Since its beginning in the 1980s, digital textile printing – which was developed as a possible replacement for analogue screen printing – has been taking the high-end and mass retailers by storm. It was a difficult task but slowly it’s been made possible by increasing the speed of printers, developing inks which are economical, increasing the coverage area and providing quick-dry option. The time is not far when digital printing will be the cost-effective and sustainable way of printing. In this issue, Team StitchWorld has discussed all three mediums of digital printers: Direct-to-Garment, Direct-to-Fabric and Sublimation Printers.
Cheran Machines, Coimbatore along with their representative in north India, J. N. Arora & Co. Pvt. Ltd., confirmed the booming trend of digital printing in the industry… Vimlesh Arora, MD, J.N. Arora & Co. Pvt. Ltd. views, “It is becoming a necessity for all major players in all segments to invest in digital printing machines.” Adding to that, R. Mohankumar, MD, Cheran Machines India Pvt. Ltd. avers, “Buyer is ready to pay the price as quality is the utmost factor to rely upon.” With TexJet shorTee, a direct-to-garment printer that can print 80 white and 28 dark T-shirts (of cotton, polyester, linen, viscose, etc.) per hour with water-based textile pigment CMYK and white inks, the company offers affordable and quality sublimation transfer printers.
Another offering by Cheran is sublimation printer by Coltex, China – CSP DX5/DX7 (Epson), an economical model and CSP 2000, which is an industrial model. The economic model is equipped with advanced droplet control and high fault tolerant eclosion technology to ensure perfect output quality; suitable for special material printing output; and can print up to the maximum width of 1,600 mm, while the industrial model is equipped with Ricoh Gen 5 head and has maximum print width of 1,900 mm.
|Company||Model No.||No. of Print Heads||Ink Colors||Maximum Printing Area||Printing Speed||Resolution|
|1||Cheran Machines||TexJet shorTee||8||5||32 cm X 45 cm||80 white/ 28 dark T-shirts per hour||1440 dpi X 1440 dpi|
|2||Epson||SureColor SC-F2000||1||8||40.6 mm X 50.8 mm||27 seconds||1,440 dpi X 720 dpi|
|3||Grafica Flextronica||Aeoon Kyo Compact Series||4||4||50 X 70 cm||950 T-shirts/ hour||600 dpi|
While market for digital printing is getting very competitive with many new players entering the arena, some well-established names continue to innovate and retain market share. Epson India Pvt. Ltd. is very upbeat of its SureColor SC-F2000, a direct-to-garment printer that is engineered with Epson’s micro piezo TFP print head and UltraChrome DG technology and provides print area of 406 mm X 508 mm. With the opinion of booming trend of digital printing even on the e-commerce platform, Akhtar Imam, North India Sales Head, Epson avers, “E-commerce is growing everywhere. Now, customer buys a T-shirt while sitting at home. With the customization option on designs, customer can now opt for a particular print. That is where our printer comes into play.”
Sensing the mood of the market, even traditional players in printing technologies who were earlier not in digital have entered the fray. Mumbai-based Grafica Flextronica, a screen printing machine provider recently brought digital printer of Austria-based Aeoon Technologies into the country and have earned two installations till now. Claiming to print 950 pieces (A4 print size) per hour, its Kyo Compact Series (digital direct-to-garment printers) have 4 or 8 print heads CMYK. It has two exchangeable pallets and automatic cleaning and capping station. Its maximum printing size is 50 cm X 70 cm and can print on dark as well as light-coloured base fabrics. “We have sold a few units to Bangladesh and Pakistan, compared to these countries, India is a bigger market so very soon we will have a good number of installations here,” says Angelo Schiestl, MD of Aeoon Technologies.
