151A1 US 10408389 US10408389 US 10408389 US 40838903 A US40838903 A US 40838903A US 2003224151 A1 US2003224151 A1 US 2003224151A1
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Prior art keywords
substrate
pull
base substrate
tab
apart
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Abandoned
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US10408389
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Chauncey Mitchell
Daniel Fulwiler
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Translucent Technologies LLC
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Translucent Technologies LLC
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/06Lottos or bingo games; Systems, apparatus or devices for checking such games
    • A63F3/065Tickets or accessories for use therewith
    • A63F3/0685Tickets or accessories for use therewith having a message becoming legible after a chemical reaction or physical action has taken place, e.g. applying pressure, heat treatment, spraying with a substance, breaking microcapsules
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M5/00Duplicating or marking methods; Sheet materials for use therein
    • B41M5/26Thermography ; Marking by high energetic means, e.g. laser otherwise than by burning, and characterised by the material used
    • B41M5/40Thermography ; Marking by high energetic means, e.g. laser otherwise than by burning, and characterised by the material used characterised by the base backcoat, intermediate, or covering layers, e.g. for thermal transfer dye-donor or dye-receiver sheets; Heat, radiation filtering or absorbing means or layers; combined with other image registration layers or compositions; Special originals for reproduction by thermography
    • B41M5/41Base layers supports or substrates
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M5/00Duplicating or marking methods; Sheet materials for use therein
    • B41M5/26Thermography ; Marking by high energetic means, e.g. laser otherwise than by burning, and characterised by the material used
    • B41M5/40Thermography ; Marking by high energetic means, e.g. laser otherwise than by burning, and characterised by the material used characterised by the base backcoat, intermediate, or covering layers, e.g. for thermal transfer dye-donor or dye-receiver sheets; Heat, radiation filtering or absorbing means or layers; combined with other image registration layers or compositions; Special originals for reproduction by thermography
    • B41M5/42Intermediate, backcoat, or covering layers
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M2205/00Printing methods or features related to printing methods; Location or type of the layers
    • B41M2205/04Direct thermal recording [DTR]
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M2205/00Printing methods or features related to printing methods; Location or type of the layers
    • B41M2205/36Backcoats; Back layers
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M2205/00Printing methods or features related to printing methods; Location or type of the layers
    • B41M2205/38Intermediate layers; Layers between substrate and imaging layer
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M2205/00Printing methods or features related to printing methods; Location or type of the layers
    • B41M2205/40Cover layers; Layers separated from substrate by imaging layer; Protective layers; Layers applied before imaging
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41MPRINTING, DUPLICATING, MARKING, OR COPYING PROCESSES; COLOUR PRINTING
    • B41M3/00Printing processes to produce particular kinds of printed work, e.g. patterns
    • B41M3/005Colour cards; Painting supports; Latent or hidden images, e.g. for games; Time delayed images
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S283/00Printed matter
    • Y10S283/903Lottery ticket
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T428/00Stock material or miscellaneous articles
    • Y10T428/15Sheet, web, or layer weakened to permit separation through thickness
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T428/00Stock material or miscellaneous articles
    • Y10T428/24Structurally defined web or sheet [e.g., overall dimension, etc.]
    • Y10T428/24802Discontinuous or differential coating, impregnation or bond [e.g., artwork, printing, retouched photograph, etc.]

Abstract

An improved construction for pull-aparts, which take such forms as game pieces, promotional articles, and report forms, involves the use or two or more substrates that are rendered opaque for concealing information. A thermosensitive imaging layer is located beneath an opaque cover layer through which the concealed information is direct thermally printed. The concealed information is revealed by at least partially separating the two substrates for exposing a view of the thermosensitive imaging layer.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This is a continuation-in-part of pending U.S. application Ser. No. 09/899,313, filed on Jul. 5, 2001, and entitled Direct Thermal Printable Pull Tabs, which application is hereby incorporated by reference.[0001]
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • Pull-aparts, also referred to variously as tear-aparts, tear-opens, break-aparts, break-opens, crack-opens, pull tabs, rip-offs, jar tickets, and pickle cards, contain information concealed between layers of a laminate. Direct thermal printing is used in accordance with this invention to print the concealed information beneath one or more obscuring layers of the laminate. [0002]
  • BACKGROUND
  • Pull-aparts are printed with concealed information that is revealed upon disassembly of the pull-apart. Typically, the information is concealed by being blocked from view between two substrates that are bonded together. However, the bonding is patterned or otherwise limited to permit the two bonded substrates to be separated (e.g., pulled apart) in a manner that reveals the information concealed between them while permanently evidencing their separation. Such pull-aparts are used for a variety of purposes such as game pieces, promotional articles, and report forms. [0003]
  • The game pieces, which are often referred to as “pull tabs”, generally contain two layers of paper. The game results are printed on a base layer and are temporarily obscured by a cover layer. Perforations in the cover layer form removable tabs, which can be peeled away to reveal the game results through so-formed windows in the cover layer. [0004]
  • Ordinarily, the pull-tab game pieces are manufactured along high-speed in-line presses. In-line printing is applied to both the base layer and the cover layer to provide information and images for promoting and playing the game. A front surface of the base layer generally contains promotional and instructional information concerning game play. A back surface of the base layer contains the game results. Digital printing technology is used for serialization and for in-line printing of the results. Less expensive rotary transfer printing technologies are used for repeating patterns. The base layer and the cover layer are laminated together, and perforations are cut through the cover layer to form the tabs that can be peeled back to reveal the game results. [0005]
