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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Stretching the textile digital printing horizon

By Ruth Zach
There is a noticeable decrease in demand for printing resulting from the current internet and on-line information sources causing most printing segments to shrink significantly. However, a few printing segments not only are rising but actually enjoy continuous prosperity in spite of the general printing decline. All of these segments concern digital printing and more specifically wide format digital printing. Within the wide format digital printing, digital textile printing experience a steady growth rate which is expected to expand further in the coming years.
The wide format printing market is a relatively new market, existing for the last 20 years as compared to the traditional printing, which has more than 200 years of tradition. The popularity of wide format digital printing is mainly due to its specialized applications, signage and banners as well as graphic arts which trickled to almost every design application and made it possible to print on almost any material whether soft like paper, vinyl or canvas or rigid materials such as glass, plastic materials such as acrylic sheets and recently also tiles, wood and metal. Printing on such materials was empowered by the wide format digital printers first introduced in the early 1990s.
When wide format inkjet printers were first introduced, the ink used by these printers were “hard solvent” inks and were used mainly for roll-able materials. While the speed was quite slow, the quality compensated for the speed. Low and mild Solvent inks introduced later, had a milder odour and were less harmful to humans and the environment. However, the emerging of Eco Solvent ink for the new eco-solvent printers was a real breakthrough. Many printers discovered the advantages of wide format digital printing and the market continued to blossom.
Parallel to the introduction of eco-solvent printers, UV printer technologies and inks came out. UV technology infused the market with unprecedented capabilities for printing on rigid surfaces, encouraged the development of high-speed print heads as well as compatible UV inks.
The ink development for any digital printing technology includes strict prerequisites, which are not characteristic of traditional printing. Inkjet inks need to be jetted smoothly through the fine print head nozzles and therefore must feature sub-micron particle size. These inks also require other specifications such as stability, for high light fastness to avoid fading when exposed to outdoor conditions and high wash resistance to be able to withstand all weather conditions.
Bordeaux, one of the leading inkjet ink manufacturing pioneers, recently broadened its offering for textile and established Velvet Jet, a textile division dedicates the developing, manufacturing and marketing of inkjet inks for textile. Its latest development is a pigment ink that can print on all types of fabrics enabling to digitally print short runs of fashion of a mixed or multi-fibre fabric in one process.
Bordeaux’s professional achievements are backed by a highly experienced R&D team. This has enabled the development of the company’s newest pigment ink intended for digital printing on fabrics which is part of a complete printing concept reflecting the company’s vision of a single print process for all fabrics.
The use of the Velvet Jet pigment ink enables print houses to simplify the print procedure with a single pretreatment for all fabric and no post-treatment to fixate the ink to the fabric. This simple print process is suitable for printing on a large range of applications in one location with one printing line, without the need to change inks. The bold concept completely redefines digital textile printing, which until today, was characterised by multiple inks for different fabrics and complex print procedures.
Bordeaux serves the digital printing market and established its reputation for high-quality inks and coatings and the company products are sold in over 100 countries worldwide via appointed distributors and printer resellers who sell the products directly to end users. For the textile digital printing market, Bordeaux separated its activity and all marketing and sales are done under the Velvet Jet division dedicated to textile digital printing.
Velvet Jet’s marketing strategy is to work directly with textile digital printer manufacturers, print head technology manufacturers and large end users with large production cycles who can benefit the most from Velvet Jet’s solution and direct support.
Velvet Jet focuses on the main textile producing countries - India, Turkey, china and Italy, but maintain a strong presence in the far East, Latin America and the rest of Europe.
The Indian market has great significance in the world textile market. India, similar to the rest of the world, is gradually shifting its textile printing to digital. Although the current rate of digital deployment is approximately 5 percent, this is forecasted to grow in the coming years. As a textile-producing country, India is likely to experience this growth and Velvet Jet pigment ink is a viable solution.
Bordeaux and its CEO, Moshe Zach believe that the new frontier for digital printing lies in digital printing for textile. In spite of the great advantages of digital printing, the textile industry is still relatively slow to adapt to digital printing since the technology has posed obstacles for easy adaptation in the length of the runs, their speed and the requirements of different ink types for different fibres.
However, these barriers are falling with the introduction of Velvet Jet’s One Ink for All Fabrics pigment ink, capable of printing on many fibre types and with a single unified printing process. The ink is suitable for a wide variety of applications such as fashion, upholstery, sportswear, accessories and technical textiles, exhibiting high-quality printing without the cumbersome pre-and post-treatment of traditional printing.
Read More: Stretching the textile digital printing horizon

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