Dutch machinery builders exploit new opportunities in the digital era.
ITMA 2015 heralded the coming of age of digital printing, and the sector had its own chapter at the exhibition for the first time. The technology was perfectly in alignment with the show’s theme, ‘Master the Art of Sustainability’, in offering huge benefits in terms of vast reductions in the use of raw materials, water and energy.
The general level of smart machine automation on display in Milan has certainly raised the bar in expectations of the technology innovation that will be unveiled at ITMA 2019 in Barcelona.
Fit for the future
“Smart industry will be a key theme at ITMA 2019 and we expect that the digital printing section will be much bigger than in 2015,” says Vera Ortmanns, manager of GTM, the Dutch association of textile machinery manufacturers. “We also expect there to be much more emphasis on the circular economy and it would be great to see plenty of evidence of progress in this direction at the show.”
In addition to high quality technology, excellent service and accuracy are essential to GTM's member companies, she adds.
Vera Ortmanns, GTM Manager
GTM consists of a number of companies who are active on a global scale in supplying ground breaking, state of the art technology.
They include Cezoma, the Uden-based leading developer of Industry 4.0-ready winding technology for a wide range of textile sectors – from sewing threads to technical braids – and Vanwyk, the manufacturer of dispensing equipment for dyeing, finishing and printing operations, with manufacturing in Oldenzaal.
Cezoma specialises in automatic winding solutions for all kinds of materials for different industries.
For Vanwyk, automation is essential in developing the technologies for right-first-time production, leading to major savings in water, energy, dyestuff and chemicals.
ETF has meanwhile significantly expanded its assembly halls in Nederweert as the demand for its latest M 5728 rolling machine accelerates. The M 5728 allows a single operator to roll various materials in or off line with diameters of up to 1.5 metres and in widths of up to five metres. It can be delivered equipped with a sophisticated laser length measuring system, slitting units and an automatic cross cutter to guarantee consistent quality.
The technology and monitoring software for accurately handling the unidirectional (UD) and crossply materials widely employed in composites is the special field of Van Wees, based in Tilburg.
Crossply materials are used among other applications for making bullet resistant vests and panels, while the many applications for the UD tapes manufactured on Van Wees machines are sails for racing boats. In this application, bicomponent UD tapes in the weight range of 14-30gsm are constructed with huge plotters on the floor of the sailmaker’s plant and subsequently laminated together.
Van Wees is also working on the development of composites made from UD tapes with very low or zero waste. It has multiple impregnation machines at its research and technology centre, as well as a multiaxial tape placement machine for working with customers on optimised designs.
A star attraction at ITMA 2015 in Milan was without doubt the SPGPrints PIKE single-pass digital printing system, which drew huge crowds to the demonstrations of its astonishing capabilities.
SPGPrints generated much interest for its innovative printing solutions at ITMA 2015.
Since then, SPGPrints has been extremely active. In addition to opening its Experience Centre at its headquarters in Boxmeer, the company has doubled the size and output of its digital ink production facility.
“There is a constant need for innovation, to optimise processes in terms of quality, productivity and efficiency in digital printing,” says the company’s CEO Dick Joustra. “More understanding of the technology and its disruptive implications is needed generally, which is why we opened our 700-square-metre innovation and training facility dedicated to digital printing.”
“Because we manufacture both printing machines and inks, SPGPrints is well-placed to develop complete system solutions so that textile printers can gain the maximum value from their digital investment,” he adds.
“In the Netherlands, Industry 4.0 means developing smart new technologies to enable the textile industry to be fit for the future,” concludes GTM’s Vera Ortmanns. “It is important for us to be aware of the full possibilities of digitisation and of being highly connected to avoid any gap in satisfying the expectations of tomorrow’s customers. It is smart industry that will maintain the position of the Dutch machinery builders on the international market.”
Adrian Wilson is an experienced analyst and writer specialising in textiles, nonwovens and composites, and current editor of Sustainable Nonwovens, Smart Textiles and Nanotechnology.