Industrial Single pass and pigment printing of textiles takes center stage at ITMA 2015 – Digital Textile Pavilion.
As the gold standard for innovation & technology in textile – ITMA, culminates in the fashion capital of the world, Milan, there are no doubts that the Digital Textile Pavilion has been a major crowd puller. This is owing to the numerous technology developments & updates showcased on the back of a rapidly growing demand for digital printing on textile for apparel and for home furnishings. At the digital textile pavilion industrial single pass printing competing with rotary screen-printing speeds and new ink innovations for pigment printing created the major interest among the visitors.
We at Inkjet Forum India feel that for digital textile printing which now contributes about 3% of the total printed textile output, the key drivers to increase presence are going to be the success of industrial single pass technology and the techno-commercial acceptance of pigment digital textile printing by the industry.
In line with the same thought, ITMA 2015 saw the launch of 3 new printers to join MS-LaRio in the industrial single pass printer club. They are Konica Minolta Nassenger SP-1, Atexco Vega One and the much awaited SPGPrints Pike. Miyakoshi a innovative Japanese manufacturer of innovative printing machines also previewed their soon to be launched Industrial single pass printer. While MS has a head-start with around 12 installations around the world we can definitely expect interesting times ahead. Konica Minolta has reinforced its presence by recently setting up a 5 Million Euro demonstration and training facility showcasing the Nassenger SP-1 along with the Nassenger 8 & 10. Not a company to be left behind SPGPrints has ambitious plans for the Pike based on the new archer print bar technology based on the Fujifilm Samba printheads.
The Debate – Single Pass vs Scanning Mode
As industrial single pass technology is creating interest in the industry there is another school of thought in the industry, which believes that the conventional scanning mode provides more quality, flexibility and reliability for digital textile printing. Taking a look at the advantage for scanning mode based printers, this allows the textile mill or processing house to have a multiple of printers with different ink chemistries targeting different product segments and carrying out different jobs simultaneously. Industrial single pass printing technology on the other hand introduces a completely different economics with a high capital cost and low product costs allowing higher production volumes and for the company to achieve higher profit margins.
However based on the outputs of the single pass technology the company needs to be in sync with their pretreatment, design, post-treatment and marketing to utilize the full advantage of the system. The single pass printers give the optimum performance when they are running on a continuous basis with low downtime.
Eventually it will come down to two key points in making the decision for single pass and scanning mode – economics of the process & end application of the company.
Pigment Inks for Digital Textile
This is a great opportunity for digital textile printing industry to increase its market share considering that in conventional print, pigment printing occupies a healthy market share of close to 50% and the interest for digital textile in home textile industry is increasing which primarily relies on pigment prints do to requirement of high light fastness. The digital pigment printing process has not grown in popularity so far due to apprehensions in terms of:
– Printhead life with pigment inks
– Brightness of inks
– Wash fastness
– Commercial implications.
Pigment inks have been evolving over time and companies have been addressing the issues above to make pigment digital printing acceptable to the industry. However pigment printing does provide a comparatively eco-friendly process with reduction in water consumption and waste and also simplifies the entire production process compared to digital printing with dye based inks. Additionally since this process does not generate waste water it also allows the printing companies to setup the printing sites closer to the fashion and home furnishing markets.
Some new products that were launched at ITMA 2015 included:
Kiian: Kiian launched the Digistar K-Choice, a new pigment ink for the Kyocera heads at the show and also showcased their complete portfolio of aqueous inks. A special focus has been made by Kiian to ensure brighter color reproduction with their inks
Velvet jet: Velvet Jet, a company devoted to developing and manufacturing high quality inks, introduced their new pigment printing solution for digital textile printing.
Fujifilm Imaging Colorants: FFIC showcased their new Pro-JET TX pigment based ink for high speed textile printing with dry heat fixation technology with allows for waterless fixation
There were a few OEM’s and machine manufacturers in the digital textile pavilion exhibiting machines running on pigment ink successfully. The machines included the Durst Alpha 330, Colorjet Metro. Miyakoshi MTP Series, Kornit Allegro and MS – JPK Evo indicating the evolution of pigment inks to suit high speed production machines. Barring the MS JPK Evo the other four printers were launched at ITMA 2015.