  • The preprinted game pieces require odds, prizes, and other details of game play and promotion be determined well in advance of play. This limits possibilities for user interaction with game-piece dispensing machines. Any desired change in the ticket price, level of risk, or rules of play requires different pre-printed game pieces. Sometimes, both the number and amounts of the winnings are known for prepackaged sets of game pieces. Early winnings can discourage further sales, because the remaining prizes are known to be diminished. [0006]
  • In addition, the preprinted game pieces require a high standard of security to prevent winning game pieces from being discovered prior to sale. For example, the results must remain hidden from sight by being completely obscured between two substrates. Any tampering of the substrates must be clearly evident. Control over the handling, packaging, and distribution of the pull-tab game pieces is required to guard against more sophisticated breeches of security. [0007]
  • Similar types of games have been developed for play on machines that print the game results locally prior to dispensing the game pieces. The game pieces are printed and dispensed on demand. Odds tables are stored within the machines, allowing for the calculation of odds and scale of winnings for different games and game piece prices. The results of any particular play are not known until the purchased game pieces are printed and dispensed. [0008]
  • Locally printed game pieces are provided in the same basic format, but the base layer is made with micro-encapsulated ink, which is often referred to as “carbonless paper”. An impact printer used without a ribbon forms images in the base layer through the cover layer. The pattern of impacts is apparent in the cover layer, which can detract from the anticipatory nature of the game by revealing the results before the game piece is opened. [0009]
  • However, the results are not known prior to the impact printing of the game piece, so the integrity of the game itself to fairly return results is not affected. The security requirements of pull-tab game pieces for protecting results prior to opening individual game pieces is considerably less if the game piece results are printed at the point of sale, since the results are not determined until a sale is made. [0010]
  • The gaming machines capable of locally printing results for pull-tab game pieces also benefit from their similarity to gaming machines used for traditional gambling purposes. However, pull-tab game pieces are legal in more jurisdictions. [0011]
  • Although on-demand printed pull-tab game pieces have many advantages over pre-printed pull-tab game pieces, impact printing of the game pieces poses problems that detract from the acceptance of the on-demand printed game pieces. In addition to forming an impression of the game results in the surface of the game pieces, which can detract from game play, impact printing is noisy, generates paper dust, and requires considerable maintenance. Costs associated with maintaining remote machines with impact printers can be prohibitively high. [0012]
  • SUMMARY OF INVENTION
  • Our invention provides an improved construction for on-demand printed pull-aparts for supporting the direct thermal printing of concealed information. The new construction features a direct thermal imaging layer that is located beneath an obscuring layer of a laminate. Images can be formed in the thermal imaging layer through the obscuring layer so that concealed information can be printed on demand after the laminate is fully assembled. The pull-aparts can be supplied as media for such purposes as game pieces, promotional articles, and report forms all capable of receiving information on demand that remains concealed until the pull-aparts are individually opened. [0013]
  • An exemplary pull-apart according to our invention includes a base substrate that is at least partially transparent. A thermosensitive imaging layer overlays a front surface of the base substrate, and an opaque layer covers the thermosensitive imaging layer. Bonded to a back surface of the base substrate is a cover substrate. The base substrate and the cover substrate are at least partially separable for exposing a view of the thermosensitive imaging layer through the back surface of the base substrate. The opaque coating on the front surface of the base substrate transmits concentrations of heat required to form thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer from a thermal print head. However, the opaque coating at least partly obscures a view of the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer from the front side of the base layer. When the substrates are separated, the opaque coating visually contrasts with the thermal images revealed in the thermosensitive imaging layer as a background against which the thermal images can be distinguished through the back surface of the base layer. [0014]
  • A tab is preferably formed in one of the substrates, and the tab is at least partially retractable with respect to the other of the substrates for exposing the view of the thermosensitive imaging layer through the base substrate. The tab is temporarily bonded to the other of the substrates, and a remaining portion of the one substrate is permanently bonded to the other substrate. [0015]
  • The base substrate is preferably a transparent or translucent film. The opaque coating is preferably an ink, such as an ink printable along an in-line press. The ink's color should differ from the color of thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer to provide the desired contrast. To further obscure the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive layer, additional coatings, preferably inks, can be applied over the opaque coating. For example, a confusion pattern having a color matching the color of the thermal images can be printed over the opaque coating. [0016]
  • The removable tab can be formed in a variety of ways. For example, the tab can be formed by a die-cut pattern of perforations in the cover substrate. A permanent adhesive responsible for bonding the cover substrate to the base substrate can be patterned to avoid areas of overlap between the tab and the base substrate. Alternatively, the tab can be more completely cut out of the cover and held in place by a temporary adhesive (e.g., a fugitive adhesive or a dry release adhesive). Part of the cut-out tab is preferably permanently bonded to the base substrate or attached to the remaining cover substrate to avoid producing separate pieces of scrap. [0017]
  • Instead of forming the removable tab in the cover substrate, the removable tab could be formed in the base substrate. When retracted, the thermal images appear in the back of the retracted tab. Such tabs can be completely removed for collection, redemption, or other subsequent use, or can remain attached to the cover substrate to reduce instances of scrap. The tabs can be defined in all or just part of the cover or base substrates. For example, single or multiple tabs can be formed as limited parts of either substrate, or either substrate can be fashioned entirely as a single tab. [0018]
