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Interview with Giovanni Pizzamiglio, Paolo Crespi, Riccardo Robustelli
Giovanni Pizzamiglio, Paolo Crespi, Riccardo Robustelli
Direct To Fabric Sales & Mktg Director,EMEAR & Americas;Commercial Director;Director respectively Epson Italy, For.Tex, Fratelli Robustelli
What are For.Tex's and Fratelli Robustelli's main contributions to Epson business?
PC: For.Tex made over the years an outstanding contribution to Epson's efforts to replace analogue textile printing with digital. By combining Epson's digital inkjet textile technology with the technical and marketing expertise of For.Tex, we are now able to generate genuine value for the growing number of customers who are convinced that digital is the way forward. For.Tex is recognised in the Italian market as a trusted provider for dyes, thickeners and products for pre/post-treatment in digital printing processes for the textiles industry. It established and consolidated its expertise in the sector by constantly providing support to customers and widening its product range.
RR: Since the 1950s, Fratelli Robustelli has designed and produced textile printing machinery and systems. In 20 years, digital printing has taken a leading role in the design and production of printed fabrics, and inkjet printing is now the future of the textile printing in both fashion, which is particularly sensitive to versatility, speed and customisation, and other production sectors, such as interior design. The economic, organisational and ecological benefits of this cutting-edge printing technology include waste reduction, fewer wash cycles and the related reduction in environmental pollution.
This is why, over the last few years, Fratelli Robustelli has focused on the development of a series of periodic maintenance processes on its Monna Lisa that allow printers' upgrade with the latest technological innovations by changing no more than the 20 per cent of the original parts of each machine, resulting in the non-replacement of the 80 per cent of the original components and a minimum environmental impact. As we explained in our latest book Beyond the Silk Road: Digital Printing and Sustainability, and as we recently underlined during our last R-Evolution conference, this means that Monna Lisa became the "champion" of the circular economy, being the only industrial digital textile printer that never reaches the "end-of-life".
What new trends and innovations in inks can be seen, and what are their sustainability quotients?
PC: Since the initial design and launch of the Monna Lisa digital fabric printer, For.Tex has worked with the goal of providing the greatest number of colours for each class in order to offer users the larger gamut of effective quality digital inks. This intense research work led to the development of the Genesta ink range, designed to meet the highest quality standards for production reliability and colour fastness. Developed in cooperation with Epson, Genesta inks ensure a reliable, precise, resistant and high-quality print on all types of fibres. In addition, considered the evolution of requirements for chemical product sustainability, the Genesta ink range was developed and produced to minimise environmental impact. These include the elimination of hazardous chemicals by replacing them with safe chemicals whenever technology makes it possible, minimising quantities where alternative solutions are unavailable, and quickly researching alternative solutions. Thanks to all these innovative characteristics, Genesta also obtained the important Oeko-Tex Eco Passport certification, assuring that all the certified products could be used in the sustainable production of eco-friendly textile products.
How many Monna Lisa machines have been installed so far? And in which countries?
GP: Till date, around 350 Monna Lisa machines have been installed in different countries: Italy where we have more than 200, Turkey, Europe (Austria, France, Belgium, Slovenia, Spain, Germany, the UK), Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil and of course, India. Now the company has elevated its ambitions as it projects huge growth in DTP in the years ahead. Epson places the current global production at 1.7 billion sq m. Its own prediction is for this to expand to 5.8 billion sq m by 2025.
How have For.Tex. and Fratelli Robustelli added to strengths of Epson as company?
GP: Epson began its collaboration with Fratelli Robustelli and For.Tex in 1998, leading the launch in 2003 of the first Monna Lisa, the industrial digital textile printer that is today a market benchmark for high-quality textile printing. Both companies are now wholly part of the Epson Group. On the one hand, in 2014 Epson opened in collaboration with For.tex its Como-based textile solution centre, for research, training, promotion and development, and then two additional centres, the innovation research lab, dedicated to digital fabric printing ink technology research and development, and the printing research centre, created to support future Epson fabric printing developments. On the other hand, Fratelli Robustelli brings its expertise in the development of digital inkjet textile printers that further enhance the company's abilities to meet customer needs with a wider line-up of products.
As part of the enhanced acceleration, the two companies plan to focus on joint R&D efforts to achieve this goal. In the beginning, Epson chose to start collaborating with these two historic brands of Como because they are synonyms of excellence in their respective fields, and also because Como itself is the capital of the industrial district, centre of excellence for high-quality fabric printing, and of late at the forefront in the development of the digital textiles industry. In addition, after the acquisition, and especially in recent months, Epson has installed a number of Japanese technical personnel at Robustelli, both to increase capacity and to gain experience in textile applications. Como will remain its centre for textile R&D and training, but also overseas market is crucial for our business.
How does Epson manage to stay ahead of competition?
GP: Epson's aim is to become digital textile's number-one solution provider. As president Minoru Usui underlined on the occasion of the digital textiles industry conference Epson R-Evolution organised in Como last November, we want to continue to boost the competitive advantage of our products and achieve growth in new domains by becoming a valued and indispensable partner. Textile printing is one such new domain as we believe the time for digital to replace analogue is now. To this, Epson brings unique technological expertise including our original and proprietary micro piezo inkjet technology, which we have perfected for DTP and includes our state-of-the-art PrecisionCore print heads.
The most modern and sophisticated technology was the design and development of our crown jewel: the Monna Lisa printer series that, introduced in 2003, launched a new era in fabric printing. Monna Lisa allowed the textiles market to overcome constraints of the traditional printing such as production time and impact on the environment, while offering significant advantages such as speed of response to production demands, even for small batches and higher environmental sustainability. (HO)
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