Kothari Info-Tech Ltd.: Kothari Info-Tech Ltd (KITL) launched its new Charu Fashion range of high-energy disperse inks for direct printing of polyester fabrics. Along with the standard colors available they also showcased the fluorescent colour range allowing the prints to achieve deep, saturate and bright colours.
Sensient: Among other products Sensient launched the Xennia® Amethyst™ Ultra Black reactive dye digital textile ink which is a darker black for deeper tone. Dr Simon Daplyn, Sensient Product Manager for Textile Inks, comments, “The new Amethyst Ultra Black extends that lead. Benchmark testing against other inks available in the industry demonstrates a clear and distinct advantage for Amethyst Ultra Black in color depth and richness. This allows textile printers to add a new dimension in jet black design elements and stunning contrast with the bright Amethyst colors already being used by those looking for ultimate performance.”
Technijet: The UK based company introduced their Swiftjet line of machines for on-demand pre-treatment for digital printing. Swiftjet uses a unique high-pressure spray application method that controls the droplet size down to a micron level, this allows for a precise and controlled application rate.
Archroma: Archroma, together with a Swiss technology provider, introduced for the very first time at ITMA 2015 a pioneering system that Archroma believes will mark a turnaround in the textile digital printing market – Inkpresso ®. The Inkpresso system enables mixing of the required ink on site and on demand taking the ink manufacturing to the printers themselves.
Kornit: Kornit launched the Vulcan at ITMA 2015 which is positioned to be a cost effective digital printing solution for medium to long runs for the garment industry. It can print up to 250 garments per hour for both dark and light garments. The printer promises photo realistic quality with 60 re-circulating print heads.
Summing it up if we take a look at the textile industry – it’s a fact that inkjet textile printers are steadily penetrating the market with good business growth backed by recent improvements in print-head functionality, ink quality, and printer performance, as well as the unique qualities of digital printing. Important factors here are on-demand printing, plate-less printing and design flexibility, as well as greater environment friendliness resulting from the reduction of effluent and CO2 emission. The success of single pass printing technology and pigment inks will fuel the growth of digital textile printing in the coming 5 years !
Brixen, Italy – 11/09/2015 – Durst, the industrial inkjet applications specialist, will be launching the Alpha series, a new generation of super multi-pass inkjet printers for the digital production of home textiles and fashion at ITMA 2015 at stand C103 in hall 18. The Alpha series offers print widths of 190-330 cm and can be configured with up to 8 colors and 64 Alpha-S print heads that achieve a native resolution of 600 dpi and a print speed of 460 lm/h. With these performance parameters Durst is positioning the Alpha series in direct competition to traditional screen-printing – with all the benefits of digital printing. Compared with the single-pass trend, the Alpha series has the advantage of more economical, more efficient and more reliable printing technology. The Durst Alpha series provides continuous ink circulation in all ink circuits in order to guarantee constant ink quality and reliable stand-by availability. In the event of a print head failing, an automatic emergency mode will deactivate the affected print head row and continue printing with the greatest possible number of print heads. When necessary, Alpha-S print heads can be replaced by the customer within a very short time. A new intelligent feed system has been developed for the Alpha series that adapts automatically to different textiles and roll diameters. An integrated spray system allows materials to be chemically pre-treated before printing. Durst provides its own OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certifiable ink systems and a GOTS-certified reactive ink system. In order to give users greater flexibility and efficiency in production, Durst has also developed a new pigmented ink (Alpha Ink P) which can be used on a wide variety of textiles and which, after printing, offers an impressive feel. In addition, no pre- or post-treatment is required for standard materials such as cotton or polyester. Besides excellent print quality, high flexibility, industrial productivity and scalability, the Alpha Series also offers process solutions. The newly developed Durst Textile Workflow System simplifies precise color reproduction on different fabrics and enables continuous quality control and one-step profiling for new materials and color matching.
