Highly defined and textured

by Tania Wannenburg

Developments in high definition and 3D technology inspire the industry to turn to these captivating floor types.

The uptake of high definition and 3D technology by the flooring industry has resulted in a substantial rate of growth and popularity in products that implement these innovative technological attributes. High definition creates the most realistic imitation images possible, while 3D technology introduces another realm to HD by enabling the formation of texture. The end result is the imitation of a flooring type that looks and feels like its genuine counterpart.

High definition technology with regard to flooring types such as porcelain and ceramic has come a long way since it first appeared in the previous decade, replacing the old, time-consuming techniques that used screens and rollers to reproduce images on these tiles. However, as technology continues to evolve, various other floor types have also made significant strides in applying HD and 3D technology to achieve the look and feel of natural counterparts, such as wood, bamboo, etc. The goal is not only to imitate the look of natural flooring materials, but also to zoom in on their intricate granular effects and unique textures.

These floor types include laminates, wall-to-wall carpets and carpet tiles, and luxury vinyl tiles/planks. Laminates comprise several layers, with the decorative layer providing a high-definition, detailed image. Laminate flooring manufacturers have the technology and capability to realistically simulate everything from hardwood to marble to stone.

In turn, carpets have rapidly made use of high definition technology, such as HD weave technology, which can enable up to 32 colours to be used in a single carpet design and can even weave photorealistic carpets. Be sure to read the next issue of FLOORS in Africa magazine, in which we will explore this technology in greater detail in our carpet and carpet tiles feature.

Luxury Vinyl Tiles/Planks have grown dramatically in popularity – another floor type where this technology has achieved an astounding number of effects and visually appealing looks. For more information on LVT/Ps and the vast array of design options, refer to this issues LVT, LVP and Resilient Flooring feature.

Prior to this innovative technology, printing designs on tiles was much more of a hassle while simultaneously being less accurate in its aesthetic reproductions. By increasingly applying HD inkjet technologies to their products, ceramic and porcelain tile manufacturers can ensure not only improved cost efficiency but also aesthetic appeal and realistic replications of materials such as authentic hardwood and natural stone. It goes without saying that similar benefits will be gained by laminate, carpet and vinyl manufacturers.

HD technology, especially when applying grayscale-like methods over binary printing techniques (using varying sized ink dots rather than uniform), can achieve up to 1 000 dpi (dots per inch), although most products hover around 300 dpi which is sufficient to replicate the intricate details of naturally quarried stone and harvested hardwood. HD imaging technology allows ink to be applied to the tile without rollers or sheets or anything having to come into contact with the surface, which minimises any smearing or distortion in colour.

In recent years, manufacturers have upgraded to 3D printing processes to produce not only natural-looking appearances but also natural-feeling surfaces. With 3D printing, instead of the subtractive process of chiselling away material to make an etched surface, material is actually added through a machine to give the tile surface its unique texture, allowing for more accuracy and precision in replications.

Due to the reduction in manufacturing costs, realistic aesthetics will become more affordable than ever before. Going beyond cost efficiency, these technologies will continue to captivate the flooring industry’s attention and ignite a creative spark in interior designers and decorators, while opening the door to a wealth of opportunities for specifiers in the coming year and beyond.

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to the following for the material contained in this article: http://blog.qualityflooring4less.com; www.floridatile.com; www.houzz.com and www.futureairport.com

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