Visitors to a Canon Inc. technology exposition in New York recently saw printers, copiers, cameras--and heaps of vividly colored neckties. No, Canon isn't going into haberdashery. It was showing off a new technique for textile printing that comes straight from the world of office machines. Canon's computer-driven Bubble-Jet printers have arrays of micronozzles that spit droplets of yellow, cyan, magenta, and black ink. The version for textiles works the same way--except that it's a two-ton machine.
Since printing plates don't have to be prepared, Canon says its Bubble-Jet system requires far less ink, labor, and setup time. It also produces small lots more cheaply, in finer detail, and with a wider range of colors than current technology does, Canon says. Textile maker Kanebo Ltd., Canon's development partner, has exclusive rights in Japan for three years. Canon expects to sell its first two systems abroad in June.