ITMA 2019: a Massive Showcase for Digital Printing

Ron Gilboa
Jul 9, 2019

Every four years the textile production community gathers to learn about what is new in weaving, knitting, accessorizing, printing and production management. In 2019, it was Barcelona’s turn to host ITMA – a premier garment and textile tradeshow event. With over 1,717 exhibitors in 8 halls and over 105,000 visitors from 137 countries, the event was buzzing. While we surveyed the entirety of the display showcase, our focus on digital printing kept us in halls 3 and 8.

Hall 3 was dedicated to digital printing, dubbed by the organizers as the fastest growing segment (40% increase in participation compared with ITMA 2015). We broke out these innovations into the following six categories:

  • Production workflow
  • Product Life Cycle Management
  • Quality assurance
  • Paper and ink innovations
  • Production digital textile printing
  • Innovative direct to garment (DTG) printing

Production workflow

ITMA 2019 saw Adobe release a public beta version of its Textile designer and promote its relationship with CSI and Datacolor for color communication. Caldera announced early adoption, indicating the company’s likely migration to digital printing. Similar capabilities were on display at the Pointcarre booth where design, textures, and 3D mapping were on display.

Moving along from design and color referencing, we enter the digital front-end arena where many suppliers tightly integrate their solutions with the latest in print technology. Such was the case with Ergosoft and Caldera, where production management was a key component of their solutions. Other solutions included HP Print OS and newly launched Kornit Konnect as well as a suite under Durst’s slogan “Pixel to Output.” Aeoon launched a new version of its Kyo Link Series that incorporates front end interfaces with back end processes, enabling complete connectivity. EFI launched its new EFI Fiery BT-1000 digital front end (DFE) for streaming jobs at engine speeds like the 90 meters per minute Reggiani BOLT single pass machine.

Whilst largescale digital textile production factory solutions were not widely demonstrated the show, there were indications of automation within the cut and sew function from companies such as Zund. We expect further developments may take place before the next show.

Product Life Cycle Management

The next component in this data gathering operation brings in production big data: product lifecycle management (PLM) tools.  Concentrated in hall 8, we visited several PLM suppliers offering software as a service products (SaaS). The coordination between manufacturing, logistics, MIS, ERP, creatives and marketing represent a great challenge. Two of the suppliers we met at the show included Porini, which demonstrated its 365 ERP solution (based on Microsoft 365 base technology), which enables integrated SaaS solutions for all vertical fashion segments. We also saw Datatex’s robust data structure, which enhances flexibility in reporting and management.

Datatex

Figure 1: Datatex – Full suite of products for managing textile supply chain components

Quality Assurance

We started seeing technology for inkjet printhead alignment at ITMA in 2015, but now it is a range of scanning solutions aimed at print head alignment from Dover MS Printing, Epson, EFI Reggiani, SPG Prints, Konica Minolta, HP, and many others. With print speeds increased beyond the boundaries of 90 meters per minute, the time to detect jet-outs and other defects is critical to reduce material waste.

HP Sampling

Figure 2: HP Sampling – On paper and fbric can streamline strikeoff production

Production Digital Printing

The production section was teaming with new products to satisfy the most discerning textile mill. A few notable examples are detailed below, although the range and variety seemed boundless. Dover MS Mini Lario, with speeds at over 1000 Meter per hour, creates a new level in scanning head production with 64 printheads. EFI Reggiani introduced a sampling printer, the EFI Reggiani BOLT Capsule. The Capsule uses the same printheads as the Single pass version to deliver identical 600×4800 dpi quality output. Joining the single pass group was Kerajet with its new SP1800, a 12 color 400 dpi system that is compact compared to similar hardware.

Production Workflow Printer Hardware

Figure 3: Highlights in Production Workflow Printing

SPG Prints made a surprise announcement by revealing its collaboration with Xaar using its 5601 head on a new single pass sublimation transfer technology, which can print at 100 meters per minute.

 

Figure 4: Xaar 5601 printing on sublimation transfer paper at 100 meters per minute

Speaking of scanning systems, HP participated at the show in full force with its new product line – Stitch. Mouvent, another relative newcomer, launched its second roll to roll device, the TX 802 printer, capable of 400M2 an hour printing and 1200 dpi print resolution using its cluster printhead configuration. Kornit demonstrated its recent new NeoPigment roll to roll printer – the Presto.

These joined higher speed devices, like Aleph’s Laforte 600, Arioli’s new ArioPrint32, M-Tex’s new high-speed Falcon printing with pigment ink – as well as a full complement of solutions from Dover MS. DGen demonstrated a new pigment ink without pretreatment. A new reactive ink printer from DGI was present.  Epson’s higher speed 64 printhead Monna Lisa Evo Tre was there. Mimaki previewed its ‘hybrid’ direct to fabric/ paper transfer machine, Zimmer. A full report will be coming soon that details these technologies in full.

A unique introduction at the show was the Twine product line. The Twine TS 1800 is a system aimed at dying threads digitally in real time for embroidery, sewing, and knitting.  This innovation uses polyester fiber that is dyed with the company’s DTS dye technology and proprietary DTI inks.

Twine Printer

Figure 5: Twine Samples

Ink and Paper Innovations

Neenah Coldenhove introduced a new process for pigment transfer paper for home textile printing. The new 110gsm Texcol Digital Transfer Paper has been successfully tested using several major ink vendors’ pigment inks and, once transferred, the image can achieve an ISO standard light fastness of 7, a wash fastness of 4, and a dry rub fastness of 5. This potentially opens natural fabric production to sublimation plotter PSPs.

The lowest grammage transfer paper found at the show was a Texpaper18gsm being used with the new Aleph Laforte 100 dye sublimation printer.

Ink and Paper Innovation

Figure 6: A New Process for Pigment Transfer Paper

Innovative direct to garment printing

Another segment that was buzzing was industrial DTG solutions. Several vendors showcased print on natural as well as synthetic fibers, and Kornit announced a DTG solution agreement with Adidas. Joining the established industrial DTG vendors were CNTOP with its WINGS Compact dual platen oval system, as well as newcomer Yilijet with its dual platen CF4 device.

An interesting demonstration caught our eyes in the MHM booth, where the MHM S-Type extreme was on display with a digital add on unit based on the CSC inkjet and ink technology. Additional inks on display at the MHM booth by CSC included dimensional inks and clear inks for foil deposition and metallic effects as well as full color printed on nylon fabric (e.g. luggage, tents).

Suffice it to say, ITMA 2019 provided a fist full of innovation in technology, workflow, and materials aimed at enhancing the apparel and accessories industry supply chain and what it needs to meet customer demand. A full analysis of the event will be available to Keypoint Intelligence clients soon.

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