More than just colour

Colour is one thing and function is another: but both are to take centre stage in the European Digital Textile Conference at Texprocess. In a world of increasing demand for new technologies for processing apparel, technical textiles and flexible materials, digital printing is now becoming a real success story.

It allows direct printing on clothes and shoes. And it is not only the trend for increasing individualisation that gets a boost from this. For digital printing not only applies colour to textiles, it can also apply functionality. This is used, for example, in fashion, in sport and in the automotive industry. Thanks to finishing techniques using digital printing, greater colour fastness can now be achieved in swimwear, which is thus better able to withstand the effects of water, chlorine and sunshine. With ink-jet printing and the use of specific chemicals, textiles can be given dirt-resistant, anti-bacterial and fire-resistant properties. And these are just two areas of application.

Texprocess will be demonstrating a completely networked and integrated textiles production chain with its Digital Textile Microfactory. In the printing section, which forms part of this miniature digital factory, visitors can observe the large-format inkjet printing process being used on polyester, with a form of sublimation printing, as well as pigmented printing on cotton and mixed-fibre wovens. At the same time, batch size and other parameters can be flexibly adjusted. Both the hardware and the software for this factory are provided by Mimaki and Ergosoft, as well as Coldenhove and Monti Antonio.

Keen to get more information? Then, the European Digital Textile Conference is for you. Experts from, for example, the TenCate Outdoor Fabrics Company B.V., will be talking about digital printing in the outdoor sector and will demonstrate how greater design freedom can result from the use of UV ink-jet printing. Products designed specifically for individual customers are, therefore, significantly easier to manufacture. Edwin Grobbink from TenCate, will, moreover, be explaining why better values for light fastness are achieved using UV inkjet printing than with traditional methods.

Uwe Niklas from Mimaki Germany will analyse the difference between sublimation transfer and direct dye sublimation printing. Direct dye sublimation works without the need for the transfer paper with the mirror image of the final print. The images are printed directly onto the polyester and then fixed using heat. The process is quick, individualised, cheap and is of photo quality. It is environmentally friendly, because no chemicals are required and, with the direct dye sublimation process, there is no longer any need for paper either.

Other lectures will consider, for example, plasma pretreatment systems for digital printing processes, which help achieve better printing results, or with inkjet processes for chemical finishings – again with a view to optimising the quality of the printed result.

Kirsten Rein

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