Printing on cloth is an age-old practice
and it remains an important part of modern textile manufacturing.
While established rotary printing methods allow high productivity,
preparation is extremely time consuming and production is inflexible
and not profitable when only small numbers of pieces are printed.
Existing jet printers for textile applications are more flexible
but quite slow, operating at only about 1m2 per hour. The colour
variety is also limited and the inks used are dangerous, meaning
waste effluent must be properly treated and disposed of.
This project was aimed at developing an
advanced ink jet colour printing technique for the textile industry.
The result is a new 160 cm-wide, four-colour jet printer featuring
twenty-fold increased productivity. Light and water-fast ink jet
paper and specially coated receiving materials and pre-treatment
techniques were also developed, along with newly formulated inks
based on reactive dyes applicable to several textile materials.
The colour range has also been improved. Environmentally-friendly
features include an integrated ink recycling system and the use
of water-based dyes.
Partners say this is just a starting point
for ink jet textile printing which could eventually lead to improved
European competitiveness against Japan and US-based printer manufacturers
and Far East textile manufacturers.