The global digital textile printing market is projected to reach US$ 8.8 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 19.1% from 2020 to 2027, according to a report by Allied Market Research. The growing requirement for customization and the demand for greater sustainability have driven the development of digital printing. In response to these trends, renowned industry players have overhauled their portfolios with new technologies and solutions.

Groundbreaking entry-level hybrid printer with high versatility

With the purpose of allowing smaller print service providers to enter new markets, Mimaki Europe launched its brand-new hybrid digital textile printer, the Tx300P-1800 MkII, in February 2020.

Uniquely designed with versatility at its core, the new printer enables both direct-to-textile and transfer printing, with interchangeable platens and three different ink combinations – providing high flexibility within a single system and opening new doors for print service providers.

With Mimaki’s Tx300P-1800 digital textile printer having previously led the way for high-quality, cost-effective printing, the evolved Mimaki Tx300P-1800 MkII now adds sublimation transfer printing to its capabilities, opening up a host of possible new materials and applications.

The capability to fulfil diverse applications from fashion textiles to interior fabrics and wallpaper within one system makes the printer an ideal entry-level solution.

It affords both smaller print service providers and large volume production houses all of the well-known benefits of digital print technology not attainable with analogue print methods still prevalent in the modern textile printing industry, including more cost-effective short runs and faster turnarounds, benefits that make this technology ideal for sampling.

The evolved Mimaki Tx300P-1800 MkII now adds sublimation transfer printing to its capabilities. According to Mimaki, with the introduction of this new hybrid printer, the company is not only delivering an affordable, streamlined single-system solution for printing on both paper and textile, but also providing print service providers with the versatility to continue exploring different substrates and applications as they grow their businesses into the future.

The ability of the Mimaki Tx300P-1800 MkII to switch between direct-to-textile and transfer printing is enabled by its interchangeable platens. When printing direct-to-textile, excess ink penetrated through the fabric is drained by a platen with an ink-receiving channel. When printing on heat transfer paper however, this platen can be quickly and easily exchanged for a vacuum platen needed for paper printing – without the need for service engineers.

The hybrid printer is also able to facilitate either a traditional one-way ink set, configured with any one of five ink types, as well as various combinations of inks, providing great flexibility.

Users are able to select from three different ink combinations – textile pigment/direct sublimation, textile pigment/sublimation transfer, or direct sublimation/sublimation transfer – to provide the best results across various applications.

Novel retail-ready DTG machines

Kornit Digital introduced two new digital direct-to-garment (DTG) print systems at Impressions Expo Long Beach event, which took place on January 17-19, 2020 in Long Beach, California.

The novel Vulcan Plus and Storm HD6 Lite systems appeal to numerous production areas with their new capabilities, from polyester sportswear and athleisure garments. Both solutions make retail-quality DTG impressions accessible to printers and brands of every size and need.

As introduced, Vulcan Plus is the next-generation system for DTG mass customization. Able to deliver more than 2,000 retail-quality impressions in a 12-hour shift, Vulcan Plus builds on the success and feedback from customers using Kornit Vulcan, a 2017 SGIA Product of the Year.

The eco-friendly system, which has undergone beta testing by Kornit customers in both the United States and Europe, represents a high capacity DTG print system in Kornit’s product portfolio and the broader marketplace.

The stability and reliability of the Vulcan platform have been improved considerably, giving the customer improved uptime and utilization from the equipment, and thus lower overall cost of ownership.

Vulcan Plus comes with the advanced NeoPigment Eco-Rapid ink set for good print quality and handfeel, and is compatible with ColorGATE RIP software, which enables easy color matching, Pantone libraries, effects like semi-transparency and black knockouts, and PDF workflows.

Kornit Vulcan Plus is able to deliver more than 2,000 retail-quality impressions in a 12-hour shift.Vulcan Plus is rated to print up to 235 impressions per hour, sized 13” by 13” on dark garments, with Kornit’s single-step process. Depending on the job types and working hours involved, this translates to anywhere from 550,000 to more than one million impressions annually.

Achieving approximately 50% higher throughput than Kornit Atlas, Vulcan Plus does compromise on application flexibility, requiring all eight of its pallets to be of the same type. Available pallets include: standard tee, youth/ladies, zipper hoodie, sleeve/legging and tote bag.

Moreover, the Storm HD6 Lite system has been designed to enable print shops of all sizes with on-demand DTG printing that meets the retail quality and sustainability standards of the renowned retail brands.

With a production capacity of up to 60,000 impressions annually, Storm HD6 Lite provides DTG printing for smaller print operations, such as commercial printers moving to the industrial market and analog printers broadening their production capabilities. Storm HD6 Lite effectively replaces Kornit Storm II.

In addition to presenting Vulcan Plus and Storm HD6 Lite, Kornit gave visitors the opportunity to observe the live demonstrations of the brand’s eco-friendly Atlas, Avalanche Poly Pro, and Storm HD6 systems for on-demand DTG printing.

Innovative softener allows improved handfeel for fashion on demand

Kornit Digital also released its new NeoPigment Robusto Softener solution for Presto, the company’s system for digital, pigment-based direct-to-fabric decoration.

The solution allows Kornit Presto users to manufacture on demand for top retail and fashion brands, with no compromise on handfeel. The company said, with NeoPigment Robusto Softener, the Presto is a complete solution for printing, softening and drying in a single step.

