An analogue-to-digital transformation is currently taking place in the textiles and clothing market. Alongside conventional textile printing processes, digital printing is growing fast. Digital offers enormous potential to make production more efficient. And yet textile manufacturers cannot make use of all the opportunities, partly because the systems for the pre-treatment and post-treatment of textiles often come from different manufacturers. This is why Mimaki now offers one complete solution for the textile print workflow.
By Bert Benckhuysen, Senior Product Manager at Mimaki EMEA
It is getting increasingly challenging for big textile brands to manage their production and distribution costs. Everything has to be as efficient and as cost-effective as possible in order to be more competitive and compensate for unsold stock. H&M, for example, recently announced that it has over 4.3 billion dollars’ worth of unsold stock. Digital textile printing is seen as a more cost-efficient alternative to conventional techniques, where smaller volumes can be custom-made. This means that less stock is required, and products can be placed on the market much more quickly. In addition, within the foreseeable future, you’ll be able to adjust a collection or even completely replace it, based on online and in-store sales.
It is no coincidence that traditional textile manufacturers are currently making big investments in their transition to the digital world. According to the latest trends, thanks to this digital revolution, printed textile manufacturing is coming back to Europe, mostly from Asia, because this allows a lot of savings on distribution. Time-to-market in particular plays an important role here. Digital textile production also helps to reduce environmental pollution. The fact is that conventional technology for textile printing is one of the biggest water consumers of all industries. With regard to water pollution, this industry scores the highest, with around 20 per cent. It is estimated that digital textile printing offers savings of over 60 per cent!
But all these advantages can only be used to their full potential if the digital textile production process works like a well-oiled machine. In order to achieve this, to start with, the machines used have to deal with high production volumes, which means that they do not need maintenance during production. The promised efficiency improvements to digital inkjet technology cannot always be fulfilled, because companies use machinery from different suppliers. These machines are not always geared to each other and are not always capable of achieving the same production volume within the same maintenance cycle. Consequently, a machine in the print queue can come to a standstill due to a failure, which means that the entire production stagnates. Next, as a textile print company you are reliant on the technical support of different suppliers in order to get production back on track. As with many things, the efficiency of digital textile production depends on the weakest link. So support for your entire workflow is crucial.
Due to the recent takeover of Rimslow, Mimaki can offer a complete workflow solution for digital textile printing. This is how it looks:
- Step 1: Pre-treatment of fabrics.
This is carried out with a special coating, before printing, which is necessary in order to achieve the optimum interaction between the ink and the fabric, and in order to prevent the ink from running. This is now possible with the Mimaki TR300-1850C Pre-Treatment Unit or with the Mimaki TR600-1850W hybrid Coater/Washing Unit.
- Step 2: Printing directly on textiles.
- Step 3: Steaming the printed fabric.
This step is required in order to fix the ink on the fabric. In order to do this, a machine like the Mimaki TR300-1850S Steamer or the Mimaki TR600-1850S Steamer can be used.
- Step 4: Washing the printed fabric.
With this last step, unfixed residual ink and treatment agent are removed from the fabric. This can be done with the Mimaki TR600-1850W Washer, for example. The textile is then prepared for the next steps in the production and distribution process.
With this one-stop solution for coating, printing, steaming and washing machines, companies in the textile industry now have complete control over their production process. And thanks to our service network in 150 countries, customers have a single point of contact for all support for their textile production process, allowing them to save a lot of time, effort and money. This is how you really make use of all the advantages of digital textile printing.