  • Another exemplary pull-apart according to our invention also includes a base substrate that is at least partially transparent. However, instead of supporting a thermosensitive imaging layer on the front surface of the base substrate, the thermosensitive imaging layer is supported on a back surface of a thermally transmissive substrate, which is bonded to the front surface of the base substrate. The thermosensitive imaging layer is oriented adjacent to the front surface of the base substrate. The thermally transmissive substrate is at least partially opaque or rendered opaque by the thermosensitive imaging layer itself or an additional coating applied to a front surface of the thermally transmissive substrate. A retractable tab is mounted on the back surface of the base substrate overlying a region of the thermosensitive imaging layer intended for direct thermal printing through the thermally transmissive substrate. Opaque regions of the thermally transmissive substrate and the retractable tab obscure views of the direct thermal printable region of the thermosensitive imaging layer from both sides of the base substrate. [0019]
  • Retracting the tab allows the printable region to be viewed through the base substrate. Similar to the opaque layer of the previous example, the thermally transmissive substrate together with any immediate coatings or colorings provides contrast for thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer by direct thermal printing. The thermally transmissive substrate can be made of transmissive materials such as thin paper or film, which are preferably made in a color that contrasts with the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer. Coatings, including ink coatings, can be added to provide more color. A confusion pattern or other printing can be added in place of or in addition to the coatings to provide for further obscuring the thermal images viewed from the front surface of the base substrate. [0020]
  • The tab can occupy an entire cover substrate or the tab can be one of one or more tabs that are formed within limited parts of the cover substrate. Alternatively, the tab could be formed as a part or all of the combined base and the thermally transmissive substrates. Upon retraction, the thermal images would appear in the back of the tab. The cover substrate would function to obscure the thermal images until the tab is retracted for separating the combined base and the thermally transmissive substrates from the cover substrate. [0021]
  • Yet another exemplary pull-apart includes a thermally transmissive substrate having front and back surfaces with a thermosensitive imaging layer supported on the back surface of the thermally transmissive substrate. A cover substrate is bonded to the back surface of the thermally transmissive substrate. A tab formed in the cover substrate overlaps a region of the thermosensitive imaging layer where thermal images can be formed through the thermally transmissive substrate by direct thermal printing. The thermally transmissive substrate is rendered opaque for obscuring view of the thermal images through the front surface of the thermally transmissive substrate. The tab is retractable from a remaining portion of the cover substrate for viewing the thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer. [0022]
  • Preferably, the remaining portion of the cover substrate is permanently bonded to the thermally transmissive substrate, and the tab is temporarily bonded to the thermally transmissive substrate. The remaining portion of the cover substrate can be arranged in a closed shape that frames a window surrounding the tab. The closed shape of the remaining portion of the cover substrate provides intrinsic support for retracting the tab and enables the thermally transmissive substrate to be optimized for thermal conductivity. For example, the thermally transmissive substrate can be made from a film that is less than ten microns thick. [0023]
  • Retraction of the tab opens the window through the cover substrate, which window is at least partially framed by the remaining portion of the cover substrate. The thermally transmissive substrate can itself be made opaque or an opaque coating can be applied to the thermally transmissive substrate for (a) obscuring the view of the thermal images through the front surface of the thermally transmissive substrate and (b) providing contrast for viewing the thermal images through the window formed in the cover substrate. Patterns can be printed on the front surface of the thermally transmissive substrate or on either surface of the cover substrate to further obscure the view of the thermal images until the tab is retracted.[0024]
  • DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a broken-away front view of a succession of pull-tab game pieces. [0025]
  • FIG. 2 is a broken-away back view of a succession of pull-tab game pieces. [0026]
  • FIG. 3 is an exaggerated thickness cross-sectional view of one of the pull-tab game pieces taken along line [0027] 3-3 of FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 4 is cross-sectional view similar to FIG. 3 of an alternative game piece. [0028]
  • FIG. 5 is a back view of an individual pull-away game piece. [0029]
  • FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the individual game piece taken along line [0030] 6-6 of FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 7 is a front view of an individual promotional article showing a retracted tab. [0031]
  • FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the individual promotional article of FIG. 7 with the tab still in place.[0032]
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Pull-aparts can be used for a variety of purposes where printed information is intended to be concealed from view until revealed by separating layers of a laminate. These purposes include game pieces, promotional articles, and report forms. The pull-apart game pieces themselves can be used for a variety of purposes including low-stakes wagering, fundraising, and advertising. Other purposes include use as an alternative to scratch-off latex games, which can be messy. Direct thermal printing of such game pieces at point of sale or distribution to determine winnings is expected to provide heightened security over game pieces with preprinted results while providing a construction that still allows for the deferred revelation of the results by removing or otherwise retracting a tab. [0033]
  • The pull-apart promotional articles provide for distributing coupons or product offerings in an interactive format. The pull-apart report forms provide for the controlled distribution of confidential, proprietary, classified, restricted, or personal information, particularly to targeted individuals. For example, information such as test scores, lab results, banking codes, shipping data, and prize winning announcements can be printed on demand while concealed from view until the pull-aparts are irreversibly opened. [0034]
  • A strip of exemplary pull-aparts in the form of game pieces [0035] 10 is depicted in FIGS. 1-3. As shown particularly in FIG. 3, the pull-apart game pieces 10 are an assembly of two substrates, base substrate 12 and cover substrate 22. The base substrate 12 is an at least partially transparent (e.g., translucent) paper or film having a front surface 14 supporting a thermosensitive imaging layer 18. Thermal images 20 (e.g., game results) formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer 18 on the front surface 14 of the base substrate 12 are visible through a back surface 16 of the base substrate 12.
