By Melissa Donovan
Digital printing’s influence in the decoration of ceramic tiles continues to grow as more tile manufacturers realize its benefits. Advantages include expanding beyond the limitations of pattern repeats—a challenge when working with analog printers, decorating textured surfaces—something a printhead is able to do because it does not physically touch a tile, and providing an extended array of options when it comes to colors, finishes, and special effects.
Above: Scientifica Tiles manufacutres glaze vitrified floor tiles and is based in Morbi, India.
Natural Marble and Stone
Scientifica Tiles LLP is one manufacturer that’s come to rely on digital printing technology in its production of ceramic tiles. Based in Morbi, India, it manufactures glaze vitrified floor tiles for the Indian, Israeli, Middle Eastern, and South American markets.
In business since 2017, Scientifica Tiles adopted Xaar 2001+ GS12C printheads in 2018. Equipped with High Laydown Technology, they are outfitted in its KERAjet ECO printer. In incorporating the Xaar printheads into its production facility, the business looked to stand out against the competition with its high-quality marble and granite designs.
KERAjet is a well-known Spanish manufacturer of digital technology in the ceramic sector. The KERAjet ECO is an older version of its newest family of printers, one of which is the KERAjet S7. It runs with up to 12 inks and is equipped with an automatic purge and cleaning system. Tiles of up to 46 millimeters thick can run through the machine at a conveyor speed of up to 90 meters per minute.
The Xaar 2001+ C printhead family offers 720 dpi resolution print quality, replicating features as small as rock veins and grains of sand and reproducing gradients found in onyx and marble. It relies on unique technology to reduce interruptions for maintenance. TF Technology continually recirculates ink past the back of each nozzle at a very high flow rate during drop ejection to eliminate unwanted air bubbles and particles. XaarGuard minimizes ink build up on the nozzle plate. Tuned Actuator Manufacturing enables uniform print quality across all printheads in a print bar so replacing printheads is easier. XaarSmart reports ink temperatures and printhead status in real time.
The Xaar 2001+ C family includes three models—the GS6C, GS12C, and GS40C. All feature 2,000 active nozzles and a print swathe width of 70.5 millimeters. The difference between each involves the drop volume and total in ink laydown. Respectively, the GS6C, GS12C, and GS40C offer a drop volume range of six to 42, 12 to 84, and 40 to 160 picoliters. Total ink laydown at 25 meters per minute line speed is 21, 41, and 78 g/m2.
High Laydown Technology is used to achieve special effects on tiles like gloss, adhesive, luster, and metallic. Xaar developed High Laydown Technology to deliver the high quantities of fluid that these effects require. Used in conjunction with the Xaar 2001+ GS12C, High Laydown Technology can deliver 170 g/m2 at 25 meters per minute line speed. Alternatively, High Laydown Technology can be combined with the printhead dual color capability to deliver two different effects simultaneously, each one up to 85 g/m2 or 25 meters per minute line speed.
Scientifica Tiles uses digital production to replicate natural marbles and stones. “The printheads can reproduce the subtle color gradients of marbles and stones, making it ideal for these designs. The print quality we are getting is extremely high and we are very impressed. A vast difference can be seen between the color gradation of the marble and granite tiles compared to tiles we have seen elsewhere,” shares Hiren Vadaviya, director, Scientifica Tiles.
Scientifica Tiles is a family-run business and new to the world of tiles compared to some of the other long-standing, established brands out there. However, its step into digital decoration leads to its position as an innovator in the future of tile manufacturing.
Sep2019, Industrial Print Magazine