by Melissa Donovan
Companies with rich histories in textile manufacturing earn their place as leaders of innovation when they weave traditional decorating practices with advanced technologies. Smartly integrating digital printing into their production facility achieves important goals.
Werner Tecidos was founded in 1904 as a silk manufacturer by German immigrants. In 1964, the original owners sold to the Landau Remy family, which continues to run the business through both second and third generations. The company’s roughly 260,000 square foot facility is located in Petropolis, Brazil, about an hour from Rio de Janeiro.
300 employees work out of this one location offering skill sets in spinning, weaving, dying, printing, and finishing. “Werner maintains a solid reputation in the manufacturing of a variety of fabrics for high-fashion brands and is widely recognized as a reliable and innovative company with a distinct quality orientation,” explains Ivan Roumeliotis, industrial manager, Werner.
The textile manufacturer first learned about digital printing in 2000. According to Roumeliotis it was attracted to the process because it offered high-quality printed fabrics, unlimited colors and size, versatility for printing small quantities, and the freedom to print without making printing cylinders or frames.
“Our market is formed by high-quality brands that demand exclusive designs in small quantities, which is perfect for digital printing. We were looking to improve print quality and resolution and add versatility with unlimited colors and design sizes. In addition we wanted to print small quantities including quick samples,” he says.
A decade passed before Werner took the leap and purchased its own digital printer. In 2011 it bought its first Epson Monna Lisa, an HT12 model, in 2013 an HT16 model followed, and then in 2017 the Monna Lisa Evo Tre device.
The printers are capable of running an array of inks including acid, reactive, pigment, and disperse on silk, cotton, rayon, linen, viscose, PES and PA fibers, and wool fabrics. The Monna Lisa Evo Tre is driven by a new printhead array featuring Epson’s advanced PrecisionCore technology. 128 PrecisionCore MicroTFP print chips are configured as 32 four-chip printheads, so the array provides 12,800 nozzles for each color. While being highly durable, it is also designed for easy maintenance to minimize downtime.
Symmetrical color alignment ensures consistent color overlap order is maintained during bi-directional printing. As a result, color and pattern reproduction are uniform, and even areas of solid color and fine geometric patterning are rendered while maintaining high throughput.
One of the Monna Lisa Evo Tre’s most important qualities is its flexibility. Despite being a single printer it meets a variety of production needs. It handles different types of inks, prints on any type of fabric, and reproduces the simplest or most complex designs with uncompromising quality, speed, and repeatability. Inks are available in color racks of different capacities—three or ten liter, with the possibility to swap ink types.
Werner runs both acid and reactive ink. “These are appropriate for our fabrics, providing bright colors and fastness, with no compromise of softness,” explains Roumeliotis. It chooses to run ink from Epson, specifically the Genesta series.
Inks and Sustainability
Genesta inks are developed by Epson in collaboration with For.Tex. The exclusive Monna Lisa ink management system limits waste and the suction system is designed to permit the use of degassed vacuum bags.
The acid Genesta AC inks are used on properly prepared silk, wool, and PA fabrics. Drying is easy and the dried fabrics can be stored before steaming, which is performed using saturated steam at 102 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or 40 minutes for wool, according to Epson’s website. In order to eliminate the unfixed ink and the preparation, specific washing treatments are performed according to the type of printed fabric.
The reactive Genesta RE-N inks are used on properly prepared cotton, viscose, linen and other cellulose fabrics, silk, and wool. Drying is easy and the dried fabrics can be stored before steaming, which is performed within 24 hours after printing with saturated steam at 102 degrees Celsius for 12 to 15 minutes in case of cellulose fibers, 20 minutes for silk, and 30 minutes for wool; according to Epson’s website. To eliminate the unfixed ink and the preparation, specific washing treatments are performed based on fabric type.
An added bonus for Werner is the level of sustainability offered by Monna Lisa’s print process. Compared to other solutions, digital printing uses less ink, thus reducing waste. In addition, Genesta inks are certified under ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX, with the assurance that they meet strict human-ecological standards for chemicals. Reactive Genesta inks in particular are approved by ECOCERT, certifier for Global Organic Textile Standard.
Sustainability is one of the company’s core values. It constantly searches for eco-friendly practices, both in its raw materials and manufacturing processes, as well as social responsibility. Werner is a Brazilian Association of Textile Retail certified supplier. This denotation means the company underwent a rigorous independent audit and is recognized for best practices like employees working in safe conditions and its committed to sustainable and social development.
The Future is Digital
Werner prints to silk, rayon, cotton, and linen using the Monna Lisa devices. These are produced in small batches of about 656 feet per item. Each month about 17,388 feet is digitally printed.
Conventional printers are still used in the facility mainly when a design has few colors, the dimension of the design is small, or a very large quantity is requested. The company believes that the future is digital printing and as a growing market Roumeliotis expects Werner’s capacity to expand further with additional printers.
“Customers now demand smaller batches and high-quality, high-resolution designs, all in a short time. They are aware of the advantages of digital and are using this to free the creativity of the designers,” he adds. Werner relies on digital technologies to meet the needs of its customer base today and into the future.
Jan2021, Digital Output