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digital printing

Printodeco video is up

Since November the 14th, the video of Printodeco is available at YouTube. The collaboration of all partners, and especially through the effort of Torculo and Seistag, made possible the video.

The video was recorded in summer 2018. It demonstrates the achievements of the Partnership of Printodeco Project. This is a collaborative project among four Spanish Companies. The project focused on reducing time to market of design products enabling enhanced possibilities for customization to the customers.

The video shows the way in which a designer can define a decorative pattern and, in just 48 hours, that design becomes a piece of furniture. This is possible thanks to the collaboration of technicians, printers, board makers and furniture makers. In order to make it happen, different resources are needed:

One of the tools is the catalog of ready to print designs. It is a printed booklet, but also a website which enables changing many parameters to the default images. By means of this, the customization possibilities are countless and the designer is not forced to start from scratch.

A second tool is a workflow, which compromises the whole Consortium. It ensures the quality of the images and also of the printing process. Special inks and papers are used and everything is done under special codes to ensure that the paper will fit the boards.

Thanks to the above-mentioned tools, making melamine boards and furniture with the printed paper is a standard process with no extra costs. Thanks to this, the offer of Printodeco can be cost-effective and therefore competitive in a huge market.


Printing paper to be used within the industry of melamine boards means large-scale production.

Melamine market is a huge market. The average production is around 3 million square meters per month. Printing such a huge volume is something that ought to be developed within an industrial environment. Therefore, the impact of innovation in this field is very relevant. Nevertheless, there are issues related to this large-scale production, which represent an added difficulty. The printer ought to work nonstop, but at the same time the quality control needs measurements and new design should enter into production every day. Interrupting the production for any of those reasons would be very expensive. Because of this, proofing is needed to control the quality of the color.

SEISTAG designed the proofing technology for PRINTODECO Project. The technological Company proposed a technical solution similar to the one used for large-scale offset production, but this time used not to control an analogical printing device, but a large-scale digital printer. Proofing means printing trials in a small printer in order to keep the big one running nonstop and error free. It is very usual for large-scale production. It is also typical when color is an important element in the image.

Proofing needs profiling the industrial printing device. This is done in three steps. The first step is to measure the real color produced by the printer. Then to compare it with the theoretical color of the original image. Finally, establishing a mathematical relationship between the coordinates of the color to be printed and the coordinates of the printed color. A line describes that relation, and that is the reason why it is called profile. Moreover, as there are four channels of color (Cian, Magenta, Yellow, and Black), four profiles are needed.

Once the industrial partner has been described by means of its profiles, it is possible to print at lab scale as if it were the industrial printer. Note that the lab scale printer should be able to reproduce more colors than the industrial printer. Otherwise, the lab-scale printer would not be able to reproduce the results of the industrial device: a high-quality printer at the laboratory is necessary. Luckily TORCULO owns a machine that suits this need. This enabled proofing during the PRINTODECO Project, which was a technical process to ensure quality steered by SEISTAG within PRINTDECO Project.

Enhanced quality

Moving from analogical to digital print is a challenge due to the high quality of the traditional surfaces produced by rotogravure. As most technicians know, their sharpness and range are difficult to reproduce when using ink jet technology. Sharpness is about resolution. It refers to the detail that the image can contain. Range is about how wide the spectrum of printed colour can be.
As a result of the development carried out by PRINTODECO Partners, they have been able to reproduce the quality of analogically printed images by means of large scale, low cost, digital printing. The development process was steered by SEISTAG. The technicians of the Company looked for the best available technologies. They also proposed the experimental development in collaboration with all the Consortium Partners.
To reach the quality demanded by the customers, LOSAN worked hard selecting the appropriate inks, paper, and head printers. The three variables are linked so they condition the final quality of the printed images. The result of the research carried out by LOSAN helped to achieve a level that might well be described as “sufficient quality”. This means that the customer can hardly distinguish between the analogical original and the digital copy.
The work would not have been possible without the help of TORCULO. This company is 100% focused on Graphic Communication. Therefore, they have acquired the tools and the knowledge to ensure the quality of the printed images. Thanks to their collaboration, the quality of the digital reproduction has improved their CIELab coordinates. This is the standard for the graphic industry and it means that a non-expert would not be able make the distinction between the two samples.
During the development of the printing quality standards, the contribution of LOGISIETE was important. As they are retailers who sale furniture, they are in touch with the final customer. By means of this, they get the best feedback so they can inform about what is considered good enough. During the development process, they provided relevant information on what it is accepted by the market. Now that the Project is finishing, they ensure that the printing technology has reached the quality expected by the market.