“The Alpha series makes digital textile production more economical and efficient,” says Martin Winkler, Segment Manager Textile Printing, Durst Phototechnik AG. “Super multi-pass technology allows us to achieve similar production capacity as with screen printing and provide 24/7 reliability that is not possible with single-pass technology. It’s not just about pure print speed but the simplification of printing processes so that the user can start production immediately. The Alpha series combines new process technologies in order to make the interaction between print head, ink system, material, type of fabric as well as pre- and post treatment manageable and reproducible at all times. The Alpha series print head technology also ensures high fail-safe performance and permanent availability. Furthermore, with the new pigmented ink, we are also offering users a universal solution for standard materials in order to increase flexibility and efficiency in production.”
Durst Alpha series at ITMA 2015
At ITMA 2015 Durst will be exhibiting the flagship from its Alpha series, the Alpha 330, for the industrial production of home textiles. Moreover, Durst will be presenting the Alpha 180 TR, a dye sublimation printer for polyester and polyester blends. Besides transfer printing, the Alpha 180 TR also offers an optional “direct-print kit”. Durst is a Gold Sponsor of the ITMA Digital Textile Conference 2015 and will present its new products against the backdrop of the event.
The Durst textile printing team will be available for individual meetings at the Durst stand in hall 18, stand C103, during ITMA 2015. Please contact Martin Winkler by e-mail to arrange individual meetings and for further information: MWinkler@durst.it
Durst Alpha Series Video Preview – www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5FVWy11BBk
Why is digital textile printing such a big deal? First of all, there is a big practical aspect to it. Regular fabric patterns are created through rotary or flatbed screen printing that require individual screens for every colour used and large yardage. Simply put, you need to print a lot of fabric and waste a lot of time and you would still be restricted in your choices. With fashion changing on the fly and consumers vying for more exclusivity and customization the scope of digital printing is on the rise.
The digital textile printing market is forecast to grow at an average annual growth rate of 20.1% in value terms between 2014 and 2019, according to a new market study by Smithers Pira. A total of around 650 million square metres of fabric were printed digitally in the year to mid-2014. It is estimated that total digital textile printing output will rise to 1.6 billion square metres annually by 2019. This includes displays and direct-to-garment – DTG.
Globally, the value of digital textile printing grew at more than 45% annually between 2004 and 2009 after standing at virtually zero in 2002. Since 2009, growth has slowed somewhat, but on average, the growth in digital textile printing output, excluding substrate value, grew at an annual rate of 25% between 2009 and 2012. Between 2012 and 2014 the average CAGR was 19.4%. The market predicted an overall average CAGR over the next five years to 2019 of 20.1%.
On account of recent technology developments, increased adoption of digital textile printing and industry sentiment this disruptive technology is poised for a second wave. A few factors which favour the second wave in digital textile printing:
Lower Energy Consumption & Waste Reduction
Digital textile printing eliminates the substantial amount of water and electrical energy one requires for rotary screen preparation, printing and cleanup. Even greater water and power savings can be achieved with disperse/sublimation and pigment digital textile inks, which only require a heat-fixation step for post treatment. Digital textile printing results in significantly less ink usage and waste relative to screen-printing. Taking into account the additional chemistry and chemical waste from screen production, printing digitally offers a greener advantage for printing.
Worldwide Market Factors
Increase in production in European countries driven by the fact that some European textile companies are looking to reshore a proportion of theirproduction operations from developing countries to European countries in
order to satisfy local tastes, facilitate quick response (QR) manufacturing, release a greater number of collections each year. The success of the fast fashion concept by the likes of Inditex Group, H & M & others. Opportunities for expansion in the luxury apparel segment as digital textile printing enables retailers of luxury apparel to produce small quantities of high quality, limited edition pieces cost efficiently.
