Consulting - from Analog to Digital

The move from analog to digital textile printing takes time and knowledge. I want to help you take this step confidently. My experience allows me to take into consideration all the perspectives necessary for a successful set up. I have gained practical experience both as a Managing Director and a Production Manager of a Textile Printing factory where we successfully completed the changeover from analog to digital. Additionally this knowledge is complemented by further experience as a Sales Manager working for a reputable digital ink manufacturer. Having been both a user of digital technology and a supplier of digital inks I have both points of reference. Over this time I have noted that there is offered individual components such as the printer, the ink, the software, the cloth, the preparation, the finishing techniques but nobody is offering a set up package to integrate everything together. Inevitably problems within the workflow arise resulting in down time. Down time is costly and frustrating as the operators try to find a way to mitigate the interlinking problems.

To be an adviser for complex projects such as the changeover of Production Technology the person must have a high degree of competency for each stage of the implementation. This includes from the designing of the project to the installing of the project. As each stage will be treated as a module you can choose when to get help. International experience and interdisciplinary expertise coupled with intercultural competence gives me the flexibility to work in many countries.

Different requests need different solutions. It is imperative to define the parameters for the project and to agree on the goals and the responsibilities. This enables everyone to participate positively. As an independent consultant I am offering my practical knowledge to textile companies which want to have a smoother and more successful changeover when introducing digital printing. I offer no products but solutions which are selected independent of manufacturer and as a result of looking at your requirements.

My goal is to help you attain a successful running and profitable site.

Printers

The development of new print heads has widened the options. Before the majority of digital printers used by the textile industry utilized Epson heads. Today there are Ricoh, Kyocera, Seiko and now Fuji heads. This has encouraged new and fast printers to be available. Fast print speeds for industrial usage is necessary. The range and precision of print heads means that resolutions required for textile printing are no longer an issue.

However a stable production flow has to be implemented to avoid excessive waste. I can help at the start-up phase to analyse what you are printing and to help find the best printer–print head combination.

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Inks

Choosing the right ink does not only mean noting the fibers or the structures of the fabrics - it also depends on what the printed fabric will be used for. Additionally the ink needs to run smoothly in the print heads with the minimum of maintenance. Down time to do maintenance to keep the ink running is costly. The ink price is a factor but inks that do not run well are very expensive ultimately.

Therefore, proper selection of the ink is critical to success of your Digital textile printing project. Independent of the manufacturer of the ink we will find together the most suitable ink for your project. Current available inks include sublimation, high-energy disperse, reactive, acid and pigmented inks.

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Fabrics

The fabric makes the difference: whether you are printing on cotton, silks, or polyester for example, the cloth needs to have its own treatment. To find the correct pre-treatment for digital printing can take time. I can speed up this process and optimize the way the printer prints and the fabric is finished to ensure that a good quality is attained. Fine lines, sharp contours, bright colours can be achieved depending on how the material is treated. For applications such as flags, banners, displays, parasols, swimwear, fashion, home textiles, sunscreen, and sports' textiles there is a huge choice of already tested pre-treated fabrics.

Together we will find the way through the jungle of knitters and weavers, of woven and non-woven fabrics, the range of pre-treatment chemicals and the necessary equipment for your inhouse finishing to provide the solution for your project.

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Transfer Paper

The design is printed on to the transfer paper using sublimation inks. By using special transfer machinery the design is transfered onto the cloth. This is a successful technique for sporting clothing, women's fashion, soft-signage and promotions. However every transfer paper and ink has its own characteristics as well as the machinery. The results need to be optimized. The paper drying capacity, the take up into the layer on the paper, the amount of ink which needs to be used are critical features.

This will depend on clear information about your production requirements: the optimal combination of printing speed, sublimation ink and transfer paper is essential to the optimal printing result. I can give recommendations for tried and tested solutions instead of having to resort back to a time-consuming trial and error process.

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Peripheral Machinery

Calenders, presses, steamers, padders, dryers, washing plants, pre- and after-treatment systems: these are all devices and systems that are required for successful printing. It is a balance. The equipment needs to fit the fabric you are printing. Whether the equipment is new or 2nd hand or already existing on site, there needs to be made a workflow giving optimum results.

Let me professionally help you select and oversee the installation of the machinery whether this equipment requires water, steam, oil or compressed air. My consulting services start from the planning, via installation to the maintenance.

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Textile Auxiliaries

Without the appropriate pre- and post-treatments the cloth print and handle properties are not fully achieved. This is required whether for reactive or acid printing on to silk or hydrophobic treatment of pigment printing on to cotton or linen. All these fabrics must be pre-treated so that the inks can achieve their full properties. Additionally the fastness of the ink and the handle of the cloth is important. Without the appropriate textile auxiliaries and preparations the textiles will not be attaining the necessary standards for specific products. You need help to choose from well-known manufacturers which proven formula and method to use.

To get your products certified to the OKOTEX, GOTS or TE100 standards, it is important to choose the right textile auxiliaries from the beginning - let me support you to achieve this goal.

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Spare Parts

A print head can be quickly worn out or damaged – a damper clogged or a pump stuck. A fast repair or a quick replacement is only possible if you have the appropriate spare parts in stock or if you’ll get them until the next day. Spare parts with a certified quality, so that you don’t have the same problem again after the replacement. Cheap parts are not necessarily tested and down time makes these an expensive option.

I recommend only tested original parts and original accessories sourced from various manufacturers that are really best suited for your production.

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Software

No printer can be controlled without RIP software - without colour management software there is no control of the colour printed on the printer. It is difficult to find the right solution for each sector. Very good knowledge of the practical use of the software is required, to define the best solution for your installation. Some people are printing images, other fully separated designs while others are using spot colours and controlling with Pantone. How does your company handle colour from studio to factory or from client to factory?

Let yourself be professionally helped when it comes to profile making using linearization and profiling tools, colour atlas and also spot colour references help to increase the colour accuracy of the print. The adaptation during the workflow to the design software, the automatic filling of the print queue and the integration of Web2Print-solutions into the server network are topics that make efficient work possible in the first place.

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