Thursday, 12 December 2013

How ink-jet tiles are transforming the industry

It's not just design, it's the business.
Ink-jet technology is increasingly changing the way that the tile industry does business. It makes it quicker and easier to provide designs to match and cater to market trends.  Ink-jet technology provides economic and production benefits over previous production processes, namely screen printing and roller printing. The technology provides an infinite variety of designs coupled with faster response times and lower breakages, but more importantly it has changed the way we do business. We're no longer a product-based sourcing company, today we're actually a service business. Such technology enables us to sell a market solution. Digital print technology has allowed us to effectively and efficiently better tailor products for the various international markets and in a shorter time period. As a result we can provide a product that our customers know will sell. We offer our customers our expertise in tile trends then let them select specific (even unique) designs that fit their markets. In other words we're now selling possibilities and variety rather than fixed ranges.

It's changing the way we sell.
Recently we made a presentation to one of our long-time customers who has placed orders for our initial ink-jet offerings. We decided to raise the level at the presentation and instead of brochures and folders we presented large poster-sized sheets of ink jet designs showing the tiles in real scale. We laid these 1 x 3m posters on the floor, showed collages of photographs we had taken at recent international tile expos and spoke about visual and tactile trends cresting in the international markets. By the end of the meeting our customers were enthusiastically placing orders for cutting edge ink-jet designs, not only the basic five or more tiles but smaller ancillary orders of designs that could be inter-laid with the basic tile designs and multiple variation distressed wood designs like the sample below. This would never have been even possible with roller and screen printed tiles!

This is more than a trend, it's a transformation. The ink jet production process changes not only the design potential but the cost basis so less expensive ceramic tiles can be produced with the look of high end porcelain, natural stone and even wood that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

Efficiency and 3D on-demand
The technology allows for an effectively unlimited number of high-quality patterns and decorations to be produced with fewer materials, less waste, less development and production time than any previous processes. The digital printing process can turn photographs, artwork, designs, logos or virtually any image into elaborately decorated wall or floor coverings. Soon enough even accurate textures will be produced digitally using 3D printing technology to produce the relief plates to impress the tile body.

The future starts today
The use of ink-jet printing for ceramic tile manufacture is growing worldwide and in Europe is outselling conventional analog systems. With this technology, tile design and decoration is easier, less time consuming and less costly, giving manufacturers the chance to massively increase their range of products and designs while remaining competitive. Ink-jet technology has made a huge impact on what manufacturers can create and the mass acceptance of these designs from world markets has promoted the swift transformation from screen and roller printing.

Digital ink-jet technology has changed the way ceramic and porcelain is produced, forever!

Download our New ink-jet tile brochures.
Contact us about selecting and buying ink-jet tiles.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

New inkjet tile catalogues launched.

While inkjet technology has been around for over ten years it is only within the last two years or so that the matured technology has become sufficiently reliable and ubiquitous that we can confidently produce inkjet tiles in China. Nonetheless we were very careful in selecting our preferred factory. We have worked with them before so we know their quality is up to standard plus they have a state-of-the-art modern inkjet facility. Our eight new mini brochures have accurate photographs of the new ranges as they came off the production line. You can download them individually on our brand page under KREM (scroll down to KREM) or as a pack here.

The designs for our new tile ranges come from a design house in Italy and are based on trends we and other experts have identified at expos such as the recent CERSAIE in Bologna. We sent a team including some of our most experienced customers over to Europe to make the final design selections. This process included selecting textures, specific face variants and colours for each design. The designs were then implemented and produced in China.

Inkjet Tiles - How are they made?

Ink jet printers that can reproduce realistic digital images were first available to the market in 2000. Today there are a wide variety of machines being made and used across the world.

Technology: The ink jet technology for tiles is essentially the same as your desktop inkjet printer just larger. Instead of scanning repeatedly across the page a tile printer uses four or more rows of ink jet heads working continuously.

· The image printed is chemically stable
· Inkjet printing is efficient; there’s far less wastage than with contact printing systems like rollers.
· No rollers means fewer moving parts thus reducing costs.
· Natural stones and pictures are reproduced perfectly.
· Much faster change-over times to new colours or designs.
· Greatly improved consistency of colour.
· Because there is no direct contact in inkjet printing it is possible to decorate relief surfaces.
· Inkjet decoration shortens the path from idea to product.

How: The master image is electronically separated in a graphics program then these digital files are sent to each of the different colour print heads. The printer can print multiple different tiles in sequence. The arrays of print heads spray microscopic pigment droplets onto the tile surface from a distance of only a few millimeters. The tiles now pass on to glazing and kiln firing at 900-1200°C.