All guns blazing
Published: 21 June 2021 | No comments yet
EFI Reggiani's Blaze took centre stage in Shanghai in mid-June
It’s an exciting year for EFI Reggiani, with the Italian operation celebrating its 75th anniversary by launching three new textile printers. Senior vice president and general manager Adele Genoni told Charlie Kortens how the company is set to blaze a trail in 2021.
Large parts of the world might still be enduring lockdowns, social distancing and other pandemic-related restrictions, but in China large crowds are mixing freely. This is good news for events and exhibitions, and it means that between 12 and 16 June a reported 100,000 visitors from all sectors of the global textile industry were able to descend on Shanghai’s National Exhibition and Convention Centre for ITMA Asia.
The event organisers say that around 1650 exhibitors filled around 170,000sqm of exhibition space in China’s largest city, but the place to be was on the EFI Reggiani stand, where the brand new Reggiani Blaze was on show for the first time anywhere in the world.
A 1.8m industrial printer able to print at up to 125m/hr and with a printing resolution up to 600 x 1200dpi, the Blaze has been designed to give companies the opportunity to enter the digital textile printing market with a compact solution. It’s a machine that Ms Genoni is clearly proud of.
Digital Textile Printer asked her why the printer had been introduced at ITMA, so far from its Italian home. ‘It’s our 75th anniversary this year,’ Ms Genoni explains, ‘and we wanted to celebrate this milestone with some great and green innovations. ITMA Asia was the first major event on the calendar for 2021, and it was the first opportunity for us to attend an in-person exhibition [in] over a year. Altogether the occasion made our eyes light up, it was the perfect place to introduce the first in the series of innovations we’re going to roll out, one after another, throughout this year.’
All these announcements arrive at a time when excitement is returning to the textiles industry, as Ms Genoni explains, ‘During the pandemic period we experienced difficulties across the market. But unquestionably we are seeing growth again. There is more and more interest in our solutions, and customers are on the lookout for innovation and sustainability – which is exactly what we offer.’
These are certainly encouraging signs for both EFI Reggiani and the wider industry, but how does Ms Genoni see things developing in the future? In fact, given it’s her company’s 75th birthday, how does she predict things will look in another quarter of a century, when the big 100 rolls around? ‘There are several key trends to watch in the textile space,’ Ms Genoni says, ‘and the Covid pandemic has accelerated several of them. I’m thinking of the rise of digitalisation, printing on demand, customisation and e-commerce. These trends will continue, and that is a huge part of why we have launched the new printers for those entering in the industrial space, to answer these needs.
‘The other trend that is very clear is the increasing desire for sustainable solutions. This demand will accelerate as well. The customers are becoming more empowered in terms of choosing what to wear, and they are looking for sustainable solutions. It’s not just Generation Z, but older customers as well; they are making their purchasing decisions with the environment in mind.
‘Finally, one more trend that will develop over the next years is productivity and reliability. Our customers are making fewer compromises when it comes to productivity and maintenance. We are leaders in every segment of the market when it comes to these areas; it’s in our DNA, we don’t compromise on quality. We want to offer the best to our customers. Obviously we want to offer competitive solutions, but we won’t compromise on productivity, performance or the reliability of our machines.’
So that’s the wider market, but what about the new printer that EFI Reggiani has launched? ‘The EFI Reggiani Blaze is an easy-to-use option for companies looking to step up to industrial printing with a flexible, simple and sustainable solution,’ Ms Genoni explains. ‘We have incorporated the best-in-class Reggiani technology, as in the upper reaches of our range.
‘It’s an ideal solution for people entering the industrial space, particularly those looking to take advantage of re-shoring and e-commerce opportunities. It’s not limited to them, however; the Blaze can also be used by larger customers and more traditional print houses who are looking to add a flexible machine for sampling.’
When it comes to potential applications, the possibilities are, if not endless, at least extensive. ‘The Blaze is suitable for fashion for sure,’ Ms Genoni says. ‘But it’s not limited to that, it can produce sportswear, home textiles and accessories as well. Sometimes the customers surprise us with their ingenuity and the applications they want, printing on leather for example. The breadth of applications they want is amazing, but what is really attractive for customers is the wide array of fabrics compatible with the Blaze.’
Ms Genoni certainly means this, but the biggest selling point for the EFI Reggiani Blaze seems to be its speed and productivity. Capable of printing at 125 linear metres per hour, the Blaze is one of, if not the, fastest machine in its class, something that Ms Genoni says has been driven by customers demanding more productive options. ‘The cost per metre and the total cost of the machine are very important, as is reliability. Customers don’t want the machine to sit idle, they want a machine running 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and they want it to do so without causing them any headaches.’
As mentioned above, the Blaze is just the first in a series of innovations that EFI Reggiani is set to roll out over the course of 2021. The company has also updated the EFI Reggiani Terra Silver, a 1.8m wide printer which runs EFI Reggiani’s Terra pigment ink for ‘high-quality, highly sustainable,’ direct-to-textile printing without steaming or washing. New features of the Terra Silver include an ink recirculation system, real-time image processing, several printing modes, and a more efficient polymerisation process that takes place as printed textile goes through the printer’s onboard dryer.
‘We are really in love with our Terra pigment line up,’ Ms Genoni says. ‘We might just offer the most complete line-up of pigment solutions in the world. From one side we can answer the productivity needs customers have, and on the other side we are also able to accompany our customers in their growth, scaling up their equipment and investment, in tune with their productivity needs.’
As with the Blaze, sustainable printing is at the heart of the Terra printers, and these perks are driving demand for the range. ‘We are experiencing a lot of interest in this technology,’ Ms Genoni says. ‘We now have installations around the whole world‘.
When asked if there will be any other upgrades or additions to the Terra range, Ms Genoni says that the ‘line up is well set, covering a wide range of speeds, productivities and number of print heads.’
There definitely is one new launch coming soon however, the EFI Reggiani Hyper, a higher-volume model set to be unveiled next month. ‘I can’t tell you anything at the moment,’ Ms Genoni laughs when asked about the new machine. ‘Except to say that it will be launching by the end of July, and that it is a really surprising machine. There is a real breakthrough in the technology, so stay tuned!’
Ms Genoni concludes by providing an update on EFI Reggiani’s inks strategy. ‘We started our plant in the UK and, in 2019, we acquired a Turkish company in order to further strengthen our ink offering and improve our presence in certain markets. It was a strategic acquisition to be closer to Turkey, Bangladesh, Vietnam. These parts of the world are key for the textile market. We have also looked at China, where we really wanted to be local for our Chinese customers. Our Aqua range of water-based reactive inks, suitable for use on cotton, silk, viscose rayon, linen, and lyocell, are set to become available in China, where they will also be manufactured to improve our service to local customers. As you can see, our plan is to get stronger on ink and to be closer and closer to the customers.’
In conclusion, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic period, EFI Reggiani remains as committed to textiles as ever. Digital Textile Printer will be checking in on the Hyper as soon as we can.