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Catherine Cresswell

The Softer Side of Innovation: Kornit Announces Neopigment Robusto Softener Solution

The Softer Side of Innovation: Kornit Announces Neopigment Robusto Softener Solution

Mar 27, 2020 12:22:28 PM

Kornit, an Israeli manufacturer of direct-to-garment (DTG) and roll-to-roll digital printers, was scheduled to hold an in-person press conference at FESPA to launch its new NeoPigment™ Robusto Softener Solution. FESPA has been postponed due to the coronavirus, and the company instead invited press members to an impromptu webinar. During the webinar, Kornit provided its perspective on industry trends that drive the adoption of digital fabric printing, including the growing requirement for individualism, the increase in e-commerce, and the demand for greater sustainability (i.e., less water consumption and textile waste). In response to these trends, the company has completely overhauled its DTG and roll-to-roll digital textile printer portfolios over the past two years with new devices, a new workflow platform, and new inks and consumables.

With its NeoPigment Robusto Softener Solution, Kornit hopes to address major retail fashion brands’ demand for quality printed fabrics that require a rich colour gamut. The solution has proven successful in beta testing. According to Omer Kulka, Kornit’s Chief Marketing Officer, the softener enables printed fabrics to feel as soft as they do in their unprinted states. This improved hand closes an important gap in the ability of roll-to-roll digital pigment inks for high-end clothing applications, particularly womenswear. It can be used on most natural and synthetic fabrics, including cotton, silk, polyester, and even nylon. The softener complements the NeoPigment Robusto ink and Fixation on Fly (FOF) agent used in Kornit’s new Presto roll-to-roll direct-to-fabric printer range, which was launched at ITMA 2019. This product line brings increased permanency as well as the wash- and rub- fastness standards that are required in the fashion industry.


During the Webinar, Kulka explained that whereas many softening solutions involve a wet chemical process that pollutes the environment, Kornit digitized the application by putting the softener directly onto the fabric—an integral part of the printing process. The softening agent is deposited onto the fabric using an extra printhead channel in addition to the six colors and FOF agent, and it can be controlled at the point of file creation, pixel by pixel. Softener is only laid down on the fabric where the printing takes place. Because the softener is applied at the same time as the printing, it does not slow down the process and also eliminates an extra step in post-treatment. All the printheads are recirculating, and the softener has not demonstrated any adverse issues thus far.

Kornit estimates that the Robusto Softener costs 5% to 8% more per m2 than alternative post-treatment softening solutions. At the same time, the solution enables savings in energy, time, and labor with the implementation of a single-step printing process. Furthermore, Kulka notes that the Robusto Softener enables designing, printing, and cutting all within a 30 foot (9 m) total footprint of the Presto system.

As would be expected, Kornit’s digital textile printing systems are GOTS and ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® certified. The softener will be demonstrated at the FESPA event that is now scheduled to occur in October 2020, but it was launched this week via virtual press conference. It is being offered as an optional consumable on all Presto S machines and can be retrofitted for existing Presto devices, as they were built with spare printhead channels.

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Kornit believes it is ready to support an even more rapid requirement for on-demand digital printing solutions as more textile suppliers look to enable online services going forward. Of course, Kornit is well versed in supplying major online suppliers with its large product portfolio of DTG printers. With its new NeoPigment Robusto durable inks (offering a vibrant color gamut) and NeoPigment Robusto Softener Solution (achieving a good hand feel), the company is equipped to take its offerings into all corners of the huge fashion fabric printing sector. This will help enable a faster shift to a more sustainable on-demand supply model that can respond to industry megatrends like individualism, a growth in e-commerce, and the demand for waste reduction.

Keypoint Intelligence believes Kornit is playing to its strengths and that it will likely be able to gain momentum with this new solution. The company’s strategy of marketing complete single-step printing solutions has helped resolve some of the bigger issues that have limited the widespread adoption of pigment printing. This pigment ink solution will likely be part of a few dry fixation options that will dominate the market, such as direct sublimation. As is the case with all new solutions that enter the market with the promise of turning a new corner or disrupting existing practices, the proof will be in the long-term adoption of the solution by major retail and fashion brands. It is promising that many of these brands have indicated their approval of the solution during beta testing.

Once the impact of the global pandemic subsides, brands that are seeking supply-chain stability will likely turn to distributed printing models that use digital technology. This will help mitigate the impact that the pandemic has had on workforces and help them to quickly address upcoming changes in their supply chain.