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Inkjet Technologies to improve functionalities for smart textiles
30
Jun '08
In January 2008 TenCate acquired 75% of the shares of Xennia Technology Ltd near Cambridge (UK).

The main reason for this acquisition is primarily to accelerate the opportunity to use inkjet technology to produce technical textiles.

Inkjet technology has the potential to replace existing finishing and coating technologies and create new materials for the technical textiles sector.

Within the Digitex R&D project, which is subsidized by the EU Commission, TenCate, Xennia, Xaar and other companies and institutes have worked together in order to use inkjet technology to create breakthrough innovations in technical textiles for the European sector.

A number of important inkjet developments carried out by Xennia in recent years have also generated valuable applications in other industrial sectors like product decoration, packaging, material deposition and specialist printing.

Inkjet deposition of functional materials is a key area for Xennia's business and is expected to grow strongly over the next few years.

Xennia offers an extensive portfolio of functional chemistry and inkjet printer platforms that can be customized for specific industrial applications.

Xennia can integrate fixed or scanning XenJet print engines into production equipment in order to jet chemical materials on many different substrates.

Recent developments:
An example of one important recent development is Xennia's commercial launch of a fixed array single pass industrial printer for ceramic tile decoration. This machine has been developed for Creta Print (Spain).

The print process gives a random and natural look and feel to ceramic tiles, which can replace marble, granite etc. There is already a large interest in this system and Xennia plans a global launch with their OEM partner.

More than 10 orders of this system are expected during this first year of launch. The outlook and forecast for orders in the coming year indicate a substantial growth of this innovative solution for the ceramic tile industry.

Xennia also have other significant opportunities for its print engines and inks in applications such as labeling, packaging, production line product decoration and materials deposition, Material deposition systems can be used for printed electronics such as solar sells, antennas, semi-conductors and active displays.

Market estimates inkjet printing of electronics will reach a level of approximately € 3 billion in the next five years.

Importance for TenCate:
TenCate sees opportunities for inkjet technology for its protective fabrics and outdoor fabrics activities and will launch new products with new or improved functionalities in the near term, leading to the production of "smart textiles".

For TenCate, this development will also create large cost savings, such as environmental and energy costs, in the next five years period. Xennia is well positioned to provide solutions in this emerging market.

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