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The textile takeover: ITMA 2015

You only have to look at what a number of major print players are doing in terms of textile solutions to notice the effect that a surge in demand, advancements in technology, and an increasing need for businesses to diversify are having on the sector. Karis Copp headed to ITMA 2015, to talk to some of the businesses at the forefront of the textile revolution.

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Textile print samples on the Konica Minolta stand at ITMA 2015

Huge strides in digital print technology, increasing customer need for shorter turnaround times, and a growing desire for businesses to branch out into other profitable sectors are some of the driving forces behind the year-on-year growth of the textile print market. The behemoths of the print industry are wasting no time in securing future profits in this area, something easily ascertained by simply walking the halls of the ‘print chapter’ at Fiera Milano, which hosted ITMA 2015, the world’s leading textile and garment machinery exhibition.

For the first time ever at ITMA print was firmly in the spotlight, enjoying its own chapter and making up 10 percent of the overall show, with launches from the likes of Konica Minolta, EFI Reggiani, Durst, and Mimaki—all of whom sponsored the Digital Textile Conference.

Maria Avery, secretary general of ITMA’s organisers Cematex, tells me: “This year we have the most exhibitors we have ever had, even including the inaugural event in 1951, so we have 1691 exhibitors in total, so we are extremely pleased. We have already surpassed the total number of visitors for the entire event in Barcelona 2011 in just the first four days, so that can only be a good thing.

Here at ITMA, there are two big wow factors happening, one is the single pass industry—let’s make it fast—and the other is pigment inks

“There are a lot of companies that wait to launch new products at ITMA and everyone knows they are going to see new innovations here. Throughout the whole industry range, there are new innovations and a lot of sustainable solutions. We have had a very positive reaction to the conferences. There is definitely something for everyone at ITMA.”

Avery informed me that print was the first area of the show to completely sell out, leading to its expansion into the significant portion of the event it eventually became—further proof of textile print’s mass appeal.

The conference, co-located for the first time with ITMA, included a particular focus on the trend of single-pass digital printing for superfast textile solutions, the technique used in Konica Minolta’s newly-launched NASSENGER SP-I. Described by the business as ‘game-changing’, the SP-1 prints at between 1500 and 6000 linear metres an hour, printing straight on to fabric, and are the answer to the problem of lengthy downtime between jobs and shorter lead times, with Konica claiming the result is ‘an inkjet printer that achieves comparable production quality to screen printers’.

The Konica Minolta stand at ITMA 2015

But the impressive ultra-fast single-pass technology was not the only thing dominating the print hall at ITMA; EMEA general marketing manager of Mimaki, Mike Horsten, informed me: “Here at ITMA, there are two big wow factors happening, one is the single pass industry—let’s make it fast—and the other is pigment inks.”

So, which companies were wowing ITMA with pigment inks? Well, Mimaki for one, who were introducing pigment ink direct, along with dispersed, acid, and reactive inks. This was all in addition to launching the new TX300P-1800, a direct-to-textile printer that the business is confident will cement its place as a key player in the textile market.
Horsten continues: “The reaction has been overwhelming. People expect us to come with something because we have been leading in the industry; people remember our JV5 product, the standard in printing, and now we have the TX300P-1800, set to become the new standard, printing at 115sqm an hour.

“This is amazing technology; we’ve made some really different modifications, things that the industry needed that were only found in our industrial printers. These include error correction on nozzles and features like a higher print gap for better reliability on materials. The economics need to be there, so our ink system, machine system, RIP software system, and the high gap are giving that economic benefit that you would expect from Mimaki.”

Mike Horsten, EMEA general marketing manager for Mimaki, with the new TX300P-1800 direct textile printer

Kiian Digital also used the ITMA platform to launch its own pigment based ink, the Digistar K-Choice formulated for Kyocera printheads. The ink was created to prolong printhead life, and its spot colours provides a wide colour gamut, making it an ideal solution for textile printing.

Over on the spectacular EFI Reggiani stand, new pigment inks were likewise on display, with the new partners rolling out the Artistri PK2600 digital textile pigment ink especially formulated by textile print specialist DuPont for EFI Reggiani’s Renoir digital textile printers. The new model in this range, the Renoir Next, prints onto fabrics and papers using the same ink set with a 1.8m beltless system. It took pride of place on the stand at EFI Reggiani’s first dedicated textile show since EFI’s £130m acquisition of Reggiani Macchine and Matan Digital Printers in July of this year.

The main reason for the merger is that in the last four years, digital in textiles has become very important, and due to this growth we were interested in finding a partner to consolidate our position in the market

Michele Riva, sales and marketing director of EFI Reggiani Group informs me: “We believe the merger can give us a lot of opportunity for the near future to grow more and more in relation to the growth we have already experienced in the last four years since the last. The main reason for the merger is that in the last four years, digital in textiles has become very important, and due to this growth we were interested in finding a partner to consolidate our position in the market.”

EFI Reggiani debuted its new Renoir Next printer at ITMA 2015

Since the last ITMA in 2011 the printing presence at the show has more than doubled. And with a number of the print industry leaders that I caught up with during my time at the show alluding to further investment and big things to come, it is going to be exciting to see what the burgeoning world of textile print will reveal in ITMA Barcelona 2019.

This week's Print7 News includes a special report from ITMA 2015

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@printmonthly.co.uk

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