Technijet Digital, based in Lancashire in the UK, has commercially launched its Swift-Jet coating system, which offers an economical way of coating small volumes of fabrics for digital printing.
Richard Hollweg, business development manager for Technijet, explains: “Traditional coating has the fabric submerged in the coating. Our idea is that if you reduce the water then you can reduce the drying and the energy by single-side spraying the fabric.”
The system is aimed at pre-treatment rather than post-treatment, though it could be used for either. Hollweg says that pretreatment gives much better colours with more consistency. He also claims that the Swift-Jet system can achieve the same print quality as conventional coating, adding: “We found that we can spray any volume of solution regardless of the weight of fabric. We spray 55gsm whether it’s light or heavy fabric because we are just treating the surface.”
TechniJet showed the initial concept at Itma 2015 and based on the feedback put together a new machine that’s now been thoroughly field-tested and shown off at Itma 2019. The system can be used with most fabric types from 30 to 450gsm, and is suitable for use with printers running both pigment and reactive inks. Hollweg explains: “It goes through a spraying chamber where we can determine the amount of solution through our unique design to be able to spray the liquid under high pressure on the fabric”
There’s no need for a cleaning section in the machine as the spraying to the surface of the fabric removes any dust or lint. After the spraying the fabric goes through a near infrared drier and then it’s rewound.
Hollweg believes that there is an opportunity in the pigment printing market where people need pretreatment, noting that this could include both large companies facing a bottleneck in their pretreatment lines as well as smaller companies without existing lines, adding: “So our machine would let them avoid buying another stenter.” He points out that there are also many companies that are just expanding into digital textile printing, explaining: “These companies start with a simple printer and as soon as they achieve 150,000 square metres per year it becomes economical for them to do their own pretreatment.”
The Swift-Jet machine can be run inline with a printer but most people will probably use it offline. The current version is 2m wide though SwiftJet is planning to make a 3.3m wide machine next year. The cost is roughly £169,000 including installation and a service contract. Further details from the swiftjet.com website.