  • The base substrate [0036] 12 and thermosensitive imaging layer 18 are preferably acquired together as a direct thermal printable paper or film. One example is an 81 micron polypropylene film, product number C-100 from Kanzaki Specialty Papers of Ware, Mass., coated with an ultra-high sensitivity thermosensitive coating for reacting with heat to form black images. Direct thermal papers are available from Appleton Papers Inc. of Appleton, Wis.
  • The cover substrate [0037] 22, which can also be made of paper or film, has a front surface 24 that is partially bonded to the back surface 16 of the base substrate 12 with a patterned permanent adhesive 28. One or more layers of printing ink 30 are applied to a back surface 26 of the cover substrate 22, which are visible in FIG. 2 as printed images on a back surface 36 of the pull-apart game pieces 10. Either the cover substrate 22 or the layers of printing ink 30, and preferably both, are opaque to obscure any view of the thermal images 20 through the back surface 36 of the pull-apart game pieces 10.
  • Also shown in FIG. 2 as well as in FIG. 3 are patterns of perforations [0038] 32, which partially surround gaps in the patterned permanent adhesive 28. The patterns of perforations 32 are cut through both the layers of printing ink 30 and the cover substrate 22 to form retractable tabs 40 that can be pulled away or otherwise separated from the base substrate 12 forming window frames 42 within which the thermal images 20 can be viewed through the base substrate 12.
  • A temporary adhesive [0039] 38 such as a clean release or fugitive adhesive can be applied between the retractable tabs 40 and the base substrate 12 to hold the tabs 40 in place and to prevent the formation of air pockets within the pull-aparts 10. Such air pockets can cause undesirable wrinkling or delaminating, particularly during manufacture. The temporary adhesive 38 forms a weak bond that prevents the formation of air pockets but is easily broken to allow retraction of the tabs 40. Hot-melt or water-based adhesives can be used for this purpose. However, a combination of a water-based adhesive applied over a layer of release on the back surface of the base substrate 12 is preferred to provide reliable release properties without leaving sticky residue on either the tabs 40 or the base substrate 12.
  • One of the retractable tabs [0040] 40 is shown in a retracted position in FIG. 2, revealing thermal images 20 in the form of two different star burst patterns within one of the window frames 42 formed in a remaining bonded portion of the cover substrate 22. The window frames 42 limit the viewing area of the thermosensitive imaging layer 18 to the thermal images 20 immediately beneath the retractable tabs 40 that are pulled apart from the window frames 42.
  • To enhance the visibility of the thermal images [0041] 20 through the windows 42 while obscuring visibility of the same thermal images 20 from a front surface 34 of the pull-apart game pieces 10 (see FIG. 1), an opaque coating 46 (see FIG. 3) is applied over the thermosensitive imaging layer 18 on the front surface 14 of the base substrate 12. The opaque coating 46 is preferably a layer of printing ink in a color (e.g., white) that contrasts with the color (e.g., black) of the thermal images 20 to enhance visibility of the thermal images 20 through the back surface 16 of the translucent base substrate 12. However, the opaque coating 46 impairs transmissions of light to at least partially obscure view of the same thermal images 20 through the front surface 34 of the pull-apart game pieces 10. One such ink is an opaque UV white sold as product number UFA 90100 by Akzo Nobel of Plymouth, Minn. Other colors are also available.
  • One or more additional printing layers [0042] 48 can be applied over the top of the opaque coating 46 to form printed images on the front surface 34 of pull-apart game pieces 10 or to further obscure the front-side view of the thermal images 20. The printed layers 48 can contain information for playing or promoting the game or patterns, such as confusion patterns for additionally obscuring the thermal images 20. However, the opaque coating 46 and printing layers 48 are sufficiently thermally transmissive (e.g., sufficiently thin) to enable the thermal images 20 to be printed by a conventional direct thermal printer through the front surface 34 of the pull-apart game pieces 10. The required thermal transmissivity requires heat conduction with a minimum of dispersion, which can be accomplished by material thinness or material compositions that preferentially conduct heat in the thickness dimension over other directions that would tend to blur the thermal images 20.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the pull-apart game pieces [0043] 10 are separated from one another along a continuous strip or web 50 by lines of perforation 52. The strip 50 of pull-apart game pieces 10 is preferably loaded into a direct thermal printer in a continuous form such as a roll or fan-folded stack. The direct thermal printing through the front surface 34 of the pull-apart game pieces 10 should be mirror reversed to permit the desired image to be viewed from the back surface 36 of the pull-apart game pieces 10.
  • Following the direct thermal printing of the thermal images [0044] 20 (e.g., game results), the individual pull-apart game pieces 10 are separated in groups of one or more along the lines of perforation 52. Alternatively, the pull-apart game pieces 10 can be pre-cut or otherwise separated in sheet form prior to being loaded into the direct thermal printer. The printer can also be assembled with a cutting mechanism as an alternative to use of perforations.
