By Cassandra Balentine
Fabric is a versatile substrate. With the right expertise and equipment, it is used to present stunning designs for a range of purposes, including apparel, signage, and décor.
Located in Los Angeles, CA, MY Prints is settled downtown in the city’s Arts District. Founding partners, Steven Moreno and Carol Yeager met more than a decade ago in 2006, when Moreno worked for a digital sublimator and Yeager was a customer.
“Together, with our passion for fabric, prints, and color, we decided to team up with the goal of one day creating a product line,” recalls Moreno. In April 2011, MY Prints officially formed, and today it resides inside of a 1,500 square foot loft with five full-time employees and one part-time graphic designer/IT employee.
Using dye-sublimation (dye-sub) transfer to print to fabric is the company’s focus. MY Prints works on a diverse range of products including décor for custom events, costumes for the entertainment industry—from cruise ships to television production, and runway designs.
“We have costumes on several of the characters performing on Disney Cruise Ships, with the Los Angeles Theatre Group, in Nickelodeon Land, at Sea World, and in Universal Studios. A few costume designers at Netflix call us their one-stop print shop for fabrics,” comments Moreno. He notes that in addition to entertainment, Yeager has teamed up with an atelier designer, Fernando Alberto, and the two of them put together several runway shows from Los Angeles; Miami, FL; New York, NY; Mexico City in Mexico, and Honduras. The company also services several apparel converters in Los Angeles that supply many big box retail stores.
Above: Located in Los Angeles, CA, MY Prints recently worked with Brownhot Events to create custom linens with a Mutoh printer and upholstery for chairs with an Epson SureColor F(200 for luxury champaign produce Veuve Clicquot. Photo Credit Claire Barrett Photography.
Getting the Job Done
MY Prints is equipped with five Mutoh America, Inc. printers, one Epson SureColor F9200, and a Mimaki USA, Inc. JV4. Two of the Mutoh printers are equipped with Sublim Intense high-density sublimation inks from Sawgrass Industrial, part of JK Group USA, Inc. Two other Mutoh printers run Sawgrass Sublim sublimation inks. The fifth Mutoh device is currently working with DuraVibe pigment ink from Expand Systems with plans to upgrade in the new year. The Mimaki JV4 runs DyeJet ink from Jantex Inks, Inc. onto cotton fabrics and is used for sample prints. The Epson SureColor F9200 uses UltraChrome DS with High Density Black.
All of the printers are driven by a RIP from Wasatch Computer Technology, LLC. The company is satisfied with its ability to minimize setup, RIP processing time, and errors, as well as its ease of use.
Since MY Prints runs its printers using dye-sub transfer it utilizes a heat press to sublimate the graphic from transfer paper to fabric. When looking for a heat press, the evaluation process involved finding a device that wouldn’t waste more fabric than paper. Today, MY Prints works with a DigiHeat heat press from DigiFab Systems, Inc., which enables the operator to lead with the paper, shrinking the fabric waste down to zero. Also, the machine does not have a weight limit on how much printed fabric it can spool, according to Moreno.
“When MY Prints was built, 100 percent of production consisted of five yards here and ten yards there, with a majority of the runs being three yard cuts. The DigiHeat mass runs multiple fabrics and designs on one roll of paper and we rotate through various fabrics in one set up. This saves time, which increases production without sacrificing quality in any way,” he offers.
The company chooses to print to fabrics with dye-sub transfer for many reasons. “Once I compared the quality, sharpness, detail, and clarity of what is achievable through paper transfer over direct to fabric, I was convinced,” says Moreno.
Two years ago MY Prints began experimenting with pigment printing onto cotton and is still working out the best and most effective way to print production runs. “We are partnering with a new company on pigment inks, which looks very promising,” he shares.
Among MY Prints’ lineup of dye-sub transfer printing equipment, its 64-inch Epson SureColor F9200 printer was one of the latest installments. MY Prints was approached by the company to be a beta site for the device. “I was more than excited, not just because I was getting my hands on a newer printer, but because I was going to see how a different printer company than I was used to thought out the mechanics of the machine,” admits Moreno.
Adding the Epson SureColor F9200 increased the shop’s production by 20 percent. With its ability to handle larger paper rolls on both the feed and take up side of the printer, it saves on set up time with fewer roll changes for both the printer and the DigiHeat heat press. “I was blown away with the Epson SureColor F9200’s ability to run a roll of 200-plus yards from start to finish,” says Moreno.
A Custom Touch
Last Fall, MY Prints received a call from Jeff Brown, owner, Brownhot Events. The event planner was throwing a gala for a long-time client, luxury champagne producer Veuve Clicquot. The client wasn’t impressed with any readily available linens after looking at several local suppliers. Brownhot Events decided to investigate custom table linens. Brown emailed MY Prints a photo of a linen the client would “settle with.” However, settling isn’t what either Brownhot Events or MY Prints wanted to offer.
Brown and Moreno began the design process together. The event was only a few weeks away, and while that is more than enough time to order linens, it is a tight timeframe to custom make linens for 110 40-inch round tables that need to drape the floor. This meant twice as much fabric was required and the linens would have a seam. It also meant that the pattern needed to be symmetrical enough to be cut and sewn as needed to minimize the break.
Brown brought up the idea of incorporating the Veuve Clicquot logo into the design. Moreno got to work in Adobe Illustrator and created a subtle, but visible pattern. The design moved to sampling and printed onto fabric in the selected colors. After tweaking the colors, the samples were shown to the client. Veuve Clicquot loved the design as well as the fact that it was custom made for its event. With a little tweaking involving scale, a final pattern was settled on, and Moreno says the final outcome—printed with one of the Mutoh printers—was just shy of amazing.
Once the linens were cut and sewn, Brown had another suggestion for Veuve Clicquot. A custom wallpaper was printed for the backdrop of the champagne provider’s event, and he thought upholstering a few chairs to match the linens and wallpaper would make a big impact. He sent over the wallpaper file and Moreno worked with what would be visible on the chair panels.
“I drew a quick mockup using Adobe Photoshop and it was a success,” says Moreno. The necessary panels were printed using the Epson SureColor F9200 and then sent off to the upholsterer. The finished furniture was a hit and Veuve Clicquot was pleased.
On the Horizon
At press time, MY Prints revealed that it is embarking on a major development and bringing in a Mimaki UV roll-to-roll printer. “This will add the ability to take on the outdoor world with digital printing,” shares Moreno.
With the addition of the Mimaki UV printer, MY Prints will begin to work with outdoor signage, promotional advertising, wallpaper, and printing onto plastic. The Mimaki UV printer is also equipped with a cutter, enabling printing and cutting all on the same machine.
Quality designs are often in the details. MY Prints understands this and is dedicated to paying attention to nuances throughout the entire production cycle. With years of experience, talent, and the right equipment, it impresses its long list of clients with dye-sub transfer printing and hopes to continue this with its UV roll-to-roll printer addition.
Jan2019, Digital Output