No longer used only for sampling, textile ink jet printing is becoming
a viable option for short run production. Two companies, Stork Prints,
a global market leader for textile printing systems and Ciba, an innovative
producer of specialty chemicals, offer their involvement and perspective
on this expanding field.
jet textile printing became more feasible as speed technology and dyes
chemistry progressed. The evolution
of textile ink jet printers is an interesting story. The early generation
ink jet printers typically used 4 print heads, one each for the CMYK
inks. Theoretically, any
color within the color space defined by these four colors was then achievable,
heavier colors requiring more dots per inch, and lighter colors requiring
less. In practice however, shades that required very little color used
so few dots that the separate dots became apparent to the naked eye,
a phenomenon referred to as "dithering". To solve this problem,
the printer manufacturers started using more print heads, as many as
12, to allow them to use more colors. Using stronger inks allows bright
heavy shades to be achieved, while using weaker inks at the same time
means using more dots to create a lighter shade, thus reducing dithering.
ink colors (such as orange or green) could be used as well, both expanding
achievable color space and reducing dither. Another advantage of adding
more ink heads is the improvement in printer speed it affords. Twice
as many heads can, theoretically, double the output speed of the printer.
Recently, some manufacturers have even doubled the number of nozzles
head to achieve the same result. Examples of this are the Mimaki TX2
1600, an eight color 360/720 dpi piezo head printer and the Reggiani
600 dpi, piezo Head that prints 120 yds/hr. When Mimaki doubled the print
heads on the TX1600 to produce their current TX2 1600 version the print
speed went from 3 sq. yds/hr to 30 sq. yd/hr.
With a pricing level comparable to medium to high-quality conventional printing in Europe, DPA is the proof of the availability of affordable digital printing. In the last 18 months DPA has developed a solid worldwide customer base including international brand owners in the fashion, swim- and sportwear sector such as Victoria’s Secret, Custo and Wacoal.
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