  • The first two drawing figures illustrate three retractable tabs [0045] 40 per game piece 10. However, the number of retractable tabs 40 per game piece 10 can vary considerably from one to six or more. The pattern of perforations 32 preferably leaves some portion of each of the retractable tabs 40 connected to the cover substrate 22 after retraction to reduce instances of scrap. The remaining portions of the retractable tabs 40 preferably remain bonded to the base substrate 12. Alternatively, the tabs 40 could be cut out along continuous rather than perforated lines and held in place with a clean release or fugitive adhesive. In addition, the cover substrate 22 could be formed as one or more retractable tabs 40 without the surrounding window frames 42, and a clean release or fugitive adhesive could be applied to hold them in place on the base substrate 12.
  • Another exemplary pull-apart game piece [0046] 60 shown in FIG. 4 looks and functions similar to the pull-apart game pieces 10 but has a different cross-sectional configuration. The assembly requires three substrates: a base substrate 62, a cover substrate 72, and a thermally transmissive substrate 82. Like the preceding embodiment, the base substrate 62 is an at least partially transparent (e.g., translucent) paper or film.
  • Also similar to the preceding embodiment, a front surface [0047] 74 of the cover substrate 72 is bonded by a patterned adhesive layer 68 to a back surface 66 of the base substrate 62. One or more layers of printing ink 80 cover the back surface 76 of the cover substrate 72. Preferably, both the cover substrate 72 and the printed ink layers 80 are opaque. A pattern of perforations 78 formed through the printed layers 80 and the cover substrate 72 form retractable tabs 96 similar to the preceding embodiment.
  • A back surface [0048] 86 of the thermally transmissive substrate 82 supports a thermosensitive imaging layer 88 within which thermal images 90 (e.g., game results) are formed. A permanent adhesive layer 92 bonds the thermally transmissive substrate 82 to a front surface 64 of the base substrate 62. Preferably, the thermally transmissive substrate 82 is opaque in a color that contrasts with a color of the thermal images 90. One or more layers of printing ink 94 cover the front surface 84 of the thermally transmissive substrate 82 to further obscure the thermal images 90. Among the layers of printing ink 94 can be a confusion pattern as well as information associated with the play or promotion of the pull-apart game piece 60.
  • The thermally transmissive substrate [0049] 82 can be a paper or film, but must be sufficiently thermally transmissive (e.g., having a thickness around ten microns or less) to support the direct thermal printing of the thermal images 90 in the thermosensitive layer 88 through its front surface 84. The direct thermal printing is preferably accomplished by conventional direct thermal printers that are widely available with standardized units of heat output power. Examples of direct thermal printable films laminated to underlying substrates are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,124,236, entitled Direct Thermal Printable Film and Laminate, to one of the joint inventors herein, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Thin paper, such as paper referred to as “Bible paper”, can also be used as the thermally transmissive substrate 82. A thin direct thermal paper is available from Appleton Papers Inc. of Appleton, Wis., under the trade name OPTIMA POS Plus thermal paper and having a target thickness of 0.002 inches or 50 microns. Any thermal insulating layer between the paper substrate and the thermosensitive imaging layer is preferably removed or replaced by a more thermally conductive layer.
  • The retractable tabs [0050] 96 can be pulled apart from remaining portions of the cover substrate 72 along the lines of perforation 78 to reveal the thermal images 90 through the translucent base substrate 62. The thermally transmissive substrate 82 through which the images 90 are printed preferably provides both contrast for enhancing the view of the images 90 through the base substrate 62 and opacity for obscuring the view of the images 90 through the thermally transmissive substrate 82.
  • Instead of supporting the thermosensitive imaging layer [0051] 88 on the back surface 86 of the thermally transmissive substrate 82, the thermosensitive imaging layer 88 could be supported on the front surface 64 of the base substrate 62 similar to the preceding embodiment. However, transmissions of heat from direct thermal printing would be required to conduct through both the thermally transmissive substrate 82 and the adhesive layer 92 that permanently bonds the thermally transmissive substrate 82 to the base substrate 62.
  • Another pull-apart game piece [0052] 100, which is depicted in FIGS. 5 and 6 also includes a thermally transmissive substrate 102 having on its back surface 106 a thermosensitive layer 108 that is thermally imageable through its front surface 104 similar to the thermally transmissive substrate 82 of the immediately preceding embodiment. However, instead of mounting the thermally transmissive substrate 102 on a transparent base substrate, the thermally transmissive substrate 102 is mounted directly onto a cover substrate 112. A patterned permanent adhesive 110 attaches a perimeter of the thermally transmissive substrate 102 to the cover substrate 112.
  • Along the perimeter pattern of permanent adhesive [0053] 110, die-cut lines of perforation 114 are formed through the cover substrate 112 to form a retractable tab 116. Through cuts 115 form an ear of the retractable tab 116 for gripping and retracting the tab 116. A clean release or fugitive adhesive 118 temporarily attaches the retractable tab 116 to the back surface 106 of the thermally transmissive substrate 102. The permanent adhesive 110 permanently bonds a remaining portion 122 of the cover substrate 112 to the thermally transmissive substrate 102. The remaining portion 122 of the cover substrate 112 has a closed shape that frames a window 124 that is opened by retracting the tab 116. The closed shape of the remaining portion 122 provides a frame for retaining a planar shape for the thermally transmissive substrate 102 as well as an intrinsic support for retracting the tab 116. The support functions afforded by the closed shape of the remaining portion 122 of the cover substrate 112 enables the thermally transmissive substrate 102 to be optimized for thermal conductivity. For example, the thermally transmissive substrate 102 can be made from a film that is less than ten microns thick.
