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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Digital Programmed Jetting of Fluids for Multifunctional protective Textiles

Final Report Summary - DIGITEX (Digital Programmed Jetting of Fluids for Multifunctional protective Textiles)

The DIGITEX project was started in 2006 to explore the use of inkjet technology in the textile industry to replace existing analogue production processes such as coating processes, dyeing processes and finishing processes. Next to that the project aimed to seek for new product functionalities that are based on the added value of inkjet printing; which is the ability to apply a variety of discrete amounts of functional fluids on one side of the fabric in a patterned way. One can relate this to graphics printing where four colours are used to produce an image; these four colours can be seen as four different functionalities but for graphics printing the function is limited to colours. When replacing the cyan, magenta, yellow and black by functional fluids, such as hydrophobic materials, anti-bacterial agents or encapsulated perfumes one can apply these fluids in a similar way as when someone prints an image with four or more colours. The use of inkjet technology in the textile industry is now a days limited to graphics printing and introducing functional material printing requires a significant multi-disciplinary Research and development (R&D) effort throughout the value chain to proof the concepts and to proof its applicability in the textile industry.

The project was setup with the philosophy that it should be led by the industry to enable the best fit with any industrial application but more over to ensure the delivery of exploitable results that can be used in future industrial research. TenCate Advanced Textiles initiated the project and built a multi-disciplinary consortium that covers not only the traditional textile knowledge areas but also complete new fields of knowledge and technology such as digital printing, inkjet technology and modelling and simulating. Key was to introduce new technology players into the textile industry to avoid the classical 'Textile speaks to textile' trap.

The project successfully demonstrated that inkjet printing can be used to finish textiles and to apply functional materials onto textile substrates. The strong focus on exploitable results and demonstrators has provided a strong IP portfolio within the consortium and sufficient data to justify further industrial research and Research and development (R&D) programmes to develop industrial inkjet finishing processed for the textile industry. Successfully demonstrated features such as thin layer single sided functionalities, but also localised and patterned single or multiple functionalities will encourage the R&D community to pick up these added values and develop new textile functionality concepts With recent developments in new production technologies based on inkjet technology, faster and more reliable print platforms will become available to the industry it is expected that full industrial textile finishing lines based on inkjet printing will see their first applications in the near future.

Inkjet technology will not only change the way of doing business in the textile industry but it will also enable cleaner production processes with significant savings in water, energy and materials due to the use of on demand small volumes of fluid that cause minimal material usage, no waste and low intensity curing. But more over inkjet technology will be an enabling technology for mass customisation due to its flexibility, on demand production capability, cost efficient short runs and 100 % variable data.