Expert corner - a talk with Theo van Brueggen on Direct to Fabric printing. - Kornit Blog

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Just in time for Fespa, we talked to Theo van Brueggen, our Sales Manager for Direct to Fabric printng for the Kornit Allegro in the EMEA region.

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As an expert in inkjet printing with a diverse background both in the signage industry and now in the textile industry, can you tell us about the complexities involved in digital printing on fabrics?  
“Textile is a far more challenging substrate to print on than on another other substrate. There are so many variables involved from the wide variety of fabric types and manufacturing processes that impact on how the fabric reacts. Most manufacturers purchase fabrics based on price and so it is difficult to know in advance what the exact composition and quality of the fabric is, which is significant because the chemical composition will impact on how the pre-treatment and ink react to the fabric. For example a t-shirt alone has about 25-35 chemicals in it for dying, bleaching, softening, smell, anti-perspiration?.

Digital printing was designed to speed the process up and make things more efficient.
Can you elaborate on this?

Digital printing definitely speeds up the printing process and allows for more flexibility. However manufactures looking to enter the digital Direct to Fabric (roll to roll) arena should be aware that not all digital printing workflows are created equal. Most digital printers require fabric to be pre-treated prior to printing to ensure that the printing is exact. If not for example, after the curing stage you might
discover unwanted ink residue and pre-treatments could leave stains on the fabric (the pretreatment could react with the ink used). This means that trial and error and set up time are inevitable for each new fabric used.

Pre-treatment is an essential step and perhaps the Achilles heel in the digital textile printing process. The entire fabric roll needs to be pre-treated regardless of the surface area to be covered because you can’t know in advance which parts of the fabric will be printed on. It might just be a delicate print with a few flowers or stars. Regardless the whole roll would need to be pre-treated.

You mentioned that not all Digital roll to roll printing processes are created equal. How do they differ?.

Whena step in the workflow can be eliminated – that’s the essence of differentiation. The only way to ensure an efficient process in which pre-treatment is used only for the exact areas to be printed it to have a
system whereby the pre-treatment is jetted onto the exact printing surface area during the printing process. Kornit has developed a FOF (Fixation on the Fly) a system that does exactly this – the
pre-treatment is directed at the exact print area during the printing process. Fixation is sprayed by the print heads on the exact area to be printed, integrating the fixation process into the printing process.

So a cumbersome step in the workflow is eliminated and there is an obvious saving on fixation agent. Could you explain how this effects the quality of the final garment?

Firstly the fixation is jetted out only where it is needed, eliminating waste, and by using less fixation agent, the printed garment handfeel is improved.

It not secret that the Textile industry is 1 of the most water consuming industries worldwide, mostly from the washing process used to remove chemicals
used during dying or the softening process after drying (that in labor intensive and also requires various equipment). How can things be done different to reduce pollution ?

The Kornit Allegro is the only true Single Step Solution, meaning no need for external pre- or post-treatment. This allows for true printing on demand and is a complete sustainable way to produce. After the curing process you have a finished product – with no need for washing or steaming afterwards.

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Visitors to the Kornit Booth at Fespa will see the Kornit Allegro as part of a micro-factory. Why is such production so pertinent at this time?

Technology has created consumer demand for constant product development, eliminating the fashion seasons and forcing companies to produce more lines to consistently stay on trend.

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With apparel retail in the midst of a revolution, retailers closing stores and being lumped with huge inventories, how can manufacturers rethink their production processes?

Traditional production methods just can’t keep the pace. Traditional offshore production means at least 3 months to supply garments, and missed opportunities. With micro-factory production you can produce on demand and can ship it on the same day. With traditional production techniques a minimum of 500 or 1000 meters of fabric is purchased, treated before actually being produced. Mostly its either not enough or too
much. With a micro factory there is no longer a guessing game and… stock no longer is an issue – you can reduce your stock significantly – because you are printing on demand – you only print what
you sell.

There is a reversal of the supply chain like never seen before. But don’t take my word for it, come and see us at our booth at Fespa, this Monday, 15th
May. To set a meeting http://digital1.kornit.com/fespa2018

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