Digital inkjet decoration of ceramic tiles is a powerful manufacturing method, allowing creativity even with small quantities of customized or personalized designs.
By Gail Flower
From March 6-9, 2012, at the 10th edition of EXPO REVESTIR in São Paulo, visitors to the Xaar stand can see why the company’s 1001 industrial inkjet printhead is transforming the decoration of ceramic tiles. Xaar’s printhead incorporates TF Technology, and can be found in a number of digital inkjet ceramic tile printers throughout the show floor.
Xaar’s booth will feature a display of printheads and related products, as well as a number of 3D animations explaining their technology, viewed using Augmented Reality. (Download Xaar’s app – XAPP- from the Apple app store). In addition, a range of the creative and high-quality effects that can be printed on tiles using the Xaar 1001 printhead will be on display.
Technical staff will answer questions for OEMs about how to best implement Xaar printheads into their machines. They will also explain the benefits of using digital inkjet to print ceramic tiles. The company will also distribute Portuguese editions of its popular ‘Guide to Industrial Inkjet.’
Benefits of digital inkjet tile decoration
Digital inkjet decoration of ceramic tiles is a powerful manufacturing method, allowing creativity even with small quantities of customized or personalized designs. It also offers huge potential savings in inventory and distribution costs. Scope to vary the pattern is significantly increased and even the edges of the tile can be printed, including life-like patterns such as marble and wood effects. Inkjet printing also lets manufacturers print on textured and embossed surfaces. This extends the advantages that ceramic tiles can offer over competing cladding materials, such as stone, glass or metal—and at a far lower cost per square meter.
“The adoption of digital inkjet print techniques is transforming the economic viability of small batch production as well as the cost and time involved in ceramic tile printing. Break-even production runs are very short with digital printing,” explains Edsel Lonza, Xaar sales manager for Latin America. “Sample tiles, identical to final production with batch-to-batch reliability, can be delivered through the distribution network. They can be printed in very small quantities as they are ordered by the consumer; perhaps with customized designs. This reduces inventory, raw stock, distribution costs and waste. These cost savings lead to an excellent return on investment for tile printers.”
Xaar printheads, the company says, are found in more than 50% of the world’s digital inkjet ceramic tile printers, from manufacturers such as Technoferrari, Cretaprint, SITI—B&T, Sacmi, Kerajet, and others. The Xaar 1001 printhead ensures the most reliable operation with minimal maintenance because it uses Xaar’s unique revolutionary TF Technology and Hybrid Side Shoote printhead architecture. This technology enables higher pigment-loaded ceramic inks to flow directly past the back of the nozzles, keeping them continuously primed— resulting in maximum printer uptime for exceptional production output. The printhead can run for hours in production without maintenance depending on design and quantity printed, enabling digital to seamlessly integrate into a manufacturing line alongside traditional printing methods.
Tile producers want the flexibility to produce both fine detail and strong colors. The Xaar 1001’s ability to jet variable-sized (grayscale) drops allows tile manufacturers to select small dots for smooth tones and sharp lines. Larger dots are selected to provide high ink coverage to intensify color density and saturation. The result is a stunning replication of natural materials. In addition, the digital process means that patterns can be reproduced consistently from one run to the next, and on-demand.
Some of the world’s foremost ceramic ink companies have designed their inks and certified them for optimum performance in use with Xaar digital inkjet printheads. Examples are Chimigraf, Colorobbia, Esmalglass-Itaca Group, and Ferro.
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