At Albura magazine

The last number of ALBURA magazine –JUNE 2018- shows many details of PRINTODECO Project. It offers a two-page review on the Project development, its objective and images of digital printing.
ALBURA is the local magazine published by CMD (Cluster da Madeira e o Deseño de Galicia) the organization composed of more than 50 associates from all over Galicia. It is a periodic publication supported by Xunta de Galicia and IGAPE.
PRINTODECO is a Project of Industry 4.0 named “Industry for Future”. The ALBURA article describes the Project objectives and gives basic details of new forms of production of fully customized products reducing the final costs. Digital printing gives huge possibilities of product personalization therefore ALBURA magazine focuses on the review of PRINTODECO.
According to ALBURA the innovation is the imagination of new products and new production processes. It is a sing of viability and the condition of any enterprise´s success. The full publication of ALBURA magazine can be downloaded at this link.

Printing directly the boards

By July 2018, most of the objectives of PRINTODECO has been accomplished. The Partnership made possible printing paper using digital printers, and making melamine boards using that paper. By means of this, time to market is now shorter than ever. Moreover, the costs for developing new references dropped. In addition to this, the Partners already explore printing technologies for up-scaling the production.
Nevertheless, the Partners discovered that printing papers has limits for extreme customization. Using printed-paper makes difficult to reach the level of every single board to be different. Therefore, in summer 2018 SEISTAG started a new development line. The new approach relies on printing directly over the melamine board and counts with the support of all the Consortium Partners.
In order to make this possible, different printing technology is used at TORCULO facilities. The printing process moved from water-inks to polymeric inks. Instead of paper passing throughout a line of fixed print heads, large format printers with moving print heads have been used to print directly over large-scale boards provided by LOSAN. Images have been provided by SEISTAG, and LOGISIETE designed the experiment.

Coordination meeting

On May the 25th, PRINTODECO Partners held an interim meeting. The objective was sharing advances and improving the project coordination. During the talk organized by SEISTAG, the Companies agree about the opportunity of digital printing for customization processes. They also discussed the way in which that opportunity can be implemented in a profitable manner. How can the efforts within PRINTODECO Project be turned into business?
Now that the end of the Project is in the horizon, the Partners Companies are focused on a sustainable exploitation of the technology and knowledge developed throughout the partnership. During the talk, the four Companies agree that the absolute customization is not needed within the décor market. The market of melamine boards is not like T-shirts market. The customer is not looking for its own exclusive design. The potential customer is much more engaged with trends and differentiation. Digital printing is a tool allowing European SMEs to follow the trends, a tool to set up an exclusive catalogue in short time and with little costs.
As the technical director from SEISTAG pointed out, the main issue of PRINTODECO tools is allowing this to be possible. Note that while a T-shirt needs an image of 0,04 square meters, the standard melamine boards images are between 3 and 5 square meters. This means that the technological complexity of producing the bitmap image is huge in comparison to standard personalized products. It is nearly 100 times harder to customize melamine boards than other products!
The next Consortium meeting has been planned in Santiago de Compostela for June the 19th. The date might change but the encounter will surely take place at TORCULO facilities. This is expected to be the last operative meeting within PRINTODECO Project, as most of the work originally planned has already been done.

PRINTODECO – the next step!