  • The thermally transmissive substrate [0054] 102 can (as far as its thickness permits) be made opaque. However, an opaque coating 126 can also be applied to the thermally transmissive substrate 102 for obscuring a view of thermal images 128 through the front surface 104 of the thermally transmissive substrate 102 while providing contrast for viewing the thermal images 128 through the window 124 formed in the cover substrate 112. Patterns 130 can be printed on the front surface 104 of the thermally transmissive substrate 102 or on either surface of the cover substrate 112 to further obscure the view of the thermal images 128. Retraction of the tab 116 opens the window 124 through the cover substrate 112, revealing the thermal images 128 printed in the thermosensitive imaging layer 108.
  • Alternatively, the cover substrate [0055] 112 could be made thermally transmissive, permitting the substrate 102 to be made more substantial. The thermal images 128 would then be printed through the cover substrate 112 and the temporary adhesive 118. The die cuts 114 could then be made through the more substantial substrate 102 to reveal the thermal images on the back surface of a retracted tab.
  • An exemplary pull-apart in the form of a promotional article [0056] 140 is depicted in FIGS. 7 and 8. The promotional article 140 is built upon two substrates—an at least partially transparent base substrate 142 and a cover substrate 148. A thermosensitive imaging layer 154 directly overlies a front surface 144 of the base substrate 142. An opaque coating 156 and a printed pattern 158 cover the thermosensitive imaging layer 154. Die cuts 160 through the printed pattern 158, the opaque coating 156, the thermosensitive imaging layer 154, and the base substrate 142 define a tab 162 that is partially or completely removable from a surrounding portion 164 of the base substrate 142. The die cuts can be made in a continuous or discontinuous pattern (e.g., perforations) depending upon the degree or manner in which the tab 162 is required to be attached to the remainder of the pull-apart 140.
  • A permanent adhesive layer [0057] 166 permanently bonds the surrounding portion 164 of a back surface 146 of the base substrate 142 to a front surface 150 of the cover substrate 148. A temporary adhesive layer 168 temporarily bonds the tab 142 to the cover substrate. Although shown as a single layer, the temporary adhesive 168 can be composed of multiple layers, such as a combination of adhesive and release layers. In addition, in place of separate permanent and temporary adhesive materials, the same adhesive material could be used to cover the entire back surface 146 of the base substrate 142 together with a layer of release applied only in the region of the tab 162 to provide the desired temporary bond.
  • Graphic layers [0058] 170 and 172 are printed onto the front surface 150 and a back surface 152 of the cover substrate 150. At least the graphic layer 170 is pre-printed during the assembly of the pull-apart promotional article 140 as a form of a thermally printable medium. Prior to distribution or use, thermal images 174 are thermally printed in the thermosensitive imaging layer 154 through the overlying printed pattern 158 and the opaque coating 156. The thermal images 174 are concealed by the printed pattern 158 (which can be printed as a confusion pattern) and the opaque coating 156 from the front side 144 of the base substrate and by the cover substrate 148 and its graphic layers 170 and 172 from the back side 146 of the base substrate 142.
  • Retraction of the tab [0059] 162, including its complete or partial removal, exposes the thermal images 174 through the back surface 145 of the at least partially transparent base substrate 142. The opaque layer 156 is preferably printed with an ink of a color that contrasts with a color of the thermal images 174. In addition, the retraction of the tab 162 reveals the pre-printed graphics 170 on the front surface 150 of the cover substrate 148 through a window 176 bordering the surrounding portion 164 of the base substrate 142.
  • Adhesive materials or films that favor the conduction of heat along one orthogonal axis (i.e., an axis corresponding to a thickness dimension) over the remaining two orthogonal axes could be used (for either or both of the adhesive layer [0060] 92 and thermally transmissive substrate 82) to maintain concentrated transmissions of heat through larger distances. Such materials or arrangements of materials that exhibit uniaxial anisotropic electrically conductive properties having metal particle or fiber alignments are also likely candidates for supporting similar anisotropic thermally conductive properties. Thermagon, Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio, produces a range of thermally conductive dielectric polymers, including T-gon 300 and 400 series paste adhesives, that could be printed (e.g., screen printed) in a dot matrix form to favor heat transfers between adjacent layers with a minimum of lateral thermal diffusion.
  • The thermal coupling materials or material arrangements exhibiting uniaxial anisotropic thermal conductivity have widespread relevance to imaging thermosensitive materials through overlying layers and larger distances from thermal print heads. Such materials in the form of adhesives can provide for bonding protective layers (e.g., paper or film substrates) over otherwise supported thermosensitive imaging layers. In other forms, such as coatings, the materials themselves can provide protection and other overlying functions. For example, in accordance with the illustrated embodiments, the thermal coupling layer is preferably opaque to obscure the image formed in the thermosensitive layer until the pull-apart is retracted. [0061]
  • Although the pull-apart game pieces [0062] 10, 60, and 100 and promotional article 140 and their various substrates are referenced with respect to front and back surfaces, the labels of “front” and “back” are used for convenience of reference only and can be altogether exchanged with one another without any structural implications.
  • The new pull-aparts [0063] 10, 60, 100, and 140 can be manufactured along in-line presses for performing sequential operations involving printing, coating, die cutting, laminating, and rolling or stacking. The printing operations for repeating patterns are preferably performed using flexographic printing processes. Digital printing is preferred for printing security codes or other variable information.

