Digital printing expands the possibilities for textile design. To get a good quality print, fabric needs to be prepared for digital pigment printing. This means the fabric is pre-treated with chemistry designed to offer desired end-use performance in a variety of textiles that cannot be achieved by the ink and fabric alone.
There are fibers on the surface of the fabric, not unlike tiny hairs, together with lint and dust, that need to be removed by a manual process. If they are not removed and the fabric is inkjet printed, some drops of inks will land on the fibers or debris instead of on the fabric surface. The result is that colors won’t look bright and bold and the print surface can look mottled.
Fabrics also need to be chemically pre-treated so the digital inks can do their job. Without pre-treatment, the ink would spread on untreated fabric and not provide crisp lines, and would come off if rubbed or washed. Applying a chemical pre-treatment will ensure solid print quality, keep colors bright, and provide good rub fastness.
Pre-treatment is traditionally applied by ‘padding’ the fabric where it is passed through a bath of pre-treatment solution and then dried. Because some of the chemistry remains in the water, it becomes waste-water that must then be treated. In addition, drying the water from the fabric at the end of the process requires a tremendous amount of energy.
A Complete New Textile Pre-Treatment Solution
Lubrizol offers a number of ink receptive coatings that are designed to pre-treat textiles for digital print applications. Technijet develops equipment to clean and remove surface fibers from fabric and has created a standalone system for the continual cleaning and preparation of textile fabrics prior to the coating and finishing processes.
Lubrizol and Technijet worked together for several years to combine the manual process and chemical process to offer a more efficient, eco-friendly way to pre-treat textiles for digital pigment printing. From that collaboration came the Swift-Jet on-demand pretreatment system for inkjet pigment printing. The Swift-jet cleans the fabric, spray-applies pre-treatment solution directly onto the fabric in a very controlled and uniform manner, and then dries to produce fabrics that are ready for digital printing—all in one machine.
Technijet developed the machine and spray technology and Lubrizol developed the appropriate chemical pre-treatment properties to enable the spray process. Swift-Jet uses a patented high pressure spray and fabric drying technology making it a contactless and highly controllable process that uses less pre-treatment solution as only one side of the fabric is treated. Compared to conventional textile process methods, Swift-Jet can reduce coating volumes by up to 50 percent, while providing energy and water savings and reducing waste.
Additional Cost Savings
While the environmental aspects are key, Swift-Jet also enables textile manufacturers to hold less material in stock. The machine features rapid start and stop and can run small quantities, so less stock is needed. It also makes pre-treatment available to smaller companies that don’t have expensive textile padding equipment but want to digitally print with pigment-based inks onto fabrics in a process that does not create any water effluent that needs to be treated.
The Swift-Jet machine combined with Lubrizol’s pre-treatment chemistry is a complete pre-treatment system that offers a flexible, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to treat material prior to digital printing with a pigment-based inkjet ink.
Contact your Lubrizol account manager or visit swift-jet.com to learn more about the future of digital textile printing.