Digital Printing Innovations | Textile World

ITMA 2023 showcased the most recent developments within the still-growing digital printing area.

By Dr. Lisa P. Chapman, Technical Editor; and Kerry McGuire King

ITMA 2023, aptly named “Remodeling the World of Textiles”, targeted on sustainability achieved in three innovation areas which might be instantly associated to digital printing — Superior Materials, Synthetic Intelligence and Automation. This 12 months was the biggest iteration of the present with greater than 111,000 attendees from 143 international locations (2019: 105,000) 1,709 exhibitors from 47 international locations (2019: 1,717), and 200,000 sq. meters of exhibition area (2019: 114,500 sq. meters). Digital printing was once more closely featured at ITMA 2023, with a whole corridor dedicated to this know-how. The digital print market grew considerably because the final ITMA. There was a slowdown in the course of the pandemic, however now there’s a return to a development market.

ITMA 2015 noticed a transformative breakthrough with the event of single go printers, able to printing at speeds as much as 70 meters per minute (m/min). Surprisingly, these high-speed printers weren’t featured as prominently at ITMA 2023. Relatively, the emphasis was on the optimization and maturation of scan kind printers with a concentrate on sustainability, in addition to optimization of the printing course of to enhance high quality and scale back colorants, chemical compounds and time. Scan kind printers, whereas nonetheless not as quick as single go printers, at the moment are a lot sooner than what was proven at ITMA 2019, reaching speeds of 15 to twenty linear yards per minute. The elevated pace of scan kind printers is achieved by stacking print heads. Though slower, scan kind printers additionally provide higher flexibility, and in some cases increased high quality. The excessive pace of single go printers means roughly 20 % of designs can’t be achieved, notably these prints the place extra saturated, bigger stable print areas are required. Scan kind printers are cheaper and take up much less ground area and so it’s potential to have a number of on the manufacturing unit ground printing utilizing totally different colorants on quite a lot of substrates. Scanning applied sciences provide manufacturing flexibility and redundancy, which is vital for print on demand environments the place ultra-short run printing contains fast turns throughout quite a lot of supplies and product sorts.

Scanning options provide the power to scale manufacturing over time by means of the addition of machines and the power to “step up” to the subsequent machine stage. This can be a technique provided by numerous distributors.

Cloth that includes metallic ink produced on Epson’s Monna Lisa ML-16000/HY

Roll-To-Roll/Direct-To-Cloth Printers

At ITMA, Japan-based Epson showcased the Monna Lisa sequence —extensively thought-about to be one of many premium applied sciences for the high-est decision and highest-quality prints — together with the ML 8000, 16000, 32000 and 64000 machines for which the mannequin quantity corresponds to the variety of printheads and subsequently throughput functionality. Fashions and capabilities embody:

  • ML 8000, which prints with a set of reactive and acid dyes, referred to as REACID, for fiber blended substrates, or for extra flexibility if for instance, a buyer wished to print substrates suitable with acid for one print run and reactive for one more.
  • ML 13000, which provides inline pre- and post-treatments with pigment inks. The pretreatment liquid, ejected by means of one of many print-heads, jets a surfactant agent to drag the ink to the floor of the material, which helps to make the print extra colourful. One other print-head jets a binder for elevated fastness properties, whereas one other printhead jets a softener to enhance the hand of the material.
  • ML 16000 hybrid, which mixes piezo-electric printheads with microvalves. The printheads jet pigment colorant and the microvalves are in a position to jet paste for results equivalent to metallic and white pigmented shade.
  • ML 3200, which has a printable width of 340 centimeters and 32 printheads. This printer might be configured to print two items of material concurrently, thus rising productiveness and lowering vitality and useful resource consumption.