The dynamics of business are changing with manufacturers moving towards pigment printing to compete in the market with more number of designs in short runs. Confident of the vision that two years from now everyone in the industry would be entering into the pigment segment, Smarth Bansal, Brand Manager, ColorJet said, “Manufacturing of our model VASTRAJET in Noida makes it 30 per cent cheaper than any other machine brought from Italy or any other place in Europe. The strong engineering know-how that we put into manufacturing, makes it at par in quality.” VASTRAJET, direct-to-fabric printer available in 4- and 8-colour variants and 8 print heads, operates at the speed of 116 sq. metre per hour and uses an adhesive belt with a built-in washing system for outstanding print quality and perfect print registration. The printer comes with especially developed AIVC technology that maintains constant jetting conditions even in varying environment conditions. Infrared-based dryer quickly dries the fabric for better print control. The maximum width of fabric that can be handled by the printer is 1,800 mm and print dpi is 360 X 360. ColorJet has installed its new model VASTRAJET at Continental Home Furnishings and RJ Digital.
Though most companies are very upbeat of the prospects of growth in digital printing, Vijay Kandari, Sales Head, Negi Sign Systems and Supplies Co. still feels that the digital printing trend is at a nascent stage and the pace has still to pick-up. The company’s Negijet TX R-1900, a direct textile printer, is available per hour in 8 and 16 print heads and can achieve speed of 120 sq. metre per hour in 8 heads and up to 240 sq. metre in 16 heads with 8 colours. The width of fabric that it can handle is 1,900 mm and it is equipped with auto brush and sponge roller washing system. Confident about the technical superiority of their machine, Vijay feels that the cost-effectiveness and the after-sales service makes Negijet comparable with any Italian or Japanese brand. Negi Sign Systems and Supplies have their own technical support team of around 25 engineers in Delhi region.
|Company||Model No.||No. of Print Heads||Ink Colours||Maximum Printing Area||Printing Speed||Resolution|
|1||ColorJet||VASTRAJET||8||4||1,800 mm||116 m2/hr||1440 dpi|
|2||Negi Sign system and Supplies||NegiJet TX R-1900||16||8||1,900 mm||240 m2/hr||1200 dpi|
|3||Mimaki||Tiger-1800B||16||8||1,850 mm||390 m2/h||600 dpi|
|4||Apsom Technologies||Konica Minolta Nassenger PRO 120||9||8||1,850 mm||120 m2/h||1440 dpi|
|5||Lordz Digital Systems||Rodin Impression Gen5B||16||8||1,850 mm||400 m2/h||NA|
Assured of the growing market in digital printing, Mimaki, the Japanese leader in digital printing solutions recently initiated Mimaki India Pvt. Ltd. (MIPL), the new international subsidiary of Mimaki Engineering in New Delhi, to facilitate its growth in the Indian market.
The company launched its high-speed 1.8 metre wide-format direct textile printer, Tiger-1800B for the first time in India. The machine employs 16 print heads arranged in two staggered lines to achieve print speeds of up to 390 m2/h. The maximum fabric width the printer can handle is 1,900 mm and achievable print resolution is 600 dpi. An ink circulation system located between the degassing module and the print heads reduces nozzle problems leading to missing nozzles. An automatic cleaning wiper is installed in each print head to ensure reliable printing. Tomohiro Ikeda, MD, MIPL avers, “Not every customer wants speed. Only a few big customers who are already into digital printing understand the value of a high-speed machine. More than 50-70 per cent are new entrants to the segment. So the customers’ need variety of options, and we are giving them those options.”
Another leader in the printing industry, Apsom technologies, distributor of Konica Minolta machines, has on offer Nassenger Pro 120, an inkjet textile printer. The printer is capable of printing at the speed up to 120 m2/h and employs print heads featuring an independent drive system that allows simultaneous emission from each nozzle for high productivity. The resolution of the machine varies from 360 dpi to 1,440 dpi and can support maximum fabric width of 1,800 mm. Its automatic print head maintenance system and empty ink detection by laser poses it as a total inkjet textile printer solution. Another model offered by the company is standard PRO120 which comes with a dryer and winder to provide a total solution that encompasses the entire process from unwinding to printing, drying and winding.
