Kyocera announces Forearth, a new inkjet textile printer

Kyocera Corporation has announced Forearth, a new inkjet textile printer that aims to eliminate virtually all water usage from fabric printing. We expect this printer to contribute to eliminating printing-related water pollution, which has long been an issue in the textile and apparel industries.

19 May 2023 | By Rahul Kumar

Kyocera will unveil Forearth for the first time outside of Japan at ITMA 2023

Traditional analog textile printing consumes a large amount of water, especially in the washing and steaming processes, and wastewater pollution due to fabric printing is a long-standing issue around the world. 

In addition, waste resulting from the mass disposal of overstocked clothing is also an environmental concern, and the textile and apparel industries are under pressure to take immediate action toward alleviating this issue. 

Kyocera developed the new inkjet textile printer that combines patented inkjet, ink, and printing equipment technology to contribute to solving these environmental problems.

The machine’s water-free concept dramatically reduces water usage in textile printing. Its proprietary pigment ink realises both soft hand-feel prints and high fastness in a wide range of fabrics.

Textile printing does not rely on water resources, so the machine supports optimised production volumes and optimised manufacturing location setting and contributes to the reduction of logistic costs, time, and excess inventories.

In general, textile printing uses dye ink and requires a large amount of water for the pre- and post-treatment processes, such as steaming and washing. Dye ink is a dye with fine paint particles dissolved in water, which is printed by impregnating fabric with colour.

The Forearth is an all-in-one printing system that uses new proprietary pigment ink, pre-treatment liquid, and finishing agent, which are constantly discharged in the same sequence from the inkjet head. It is a dye with large paint particles that do not dissolve in water, which is printed by sticking to the surface of the textile

This system eliminates the pre-and post-processes required of conventional dye printing and reduces the water consumption of textile printing by 99%, according to Kyocera research. Also, this new printing solution contributes to reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions because it does not need large-scale equipment used for the pre- and post-treatment processes of textile printing.

Conventional dye digital printing generally requires different types of dyes for various fabrics made from different fibres. The Forearth solves the typical problems of pigment printing, such as less colour development, fastness, and hard hand-feel by using Kyocera’s proprietary ink technology and knowledge in a new, All-in-One printing system. This enables highly detailed printing on diverse fabrics ranging from cotton, silk, and polyester to nylon and blended fabrics with a single machine. Also, it is adaptable to a wide range of categories too, from ladies' fashion and sportswear to babywear and home textiles.

In general, textile dyeing factories operate in areas with abundant water resources since the printing process uses a large amount of water. On the other hand, Forearth needs only a small amount of water for printing, so the production site can be located anywhere, such as on-shore, near-shore, or in more suitable areas, like places close to consumers. 

Plus, Forearth’s simple two-step printing and drying system drastically shortens the number of steps from design to production. As a result of this streamlined processing, Forearth supports optimised production and location setting and therefore can handle small-lot printing and shorten delivery times, helping reduce logistic costs and surplus inventories. 

Moreover, Forearth can complete print production within a small area footprint compared to conventional textile printing, which requires many more printing processes with separate equipment, as you can see in the picture below.

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