Italy-based EFI Reggiani confirmed the chance to step up in machine width with its Hyper mannequin out there as a 1.8-, 2.4-, or 3.4-meter-wide machine. Outfitted with 72 printheads and ink recirculation as much as the nozzle plate, it might probably print two go, manufacturing high quality at speeds as much as 13 linear m/min on a 1.5-meter-wide roll. The widest machine additionally provides dual-roll functionality to print two totally different, narrower substrates directly at throughput speeds of as much as 20 m/minute. That is an attention-grabbing idea, proven by Italy-based Durst on the final ITMA present, which requires particular machine and software program engineering.

Italy-based Dover Industries Italy (DII) (MS Printing Options & JK Group manufacturers), additionally featured scaling alternatives inside its scanning line. On the high finish, the Mini Lario has been upgraded and now has eight rows with as much as eight heads per row and might print at a pace of 1,000 meters per hour. This is without doubt one of the quickest scan kind printers in the marketplace. DII (MS & JK manufacturers) reviews that the Mini Lario might be exactly shade matched to manufacturing on the Lario to allow longer manufacturing runs of the identical design and colorway ought to the necessity come up.

DII (Ms & JK manufacturers) JP7 printer arrange with pigment ink and a polymerization dryer.

As well as, DII (MS & JK manufacturers) confirmed the reengineered JP7 machine and system that considerably improves the sustainability of your complete printing course of. The middle of this optimized, sustainable printing system is Digistar Pigment 4K, a patent pending colorant set that eliminates pretreatment, thereby lowering chemical and water utilization, in addition to time and value. The printer additionally features a new zero-wastewater recirculation system that reduces as much as 90 % of water waste sometimes generated in a 40-hour working cycle. To additional optimize a sustainable printing course of, a brand new ink recirculation system from DII (MS & JK manufacturers) prevents nozzle blocking, which is a major reason for print cloth defects that results in cloth and colorant wastage. Gradus, its in-line drying system, ensures minimal vitality consumption; and since the modular system permits curing and drying multi functional, carbon dioxide emissions are diminished.

Austria-based Zimmer Austria Inc. — a producer of machines for textile and carpet ending together with digital printing programs, flat and rotary display printing, coating programs, steaming, washing and drying — showcased the Colaris3 high-performance pretreatment, digital printing and colorant programs for functions that require colorant penetration by means of the substrate equivalent to carpeting, towels, and plush or heavy automotive and residential décor materials. The Colaris sequence of printers can be utilized with quite a lot of colorants equivalent to reactive, disperse, acid, pigment and vat. Inline pre-and post-treatment programs might be added to enhance print high quality and improve ink penetration. The Colaris printer has 16 printheads for a bigger shade gamut, elevated pace, or flexibility to run a number of sorts of colorants. Zimmer has added a imaginative and prescient digital camera detection system to its Colaris digital printers. The Colaris-vision I – Match Print to Lower contains particular person piece items recognition and description masking with automated computation of the print masks positioning for design customization.

Zimmer’s Colaris-vision II – Match to Print is a roll-to-roll print course of with seamless detection of a pre-imagined cloth adopted by a registered print. The system has an automatic distortion compensation that ensures the print is fitted exactly into the given construction on an online. The design might be fitted precisely onto the substrate regardless of of any weft misalignment or shrinkage from cloth preparation within the pre-print course of.

Superior Supplies

As a part of the textile business’s cur-rent concentrate on sustainability, distributors proceed to ramp up funding within the growth of options that scale back water, chemical and materials waste. Digital dyeing, inline pretreatment, and pigment printing all have the potential to enhance sustainability. Specifically, pigment colorant was featured by numerous distributors. As pigment know-how matures, com-petition is rising in a approach that’s resulting in enhancements in print high quality and improvements in chemistry and utility. Additional adoption of ink recirculation methods is a contributing issue to the success of pigments and this concept was highlighted by EFI Reggiani in its Hyper system. Ink recirculation was additionally talked about by DII (MS & JK manufacturers) in regard to its redesigned JP7 know-how together with the Digistar Pigment 4K.

Built-in softening and pretreatment improvements from a number of answer suppliers is paving the way in which for higher acceptance of pigment printed cloth. Japan-based Kyocera Corp., a key provider of business printhead know-how to textile builders, has joined the combination with the introduction of Forearth know-how, and highlighted the power to print on a broad vary of materials.

