By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Manufacturers and designers use digital printing technology to expand services and improve textile quality. One press that opened a new era in fabric printing is the Epson Monna Lisa series—a digital printing solution that allows the textile market to shift from the pioneering phase of sampling to reliable mass production.
Launched in 2003, the Monna Lisa series now welcomes a new generation—the Monna Lisa Evo Tre—featuring the latest evolution of Epson PrecisionCore printheads. The series includes a range of models characterized by print quality, versatility, and reliability. Several manufacturers benefit from this technology.
Established in the early 1900s, Mantero Seta is a print house and designer. Since its start the company was considered a byword for unquestioned quality in the high-end silk market for clothing and accessories.
It originally served as a warehouse for high-quality textiles until transitioning into a trading company and later developing into an industrial enterprise engaged in printing, dyeing, and weaving silk. Mantero Seta’s quality and prestige in fabric earned the company a reputation in main international fashion houses.
In the 1990s, Mantero Seta looked to meet the stylistic demands of the decade. As a result, it incorporated digital printing systems to its traditional methods of decoration such as screen and roller printing. The print house did so to add variety to its designs, including large sizes, a wide selection of colors, neckwear micro designs, and accessories where small details drive the printing process.
In the accessories market, detail in the back of a garment is just as important as the front. Consequently, color penetration in fabrics is increasingly important, especially to prevent designs from becoming blurry. After extensive research in digital printing technology, Mantero Seta selected Epson’s Monna Lisa printer for its high quality and versatility, which allows the press to reproduce stylistic variants with reliability.
“For us, digital printing stands for Monna Lisa. As far as we are concerned, the winning features of Monna Lisa have always been the quality and reproducibility of a print, in addition to its reliability and ability to cope with large production volumes,” explains Franco Mantero, CEO, Mantero Seta.
With the Monna Lisa, the print house combines tradition and innovation—maintaining the high quality for which the brand is internationally renowned. “For us, the winning features of Monna Lisa have always been the quality and reproducibility of a print, in addition to its reliability and ability to cope with large production volumes,” adds Mantero.
Mantero Seta prints 120,000 meters of fabric per month. Each Monna Lisa device produces on average 18,000 to 25,000 meters of fabric per month. The print house installed six of these devices in its digital printing department, which was established five years ago. This includes Monna Lisa ML, Monna Lisa Evo Tre, and the latest Monna Lisa Evo Tre 32 printers.
The Monna Lisa Tre 32 is the most flexible solution in the series with selectable channels configuration. It features Epson PrecisionCore technology, 32 printheads, and uses Genesta acid, reactive, disperse, and pigment inks.
With the Monna Lisa devices, the print house excels in its style and design department, which includes nearly 100 employees. Digital printing is now an important part of the company’s production and provides it with an excellent means to convey its strengths.
For example, with the Monna Lisa series the company now produces the Mantero 1902 collection—a stylistic expression of designs from the company’s archives with new color variants that the designers produced. “The combination of these elements continues to produce remarkable results,” offers Mantero.
Founded in 2006, Creazioni Digitali is one of the largest businesses in the Italian Como textile district operating in the digital textile printing field. The company is known for digital sublimation printing for clothing and furnishing sectors but it stands out with its production capacity and strong focus on innovation, research, and development.
In 2012 the company relocated to a 6,000 square meters headquarters in Lurate Caccivio, Italy. The new location is dedicated to digital printing and to the development of exclusive designs and variants specifically created according to customer requirements.
Creazioni Digitali collaborates with high-profile partners and exclusive customers. It currently has 38 employees, a turnover of around six million euros, and its annual operation in 2018 exceeded 2.5 million meters.
In 2017, the company presented GreenDrop—an innovative printing process that uses sustainable dyes. It enables printing on fabrics consisting of various compositions of fiber mixture used in the textile industry. Based on the use of pigments, GreenDrop technology no longer employs traditional fabric steaming and washing processes. It reduces water consumption to a minimum and produces lower CO2 emissions. This results in economic value, versatility, reduced waste, and sustainable products.
In 2019, Creazioni Digitali invested in the Monna Lisa Tre 16 for the GreenDrop project and to pursue a sustainable production process. In doing so, the company created a dedicated team and introduced the Epson digital textile printer in its research and development labs. The Monna Lisa was selected with the goal of entering new markets with pigment printing and high-quality prints.
