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The PolyPro marks the introduction of the NeoPoly inks to the manufacturer’s Avalanche range of direct-to-garment printers, words by Nessan Cleary.

What does the machine do?

Kornit’s Avalanche series of direct-to-garment printers are designed as industrial machines for continuous use, able to print directly to products such as blank t-shirts for cost-effective short runs and on-demand printing. The basic design features two platens so that an operator can load or unload one platen while the other is printing.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

The Avalanche PolyPro was launched in April 2019. It prints directly to polyester and polyester blends, with polyester being the second largest category in the overall t-shirt market, which is valued at $29bn (£22.5bn), with something like 2 billion t-shirts being produced annually. As such it’s directly aimed at the sports segment, and the growing athleisure and functional apparel markets.

How does it work?

The key to the PolyPro printer is Kornit’s new NeoPoly ink. This inkset is made up of inline fixation, a white base layer, followed by CMYK and then a new Poly Enhancer channel. The main advantage is that there’s no need for any form of pre- or post-treatment. The fixation is sprayed in the area of the print and holds the ink in place so that it doesn’t soak into the fabric. It chemically bonds the ink pigments so that the colours sit on top of the white layer. The final layer, the poly enhancer, reduces the thickness of the print and gives a special protective layer. This is then followed by the curing. The poly enhancer is a clear fluid, which acts like a catalyst to reduce the drying temperature from Kornit’s usual 160°C to 100-110°C, which eliminates the risk of dye migration where the colorants from the polyester diffuse into the white layer. A further advantage is that the inks are odourless.

How does it differ from previous models?

The PolyPro is built on Kornit’s familiar Avalanche platform with the principle difference being the new inkset. This is also Kornit’s first polyester DTG printer.

How productive is it?

It can produce up to 85 dark shirts or 106 light shirts per hour, assuming A4 image size and High Productivity print mode. All DTG printers take longer to print on dark materials because of the need to lay down the white ink layer first. This is slower than some other models in the Avalanche series, but does include the time needed to spray on the fixation, which eliminates the need for pre-treatment.

What is the USP of the product?

The main USP is that it prints direct to polyester garments; most DTG printers are for cotton, silk, wool or other natural fibres and most polyester printing is via dye-sublimation. The PolyPro prints on a variety of polyester fabrics, including woven, knits, with poly blends (poly-Lycra, poly-cotton) and different fabric textures.

Specifications:

Max print resolution 1,200dpi

Colours CMYK plus white

Print area 600x900mm

Platens 2

Productivity 85 dark/106 light t-shirts/hr

Substrates Polyester, polyester blends

Pre-treatment needed No

How easy is it to use?

It’s relatively straightforward as all the hard work is done inside the machine by the various chemical layers reacting against each other. It can be run by a single operator. However, it appears the operator does need a degree of skill to judge how much fixation to spray on the garment.

What training and support is on offer?

Sharon Donovich, product marketing manager at Kornit, says that, as with all Kornit DTG printers, it comes with six months of warranty and various levels of SLA, including an empowerment plan in which Kornit trains the customer to be self-sufficient and maintain the product to ensure the highest productivity and availability.

Alternatives:

Max print resolution 600dpi
Colours CMYK plus white
Print area 500x700mm
Platens 2
Productivity 150 dark/ 650 light t-shirts/hr
Substrates Polyester, polyester blends
Pre-treatment needed Yes
Post-treatment Yes

DTG M6

Max print resolution 1,440dpi
Colours Dual-CMYK, CMYK plus four white channels or CMYK, orange, violet, red and grey
Print area 1,150x750mm
Platens 3, 6, or 12
Productivity 25 dark/ 50 light t-shirts/hr
Substrates Cotton and cotton-rich
Pre-treatment needed Yes