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Brother Puts Weight Behind Industrial Innovation

By Printweek

After taking its first steps into the world of industrial print at last year’s show in Munich, Brother has committed itself to the market at Fespa 2024.

Ringing its stand with more than 20 printers, embroiderers, desktop foilers and other machines, the Japanese manufacturer is showing off three prototype machines – including the world’s first one-piece on-demand badge printer and two powderless direct-to-film (DTF) printers – and a brand new embroidery printing system.

Using laser technology originally developed for Brother’s office printers, the DTF printers are able to apply an adhesive layer directly to the toner-printed areas on film sheets. Brother’s A4 desktop prototype is nearing completion; the other, a 61cm “proto-prototype”, is still in active development. 

The latter almost didn’t make it to Fespa, according to Folker Stachetzki, head of marketing at Brother International, who explained that it had arrived in Germany from the Japan laboratory on the evening of 13 March – just hours before Brothers’ lorries set off for Fespa early the next morning.

Alongside the two DTF prototypes is a camera system making its European debut: suitable for Brother’s direct-to-garment range, it enables printers to print designs precisely onto embroidery, transforming white or neutral embroidered designs into colourfully embellished pieces. 

The badge-printing prototype – capable of digitally printing a photo taken seconds beforehand, complete with template, onto a pin badge – is designed for short, varied runs and would even be suitable for hiring out for events.

Brother has likewise updated its Myze print management software to include embroidery management; the software will eventually be expanded to include all of Brother’s verticals as a complete web-to-shipment package, Stachetzki said.

Brother’s accelerated interest in industrial printing was spurred in 2023 by an internal report that revealed many of its vertical markets shared customers – but the business sections were not in communication with each other.

Overhauling its approach to collaboration, Brother’s manufacturing teams now confer frequently on technological developments – something that has helped drive the latest burst of innovation at the firm.

Each vertical is now empowered – and encouraged – to cross-sell products from across Brother’s business to customers, according to Stachetzki.

He said: “The structure stays the same, but we now have permanent exchanges between offices and our internal development departments – they now exchange ideas constantly.

“You can see the impact around you [on the Fespa stand], where we have combined machinery from different departments. And we cross-sell: if we have a customer in need of printers, they can purchase them [directly] from us, we don’t have to refer them across the business.”

The stand overall reflects Brother’s increased commitment to industrial printing following on from a successful first year since the introduction of its WF1-L640 latex printer, GTX 600 Extra Colours and roll-to-roll GTX fabric printers at Fespa 2023.

Stachetzki said: “Japanese companies are always very careful with changing things. Last year, Brother announced it wanted to move into the industrial market – now, it is becoming reality.”

This article was published by Printweek March 21, 2024. Brother International Corporation is a SPESA member.

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