Digital inkjet printing of functional textile for smart textile application

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The goal of this project is to investigate digital inkjet printing as advanced production and functionalization technique for textile industry, in order to bring new process integration to replace traditional dyeing, printing and functionalization and create products with high performance.

Digital inkjet printing is viable as an emerging method for the textile industry. Thanks to the nature of digital controlling and small drop deposition of inkjet printing technology, we can deposit materials selectively at specific location, similar to the paradigm shift in newspaper printing. The local and controllable deposition of materials on textile represents an environmentally sound and energy efficient alternative to the conventional wet dyeing and printing processes, i.e. a shift from wet to novel processes with dramatically reduced water and energy consumption. However, the current focuses of the industry are mainly on the coloration printing of textile (only ca. 5% of textiles is digitally printed), a small step in textile production. The full power of this technology is yet to be explored. It is an obvious task to investigate how inkjet printing can replace multiple traditional steps by doing dyeing, printing and functionalization in one process. Another attractive route is to inkjet print novel functional ink for multi-functions and improved performances of textiles. Our established inkjet ink development system at The Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås (UB) enables us to explore the usage of inkjet printing as one operation for dyeing and printing (coloration) and functionalization during textile production. The applicant plans to apply digital inkjet printing as an advanced micro-patterning method to deposit ink with multiple functions, e.g. hydrophobicity, antistatic property and indicative coloration.

Today, the textile dyeing/printing companies are doing yarn/fabrics dyeing, printing and functionalization, which take large production runs.

The applicant proposes the usage of inkjet printing as one unit operation that coloration (pattern or uniform color) and multifunctionalization are done in one run. This project enables FOV Fabrics AB to make in short runs of a completely colored and functionalized product for specific clients, TST Sweden AB and Peak Performance Production AB. This single step process is not possible today.

This project will build on the expertise of the Textile Materials Technology (TMT) group from UB and the three industrial partners (Peak Performance Production AB, TST Sweden AB and FOV Fabrics AB). At the end of the project, the industrial partners will be able to produce and evaluate the prototypes by using digital inkjet printing technology at industrial relevant condition.