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An Interview with Yuji Ikeda

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Yuji Ikeda- Managing Director, Mimaki
Yuji Ikeda- Managing Director, Mimaki

Mr Yuji Ikeda is the Managing Director of Mimaki Europe B.V. The Mimaki Group is a leading manufacturer of wide-format inkjet printers and cutting machines for the sign/graphics,  textile/apparel and industrial markets, and also provides a comprehensive range of supporting products; hardware, software and the associated consumable items, such as inks and cutting blades. TEXtalks had the pleasure of meeting Mr Yuji at a corporate event where he shred some words about the company policies and future approaches of the Mimaki Group with the representative of TEXtalks. Here is the detailed question answer session between the two representatives. 

TEXtalks: Mimaki believes in “Dare to Print Different” what difference do you expect, will be brought by Mimaki machines in the world of digital textile printing?
Yuji Ikeda: Our products offer new possibilities to our customers—they open up new business opportunities and new ways to create applications. We were, for instance, the first one to launch a small format UV flatbed printer, which revolutionized the promotional product industry. We also have an affordable solution for printing directly to cylindrical objects and have taken a very unique approach to 3D printing. In textiles, we also have very unique solutions that make it easier and more affordable than ever to produce short to mid-sized runs of digitally printed textiles, especially in demand for the Fast Fashion industry.

TEXtalks: What features, in Tx300P-1800 and Tx300P-1800B, are presented in the new direct-to-textile printers that were not available in the previous versions?
Yuji Ikeda: We recently updated our Tx300P-1800 and Tx300P-1800B direct-to-textile printers with dual ink capability which is unique in the industry, meaning that the printers can now simultaneously load both textile pigment and sublimation dye inks. This enables the use of a single printer to print directly on a wide range of textiles without the need to change out ink systems—a breakthrough that will improve productivity and increase flexibility for these Mimaki textile printers.

TEXtalks: Comparatively to the recent market, to what extent these machines will be cost effective in terms of digital printing, in coming days?
Yuji Ikeda:
Traditionally, only one ink per printer can be selected at the time of installation. A textile producer would need two machines if they want to print on both cotton and polyester, as they require different inks: textile pigment inks for cotton and hemp materials, sublimation inks for polyester-based fabrics. With dual ink capability on the Mimaki Tx300P series, the company will only need one single printer to print on all these materials, significantly reducing the cost of entry.

Furthermore, neither ink type generally requires steaming or washing in the post-treatment process, there is no need for a large space, a huge quantity of water, or special expertise in handling the printed fabric. All that is required is the printer and colour fixing equipment, making these entry-level printers very cost-effective.

TEXtalks: The company is having good sales number for Tx300P-1800B, what is the market response?
Yuji Ikeda: The Tx300P-1800B has been well received by the market due to the versatility that it offers. By adding the belt system to the already popular Tx300P-1800 model, we have enabled a wide variety of materials to be produced with this machine, including modern stretchable materials, giving our users an even more versatile machine.

With this, Mimaki has done what it has historically shown itself to be incredibly good at; making innovative technology accessible at all levels of production. This machine can be used by industrial production factories for sampling and proofing, while it is an equally excellent and affordable solution for smaller, entry-level designers and producers as well as on-demand production of short run custom printed fabrics.

TEXtalks: How different ink types in the new Mimaki printers can be helpful in changing the printing in textile?
Yuji Ikeda: The variety of inks we have for our printers enables users to access a more diverse range of materials. It also allows companies to think differently about their production environments and not be limited only to one type of ink, while still using the technology they are familiar with.

In addition, in the textile print market, there is growing demand for shorter runs, faster deliveries, and more customised production of textile products across the board. The combination of our diverse range of ink types and affordable digital textile printers is the perfect solution to accommodate this demand.

TEXtalks: What is the response for the new 3D printer, Mimaki 3DUJ-P?
Yuji Ikeda: Many visitors expressed their interest in the technology demonstration of our 3D printer. They were also especially impressed with the 3D samples we exhibited, which transcended the usual sign and graphics market, from product prototyping to architecture. Visitors were especially pleased to see the water-soluble support materials. Typically in 3D printing, there is effort required to remove the support “tags” left after printing. With a Mimaki 3D print, you simply wash away the supporting material, and voila, you have a finished piece! it is the world’s first truly full-colour modelling solution and supports up to 10 million different colours. I think we are off to a good start with Mimaki 3DUJ-P.

TEXtalks: What is the next approach of Mimaki in bringing innovation in the world of textile printing?
Yuji Ikeda: Aside from the dual ink capability for the Tx300P series, we also just introduced our first high volume production direct-to-textile printer, the Tiger-1800B. We are definitely committed to bringing more innovative products to the world of textile printing. Further developments and information will be revealed when we feel the time is right.

TEXtalks: What is Mimaki’s belief about sustainability and how do these machines facilitate the idea?
Yuji Ikeda: Mimaki has always cared about environmental sustainability and has taken measures to achieve it at the highest level possible. Our established environmental management system, which is operated company-wide, monitors and supports continuous improvement. This earned us ISO 14001 certification in 2009. We promote recycling programmes, waste segregation, and thorough control of harmful chemicals to reduce our industrial waste. We also adopt the “doing it right the first time” policy, reducing failure rate during manufacturing to eliminate waste and run a smooth production process.

In terms of products, our Tx300P series is also as environmentally sustainable as it is innovative. The entry-level model utilises both textile pigment and sublimation dye inks in one machine, reducing the amount of water usage. Furthermore, our sublimation inks have achieved The STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® product certification, which validates the safety of our inks to be used in sustainable textile production. These are just a few examples of Mimaki’s innovative approach to meeting today’s environmental requirements.

TEXtalks: How do these machines relate and flourish the ideas of industry 4.0?
Yuji Ikeda: We are still exploring the idea of Industry 4.0. We do have a vision on the Internet of Things approach to a global manufacturing supply chain, and we’ve had the opportunity to show this a couple of times over the years. At last year’s drupa, for example, we showed our UJF-7151plus UV flatbed printer with a robotic arm to facilitate unmanned operation.

TEXtalks: What was the overall customer response on FESPA 2017?
Yuji Ikeda: FESPA 2017 was a thrilling success for Mimaki. We are very pleased about the results we achieved. The show continues to exceed our expectations every year and it was indeed our most successful edition to date.

In addition to the well-received Mimaki 3DUJ, our first 3D printer, visitors to the show also responded positively to our new offerings for the textile industry. In the textile hall, the new Mimaki Tiger-1800B high-speed direct-to-textile printer took centre stage, alongside the award-winning Tx300P-1800 and Tx300P-1800B. It was the first time we showed Tiger-1800B with sublimation ink, after demonstrating the machine with reactive ink in previous shows. In fact, textile company Estampados Hermanos Perez, located in Mataró, Spain, and supported by Mimaki distributor Digidelta, purchased the printer from the show floor.

TEXtalks: What was the customer response at Techtextil/Texprocess?
Yuji Ikeda: We’ve also had positive feedback from our participation in the Digital Textile Micro Factory feature at Texprocess. Digital print technology has so much to offer to the textile industry; it can print small-runs more effectively, has the potential to help reduce environmental impact, and many more. Unfortunately, only 3% of today’s textile production worldwide is done through digital printing. Therefore, we want to keep educating the market so that people are more aware about the advantages of digital textile printing. We feel that the Digital Textile Micro Factory was a good platform to introduce that complete workflow for digital textile production, and we are glad that visitors to the show were as enthusiastic as we are.

Copy Right of TEXtalks International. 

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