SPGPrints has opened its doors to key customers for 'sneak' preview of its new single-pass digital textile printer, scheduled for launch at ITMA 2015 in Milan, next November. Over a two-week period visitors from around the world were able to view the prototype of the new 'Pike®' printer at the company's headquarters in Boxmeer, the Netherlands.
The Pike® is based on a full-width array of Fujifilm Samba print heads, specially modified in a joint project for optimum performance in textile printing. The heads are incorporated in a highly accurate but user-friendly print-bar technology, called 'Archer®'.
One essential advantage of the technology is that the Archer® Technology can jet accurately across a distance much greater than can other heads widely used in current digital-textile applications. The head plates in the Archer® array will typically be 4mm away from the surface of the substrate, compared with the typical 1.5mm of other print heads – so greatly reducing the risk of 'head strike', which can damage these expensive components.
SPGPrints has also developed Pike® Reactive inks, with a formula that eliminates the mist problem, which might have arisen with this greater firing distance.
The first Pike® printer is a 6-colour machine in which each colour is represented by an Archer® print bar containing 43 print heads, giving a printing width of 1850mm. The print bar has a native resolution of 1200 x 1200dpi, variable drop sizes from 2-10pl and a jetting frequency of 32 kHz,
which together deliver typical productivity of 40 linear metres a minutes, with a maximum of around 75 m/min. The modular construction will allow models with up to 9 colours.
Wider versions of the Pike, up to 3200mm, are also planned.
The Archer® print bar has been designed to retract fully for easy maintenance. Heads can be purged in narrow segments and a faulty head can be replaced by users in less than an hour, with no need for manual alignment – simply software-based registration. The heads are manufactured by a MEMS process, which means they are less liable to degradation and can be refurbished.
With the cost of head replacement identified as a major concern for investors in fixed-array machines, SPGPrints proposes a unique arrangement in conjunction with Pike® inks, in which the customer will initially receive a number of spare heads and any faulty heads returned will be replaced free of charge.
Jos Notermans, SPGPrints' commercial manager for digital textiles, said: "We researched what users want in the next generation of digital textile printing technology and discovered that the essentials include solid blotches, fine geometrics and – above all – a robust industrial solution. That's what the
Pike delivers, at high speed and with low, predictable costs.
"We are able to achieve the quality of Epson DX-based machines with the productivity of the faster machines based on Kyocera heads."
The Pike's fabric-infeed system is by Erhardt + Leimer and the transport blanket has been specially designed in conjunction with Habasit. The in-line dryer has the extra capacity to handle disperse inks, which – along with acid inks – are in development and scheduled for launch in 2016.