When we develop new products, sometimes design and ideas get a bit ahead of our abilities. This was the case with MÖJLIGHET quilt cover in blue. The designer had developed a pattern ranging from dark to light. But when the team saw the samples printed with a traditional screen printing method, the disappointment was palpable: the colours were grainy and the pattern was blurred. Fortunately, technology caught up with us – and along with the investment, we also became more climate smart.
Amilia Tångne works as an engineer at Children's IKEA. She still remembers the intense ups and downs – the disappointment with the unsuccessful printing, to the anticipation when she learned that IKEA had just made a big investment in digital printing.
"It's a great technique, but expensive at first due to the investment in the machines. Yet the more you print, the cheaper it gets", explains Amilia.
Already with the first digital printing test, the pattern on MÖJLIGHET was as good as the team had hoped for. Amilia compares the technique to printing paper from a computer. The result is precise, with minimal use of dye.
"Indeed we always use completely harmless dyes and chemicals, but of course it’s beneficial that their amounts are reduced by 80% compared to traditional techniques", explains Amilia. "Even water and energy use is considerably less with digital printing."
Another advantage is the speed. Digital printing requires minimal preparation, says Amilia.
"It allows us to print on demand, just as much as needed, and we avoid too much stockpiling – thereby saving storage space."
Amilia sees many new design possibilities with digital printing.
"In the future we will be able to print photos, watercolour paintings and everything imaginable on textiles with very precise results.”