Epson Opens Two New Research Centers for Digital Inkjet Printing on Textiles

Seiko Epson of Tokyo reports that it’s opened two new “hub” sites that will be dedicated to Epson’s development of new industrial digital printers for printing on textiles. The Innovation Research Lab, focusing on ink technology R&D, has been created by Epson together with For.Tex, n Italian textile-printing company that Epson acquired last year. The Printing Research Center, in collaboration with F.lli Robustelli, also an Italian textile-printing company, and which Epson acquired in June 2016, will help future development of Epson inkjet core technology dedicated to textile printing.

The two new sites join Epson’s established Textile Solution Center located in Como, Italy. With the opening of these facilities, Epson says that it and For.Tex and F.lli Robustelli “have realised their vision to create a worldwide hub for the digital textile-printing industry based in Italy.”

“We are delighted to announce the establishment of the Innovation Research Lab and The Printing Research Center in Como,” commented Sunao Murata, chief operating officer of Epson’s Professional Printing Operations Division. “These state-of-the-art R&D facilities symbolise Epson’s strong commitment to accelerating the development of digital textile inkjet printing both in the Como region and the rest of the world.”

The Digital Textile-Printing Industry

In 2014 alone, Epson says that approximately 31 billion square meters of fabric was printed worldwide, of which approximately 2-3 percent was produced using digital technologies (according to research from  Provost Ink Jet Consulting Ltd.), and that 2015 represented a “landmark year for the digital textiles market” and, according to WtiN Intelligence, print volume is expected to increase by about 17 percent year-over-year until 2019.

Epson says that the use of digital technologies for printing drawings, patterns, and visual effects on textiles and other surfaces is well established and is growing quickly, replacing traditional analog-printing technologies in several areas. It says, however, that digital-printing technologies used in industrial volume production create “a challenge for inks and auxiliary chemical compound manufacturers.” However, it says, thanks to technological innovation, the digital-printing market is constantly evolving, with customers requesting products capable of supporting the complete manufacturing cycle and that ensure quality and reliability.

The Innovation Research Lab

With the aim of researching and developing new inks for industrial digital printing on a wide array of materials, Epson’s Innovation Research Lab is said to be equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and is staffed with a team of skilled technologists and researchers (chemical engineers, chemical analysts, lab technicians, etc.). Epson says the Lab is committed to research that will increase industrial ink performance and sustainability on behalf of Epson.

The Printing Research Center

The Printing Research Center, located in F.lli Robustelli’s head office, will aid product development of core inkjet printers, ensuring the continued development of the “highest-quality textile printers.”

Epson notes that it’s been partnering with F.lli Robustelli and For.tex since 2003, when the companies launched the Monna Lisa digital textile printer. In 2014 the Textile Solution Center (TSC) was established as the world’s first hub for the development and promotion of digital fabric printing, with the aim of increasing quality, productivity, and reliability of digital printing technologies. The center, created with an overall investment of 2 million euros, is said to bring “the entire industrial production process under one roof and provides invaluable support to textile businesses, young designers, fashion schools, and institutes.” The 3,000 square meter facility is said to provide “a unique opportunity to reproduce the industrial process of digital fabric printing, from pre-treatment and actual printing to steaming, washing, drying and finishing.”

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