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Large Format Textile Printing

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - LaForte (Large Format Textile Printing)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2016-12-31

From the world of high fashion to fast fashion clothing to sportswear, from accessories to furnishings, the boom in digital printing on textiles has contributed to transforming the dynamics underlying in the individual sectors, in creative, productive and application terms.
Digital technology opens the doors to creativity by encouraging photographic reproduction and the creation of more complex designs, as well as to experimentation with brand-new applications.
It has also modified process logic, reducing the time to market and enabling on demand production, in small and medium-sized volumes and in large numbers of variations, without any economic impact.
Established in 1999 in Como, in the heart of Italy’s textiles district,

Aleph boasts solid know-how in the construction of printers for the textile digital inkjet printing and the development of supporting software. ALEPH is a printing solutions company that includes a wide range of applications for digital printing, starting from furniture, sportswear, up to fashion items.
The fashion world, in all its forms, stands out as one of the sectors most interested in the digital transformation of the textile industry; this it’s another reason why Aleph can look in a positive way to its future plans: an annual rate of growth predicted for the next five year’s period of 39% for each year and a wide opportunity in all fashion sectors are two good reason to be positive; we are ready to take this opportunity with an innovative product together with we can meet emerging needs of a very dynamic market.

The ALEPH textile printers meet the market demand for modern printing workshops, thanks to the possibility of printing on all synthetic and natural fibres with water, acid dye, reactive and dispersed-based colorants.

European project LAFORTE is focused on developing a new technology of Large Format Textile Printer Machines capable of increasing the industrial productivity and performance of printed textiles. Our target is to manufacture printers enabling to print 300 dots-per-inch (dpi) at Ultra-Fast Speed (5,08 m/sec) in 1-direct smart print-pass or 600 dpi at High Speed mode (1,69 m/s) in 16 print-pass. In this context a new vacuum system will also be developed for replacing the traditional use of glue for fixing the paper position in the printer during the printing process. As a result an extra 15% output rate with 20% higher velocity and 15% less time in set-up operations and change-over times will be achieved. Another consequence, is that the customers will not need to remove the glue from the surface pad, avoiding the use of nearly 50 kg of solvent per batch and about 50 litres of water per hour of operation, making this new process environmentally friendly thanks to total savings up to 100.000 litres of water per year in the whole industrial process.
The main technical objectives foreseen for the project have been achieved; namely:

- Improving acceleration + deceleration time from 0-to-3000 rpm: from current 0,15sec down to 0,1sec.
- Increasing the position accuracy by shorter linear distance for encoder pulse: from current 5μm4 down to 1μm.
- Developing an industrialized model of vacuum-paper-fixation-based printer that meets TRL 8-9 with direct print on paper for customer’s further thermal fixation and finishing without additional interim steps.
- Achieving a production rate of 300 m2/hour with ≈ 2-meter wide pad.
- Reducing a 30% the operation time due to the removal of glue cleaning.
- Reducing a 25% the energy consumption due to the removal of glue pre-heating.
- Decreasing a 10% the consumption of ink.
- Reducing from 2 to 1 direct employees to operate each printer.

Here below we have summarized the main benefits that LAFORTE's features can give to our customers:

- High speed. Laforte printer speed is 300 m2/hour with ≈ 1.85-meter wide pad and in 4/6/8/10 colours.
- Direct print on paper. We developed an industrialized model of vacuum paper-fixation-based printer. In this way the printed image is not placed over the surface of the fabric but penetrates almost indelibly into its fibres, producing spectacular lasting true colour reproduction.
- High resolution. Thanks to new technology, after evaporation, the special sublimation dies used merge in depth with the fibres of the fabric, enhancing its texture, elasticity and original sheer. Aleph Laforte paper reaches a maximum resolution of 1200 dpi with a piezoelectric technology of variable-drop jetting up to eight print heads.
- High precision. We have increased the position accuracy by shorter linear distance for encoder pulse: from current 5μm down to 2μm. Aleph Laforte paper reaches a precision of progress below 20 microns.
- Low energy & ink consumption. Laforte paper solution is an industrialized model of vacuum-paper-fixation-printer, replacing the traditional use of glue. This allows us to remove glue cleaning operations in the whole producing process.

A demo area is available in Aleph’s production plant in Lurate Caccivio. The area allows visitors to explore the great variety of solutions and see for themselves the solidity of the company’s machines and the quality of its products. Visitors may also attend presentations and software training sessions.
This project LaFORTE represents the third biggest innovation project we have addressed in the last 10 years. We first developed the TXB500 plug-and-play machine for textile printing with high reliability with carpet fabric transport and precision handling <20 μm. Afterwards we developed the new drying machine ALEPH HTSx-190. These projects reinforced the overall international image of our company and increased our turnover in 20 %. Along these years we have had the chance of learning from our customers what the supply chain models are in the textile industry, what matters most and how to deliver.

Our new LAFORTE focuses in the increasing needs of overall digital printing industry among textile printed garment suppliers, in terms of rate of operation and delivery quantity. LAFORTE enables a smarter use of transfer process in our customers, as a consequence of better printing cycle times that enable customer’s simultaneous activities in transferring onto the garment.

The Civil / Public sector involves larger production lots and is less demanding in terms of faster change-over operations. This sector can re-formulate specific manufacturing batches due to these new smoother operation capabilities. In the Glass/Laminated Flooring sector, the technology developed for LaFORTE is transferrable to these deco sectors with renewed capabilities for fixation of colours in glass / laminated surfaces.

One of our main goals has been to demonstrate the compatibility of our new LaFORTE printer with the majority of water based inks available in the market, avoiding the use of VOC´s (volatile organic compounds), harmful substances for the environment, thanks to the development of our new negative pressure device for feeding the printing heads. In this context, the ink consumption has also been reduced and optimized. The development of the new vacuum system for fixing the paper during the printing process has also met the initial expectations replacing the use of glue and avoiding water waste linked to the former process.

In essence, our printing machine has become one of the higher performance printers in the market for printing textiles with best efficiency and environmentally friendly.
Printer view
Print test