Claims (56)

    We claim:
  1. 1. A direct thermal printable pull-apart comprising:
    a base substrate that is at least partially transparent and has front and back surfaces;
    a thermosensitive imaging layer on the front surface of the base substrate;
    an at least partially opaque layer covering the thermosensitive imaging layer on the front surface of the base substrate;
    a cover substrate being partially bonded to the back surface of the base substrate;
    the base substrate and the cover substrate being at least partially separable for exposing a view of the thermosensitive imaging layer through the back surface of the base substrate; and
    the opaque layer providing for:
    (a) transmitting concentrations of heat required to form thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer from a thermal print head;
    (b) at least partly obscuring a view of the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer from the front side of the base layer; and
    (c) visually contrasting with the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer as a background against which the thermal images can be distinguished through the back surface of the base layer.
  2. 2. The pull-apart of claim 1 in which a tab formed in one of the substrates and the tab is at least partially retractable with respect to the other of the substrates for exposing the view of the thermosensitive imaging layer through the base substrate.
  3. 3. The pull-apart of claim 2 in which the tab is temporarily bonded to the other of the substrates and a remaining portion of the one substrate is permanently bonded to the other substrate.
  4. 4. The pull-apart of claim 3 in which a permanent adhesive permanently bonds the remaining portion of the one substrate to the other substrate.
  5. 5. The pull-apart of claim 4 in which a temporary adhesive temporarily bonds the tab to the other substrate.
  6. 6. The pull-apart of claim 2 in which the tab is formed in the cover substrate.
  7. 7. The pull-apart of claim 6 in which the tab is formed by die cuts in the cover substrate.
  8. 8. The pull-apart of claim 2 in which the tab is formed in the base substrate.
  9. 9. The pull-apart of claim 8 in which the tab is formed by die cuts in the base substrate.
  10. 10. The pull-apart of claim 1 in which the cover substrate is rendered at least partially opaque.
  11. 11. The pull-apart of claim 1 further comprising:
    a thermally transmissive substrate having front and back surfaces,
    the thermosensitive imaging layer being supported on the back surface of the thermally transmissive substrate, and
    the back surface of the thermally transmissive substrate being bonded to the front surface of the at least partially transparent base substrate.
  12. 12. The pull-apart of claim 11 in which the opaque layer covers the front surface of the thermally transmissive substrate.
  13. 13. The pull-apart of claim 11 in which the thermally transmissive substrate has a thickness of less than ten microns.
  14. 14. The pull-apart of claim 1 further comprising a confusion pattern formed over the opaque layer.
  15. 15. A direct thermal printable pull-apart comprising:
    a direct thermal printable film having front and back surfaces;
    a thermosensitive imaging layer of the direct thermal printable film being located on the back surface of the direct thermal printable film;
    a cover substrate bonded to the back surface of the direct thermal printable film;
    an at least partially removable tab formed in the cover substrate overlapping with a printable area of the thermosensitive imaging area;
    an opaque layer apparent on the front surface of the direct thermal printable film covering at least a portion of the printable area of the direct thermal printable film and overlapping with the at least partially removable tab; and
    the at least partially removable tab and the opaque layer providing for obscuring views of thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer by direct thermal printing through the direct thermal printable film.
  16. 16. The pull-apart of claim 15 in which a first portion of the cover substrate includes the at least partially removable tab and a second portion of the cover substrate is permanently bonded to the direct thermal printable film.
  17. 17. The pull-apart of claim 16 in which the tab is formed by a die cut pattern in the cover substrate.
  18. 18. The pull-apart of claim 15 in which the opaque layer is an opaque coating on the front surface of the direct thermal printable film.
  19. 19. The pull-apart of claim 18 in which the opaque layer is formed by an opaque coloring of the direct thermal printable film.
  20. 20. The pull-apart of claim 18 in which the opaque coating is an ink.
  21. 21. The pull-apart of claim 15 in which the opaque layer has a color that contrasts with a color of the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  22. 22. The pull-apart of claim 21 further comprising a confusion pattern formed over the opaque layer.
  23. 23. The pull-apart of claim 22 in which the confusion pattern has a color that does not contrast with the color of the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  24. 24. A direct thermal printable medium comprising:
    a base substrate having front and back surfaces;
    a thermosensitive imaging layer supported on the back surface of the base substrate;
    a cover substrate being bonded to the back surface of the base substrate;
    a tab formed in one of the substrates overlapping a region of the thermosensitive imaging layer where thermal images can be formed by direct thermal printing;
    both substrates being rendered opaque for obscuring a view of the thermal images through the base substrate and through the cover substrate; and
    the tab formed in the one substrate being retractable from the other of the substrates for viewing the thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  25. 25. The medium of claim 24 in which the base substrate is a thermally transmissive substrate for supporting thermal printing of the thermal images through the base substrate.
  26. 26. The medium of claim 25 in which the thermally transmissive substrate is less than ten microns thick.
  27. 27. The medium of claim 25 in which the tab is formed in the cover substrate overlapping a region of the thermosensitive imaging layer where thermal images can be formed through the thermally transmissive substrate by direct thermal printing.
  28. 28. The medium of claim 27 in which the tab is retractable with respect to a remaining portion of the cover substrate for viewing the thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  29. 29. The medium of claim 28 in which the remaining portion of the cover substrate is permanently bonded to the thermally transmissive substrate.
  30. 30. The medium of claim 29 in which a temporary bond is formed between the tab and the thermally transmissive substrate.