Reflecting Kornit’s commitment to expanding sustainable, on-demand (i.e. waste-free) decoration capabilities to all corners of the textile industry, this solution eliminates a key barrier between digital, pigment-based impressions and the fashion industry—namely, a softer handfeel.

The new Softener solution is a product of the brand’s continuous innovation strategy, making Kornit technology the fashion world’s solution for on-demand proximity production.

By streamlining the end-to-end process, these systems eliminate the need to predict demand and manage inventory, while supporting global sustainability imperatives.

Offering vibrant colors, intricate design capabilities, and a fabric touch that is second to none, Kornit’s pigment-based digital print solutions require minimal space and labor relative to competitive offerings.

According to Ronen Samuel, Kornit CEO, the new Softener addresses the final sticking point the company has encountered for high fashion and other markets considering a move to digital printing.

A complete solution for small run to large scale production

Epson unveiled two new models with 64 and 8 printheads from the Monna Lisa Evo Tre range, as well as the new Genesta pigment ink at ITMA 2019.

The new Monna Lisa Evo Tre range features Epson PrecisionCore Technology to offer a complete solution for all textile market needs, from large scale, high speed production to small run, on demand sample printing. 

The new flagship Monna Lisa Evo Tre scanning printer with 64 PrecisionCore printheads is built for high productivity without compromising the printing quality, thanks to its maximum printing speed of 779 sqm/h.

The new Monna Lisa Evo Tre 64 was unveiled at ITMA 2019, demonstrating the latest Epson innovations for an evolving digital printing market.Monna Lisa Evo Tre 64’s PrecisionCore technology combines quality, accuracy and speed which provides the maximum level of flexibility and reliability. With resolution up to 1200 dpi, the flagship model works on Genesta acid, reactive, disperse and pigment ink types.

Another highlight at the booth was the new entry-level printer, the Monna Lisa Evo Tre 8, with 8 PrecisionCore printheads. The model is suitable for printing samples by delivering high quality for an affordable price. It can print at the maximum printing speed of 265 sqm/h.

This new Monna Lisa Evo Tre series model can be upgraded at the factory to 16 printheads, while maintaining the high versatility available in all Epson industrial textile solution machines.  The system works on Genesta acid, reactive, disperse and pigment ink types, with resolution up to 1200 dpi.

Epson continued its mission of providing the total solutions with the new breakthrough Genesta PG-Revo pigment ink.

The ink provides industry-standard dry and wet rub fastness in deep shades without post-treatment of fabric by faster chemical and physical bonding characteristics. It allows high-quality printing on a wide range of fabric types and applications including fast growing on-demand fashion and home textile markets.

PG-Revo ink does not consume water in the post printing process, which makes it very environmentally friendly. PG-Revo inks can be also applied on fabrics without pre-treatment, further boosting their eco-friendly performances.

New hybrid binder for waterborne printing inks

In June 2020, Dow presented a new generation hybrid binder for the formulation of waterborne screen printing inks achieving good durability, color brightness and opacity on fabrics made of synthetic and natural fibers for the growing streetwear and sportswear markets.

With boundaries between outdoor and fashion apparel getting vaguer, DOWSIL Print 041 Binder helps inks formulators and screen printing shops meet key customer demands for soft hand feel and bright colors that don’t crack, fade or run, while controlling processing costs and achieving outstanding durability.

As the fashion industry adopts production practices and materials with reduced environmental impacts to meet tightening regulatory requirements and sustainability commitments, Dow’s innovative printing ink technology can help leading brands to combine stylish look, easy-care, durability, profitability and sustainability.

An innovative acrylic polyurethane hybrid material, DOWSIL Print 041 Textile Printing Ink Binder enables drop-in, waterborne alternative formulations to conventional textile printing inks, combining high performance, cost-effectiveness, and outstanding sustainability profile.

Inks formulated with DOWSIL Print 041 Binder combine ease of use in existing screen printing equipment, with good adhesion and high image opacity in both synthetic fabrics and cotton. Printed textiles display high resistance to elongation, as well as high washing, rub, and ironing fastness compared to conventional alternatives to PVC inks.

Brand owners and regulatory bodies in Europe, North America and around the world have been progressively restricting the use of textile inks containing PVC and phthalates based on health and environmental concerns over the past several years.

Next-generation digital inks for cellulosics and polyester/cotton blends

ERIOFAST VISTA ink enables printers to achieve lasting designs on polyester/cotton blends.In order to help customers achieve high performance printing on cellulosics and polyester/cotton blends, Huntsman Textile Effects launched the next-generation of high performance digital ink ranges at ITMA 2019.

As the industry’s focus on sustainability and performance increases coupled with the rising market demand for polyester/cotton blends, these two new product ranges offer advanced performance substantially enhancing sustainability and environmental standards.

NOVACRON ADVANCE ink is the next generation of reactive inks for cellulosics with outstanding shade depth and color gamut, developed for the latest industrial digital printing machines.

The full range achieves remarkable deep shades with perfect reliability and reproducibility compared to currently available technologies.

ERIOFAST VISTA ink enables printers to achieve lasting designs on polyester/cotton blends, and outperforms alternative solutions in digital printing in terms of brilliancy, color depth, fabric handle and wash fastness.

Using inks from ERIOFAST VISTA ink range enables printers to adopt a simple urea-free process with significantly reduced energy consumption, washing, machine maintenance and carbon dioxide emissions.

More efficient to use with higher mileage, these products require minimal maintenance and result in greater savings while meeting stringent industry standards.