New research into jet printing on textiles could lead to a faster, cheaper alternative to conventional ways of dyeing fabrics. Jet printing could also deliver valuable design benefits, such as a wider choice of colours and avoidance of the need to repeat patterns in a design.
The research is being carried out at Leeds University, with funding from the Swindon-based Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Involving a number of industrial partners, the initiative is also bringing together textile experts, mechanical engineers, colour chemists, materials researchers and IT specialists for the first time in a single project in this field.
The textile industry currently prints fabrics using screen-printing technology. Although productive for long print runs, it is slow and expensive for today’s increasingly smaller order quantities. Jet printing offers many advantages, such as the ability to download designs straight from computer to material. It also has the potential to make short print runs economic and enable small quantities of fabrics to be made to order, thereby eliminating the need to keep stock. However, many technical barriers need to be overcome if jet printers are to be developed that are big enough, fast enough and reliable enough for commercial-scale use by the industry.
Jane Reck | alfa
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