As the analog-to-digital transformation in textile printing starts taking off, hybrid solutions are emerging that fill the gap between screen and digital printing. In this article, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne discusses this gap issue, includes insight from a California-based screen printer, and highlights an interesting hybrid solution in the form of M&R’s Digital Squeegee.
We’ve been through the analog-to-digital transformation in a number of industries, and the textile industry is now undergoing this transformation. But as we have seen from past experience, legacy technologies usually stick around for a while. In textiles, especially in direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, screen printing has long been a staple, and it has many advantages. For example, operators are able to choose the ink type most appropriate for the fabric being used, and fabrics don’t typically need pre-treatment as is often required with digital printing.
“This is an advantage of screen printing inks,” said Peter Walsh, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The M&R Companies, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of screen printing equipment for the graphic and textile industries. “Especially when you are dealing with performance fabrics, you can get better elasticity and bleed resistance with screen printing inks. Another advantage, of course, is cost. Screen printing inks are pretty much a commodity and sell for somewhere in the range of $15 per kilo, while digital inks are much more expensive; in fact, white ink for digital textile printers can cost as much as $100 per kilo.”
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