I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of the Konica Minolta Inkjet Textile Demonstration and Training Centre in Bregnano earlier today.
The facility represents a 5 Million euro investment to showcase the innovation potential of Konica Minolta Single Pass inkjet and scanning technology for digital textile printing.
It is a 1500 sqm facility and houses the Nassenger SP-1, due to be launched at ITMA next month. And it is set to be a game changer in terms of productivity, speed and quality and is described as being 'ultra' high speed by Konica Minolta.
As well as the big machine that prints a super industrial speed, there is the Nassenger 10 which is a high speed scanning technology.
Mr Akiyoshi Ohno presented the key benefits of the machines and the vision behind their design.
Mr Ohno explains, "The aim for image quality is to widen printable design with a small minimum drop size (6-7 pl). In addition, the image enhancement with an advanced software and camera system and as already mentioned wider choice of print mode.
"One of the core aims with our new products is to stabilise and minimise down time
"We call this "DTM" (minimise down time). The new technology within the Nassenger is able to detect missing nozzle and to compensate for this without the need to stop production to fix the problem which could be incredibly time consuming. There is also easy head replacement and alignment as well as easy ink priming and colour matching.
"Prior to the launch of the SP-1, single pass had limitations. For example, the limitation of design, specification cannot always be achieved as well as no real responsibility on the behalf of the machine makers for fixing technical problems like nozzle malfunction."
Mr Ohno made the point that with these improvements in the production of single pass by reducing downtime and compensating for the inevitability of nozzles misfiring. The system can save considerable money and more than that make the final printed product reach the market more quickly.
Later on in the morning I talked with Enrico Verga the COO for Konica Minolta Inkjet based at the Bregnano Demo Centre and he explained the importance of the Demo centre and the latest technology.
"This is a unique demo centre for the world not just for Italy. We cover Europe and Turkey but this centre is available for any customer worldwide to let customers gain confidence with the technology. Our machines are available to be tested because we are so confident with the technology. We aim to allow customers to select the model that is right for them.
"We expect the market demand for the new Nassenger products to be considerable. After the launch of single pass printing sometime ago, we have seen customers using the technology not just for production speed but also for extra speed to market. Quality is one very important thing but for competitiveness speed is crucial.
"With the added performance features where the machines are optimised to reduce downtime with our innovative nozzle compensation technology we get the best of both worlds. Speed and reliability.
"With the technology although it is digital, the concept for production remains unwinding, transportation, drying and folding which is very similar to the traditional rotary machine model. The problem becomes when you put so much technology into conventional units it's a challenge for it. So we have introduced into the single pass model, the use of cameras and software to compensate performance through specialised software. Because if you don't have this kind of control at this speed you have a problem because human eyes cannot see any imperfection or colour problems.
"A complex pattern will make it very difficult if one colour is missing. Then you need to clean the whole machine which takes forever. Our technology minimises ink wastage and time wastage and this compensation software system is also applied to the scanning devices."
It's clever stuff, and you will see more soon at the public launch at ITMA as well as being able to discuss with Konica Minolta before that at the InPrint Show www.inprintshow.com