“The sustainability of the textile supply chain is an increasingly crucial issue for both consumers and operators. We are very happy to have found in Epson the ideal partner for this project, which is not just a printing style but a whole new way of conceptualizing the product,” explains Robert Lucini, CEO, Creazioni Digital.
With its Epson investment and the GreenDrop project, Creazioni Digitali is committed to a sustainable printing process. The company launched the production phase several months ago and is satisfied with its Epson partnership.
“For us, the sustainability of production processes is a must. We have been working in this direction for some time and we firmly believe in GreenDrop printing, which we commonly define as SmartWater Digital Style because of its excellent sustainability properties,” shares Lucini.
According to him, the sustainability of the textile supply chain is an increasingly crucial issue for both consumers and operators. “We are happy to have found in Epson the ideal partner for this project, which is not just a printing style but a whole new way of conceptualizing the product. We believe that this is the right time to invest in sustainable processes and in the development of innovative technological solutions that prioritize respect for the environment together with economic, social, and institutional sustainability.”
Given the innovation of the Monna Lisa device and the GreenDrop project, Lucini is confident that Creazioni Digitali’s concept of sustainable development will satisfy the needs of the modern society without compromising those of the future generations.
Sportswear & Swimwear Innovators
Lico Print started in 1974 in the Italian Como textile district. It originally established itself in the traditional fabric printing sector, especially for silk, clothing, and accessories. In the 1980s, the print house combined its classic processes with those used on stretch fabrics and quickly became a specialist in swimwear and sportswear.
During its 45 years of business, the company transitioned from traditional hand, flat screen printing to square flat screen printing and rotary machines, eventually moving to digital printing in 2000.
Initially, Lico Print embraced digital printing technology to reduce the high fixed plant and processing costs associated with traditional technology. With this approach, costs are linked only to image processing, which is immediately available for printing—allowing for increased flexibility and higher performance speed.
Digital also aids the print house in efficiency. Because the average swimwear order is typically small, this means a greater division of work than other accessories like scarves where an average of one fabric square meter is used per piece. This, in addition to several considerations such as fixed cost savings, sampling speed, and design processing suitable for swim and sportswear, encouraged Lico Print to invest in digital printing.
The print house originally entered into digital printing utilizing solutions that offered limited performance but fitted within its existing production line. This was enough when digital printing was a small portion of the company’s overall business. However, when the printing company decided to focus more on industrial production, Epson presented an efficient step forward. In 2009, Lico Print invested in its first Monna Lisa printer.
“We adopted the first Monna Lisa to extend the fleet of our machines and provide an alternative to our existing solutions. After the successful experiment, it came naturally to keep choosing Monna Lisa printers,” explains Mauro Livio, CEO, Lico Print.
By investing in the Monna Lisa Evo Tre 32, Lico Print utilizes 16 channels that offer a wider color configuration than previous models. It also enables brighter prints for demanding customers. This is essential for print houses like Lico Print that produce swimwear and sportswear that often require intense, high-impact colors.
Lico Print’s production is equally divided between traditional and digital, however digital accounts for 60 percent of its turnover. Out of 1.6 million meters of fabric printed annually, 800,000 to 900,000 are digitally printed.”Counting on reliable and versatile solutions is essential and ensures success,” adds Livio.
The print house now exclusively uses Epson solutions including five Monna Lisa presses like the Monna Lisa Evo Tre 16, 32, and 32 with 16 channels. The latest evolution of the series—the Monna Lisa Evo Tre 32 with 16 channels—allows the use of Genesta fluorescent inks with traditional Genesta acid inks—resulting in an extended color range.
“Thanks to the use of the Monna Lisa Evo Tre 32 with 16 channel fluorescent inks, we can offer to brilliant color samples with a unique color range, which was unthinkable until now,” adds Livio.
Creazioni Digitali, Lico Print, and Mantero Seta are all Italian print houses that invested in the Epson Monna Lisa series of digital presses for innovative, high-quality textiles.
In part two of this series, we look at Turkish manufacturers utilizing Epson’s Monna Lisa series. IPM
Jul2020, Industrial Print Magazine