Basics Regarding Sustainable Digital Printing


Summary

Printing on fabrics is a process that is associated with the use of high levels of energy and other resources at one end and the release of numerous wastes at the other end. As such many players in this industry are turning to methods that seek to reduce the energy requirements and the resultant wastes. They have implemented measures aimed at creating sustainable digital printing. Sustainability can only be achieved if all the aspects of textile manufacturing are overhauled. These include marking, product design, pattern making, grading and cutting.


Printing on fabrics is a process that is associated with the use of high levels of energy and other resources at one end and the release of numerous wastes at the other end. As such many players in this industry are turning to methods that seek to reduce the energy requirements and the resultant wastes. They have implemented measures aimed at creating sustainable digital printing. Sustainability can only be achieved if all the aspects of textile manufacturing are overhauled. These include marking, product design, pattern making, grading and cutting.

One of the most significant trends is the use of clean consumables in the production process. Chromium has been a fairly common component of the lacquerer that used in most screens. Modifications have been made such that very little of this chromium is used. Related to the same, nickel has been adopted in the manufacture of tools that are used to create holes in the screens. The result of this is production of less waste.

The printing process requires a lot of water. This often results in huge expenses for the company. Many of them have decided to improve their waste water treatment mechanisms so as to recycle as much of the water as possible. The recycled water has a wide range of applications including washing of pumps and printing blankets. Good systems can recycle up to 65% of water.

Sustainability greatly relies on an efficient system. The machines (whether digital or conventional) should be designed in a manner that helps conserve energy, ink (paste) and water. Since high temperatures have to be maintained in the drying chambers, the technique chosen to achieve this must optimize the available conditions. For instance, drying systems that use radial extraction techniques leave behind a lot of warmth in the chambers after extracting the moisture and therefore save close to 25% of energy.

Another trend that has characterised modern systems is the use of urea-free pre-treatment techniques. The new practice is the use of special types of foam that result in less carbon dioxide compared to urea. There is no need to use large amounts of water to remove residual urea from the fabrics which is a huge saving.

Digital engraving is another new development. Instead of using dyes and chemicals to produce the required impressions, the same is achieved using laser. Apart from having a shorter turnaround time, this option also uses less water and energy compared to the conventional methods.

Another trend in that has greatly promoted sustainability is the use of pigment rather than dyes in printing. This technique is suitable for almost any fabric type. It has a huge advantage in that there is no need for pre and post-treatment of the fabrics. Pigment is much cheaper compared to the chemicals used in conventional printing. Another benefit is that there is less wastage of water and energy.

As one plans to adopt sustainable digital printing, they will need to bear in mind that the process is governed by some legal guidelines. Many of these regulations are meant to guide the release of industrial effluent into the environment. Since there is some variation in the structure of the guidelines from one country to another, one will need to be conversant with those of the country in which the company is located.

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