  31. 31. The medium of claim 29 in which the remaining portion of the cover substrate has a closed shape that frames a window surrounding the tab.
  32. 32. The medium of claim 29 in which the tab is formed by a pattern of perforations in the cover substrate.
  33. 33. The medium of claim 24 in which retraction of the tab opens a window through the cover substrate and the window is at least partially framed by the remaining portion of the cover substrate.
  34. 34. The medium of claim 33 in which the base substrate is opaque for (a) obscuring the view of the thermal images through the front surface of the base substrate and (b) providing contrast for viewing the thermal images through the window formed in the cover substrate.
  35. 35. The medium of claim 33 in which a coating on the base substrate is opaque for (a) obscuring the view of the thermal images through the front surface of the base substrate and (b) providing contrast for viewing the thermal images through the window formed in the cover substrate.
  36. 36. The medium of claim 35 in which the opaque layer has a color that contrasts with a color of the thermal images.
  37. 37. The medium of claim 36 further comprising a pattern printed on the front surface of the base substrate for further obscuring the view of the thermal images through the base substrate.
  38. 38. The medium of claim 37 in which the printed pattern includes a color that matches the color of the thermal images to further obscure the view of the thermal images.
  39. 39. The medium of claim 24 in which the cover substrate is a thermally transmissive substrate for supporting thermal printing of the thermal images through the cover substrate.
  40. 40. The medium of claim 39 in which the tab is formed in the base substrate including a region of the thermosensitive imaging layer where thermal images can be formed through the thermally transmissive substrate by direct thermal printing.
  41. 41. The medium of claim 40 in which the tab is retractable with respect to a remaining portion of the base substrate for viewing the thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  42. 42. A direct thermal printable pull-apart comprising:
    a base substrate;
    a thermally sensitive imaging layer supported on the base substrate;
    an opaque layer covering the thermally sensitive imaging layer;
    a cover substrate;
    the cover substrate being laminated to the base substrate so that the thermally sensitive imaging layer is concealed between the opaque layer and the cover substrate; and
    one of the base substrate and the cover substrate being arranged as a tab that can be retracted to view thermal images that are direct thermally printed in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  43. 43. The pull-apart of claim 42 in which the thermally sensitive imaging layer is supported on a front surface of the base substrate and a back surface of the base substrate is bonded to the cover substrate.
  44. 44. The pull-apart of claim 43 in which the base substrate is at least partially transparent so that the thermal images are viewable through the base substrate when the tab is retracted.
  45. 45. The pull-apart of claim 44 further comprising a thermally transmissive substrate on which the thermally sensitive imaging layer is applied, and the thermally transmissive substrate being laminated to the base substrate such that the thermally sensitive imaging layer is located between the thermally transmissive substrate and the base substrate.
  46. 46. The pull-apart of claim 42 in which the opaque layer is supported on a front surface of the base substrate, the thermally sensitive imaging layer is supported on a back surface of the base substrate, and the back surface of the base substrate is bonded to the cover substrate.
  47. 47. The pull-apart of claim 46 in which the base substrate is a thermally transmissive substrate for forming the thermal images through the base substrate.
  48. 48. The pull-apart of claim 47 in which the tab is formed in the cover substrate overlapping a region of the thermosensitive imaging layer where thermal images are formed and the tab is retractable from a remaining portion of the cover substrate for viewing the thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  49. 49. The pull-apart of claim 48 in which the remaining portion of the cover substrate is permanently bonded to the thermally transmissive substrate and has a closed shape that frames a window surrounding the tab.
  50. 50. A method of making a direct thermal printable pull-apart comprising the steps of:
    supporting a thermally sensitive imaging layer on a base substrate;
    covering the thermally sensitive imaging layer with an opaque layer;
    laminating a cover substrate to the base substrate so that the thermally sensitive imaging layer is concealed between the opaque layer and the cover substrate; and
    arranging one of the base substrate and the cover substrate as a tab that can be retracted to view thermal images that are-direct thermally printed in the thermosensitive imaging layer.
  51. 51. The method of claim 50 in which the step of supporting includes supporting the thermally sensitive imaging layer on a front surface of the base substrate, and the step of laminating includes bonding a back surface of the base substrate to the cover substrate.
  52. 52. The method of claim 51 in which the base substrate is at least partially transparent so that the thermal images are viewable through the base substrate when the tab is retracted.
  53. 53. The method of claim 52 including an additional step of laminating a thermally transmissive substrate on which the thermally sensitive imaging layer is applied to the base substrate such that the thermally sensitive imaging layer is located between the thermally transmissive substrate and the base substrate.
  54. 54. The method of claim 50 including additional steps of supporting the opaque layer on a front surface of the base substrate, supporting the thermally sensitive imaging layer on a back surface of the base substrate, and bonding the back surface of the base substrate to the cover substrate.
  55. 55. The method of claim 50 in which the step of arranging includes forming the tab in a portion of one of the substrates and including an additional step of bonding a remaining portion of the one substrate to the other of the substrates.
  56. 56. The method of claim 50 including an additional step of arranging the opaque layer to:
    (a) transmit concentrations of heat required to form thermal images in the thermosensitive imaging layer from a thermal print head;
    (b) at least partly obscure a view of the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer; and
    (c) visually contrast with the thermal images formed in the thermosensitive imaging layer as a background against which the thermal images can be distinguished.
US10408389 2001-07-05 2003-04-07 Direct thermal printable pull-aparts Abandoned US20030224151A1 (en)

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