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Digital Programmed Jetting of Fluids for Multifunctional protective Textiles

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Digital inkjet printing for ‘smart’ clothing

Until recently, clothing capable of monitoring vital signs or regulating temperature was the stuff of space suits. European scientists developed low-cost processing techniques to bring ‘smart’ clothing one step closer to consumers.

Digital Economy

With the advent of nanotechnology and so-called smart materials that react in intelligent ways to changes in the environment, multifunctional textiles have come one step closer to commercial distribution. An important boost is needed in terms of processing and manufacturing to provide greater flexibility at reduced cost for high-speed functionalisation and customised production. Much as an inkjet printer can apply numerous colours based on digital commands, digital inkjet technology could be adapted to textile printing to apply multiple layers of substances with different functions, creating multifunctional textiles. A European consortium initiated the ‘Digital programmed jetting of fluids for multifunctional protective textiles’ (Digitex) project to develop inkjet deposition technology for speed, flexibility, cost effectiveness and on-demand production of protective clothing. Combining expertise in chemical processing, textile technology, human physiology and advanced optics, Digitex successfully demonstrated the potential for inkjet deposition of functional materials on clothing. Inkjet printing facilitates cleaner production processes with significant savings in terms of resources (water, energy and materials). Developments in inkjet platforms will further increase the speed and flexibility of textile finishing based on inkjet printing, opening the door to more and more applications.

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