EFI to launch new soft signage printers

Last year EFI bought an Italian company, Reggiani, which makes inkjet printers for printing to fabrics. Reggiani is situated in Bergamo, in the heart of the Italian textile printing industry. Up to now the company has concentrated on traditional textile markets, namely garments and home furnishings.

This 1.8m wide Reggiani Next printer will be the basis of the forthcoming Vutek T-180 dye sublimation printer.
This 1.8m wide Reggiani Next printer will be the basis of the forthcoming Vutek T-180 dye sublimation printer.

According to Michele Riva, Reggiani’s sales and marketing director, the textile market represents a huge opportunity, which undoubtedly explains why EFI and so many other wide format companies have rushed to snap up Italian textile specialists. Riva says that only 33 percent of textiles are currently printed (the rest are dyed) but that still equates to 50 billion linear metres, of which a mere five percent is digitally printed. For now there’s a variety of inks needed for different types of fabric, each requiring specific preparation and finishing stages but Reggiani is working to simplify this. The company has recently introduced printers able to use water-based pigment inks that can print direct to fabrics, as well as an all-in-one Renoir machine that takes direct disperse inks and includes inline fixation. Reggiani is also working to develop a printing platform based around reactive inks that can be finished without needing washing.

Soft signage

Frank Mallozzi, senior vice president of EFI’s global sales and marketing, says that EFI aims to help Reggiani grow in its core textile market but also to use Reggiani “to introduce the soft signage as a disruptive approach.” To this end EFI is already offering four of the Reggiani printers to the soft signage market.

But at the Fespa Digital show this month, EFI will launch a new Vutek T-series of entry-level industrial textile printers. Despite the Vutek branding, the T-series will be dye sublimation printers, based on the Reggiani Renoir Next printers. There will be two versions – 1.8m wide and a new 3.4m machine – but EFI expects 90 percent of the soft signage units to be 3.4m.

The Renoir Next is itself a new line, with Reggiani introducing the first of these, the 1.8m model, at last year’s ITMA show. This 1.8m model can print up to 400 sqm/hr with up to four passes. For now the T-series machines will print to paper but Reggiani will add in-line sublimation in the future.

Michele Riva, marketing and sales director for EFI Reggiani.
Michele Riva, marketing and sales director for EFI Reggiani.

All the Reggiani printers use Kyocera printheads, coupled with water-based pigment sublimation inks from Sensient. Riva says: “We print variable drops to 600 dpi while our competitors are printing at a lower resolution and require more passes to increase the resolution. Our inks have a higher amount of pigment so we don’t have to put as much ink down to get brighter colours which also means less water to have to evaporate off and less waste.”

They can take up to eight colours, which includes CMYK plus two fluorescent colours and two additional colours. There are three fluorescent colours – yellow, magenta and blue – but Riva says that most customers choose yellow and magenta. Reggiani can offer various other colours but Riva says that the garment markets prefers orange and blue though he adds that the Reggiani blue is more like violet and the orange similar to red.

For now, Reggiani takes an open approach to software but EFI is developing a version of its Fiery RIP that can handle textiles for this machine and which will be capable of treating all eight colours as process colours rather than spot colours.

Ultimately EFI’s goal is to develop a web-to-print capable of handling the textiles market, which could be integrated with this new Fiery system, something that ought to be relatively easy given EFI’s expertise in both these areas. Riva says: “We don’t want to just sell machinery but in the near future to be a total solutions provider for our customers.” He adds: “Web-to-print, this is for sure the future. To connect the personalised production with the e-commerce.” This could include everything from clothing to furnishing. Amazon already operates in this market but Riva points out that the key to such a system is the delivery infrastructure, which means having the printing close to the geographic target market.


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