Farbenpunkt develops textile ink

Farbenpunkt has developed an interesting textile ink called Peracto that promises to be more sustainable than other alternatives as there’s no requirement for pretreatment or for washing post printing. Ricoh has been so taken with this development that it’s stocking this ink through its own sales network. 

This sample was printed on 100 percent cotton satin with PeractoJet inks on Kyocera printheads.

Fred Nunes, managing director of Farbenpunkt US, told me: “Ricoh bring a lot to the table in terms of technology and just being a good partner for the science, they are able to give us some back up that we wouldn’t have being a start-up company.”

Farbenpunkt is headquartered in Morbach, Germany, where it was founded by Etienne Steveninck in 2012. He had a background as a technical consultant working for textile machine manufacturers and established the company to develop his own ink for both textile printing and dyeing. The result is the Peracto ink, a water-based pigment ink with versions suitable for use with pad printing and screen printing as well as PeractoJet for inkjet printing direct to fabric. 

It is suitable for use with polyester, polyamid and cotton fabrics. There’s a full range of colours available but not neons. The ink can be used on white or light coloured garments without pretreatment. Nunes says: “We don’t need pretreatment, and we don’t want pretreatment because we want to bond with the fibres. And Ricoh has tested it thoroughly for about 18 months. They’ve put it through its paces and they are very comfortable with it.” However, he adds: “It’s when printing on darks that we need pretreatment just like everyone else because the white ink has a tendency to over penetrate on tee shirts.”

As with many inks, Peracto uses pigment particles that have been ground down to nano size. These particles are then treated with proprietary chemicals. Once printed, the ink is heated to around 170°C, which causes the particles to form a long chain molecule that binds them to the textile substrate. Once fixation is complete, the pigments are permanently attached to the textile substrate. The bond is both mechanical and chemical, effective on various textile materials and blends. There’s no further washing, steaming, ironing or any other process necessary after printing. 

Nunes says: “The inks sit inside the fabric. So we actually have very good penetration. It’s not just a top dressing, because it is pigmented with phenomenal white opacity.” He says that it’s suitable for clothing and for upholstery and that it meets automotive requirements as well as those for military applications. 

As it happens, Farbenpunkt sent me a sample that’s been printed on 122gsm 100 percent cotton satin, using a roll to roll printer with Kyocera printheads at 600 x 1200 dpi. So I can confirm that the colours appear quite bright and that the ink is indeed inside the fabric, and not sitting on top. Actually the sample has a very natural feel to it and the inkjet inks don’t appear to have affected the handle at all. 

Nunes adds: “We have a customer in Bali that is using our product on a Kyocera printhead machine to print Balinese fabrics, which are very light and need to have a good hand and soft touch. We have even had success printing on nomex and kevlar. Printing on cotton, nylon and polyester are all the same to us.”

This sample has a very natural feel with the ink inside the fabric rather than on the surface.

OEM printers

Farbenpunkt aims to work with OEM printer manufacturers rather than developing its own printers. Nunes explains: “We prefer the simplicity of letting them do it. They know their machines, they know how to set them up and they have the support staff in place to help the customers transition over.”

The ink is available in three different viscosities so that there’s a version for any of the major printheads, including Ricoh, Fujifilm, Epson and Kyocera. Nunes adds: “Ricoh has tested it and it can handle any of their high speed printers, so if you want to do 1000 sqm an hour, it doesn’t matter. We’ve tested it on big scanning machines with Kyocera heads and there are no issues.”

He says: “It is a very simple process, and that makes it very adaptable to small, medium and large companies. Eliminate the washing, eliminate the steaming, keep it simple, that’s the secret.”

He continues: “We allow someone to buy one line and with that one line they can print polyester, cotton and nylon, which no one else can do, and they can do it all without pretreatment and without post-treatment other than a hot air curing cycle of two to three minutes at a 140 to 160ºC. That means that you could run a material for home decor in the morning, say curtains, and switch over to flags in the middle of the day and be running fabric for the fashion industry at the end of the day, all without changing ink, without steaming, without washing, without post treatments.”

He says that the ink is competitively priced considering that there is no need for pretreatment, adding: “The greatest saving obviously is on the sustainability, the no-waste and the ability for a small and medium sized printer to not have to buy additional lines.”

Farbenpunkt has also developed a waterless dye ink along the same lines. Nunes explains: “It’s similar to our inks, the same basic chemistry. It allows you to dye continuously without having water discharge and rinses on the back end and you are able to convert existing machinery to work with it because it just uses heat for curing.”

we’re likely to hear more about this ink now that it’s been patented and the company is more comfortable talking about it. You can find further information from farbenpunkt.com.

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