Trends that will change the future of digital printing
According to a report by Smithers Pira, a worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry supply chains, a total of 870 million square metres of fabric were printed on digital printers last year worth US $ 1.29 billion. It is further expected that the volume of fabric will grow at a CAGR of 17.5% in the next five years. By 2021, this volume will reach up to 1.95 billion square metres worth US $ 2.66 billion. The changing customer demands and the advantages of digital printing are fuelling its importance in the textile and apparel industry. Team StitchWorld analyses the latest trends and advancements in this rapidly growing segment.
As against its substitutes screen printing and rotary printing, digital printing offers promising benefits such as quick turnaround times, no limited designs, ecofriendly nature, fast speed, perfect registration and high resolution. It has come a long way from the earlier time when the industry was not receptive to shift to digital printing, doubtful of its cost, flexibility, reliability and ease of use.
Following are some of the trends that the Indian textile market is witnessing:
New options available for Print Heads
The printhead of a digital printer is its heart which is solely responsible for precisely placing each individual drop of different colours of ink on the substrate, wherever required. The vast majority of digital printers have been using printheads of companies such as Epson till now. However at present, the digital printer manufacturers are drifting towards adopting printheads offered by other companies such as Panasonic, Ricoh Co. Ltd. or Konica Minolta. These printheads are in maximum demand in the market.
This differentiation in the selection of printheads is predominantly attributed to a significant number of factors which matter while choosing a printhead such as its size, variable drop size capability, speed at which it places colour on the substrate, and the number of nozzles. Negi Sign Systems & Supplies offers NegiJet TX R-1900, which features Ricoh Gen 5 printheads. Available in 8 and 16 options, the Ricoh Gen 5 printhead
“The next generation of digital printers will have 12 printheads and will cross over the printing speed of 100 m2/h.” “The future of digital printing is with pigment inks. It costs less as well as requires no pre-treatment.”
Pigment inks are gaining popularity as they can print on a wide array of fabrics. Instead of penetrating the fabric and binding compared to other inks, these inks form a layer on the fabric which is only a micron thick. Moreover, they don’t require any pre-treatment such as steaming. –Vijay Kandari, Sales Head, Negi Sign Systems & Supplies Co. – V. Sudheer Nair, CEO, Cheran Machines
has 1280 nozzles per head and variable drop of 7PL, 14PL and PL. It offers a printing quality of 1200 DPI.
Cheran machines has a machine model CSP 2000, an industrial sublimation printer that equips 4 Ricoh Gen 5 printheads. These heads have more than 3 types of variable ink drop printing technology ranging from 7PL to 21PL. The maximum resolution supported is 2400 DPI.
Another printhead, Kyocera KJ4 has 1328 nozzles per head and facilitates a variable drop size of 4PL-18 PL. It allows frequency of drops per second to be 30 kHz which directly impacts the printing speed.
Increasing use of pigment inks
The newest trend in the textile market is the usage of a single ink for all types of substrates. Pigment inks are gaining popularity as they can print on a wide array of fabrics. Instead of penetrating the fabric and binding compared to other inks, these inks form a layer on the fabric which is only a micron thick. Moreover, they don’t require any pretreatment such as steaming.
Vee Kay Enterprises’ offering, E-Press, a digital textile printer, uses reactive, acid, pigment and sublimation inks. It allows options of 4, 6 and 8 colours in the printer. The E-Press can print on a variety of fabrics such as cotton, silk, linen, wool, nylon, polyester and many other fabrics.
Another printer in the league is NegiJet TX R-1900 by Negi Sign Systems & Supplies, which also provides options of reactive, acid, pigment and disperse inks to be used for printing. The printer offers 8 colour options which are CMYK, red, orange, grey and blue.
Desirable high speed of printing
The printing speed of the digital printer determines the productivity of the printer. Demand for high speed of digital printers are pushing manufacturers to offer sublimation printers with increased speed. Britomatics, a supplier of textile printing Comparison of features of sublimation printers solutions, presents E180-DX5, a sublimation printer, which is available in 2 heads and 4 heads. The printer offers a speed of 64 m2/h in 4 passes.
Indigenous printers making their way into global market
For a long time, the Indian textile market has been relying on European and Korean digital printers to cater to customers’ needs. The precision and expertise required to understand the mechanical design, colour match system, material feeding were the areas where Europeans and Koreans were excelling. Colorjet is one such digital printer manufacturer which is based in India and develops all the printers in the country itself. The company recently launched Aurajet-D Series II, a dye sublimation printer.
One of the attractive feature of the printer is its ability to print on a GSM paper as low as 45 which optimizes the final cost. A 90 or 100 GSM paper costs around Rs. 3000 per metre whereas a 45 GSM paper costs around Rs 2000 per metre. It also reduces the ink consumption to nearly half.
Industry inclining towards single pass printing
Digital printers, without even a second thought, offer high printing speed compared to other means of printing. The printing speed of the digital printer greatly depends on the speed it offers in a single pass. In a single pass, the substrate is fed to the printer, which is printed and ejected out. A great saving in terms of time is achieved as all the ink cartridges dispense ink at the same time.
On the other hand, multi-pass printing involves ink cartridges dispensing one type of ink at a time. This type of printing not only takes longer time but also has a probability of distorted prints. However, it is much cheaper than the single pass.
“We are getting good responses for both our fabric printers and sublimation printers. We have sold more than 150 machines of Vastrajet all over India.” – Smarth Bansal, Brand Manager, Colorjet “70% of the Indian industry deals with polyester fabric, that’s why sublimation printers are more in demand.” – Bharat Wadhwa, Owner, Vee Kay Enterprises “Digital printing will gain momentum in the next few years as prices of digital printers are coming down due to lower costing of inks.” – Arjun Dev, Managing Director, Britomatics India Pvt. Ltd.