Atexco’s double-sided printing know-how makes use of a digital camera and imaging software program to scan the printed cloth for alignment and ink penetration for exact printing on the reverse facet of the material.

Different superior materials improvements included China-based Atexco’s double-sided printing know-how and reactive colorant that doesn’t require a put up therapy for cotton substrates.

General, distributors illustrated the compatibility of digital printing with tricky-to-manage substrates together with knits and light-weight attire materials. This was notably evident within the pigment printing space that had beforehand demonstrated poor cloth hand and shade high quality. New pigment applied sciences are opening-up the likelihood for pigment printed cloth adoption in a broader vary of product areas and markets.

Particular Results

Advances in pigment know-how are also enabling particular impact printing. Through the present, Israel-based Kornit Digital Ltd. demonstrated a white pigment functionality that permits imaging on coloured grounds and when mixed with its Xdi know-how, creates a novel, raised, textural look.

Epson has taken this theme one step additional with the introduction of the ML 16000 Hybrid machine that mixes piezo-electric printheads with microvalves. The printheads jet pigment colorant whereas the microvalves jet paste to create results together with metallic and white pigmented shade. Epson’s Genesta water-based inks assure shade accuracy and fastness properties, whereas the particular pastes — developed and produced by Italy-based Epson Como Printing Applied sciences S.r.l.— create the particular results.

Alchemie Expertise’s Endeavour™ is a breakthrough waterless dyeing course of.

Digital Dyeing And Ending

Though pigments provide a sustainability benefit over dye-based colorants for digital printing, digital utility strategies for stable colours provide the potential for a a lot higher discount in environmental footprint. Towards that finish, England-based Alchemie Expertise’s Endeavour™ digital dyeing know-how applies liquid colorants to materials utilizing a novel non-contact high-energy jetting of nano-droplets, delivering exceptionally homogeneous shade all through the material. This breakthrough waterless, low-carbon, digital dyeing know-how, helps dye homes in lowering prices — dramatically chopping vitality and carbon dioxide emissions by 85 %, water use by 95 %, and in addition eliminates wastewater air pollution within the dyeing course of.

Alchemie’s Novara™ digital textile ending know-how delivers sustainability with precision digital utility of useful finishes to textiles. Novara is a non-contact, low vitality, low chemistry, digital ending answer that permits textile ending homes to dramatically scale back their carbon and chemical footprint and scale back prices, utilizing 85-percent much less vitality and as much as 50-percent much less chemistry in comparison with conventional strategies, in accordance with Alchemie. Novara delivers exactly outlined digitally managed finishes solely the place wanted. It additionally permits product improvements together with single-side ending, 2D end to form, and permits a number of finishes to be utilized to at least one cloth in a approach that’s not potential utilizing conventional strategies of immersing your complete cloth in a chemical bathtub. As well as, Alchemie additionally provides Discovery, a laboratory system that replicates manufacturing machines, and could also be used for recipe growth, shade matching and new materials course of growth.

Direct-To-Movie Printing

Shenzhen Inkbank Graphic Expertise Co. Ltd. (Inkbank), China, and Japan-based Mimaki confirmed direct-to-film (DTF) applied sciences for quickly printing clothes.

DTF printing eliminates the necessity for cloth choice, plate making and pretreatment as in comparison with the time and useful resource intensive processes required for silk display, warmth switch— rubber sheet methodology — or direct-to-garment (DTG) printing. The DTF course of is easy, and on this approach, provides a sustainability benefit. First, the design is printed instantly onto a particular switch movie which is then sprinkled with hot-melt powder. As soon as heated and dried, the switch sheet might be utilized utilizing a warmth press. The one disadvantage is the waste created as a result of a switch materials is used.

Mimaki provides the TXF150 for DTF. The PHT50 inks used for this printing course of are warmth switch water-based pigments which might be OEKO-TEX licensed. The inks are secure and meet the standards for ecologically accountable textile manufacturing, in accordance with the corporate.

