Spanish Ceramic tile manufacturer, Cicogres, has recently celebrated 25 years in the industry – no small achievement given the mixed fortunes of the ceramics industry during this time.
Innovation at the heart of Cicogres produces more creative designs
Innovation, a commitment to continuous improvement and service excellence have driven the company’s success, according to Israel Sanchez Pellon, General Manager at Cicogres. An early adopter of digital inkjet, Cicogres moved to digital with EFI Cretaprint machines in 2009 and has continued to invest in the latest digital technology ever since.
By adding the new Xaar 1002 GS40 printheads along with Eslmalglass-Itaca’s new intense colour and glossy inks to its Cretaprint machines in 2014, Cicogres continues on its path of innovation in order to deliver more choice and more creativity to its customers. According to Israel, the introduction of the Xaar 1002 GS40 was an important step in the company’s digital strategy and gives Cicogres access to more intense colours and a glossy over-glaze, the first special-effect ink released. “The new intense yellow and pink inks from Esmalglass-Itaca are a real bonus for us. We need to fire some tiles at a very high temperature and this can sometimes affect the colour density of the existing inks. The new intense inks developed by Esmalglass-Itaca are proving very successful and have really enhanced a number of our tile designs with much richer and deeper colours.”
As a result, Cicogres has launched several new tile designs, including the ‘Hampton’ tile which features relief effects and a glossy over-glaze applied using Xaar 1002 GS40 printheads
Significant advantages with digital
In the early years, production output at Cicogres was around 3,000 sqma day; Today, shipping to over 120 countries, daily output is closer to 30,000 sqm. The growth in production is a reflection of the modern premises and advanced manufacturing processes in use at the factory in Vilafamés, Spain. A core part of this are the EFI Cretaprint digital inkjet printers with Xaar 1002 printheads and inks from Esmalglass-Itaca that Cicogres uses to produce thousands of tiles each day.
“We were initially attracted to using digital decoration machines because the advantages were significant”, says Israel. “We were able to make production cost savings, but at the same time achieve a much higher level of print quality compared to the existing analogue technology. Another significant advantage for us was the ability to produce a much wider range of tile designs in a very short space of time. As a result we can now offer our customers a fantastic choice of hundreds of very creative designs. With traditional decoration machines, we could only develop 5 or 6 new designs at a time. Today we can develop around 100 – that’s quite an improvement!”
According to Israel, another key component in the success of Cicogres is its longstanding and strong working relationship with its digital inkjet partners ‒ EFI Cretaprint, Esmalglass-Itaca and Xaar. “We have a close partnership with these companies which is a key contributor to our success,” adds Israel.
Working with EFI Cretaprint for around seven years Cicogres uses its printers with a range of Xaar 1002 printheads (GS6, GS12 and GS40) to decorate its tiles “We initially chose to work with EFI Cretaprint because it is a company with a reputation for innovation which fitted well with our own philosophy. We continue to work with them because they provide us with great customer service and are very quick to respond to our requirements”, says Israel.
“We also have a strong partnership with Esmalglass-Itaca, who has been instrumental in our move to digital inkjet,” says Israel. “In my opinion it is one of the best ink companies in the world. Product quality is exceptional as is the technical knowledge and willingness to work with us to continuously improve our output.”
Although Cicogres has only recently introduced the Xaar 1002 GS40 and new intense and special effect inks, Israel is a firm believer in continuous improvement throughout the production processes. He believes the digital inkjet will bring yet more change to tile manufacturing processes with the industry’s glaze applications moving entirely to digital in the future. As a continuously innovating tile manufacturer with digital inkjet at the heart of its production, Cicogres is committed to offering its customers the highest quality, broadest choice and the most creative ceramic tiles.
Xaar is a world-leader in the development of inkjet technology and manufacture of piezoelectric drop-on-demand industrial printheads. The company also develops and sells ink systems, electronics and fluid optimisation services to accelerate inkjet system development and adoption. Xaar printheads incorporate patented technology which delivers unbeatable performance when decorating, patterning, depositing functional coatings on, or adding structure to, a variety of industrial and consumer products. Today leading manufacturers worldwide, in sectors ranging from ceramics, wide-format graphics and labels to direct-to-shape packaging and decorative laminates, choose Xaar’s printheads because they are extremely precise, exceptionally versatile, incredibly reliable, and designed for high-volume production. Additional information about Xaar is available at www.xaar.com
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Xaar is a world leader in the development of digital inkjet technology