Lordz Digital Systems, Bangalore, offering direct-to-fabric printer of Rodin, China – Impression Gen5 B, claims that its speed starts from 50 sq. metre and goes up to 250 sq. metre per hour. Equipped with Ricoh Gen5 print head, the print speed goes up to 400 sq. metre per hour. The board, software and other parts of the printer are European and print size of the machine is 1,850 mm. “Our machines have the capacity to run a shift of 16 hours in one go, so we advise companies to buy this machine only if they can run it for at least 10 hours per day,” says Murugan, Consultant at Lordz Digital Systems. ROI of the machine is 14 months (when working in a single shift). It is the only printer of which 70 units were sold in China last year, all due to its high speed and consistency. The company has another model named Impression Gen5 SP which can print on both fabric and paper.
As sublimation printing adds a fresh touch to the technique, many companies are looking to offer technologies to match the demand. Newly launched MS JP3 sublimation printer for paper with the printing speed of 120 m2/hour for CMYK and up to 2 printing heads is the major highlight of Orange OTec representing Italy-based MS Printing Solutions. The printer has the printing width of 180 cm. With the introduction of small paper printer, especially for the Indian market, the company provides a solution to replace multiple printers installed in the factories with huge savings in manpower and electricity costs. “In a price-sensitive market like India, competition between ink manufacturers and other machine manufacturers is increasing, due to which, the running cost of printing is going down,” opines Karan Toshniwal, Director, Orange O Tec. The company has a good support team with more than 17 technicians in Bangalore, Surat, Delhi, and Mumbai to provide after-sales service to the customers along with that, good price is the major USP of the technology. “Needs of every customer are price-competitiveness, quality and after-sales service and these are what MS Italy provides,” underlines Karan.
|Company||Model No.||No. of Print Heads||Ink Colours||Printing Width||Printing Speed||Resolution|
|1||MS Orange Otec||MS JP3||2||4/8||1,800 mm||95-120
|600 X 600 dpi|
|2||Caldron Graphics||F2280||8||4||2,200 mm||160
|3||Dhaval Color Chem||Epson SureColor – F9270||2||4||1,626 mm||100.1 m2/hour||360 dpi x 720 dpi|
|4||Tanya Enterprises||TC1802||2||8||1,829 mm||70 m2/hour||NA|
|5||Arrow Digital||Mtex Bluo NEO||4||4||1,800 mm||55 m2/hour||360-1080 dpi|
|6||Britomatics India||Kingfisher 1300||1||4||1,600 mm||31 m2/hour||540 dpi-1440 dpi|
|7||Vee Kay Enterprises||VK-JET 180K-S||4||4||1,800 mm||100 m2/hour||1440 dpi|
|8||Lipi Marketing||DGI FT-1604X||8||4||1600 mm||64 m2/ hr||720 dpi|
|9||Wenli International Trading||WL19P2-R||2||4||1,900 mm||65-92 m2/hour||3200 dpi|
One player which is catering specifically to the home furnishings sector is Caldron Graphics. Its F2280 direct sublimation printer, with 8 print heads, print width of 2,200 mm and printing speed of 160 m2/hour, which can be used for printing flags, fabric banners for election campaigns, and polyester fabrics. “People from Surat showed interest in the machine and asked for samples,” shares Rajat Mitra, Managing Director, Caldron Graphics.
Content with the industry moving ahead towards technology, Annshuman Nagpal, GM – Sales, Dhaval Colour Chem Pvt. Ltd. avers, “Digital printing is on a growth path and the market is going to increase by 200-300% in next 3-5 years. Our sublimation printer F9270 is the perfect solution to rotary printing with good stability in terms of price, quality and after-sales service.” The Epson SureColor SC-F9270, is Epson’s next generation textile dye-sublimation transfer printer. With printing speed of up to 100.1 sq. metre per hour and print width of 64 inches, the printer can print with 4 colours with maximum resolution of 1440 dpi.
Another offering in the same segment by Tanya Enterprises is TC1802 with TFT, Panasonic head. The printer can print at the speed of 70 sq. metre per hour and has the printing width of 72 inches. Established in 1996, the company offers a quality range of inks, cartridges and toners. Mukesh Sharma, CEO of the company mentions, “We already have 12 installations pan-India and are expecting 50 more in the current fiscal. The printer we have is with TFT, Panasonic head and also its ink cost is very reasonable. The speed of the machine is 40-60 sq. metre per hour.” The company believes that despite all these features the price of such kind of sublimation printers at entry level is quite competitive.
