How Digital is changing the How & the What of Textile Printing

Noga Chen
September 26, 2017

The textile printing industry is as long-standing as it is
vast. Using traditional manufacturing methods means that to produce prints,
immense resources and processes are required– water, energy, factory space. To
fix dye to fabric required complex external wet processes and pretreatment, resulting
in water pollution. (The textile industry to date has been responsible for 20%
of worldwide water pollution.)  

Digital printing is providing the infrastructure and
processes to reduce waste, pollution, and save on energy and resources in the
entire textile printing process, and this is only the beginning.

We met with Merav Zimmerman and Celine Tezartes Strauss, Product
Marketing Managers (PMMs) at Kornit. Merav, is the PMM for the Kornit Allegro, Kornit’s
Direct to Fabric digital printer. Merav says that not only is digital printing
changing how we manufacture textiles but what we can manufacture, and its these
combined changes that are opening a world of opportunities for business owners
never previously imagined.  

Celine, Kornit’s consumables PMM, says that with the
developments in digital textile printing mean that manufacturers can enjoy the
best of both worlds – clean processes, and with advancements in inks and
processes, application possibilities are wider than ever.

How is digital printing changing the industry?

Digital printing is changing both the how and the what of
textile production. By the how, I mean how we produce.  As mentioned traditional methods require
resources, space and time. Digital printing has “condensed” these
processes.   Strides have been made in
the digital textile printing industry, and digital dye printing has shortened
the process to 5 main steps – pre-treatment, drying, steaming, washing and
drying once again as the final step in the process.  The more compact process means that it has
become more efficient.


Previously, one never thought of the possibility of printing
on textile as easily as you print on paper. With digital textile printers this
is a reality. Businesses can explore possibilities due to the range of
applications now possible with digital printing on textile. The examples are
endless for fashion, shoes, home fashion – you name it. Yes – digital printers
can print on the fabric of shoes, on gifts, on décor items that previously might
not have been produced at all.

Why is digital textile printing so interesting to
business owners?

Besides the fact that its greener and the applications are
vast, digital printing allows for flexibility and scalability of printing
businesses.  Digital printing is reducing
the barriers to entering this market. Less equipment, factory space and
manpower are needed in order to start manufacturing. Businesses can buy a
machine, start small and scale up as they grow.
Orders can be printed starting with the quantity of 1, which provides
the flexibility to produce low cost short runs of exactly what is ordered. In
an era of fashion fads, the risk of being stuck with inventories is reduced
when such flexibility is provided.


What barriers still exist?

Digital dye printing requires a wet process of pretreatments
(washing) and some require post treatment / fixing processes as well, .
While this is a huge advancement, there is no single step, easy process for
printing with dye based ink. Moreover, when using dye, one needs to use different
ink sets per media type and as a result, factories are required to purchase
more than one system in order to print on multiple fabric types. Ideally a
digital printer should provide an all in one process to minimize factory floor
space, capital investment, time and human resources.

To be continued in the sequel blog:

How Digital is changing the How & the What of Textile Printing – What Kornit is doing