Zimmer Austria, which has been for many years a worldwide leader among the producer of machines for textile and carpet finishing, goes where others fear to tread.
Zimmer Austria prides itself on being different. Its focus is on bespoke solutions that meet the needs of niche applications within the broader fields of screen and digital textile printing.
Its confidence in meeting these challenges comes from its deep history as a leading manufacturer of textile screenprinting machinery, to which, to over the year, it has added expertise in digital carpet printing and, more recently, industrial-scale digital printing of fabrics.
The company has sites in Klagenfurt, where it develops screenprinting and coating applications, and Kufstein - home to both the Colaris production fabric printer and the industry-leading Chromojet digital carpet printer.
General Manager, Tony Naschberger says: "We like to do things that nobody else wants to do. Anybody can build something around a print head - we all have the same choice of heads and people are doing more or less the same thing. At Zimmer we can never be the cheapest, so what we do is to build on what we know - concentrating more on the specialities."
Live projects at Zimmer include applications that will use inks containing dye classes never before exploited in digital-textile printing, as well as experiments with functionalisation of fabrics, using coatings applied by Chromojet technology. The company is also currently building a Chromojet machine to print blankets.
Based on this principle, two new developments of the Colaris technology have recently come to fruition. They are the Colaris Towels, for terry-towel printing, and the Colaris-NF narrow-fabric printer.
The Colaris Towels uses a wet-in-wet process that is crucial to increasing ink penetration info the pile, as well as reducing the amount of ink required. It consists of an un-batching unit, Magnoroll inline pretreatment, special entry unit for terry fabric, printing in up to 8 colours with towel-floor detection, and a 3-pass dryer with fabric plaiter. Steaming, washing and drying for reactive inks are all off-line.
Zimmers patented Magnoroll applies pretreatment only to the side being printed and ensures that the fabric arrives at the print head with just the right amount of moisture.
The Colaris Towels uses SII Printek AQ-508-GS greyscale print heads in configurations of 8x8 or 4x16, for widths up to 3200 mm. It has an open ink system, using 12-litre storage tanks. Dual reactive and inks are an option, as the machine has a built-in flushing system that allows change-over in around an hour.
Zimmer has operated the machine in production trials over the summer, averaging 55,000 sq m/month. The first machine, with a 1600 mm print width, has been delivered to the leading Chinese printer, Loftex. A second, of 2600 m, was scheduled for delivery to Portugals Satinskin in September.
The unique Colaris-NF narrow-fabric printer uses fixed SII Printek head heads to print both sides of a single ribbon, the maximum print width being 7 cm. The CMYK printer is part of a total solution that will process up to 50 m/min, depending on the application. Ink is supplied from storage tanks in an open system.
The Colaris-NF can be supplied with pre- and post-treatment in-line, or standalone where these operations are separate. Various line configurations have been devised, with different elements for items such as elastic, ribbons and heavy tapes. The full line length for printing and finishing heavy tapes is just over 16 metres. Zimmers own figures suggest that the solution is competitive with rotary screenprinting up to runs of around 2,000 metres, and with flat screenprinting up to 5,000 metres.