Further scope for expansion lies in the area of mass customization, whereby a consumer is able to personalize a product by choosing a design on a dedicated web page in an retailer’s online store for subsequent production by a digital textile printer.
Development & improvement of printing technology with stable scanning printers and high speed single pass printing capabilities matching the speeds of rotary screen-printing. A pioneering example being the MS Lario which has seen early success with installations at high profile fashion and home textile companies. Following on the footsteps of MS other leading OEMs and machines manufacturers including SPG prints are at various stages of development with their high-speed single pass systems. In December 2014 SPGPrints provided a sneak preview to its select customers of its new single-pass digital textile printer based on the highly awaited Fujifilm Dimatix Samba printheads – Pike®. The upcoming ITMA 2015 show in Milan will also see launches of high speed single pass printers from SPG Prints and other leading OEMs which will create healthy competition which will lead to enhanced product quality and support. The higher speeds of production will bring out the production costs considerably making digital printed textile more favourable in the market. Decline in pricing of digital textile inks due to efficient sourcing and improved manufacturing processes is also leading to the overall cost-effectiveness of the technology.
Interest from the Home Textile industry to adopt digital textile printing with ready availability of stable wider width printers to enable printing bed sheets and home furnishing products. This would get an additional push with the increasing availability of pigment inks for high speed roll to roll printing at an industry acceptable price point which is key for the home textile industry.
Additionally recent investments & acquisitions mentioned in the digital textile sector indicate the potential of this technology and could provide a fillip to the entire sector pushing for further innovative products & services. Some of the key developments are as follows:
Electronics For Imaging (EFI), based in Fremont, California, has established a leading presence in the inkjet textile printing market with the strategic acquisition of Reggiani Macchine, based in Bergamo, in a deal worth around €125 million. Addressing the full scope of advanced textile printing, Regianni’s versatile printers are suitable for water-based dispersed, acid, pigment and reactive dye printing inks. “This acquisition gives EFI an immediate leadership position in one of the world’s largest industries undergoing the transformation from analog printing to digital,” says EFI CEO Guy Gecht. “The textile printing market is just beginning that transition, which will enable manufacturers to shift from long-run to on-demand manufacturing, responding to the increasing demands for short runs and customisation.” EFI is a leader in print industry workflow solutions and has a much larger sales and marketing platform around the world and the combination to help accelerate the analog-to-digital transformation of the industry.
Sensient Technologies Corporation has acquired Xennia Technology Ltd., a UK manufacturer of specialty inks used in digital printing. Xennia’s product lines consist of reactive, acid and sublimation inks for printing on a range of textiles and other substrates. This development creates a competent ink company with Sensient’s market reach and Xennia’s technical capabilities.
Sawgrass Industrial, the business division of Sawgrass Technologies operating in sublimation and pigment inks for industrial applications, is joining the JK Group, the company which includes the brands Kiian Digital and J-Teck, to extend the group’s technology capabilities. Kiian Digital, J-Teck and Sawgrass Industrial have in common a track record of innovation, quality, and reliability and are regarded as trusted commercial and technical partners of companies that supply top brands in over 100 countries worldwide. Together they create the largest industrial digital sublimation group with leading technologies, a global presence, and a world class manufacturing capability for textile applications.
India has not been far behind in the digital textile revolution and is poised to be on the biggest market for digital textile printing after China. 2014 – 2015 has seen a lot of transition from sampling machines to real industrial printing machines in India with the current industrial machine installations at 110 and growing at a rapid pace.
A game changing development is the recent entry of the MS-Lario to one of the premier digital printing setups in India. This is poised to be a serious case to take digital textile printing mainstream in India.
Now we have to wait and watch if ITMA 2015 replicates ITMA 2003 and acts as a catalyst giving momentum to the second wave in digital textile printing.
Boxmeer, Netherlands – SPGPrints has opened its doors to key customers for a ‘sneak’ preview of its new single-pass digital textile printer, scheduled for launch at ITMA 2015 in Milan, next November. Over a two-week period visitors from around the world were able to view the prototype of the new ‘Pike®’ printer at the company’s headquarters in Boxmeer, the Netherlands.
