Innovative printing technology will lengthen the life of clothing
A company called Vividye is making it possible to both print on and remove print from textiles without damaging them, using technology partially developed on the now-complete Mistra Future Fashion research programme. This technology is now being commercialised, with the aim of extending the life of textile products.
Dyes and print on garments and other textiles entail vast amounts of chemical emissions and are challenging when recycling textiles.
“When dyes and prints are no longer relevant or are worn out, there is a risk that the entire garment is thrown away, even though it could be recycled or reused,” says Johanna Nissén Karlsson, Vividye’s Managing Director and co-founder.
The company’s objective is to make it possible to print on and remove print from textiles to extend the life of products and increase the potential for recycling when the product is worn out. This February, it launched its first product in partnership with Gina Tricot.
The development of this technology began as a doctoral project in surface chemistry by Romain Bordes and Anna-Karin Hellström at Chalmers University of Technology, and Hanna de la Motte and Marie Syrén at RISE, funded by Formas. The technology was also developed on the Mistra Future Fashion research programme, which ended in 2019. The programme included a sub-project on ink formulations that was funded via the research programme’s strategic fund and resulted in the report Development of ink formulations for on/off inkjet textile dyeing.
Romain Bordes and Anna-Karin Hellström were brought together with Johanna Nissén Karlsson, and her colleagues Eric Henriksson Martí and Gustav Larsson-Utas, then at the Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship. Together, they founded Vividye.
“After developing the technology on Anna-Karin’s doctoral project and founding Vividye, it’s really rewarding to see the concept achieve a commercial stage,” says Bordes.
The print and removal technology now being commercialised does not damage the textile fibres, contains no toxic chemicals and is safe for people and the environment, says the company. It consists of a unique dye that is released from the textile fibres when it reacts with a removal substance. This technology can be applied to existing infrastructure, explains Nissén Karlsson.
“Any printer can use this technology in their factory, which has been a very important factor for us. To remove the dye, we currently need to have the garment returned, but in the future it may be possible to do this on site at other factories.
Vividye has recently employed another chemist to work on product development, and is aiming to employ another person with the focus on scaling up the technology in the autumn.
“Innovation comes about when people with different types of knowledge, experience and backgrounds meet. I want to emphasise the importance of finding and working with people who complement each other and who are interested in learning from each other to commercialise research,” says Nissén Karlsson.