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Textile Innovation

The infinite possibilities of digital printing

Leading industry innovators Think Positive Prints, COMEFORBREAKFAST and Ratti have applied innovative digital printing to premium wool fabrics.

Traditionally used for synthetic fibres, new technology has made way for digital printing on wool fabrics, revealing new design opportunities and markets for wool fabrications. Digital fabric printing is where colour dyes are applied simultaneously in varying concentrations to a prepared fabric surface through inkjet technology, producing a printed fabric with intricate designs with infinite possibilities.

“Digital printing onto textiles is the biggest breakthrough in fabric decoration technology in the past 8000 years.”

Emilie Cacace, Think Positive Prints Director of New Business

“Tiny little random drops of dye, thinner than a hair, are sprinkled over the fabric from 8 different colour heads as the carriage passes across the fabric, which is held steady on the printer’s ‘sticky belt’,” explains Cacace. “Eight base colours mixing together to produce over a billion colour combinations.”

Digital Printing on Wool with Think Positive Prints

“We have been excited about the new approach of wool and after our participation in the 2015 and 2018 International Woolmark Prizes we were very keen to work on the new look of wool,” says COMEFORBREAKFAST Co-founder Antonio Romano.

“Together with the Woolmark team we decided to create a capsule collection which combines tradition and innovation.”

The COMEFORBREAKFAST x The Woolmark Company capsule collection using digital printing technology.

Selecting checks and designs of traditional, formal menswear wool fabrics such as checks, tartan, and Prince of Wales, COMEFORBREAKFAST reinterpreted these designs in new proportions and colours through digital printing.

“The digital gave us the liberty to “play”, using wool fabrics in different weights for the research,” Romano explains.

The result, which is normally created in the weaving department with limitation on numbers of yarn, colours and lead times, has been developed easily with digital printing.

“The use of digital printing on wool fabrics allows us to extend to the maximum our level of creativity, without limitation of traditional weave and jacquard weave,” Romano explains. “There is no limitation of creativity and we can maintain quality and precision at the highest level.”

Innovations in digital printing provides infinite design possibilities for printing on wool fabrics.

Furthering the use of the technology, The Woolmark Company’s partnership with Italian fabric house Ratti experimented with double-sided digital printing technology with the New Deal collection.

The project’s aim was to advance the printing of yarn-dyed designs onto wool and offer an infinite range of possibilities with no constraints in terms of creativity, or in relation to timescales or more simply to the number of metres ordered.

“New Deal combines the knowledge of the traditional art of printing into the digital one, where wool becomes the basis for a new visual feeling enhanced by different levels of colours and designs,” explains Ratti’s Alessandro Ivaldi.

“This approach has made New Deal the go-to project for the world’s leading fashion houses while its ongoing commitment to reduce both the environmental and economy impacts of the entire production process has set a clear example of an eco-sustainable business.”

The many benefits of digital printing on wool fabrics, including endless colour variants, shorter lead times for samples and production, reduced environmental impacts and the removed constraint of production metres, indicates that digital printing on wool fabrics has a very bright future.

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