The Changing Landscape of Innovation: Digital State of Mind in the ‘70s

Posted on Aug 24, 2018 12:50:02 PM, by Mollie Williams

The striking Southern Magnolia, with its large dark green leaves and fragrant white flowers, was first planted in the 600-acre Milliken Arboretum during the 1970s. Today, its southern roots remain strong at our campus headquarters, as do the innovations that evolved at Milliken during that time. 

The 1970s was an era of global growth, a celebrated decade of technological innovation and cultural change. It was then that Milliken saw an opportunity to bring the emerging world of digital computing to textiles, elevating specialized floor covering designs for decades to come. 

In 1973, building on its acquisition of Callaway Mills in 1968, Milliken Research revolutionized the carpet design and manufacturing process with Millitron® — a continuous digital carpet printer that weds ink-jet technology with computer-enabled design control to create a new era of custom flooring.


Inspired by the printed patterns taking over interiors and fashion, bold designs delivering self-expression and creative freedom, Milliken developed computers to model and create patterns that could be injected directly on white modular carpet tiles. However, to make digital textile printing work at a significant scale and volume, we needed a process that considered both aesthetics and operations, enabling ever-changing, instantly-adaptable modular carpet design.

Milliken developed an injection-dyeing process that permeates carpet fibers entirely with color. Unlike overprinting processes that add color only to the fiber tips, Millitron® allows vibrancy, precision, and the ability to blend colors for a broader palette. The process enables pattern changes within a fraction of a second, permitting a made-to-order response time for all types of interior floor covering solutions.

Shown: Moment collection

Millitron® continues to evolve to meet the needs of an ever-changing floor covering industry. We did not, and will not, stop with an initial innovation. The Milliken Floor Covering team is proud to continually challenge how each new generation of Millitron® can redefine what is possible to achieve through floor covering design, all an effort to anticipate the latest bespoke interior design needs. Today, you will find the technology bringing to life customizable logo entry mats — including those donning the logo of your favorite sports teams — and commercial carpet collections improving the form and function of workplaces, education environments and hospitality spaces around the world.

Throughout the industries we serve, from specialty chemicals to floor covering to performance and protective textiles, technological advancements have enabled innovations once not thought possible. We invite you to continue to discover the decades of Milliken’s past, and how they have shaped who we are today, through our Changing Landscape of Innovation series.

Explore the series by decade:

Topics: Innovation

Mollie Williams

Written by Mollie Williams

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