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9/24/2008
Sacmi chooses digital and takes it to the next level

New machine, capable of revolutionising the ceramic industry, to be presented at Tecnargilla

Ceramic decoration: an art, an industry and also – especially over the last five years – a technology. Two technologies, in fact. The first, which goes back a good three decades, is decoration by contact. The second, on the up and up, of a potential that is as huge as it is unexplored, is ink-jet digital decoration, almost as if our desk-top printers had suddenly developed the potential to produce tiles. Very high resolution, flexibility: the opportunity, then, to create products that could not otherwise be created, all the way to achieving the “dream” – great, but up to a point– of “personalised tiles” at relatively accessible costs.
A revolutionary opportunity, then, and one that colouring plants and the major ceramic machinery producers have leapt at, with several machines (and relative inks) being launched on the market as of 2005. However, that revolution is not without its uncertainties and problems, so it’s hardly surprising that an industry leader such as Sacmi has waited a while before marrying digital technology.
The latest development – which will officially be presented at Tecnargilla 2008 – is called the DWD065. Most importantly, this machine uses ceramic inks highly similar to those traditionally employed in “traditional” ceramic decoration. Why? A lot of digital pioneers hate to admit it, but with digital – up until yesterday, of course - you can’t do everything: it’s one thing to print on paper, quite another to do so on a tile. This is because most digital machines currently on the market use a quadricolour process (just like that printer on your desk), which excludes quite a chunk of the colour spectrum typical, let’s say, of standard decoration. Reds, for example, present a real problem for digital decorators. As do thick whites and metallic lustres (in this case because it is impossible to pour large quantities of the material onto the tile). With the new Sacmi machine it is, instead, possible to apply any type of ceramic pigment-based ink without any limitations as to the nature or colour of the pigment - all thanks to print units that use patented Flatjet technology: this is the very heart of the system, a micro-nozzle larger than the ‘inkjet’, which was, until now, the very synonym of digital decoration simply through a sheer lack of alternatives. Fitted in rows – as large as the tile that needs to be printed – these nozzles work independently and are controlled by advanced software.
Because the physical-chemical standards of traditional colouring have been observed by adapting the new machine to them, ceramists using the DWD065 obtain better chromatic development, richer colours and, in general, lower costs. Goodbye, then, to compulsory four-colour processes. As a rule, almost anything is possible with digital too - but reformulating an ink from scratch as a function of graphic performance requirements would, with “traditional digital”, involve exorbitant costs. .... more ...


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