The end of April had us enjoying a well organized and very personal presentation by TÓRCULO COMUNICACIÓN GRÁFICA, S.A.

It was time to present the next step in the PRINTODECO project and the company’s director and one of the project’s main driving forces, Mr. Jacobo Bermejo, made sure his guests were taken care of!

The evening started of with a presentation of PRINTODECO’s main goals and objectives. Judging by the looks on the faces of the nearly 100 guests who had gathered, interest was captured by an interesting outline of the project’s main results. The professionals from across the printing world were visibly impressed by the promise Digital Printing offers of printing alternative substrates like the project’s melamine decorative paper. As a main benefit, Mr. Bermejo outlined that digital printing will provide flexibility and personalized design to the boards. More interestingly, it will allow SMEs focussed on design and/or printing to enter the decorative board market. Music to many of the graphic designers’ ears, present in the audience!

After another much applauded conference by José Luís Moro, Creative Director of Pinguïno Torreblanca, about new ways to use our sense of humor (if any!) in publicity, Tórculo’s new Indigo 12000 Digital Printer was presented. Guests were attended by the company’s personnel who patiently answered all questions about the impressive new printer.

The succes of the evening was sealed off by an energetic performance of a live band who had turned one of the offset printers into a very original stage! While enjoying a drink and of course some very tasty ‘tapas’, they’re seemed to be no doubt about it among the professsionals present: digital printing and decorative boards have a very promising future ahead of them!

Real size digital boards

Newness is very importer for the decorative surfaces industry. Therefore, little information on the coming products can be shown to the public. Nevertheless, on March 2018 LOSAN shared some details about their new exclusive designs.

The new products are have been developed within the new digital laboratory of the Company. There have been doubts on where would be the best place for this facility. Finally, LOSAN decided to place it at ASERPAL installations in Vilasantar (A Coruña) Spain. By means of this, they get direct access to the warehouse of wood veneer of hat Company. That stock of fine veneer at LOSAN warehouse will be the source for digitalization processes and product development.

According to the professionals involved in the project, the image quality is already “good enough” to fit market expectations. During a visit of the Consortium partners to the digital laboratory, a technician of LOSAN explained details on design production. He showed how a single plank of rustic wood was transformed into a high quality digital pattern ready to print at industrial scale.

Pieces for furniture

The first digitally printed pieces for furniture are ready at LOGISIETE facilities. As it was expected, the result of this experience shows the challenges of the market success of new technology. Although the pieces work in terms of technical performance, many issues ought to be improved in order to be feasible for the final market.

The first difficulty relates to the matching edge banding to the surface design. The final product demands edge banding made on purpose in order to match the design of the digitally printed boards. The Consortium is able to design surfaces but has no means to produce edge banding.

A second difficulty is the cost of endless images. The objective of the project is reducing time to market but the so called “pre-printing” process of endless images is two large to allow cost-effective production at TORCULO. For that reason, the Consortium plans to use rotative sheers for cutting the impregnated paper.

A third challenge is the image quality itself. The Partners reached a wide gamut and high colour fidelity, but the grain and focus of the images is still not good enough to face the paper printed by means of rotogravure. Calibrating the image quality is the major challenge of LOSAN who is currently working in this field.

Transforming digital boards manually

In October 2017, the first digitally printed melamine boards were presented in Brussels. The presentation took place within B2B learning exchange experience at Covent Garden Building. One month later, in November 2017, those boards feed the first experience of furniture making. The four Companies worked together in order to make possible this activity.

In order to transform raw melamine boards into furniture, two main operations ought to be made: cutting and edge banding. Cutting is usually made by a CAD/CAM tool. This is a robotic saw producing pieces that fit to the final dimensions. Edge banding is also an automatic process were a plastic band y fixed to the edge of the boards.

Although those operations are usually automatic, during PRINTODECO development ought to be made manually. By means of this it is possible to check the workability of the raw material. It also avoids failure within the innovative material that might cause damages to the expensive robotic tools for automatic cutting and edge banding.