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Steps involved in producing a holographic image of an actual, three-dimensional object are as follows:

  • Mastering

  • A laser is used. This laser illuminates the physical object. The reflected light falls on the photoresist plate. At the same time, a reference beam from the laser falls directly on the photoresist plate. There is an interference between these two light beams which react with the photo-sensitive coating thereby recording a holographic image of the object.
  • The master is the plate on which the original hologram is recorded. The master is processed in a chemical bath using standard photographic developers after being exposed. The master is also expected to confirm that the image is properly recorded before proceeding with production.
  • Electroforming

  • Step 3: The master is mounted into frame. It is then sprayed with silver paint which helps in achieving good electrical conductivity. The frame is put inside a tank along with a supply of nickel. An electric current is produced, and the master is electroplated with nickel. The frame or jig is then removed from the tank and then it is washed with deionized water. The metal master shim, which is the thin, nickel coating, is removed off the master plate. This shim contains a negative image of the master hologram. The negative is the mirror image of the original hologram.

    Using the same processes, several shims are created. Those that are produced from the metal master shim are known as "grandmothers,". "Grandmother shim" contains positive images of the original hologram. At this times, various copies of the original image are duplicated in rows on one shim and are used to print multiple copies with a single impression. Successive generations of shims are known by various names like "mothers," "daughters," and "stamper shims." These generations of shims alternate between negative and positive images of the original hologram. The stamper shims are used when actual production runs to print the final product holograms and these shims are negative images.
  • Embossing

  • Step 4: Stamper shims are put inside embossing machines. A roll of polyester film or other similar material, coated with an acrylic coating, runs through the machine. Under severe heat and pressure, the shim pushes the holographic image onto the film. This goes to a depth of 25 millionths of a millimeter. The embossed film is then re-wound onto a roll.
  • Metallizing.

  • Step 5: The next step is to load the embossed film roll into a chamber from which the air is removed to create a vacuum. There is an aluminum wire in the chamber which is vaporized by heating it to 2000°F or 1,093°C. The roll is exposed to the vaporized aluminum and in turn another roll is formed and in the process the roll is coated with aluminum. The film is treated to restore moisture lost under the hot vacuum condition, after it is removed from the vacuum chamber. Another coating of lacquer is applied to the film and this creates a surface that can be imprinted with ink. The roll of film is again sliced into narrower rolls.
  • Converting

  • Step 6: There can be another step depending on what type of film was used and what kind of product is being made. For example, to give strength, the film can laminated to paper board. The film is given desired shapes for the final product. It can be printed with messages. Pressure-sensitive adhesive is applied to the back of holograms which can be later fixed to other objects or used as stickers.
  • Finishing

  • Step 7: For marketing, the final holograms are either fixed to other products or are packaged for shipment.
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