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Digital Dye-Sub

A SC-based Printer Stays Ahead of the Curve

By Melissa Donovan

Dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printing continues to play an important role in the digital print market. Although direct-to-fabric equipment continues to attract sign shops, those investing in dye-sub printers have yet to be disappointed. Custom Printed Fabrics (CPF) realized the benefits of running a business based on textile printing, more specifically dye-sub, about ten years ago.

From Drapes to Dye-Sub
The allure of digitally printed textiles continues to captivate countless sign shops. In business since 1961, Chester, SC-based CPF was originally known as Zenith Engraving. The company manufactured rotary screens for fabric printers primarily creating upholstery and draperies. However, customer requests changed throughout the years.

“About ten years ago, customer trends drifted from printed draperies to woven, leather, and solid dyed fabric. It became apparent that in order to survive, the company would have to reinvent itself,” comments Robb Sarno, VP, business development and marketing, CPF.

And reinvent it did. In 1999, as threat of closure loomed due to a downturn in the textile industry, the employees of Zenith Engraving purchased 100 percent of the original company and created the division of Zenith now known as CPF. Market research, including studying the benefits of digital printing, encouraged the employees to create a firm providing dye-sub fabrics to multiple markets.

Prior to the addition of the new division Zenith was already experimenting with digital printing, “Employees at Zenith Engraving believed existing customers could benefit from the speeds that digital brought to the process. The cost advantages of printing short-run digital and custom roll-to-roll fabric are very beneficial,” says Sarno.

Textiles Keep You on Your Toes
Today CPF’s staff of 22 work with high-profile clients across the U.S. including Target and QVC. The firm creates digitally printed fabrics for trade show displays, home dŽcor, banners, and props/uniforms for college and high school bands.

With 100 percent of the business textile related, the shop utilizes five dye-sub printers from Roland DGA Corporation up to 104 inches wide. “We are very satisfied with the quality, speed, and reliability of Roland printers,” comments Sarno.

The flexibility that fabric offers continues to keep CPF busy. “Fabric has very few limitations,” shares Sarno. “The ink sets now available on the market allow for indoor or outdoor viability for all of our products. Fabric is a realistic ‘green’ alternative thanks to yarn created from recycled plastic bottles,” he continues.

Beautifying Exhibits
CPF recently created several large fabric panels to compose an exhibit for client IVO Global—an event production company, whose own clients planned to use the display at Cosmo Prof and Premier Beauty shows.

At their largest the panels ranged eight feet wide by 12 feet tall. Several other smaller panels were also created, which generated an exhibit totaling a width of 40 feet and a depth of eight feet. IVO Global specifically requested that the frame holding the fabric allow for easy panel change out.

Since IVO Global wanted to repeatedly use the exhibit, Trish Parker, national accounts manager, CPF, recommended a Fabric Frame system. “Since the framework is modular, the exhibit doesn’t necessarily have to be used as a trade show booth,” she explains.

The firm printed the panels on its Roland SOLJET SJ-1045EXS, an 104-inch dye-sub printer, using Sawgrass Technologies, Inc.’s SubliM ink, and Wasatch Computer Technology’s SoftRIP software.

Originally printed on Jetco 2000 transfer paper, the images were transferred to Celtic fabric with a Klieverik Heli BV heat press, a Netherlands based manufacturer.

IVO Global handled the graphic design and final installation of the panels. From design to finish, the job was spread out over a total of two months. It also took about a week for CPF to construct and ship the exhibit. “Both IVO Global and its client were thrilled with the finished project. The colors of the panels were perfect and they were very impressed with how we were able to balance the skin tones with the blue background,” says Sarno.

Trusted Expertise
Successfully adding a dye-sub print business division to Zenith says a lot about CPF’s penchant for prophesizing and acting on the next sector in digital print.

Mar2009, Digital Output

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