Catering to both technologies of printing on fabric and paper – Mtex Blue Neo, is available with Arrow Digital. The printer has 4 heads and can print at a speed of 55 sq. metre/hour with 4 colours. Also, the machine can handle the width of 1,800 mm and can achieve resolution varying from 360 dpi to 1080 dpi. Using a Panasonic head provides a sharp printing quality and vibrant colours to the design. The machine has integrated infrared fixation, so no heater is required thereafter. “In textile segment, we are expecting the first installation soon in Delhi-NCR and thereafter over the next 3 months we are expecting 2-3 more installations. Recently we installed our printer in Welpack, Bangalore,” informs Prakash Chopra, Business Head, Arrow Digital.
The need to bring something different is pushing companies to offer printers with unique features. Britomatics India Pvt. Ltd. is also upbeat of its Kingfisher 1300, a 1.6 metre-wide printer with Epson DX5 print head which can be used for both eco-solvent and water-based sublimation printing. With 4 colours, the printing width offered by the printer is 1,600 mm and printing speed for draft mode is 31 m2/hour. Arjun Dev, Managing Director, Britomatics India says, “The market for digital printing is booming as every manufacturer whether small or big is investing in digital printers because of its low running cost. We are very positive of the opportunities.”
Present in the Indian market since 1990 with its wide-format digital printers, Vee Kay Enterprises has VK-Jet 180 K-S with 4 print heads which can handle maximum width of 1.8 metres media and uses 4 colour inks. The printer with grey-scale heads can print with the speed of 100 metres per hour and is able to achieve a printing resolution of 1440 dpi. Bharat Wadhwa, Director, Vee Kay Enterprises mentions, “Currently, we have 300 installations in textile industry (in last 3 years) across India and expects to install 250-300 printers every year in the future.” Bharat believes that a major chunk of the digital printers eventually installed will be dominated by Chinese printers or made in India (in the long run).
A recent entry to the segment is a sublimation printer from DGI Korea – FT 1604 X marketed by Lipi Marketing, Chennai. The machine can print media of width 1,600 mm and maximum speed achievable is 210 sq. metre per hour. “The printer has Panasonic head so it gives stable printing at an economical price. The average life of this machine is 15 years,” says M S Babu, Head – Textile Division, Lipi Marketing who claims 50 installations in Tirupur.
With the launch of its 1.9 metres wide new sublimation printer, Yiwu Wenli Import & Export Co., China/Wenli International Trading India, makes it possible to achieve a printing resolution of 3200 dpi and a speed of 65-92 sq. metre per hour. “Our machine has high production which is quite high than other machines in the market. Printing head from Japan enables us to achieve best quality. Also ink price offered by us is very competitive,” informed Zilli Zhao, Director, Wenli International Trading. “We are expecting 20-30 installations in near future,” added Gurjeet Nayyer, Indian Representative of Wenli.
The company provides one-stop solution with a range of flatbed printing, DTG, DTG-digital, heat transfer, sublimation, robotic screen print. Recently, the company launched its digital printer (in south India) – BC 3200 with the speed of 65 sq. metre per hour and resolution of 3200 dpi.
Another offering by Wenli is WL50/180, a heat transfer printing machine based on oil-media heating and felt-releasing system. This machine can be used for printing on a single garment and on a roll of fabric. The speed of the machine reaches up to 180 metres per hour. Equipped with ‘Blanket Release System’, it enables the user to directly shutdown the machine without waiting for temperature drop. Also, (Proportional Integral Derivative) PID temperature control system present in the machine keeps the temperature constant with ±2˚C, which saves the energy by 50-60% during the production process. The company has had 10 installations of heat transfer printers in New Delhi in the last few months while DTG’s overall installation in first year is expected to be 5 to 6 machines.