Screen Printing - June/July 2016 - (Page 28)

KORNIT DTG: LIFE IN THE FAST LANE With higher productivity solutions hitting the market, how will the industry respond? Steve Duccilli with Kiersten Wones and Liz Duccilli M uch has happened in direct-to-garment (DTG) inkjet printing since we last examined the technology two years ago (June/July 2014, pg. 22). Newer inks provide better color gamut, improved washability, and adhesion to a growing range of pretreated fabrics. Big inkjet players have jumped in, first with Epson and then Ricoh (through its recent acquisition of Anajet) marketing DTG systems. Online decorated apparel mavericks continue to use DTG technology to disrupt existing supply channels, with an intriguing announcement from Amazon in January that it was working with Kornit on the online retailer's Merch program. And, perhaps most importantly, machines with significantly higher throughput are hitting the market, giving volume screen printers more to consider as they plot their future capital investments. The more productive DTG systems available today are a far cry from the ones that hit the market about 15 years ago. Those early units, much like the first inkjet poster-printing systems that had come a decade before, were essentially desktop printers that had been jury-rigged to print directly onto white, 100-percent cotton shirts. About five years later, we began to see printers that had been built specifically for the application. White inks emerged. They weren't nearly as opaque as a screen-printed underbase, requiring multiple passes and/or additional heads to get acceptable results, 28 SCREENPRINTING and initially they were prone to clogging in the head - by far the biggest frustration of early DTG adopters. But gradually, they opened the door to dark garment printing. Later, units that could print discharge inks appeared, as well as systems that touted the ability to image a wider range of pretreated synthetic and blended textiles. Print speeds, in part due to the wider use of currentgeneration printheads, have risen in the latest printers. (See the specs for all currently available models beginning on pg. 30.) Productivity features such as bulk ink supply and automatic printhead height adjustment have become common. A wide range of easily changed specialty platens are available to accommodate unusual placement areas such as pockets or cumbersome garment types such as hoodies. And the print quality, particularly for photographic images, remains impressive. "What's really scary about digital is how good the prints look," offers consultant Marshall Atkinson. "You can do so much more with a digital press than you could ever do with screen printing because you don't have to use halftones or print through a mesh, so you don't have all that interference." Still, despite a decade of steady technology progress and a proven demand for personalized and niche apparel that is being well-exploited by e-commerce apparel sites like CustomInk and CafePress, DTG's share of the decorated

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Screen Printing - June/July 2016

Screen Printing - June/July 2016
Editorial Insights
Pressing Issues
Industrial Printer Expands with Inkjet
Production: Tortoise or Hare?
New Products
What’s Next for Single-Pass Inkjets?
DTG: Life in the Fast Lane
DTG Sourcelist
Distributor/Dealer Directory
Classifieds/Ad Index
Print, Flash, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Screen Printing - June/July 2016