Synthetic Intelligence And Automation

As digital textile printing know-how matures and adoption of complicated, high-speed printing programs grows, answer suppliers are also demonstrating higher funding within the creation of clever programs that ease know-how administration by enabling monitoring and optimized printer efficiency. Software program functions are aimed toward offering visibility that helps scale back machine downtime and working price, whereas minimizing waste. As clients put money into a number of print programs to scale print capability, software program methods for automated system calibration and fleet administration additionally have gotten more and more related. Moreover, to assist drive development in adoption, know-how suppliers are advancing digital workflow options designed to help with order administration and automation of repetitive file processing duties.

A preview of the DII (MS & JK manufacturers) System Plus Software program, a brand new print administration system, exemplifies the pattern towards clever programs. The know-how integrates calibration, printing software program and ink for a strong, time saving answer. Used with DII (MS & JK manufacturers) pigments and printers, the software program system reduces calibration time by 50 %, will increase the colour yield by as much as 20 % and will increase the brightness of the colours by as much as 15 %. This method’s machine studying platform, the first-of-its-kind to be commercially out there for digital printing, permits info to be gathered in the course of the printing course of to optimize present and future print runs. This software program has the potential to get rid of print defects and scale back the quantity of colorant wanted.

DII (MS & JK manufacturers) innovation is targeted on a extremely optimized manufacturing course of. Throughout ITMA, the corporate demonstrated the mixed significance of advancing printer {hardware} and workflow in a working atmosphere by means of organized plant visits to the Italy-based IMPRIMA printing mill.

Throughout ITMA, events had been in a position to tour the IMPRIMA print mill to view Dover Industries Italy (MS Printing Options & JK Group manufacturers) applied sciences in motion.

IMPRIMA is a cluster of digital print operations with the potential to print 35 million meters of material yearly. IMPRIMA largely serves the European luxurious market, but in addition prints for U.S.-based manufacturers equivalent to Walmart, Goal, Macy’s and Ralph Lauren, amongst different manufacturers.
Kornit promoted its QualiSet know-how, which is described as a wise, autonomous strategy to calibration aimed toward printhead registration, nozzle testing, compensation and shade consistency. Paired with the beforehand launched Konnect system for monitoring printer efficiency and consumables, the corporate now provides higher potential to handle the print operation on the fleet stage. Manufacturing monitoring was additionally high-lighted by Epson for printers linked to the cloud-based PORT system, and by EFI Reggiani which confirmed the Question software program answer that collects knowledge and permits evaluation and monitoring of printer efficiency, price and sustainability metrics equivalent to water and vitality consumption.
As well as, sturdy options for automating parts of the manufacturing course of to scale back or get rid of labor are rising within the digital printing sector. Kornit confirmed a totally automated DTG printing answer that reduces labor and will increase manufacturing pace. Kornit’s Apollo DTG printer can print as much as 400 clothes per hour. Kornit’s patented wet-on-wet printing system eliminates the necessity for pretreatment. The Apollo, geared towards t-shirt printers who search a near-shoring possibility, options in-line warmth fixation, and an auto-mated loading and unloading system.

Harnessing Digital Printing Improvements

It was thrilling to see the expansion in digital printing applied sciences at ITMA 2023. Much more spectacular was seeing a few of these applied sciences efficiently applied in a manufacturing setting at IMPRIMA. Held in Milan, ITMA 2023 was situated only a brief distance from the Como area of Italy, lengthy thought-about the posh printing capital of the world. This area has modified from nearly fully rotary and flat display printing to digital printing, permitting the business to service sectors past the posh market. It serves as a terrific instance of harnessing the total capabilities of digital printing improvements.

Editor’s Notice: Kerry Maguire King has greater than 25 years working within the digital printing subject. King performed a task within the growth of Spoonflower’s manufacturing platform, and at present is working as a guide whereas persevering with her training within the Ph.D. program on the Wilson School of Textiles at North Carolina State College, Raleigh, N.C.

November/December 2023