The Pike® is based on a full-width array of Fujifilm Samba print heads, specially modified in a joint project for optimum performance in textile printing. The heads are incorporated in a highly accurate but user-friendly print-bar technology, called ‘Archer®’.
One essential advantage of the technology is that the Archer® Technology can jet accurately across a distance much greater than can other heads widely used in current digital-textile applications. The head plates in the Archer® array will typically be 4mm away from the surface of the substrate, compared with the typical 1.5mm of other print heads – so greatly reducing the risk of ‘head strike’, which can damage these expensive components.
SPGPrints has also developed Pike® Reactive inks, with a formula that eliminates the mist problem, which might have arisen with this greater firing distance.
The first Pike® printer is a 6-colour machine in which each colour is represented by an Archer® print bar containing 43 print heads, giving a printing width of 1850mm. The print bar has a native resolution of 1200 x 1200dpi, variable drop sizes from 2-10pl and a jetting frequency of 32 kHz, which together deliver typical productivity of 40 linear metres a minutes, with a maximum of around 75 m/min. The modular construction will allow models with up to 9 colours.
Wider versions of the Pike, up to 3200mm, are also planned.
The Archer® print bar has been designed to retract fully for easy maintenance. Heads can be purged in narrow segments and a faulty head can be replaced by users in less than an hour, with no need for manual alignment – simply software-based registration. The heads are manufactured by a MEMS process, which means they are less liable to degradation and can be refurbished.
With the cost of head replacement identified as a major concern for investors in fixed-array machines, SPGPrints proposes a unique arrangement in conjunction with Pike® inks, in which the customer will initially receive a number of spare heads and any faulty heads returned will be replaced free of charge.
Jos Notermans, SPGPrints’ commercial manager for digital textiles, said: “We researched what users want in the next generation of digital textile printing technology and discovered that the essentials include solid blotches, fine geometrics and – above all – a robust industrial solution. That’s what the Pike delivers, at high speed and with low, predictable costs.
“We are able to achieve the quality of Epson DX-based machines with the productivity of the faster machines based on Kyocera heads.”
The Pike’s fabric-infeed system is by Erhardt + Leimer and the transport blanket has been specially designed in conjunction with Habasit. The in-line dryer has the extra capacity to handle disperse inks, which – along with acid inks – are in development and scheduled for launch in 2016.
ITMA, one of the world’s most recognized textile and garment machinery exhibition, to be held in Milan next year, will have a complete section on digital printing technology.
The textile printing industry is now gripped by digital technology. Manufacturers, trying to carve a niche in the global market, now need to invest in digital technology to raise productivity and meet more stringent demands on quality.
In order to accentuate the value of digital technology, ITMA 2015 will have a dedicated chapter on printing technology to provide an improved access to the vast business potential of this sector.
With the invention and increasing acceptance of digital technological solutions, digital printing technology is targeted at improving print speed, design, and competence as the next step in the growth of printing sector.
Digitally printed textiles are now the next big thing in the global market. According to a report released by Global Industry Analyst Inc., the global production of printed textiles is estimated to reach 27.8 billion square meters by 2018.
Digital textile printing has a number of important advantages over screen printing. For example, it offers greater freedom of creativity and flexibility in design and is more cost efficient for short print runs, according to a recent report from Textiles Intelligence. Digital printing can also be expanded in the luxury apparel segment as digital textile printing enables retailers of luxury apparel to produce small quantities of high quality, limited edition pieces cost efficiently.
With an encouraging response from the printing sector, exhibitors have already booked 10 percent of the total 200,000 square meters space at ITMA 2015, which is double the space booked by the exhibitors at ITMA 2011.
With a strong support from various printing associations for ITMA 2015, like European Specialist Printing Manufacturers Association (ESMA), the China Screen Printing & Graphics Imaging Association, and others, ITMA is planning to host a conference on digital printing soon in the near future.