Print service providers looking to gain a competitive edge in the tough economic climate should look no further than textiles. "If you aren’t currently printing with textiles, then you should consider them. A higher margin is achievable versus the very competitive vinyl banner market," comments Mike Richardson, director of marketing, print media, Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc.
Stan Szpilka, director of East Coast sales, Dazian Fabrics, believes printing on textiles becomes easier as technologies advance. He notes new and expanding markets such as theater backdrops, ceilings, backlit retail displays, and custom semi-permanent murals. "It’s more cost-effective to change the look of a hotel lobby or atrium by changing out printed fabric panels than to change the hard wall or other permanent fixtures," shares Szpilka.
Fabrics offer many advantages over traditional media. For example, they stretch and conform to different shapes, allowing for innovative, customized solutions. "They are lightweight, environmentally friendly, simple to mount, and suitable for outdoor and indoor use," states Jarry Jin, manager of new product development, Soyang Technologies Co., Ltd.
Portability is another advantage of printing on textiles. Textiles are lighter in weight than vinyl banner, which keeps shipping costs down. "Fabric is easily packed up and folded into bags or boxes for shipment," says Szpilka. The lighter weight also makes the material a "greener" choice, since less energy is used in transportation.
Textiles bring a rich, high-quality look to applications such as signs and trade show graphics. "Fabrics feature a better touch, feel, and look, which many customers prefer over PVC," comments Ulrich Tombuelt, executive VP, IBENA Inc.
"Textiles connect with the viewer on an emotional level. The texture helps create a deeper psychological connection and this helps advertisers with the goal of gaining and holding the attention of the viewer," explains Andreas DeGroot, senior product manager, inkjet media, Neschen Americas.
3P InkJet Textiles AG manufactures a variety of fabrics for sublimation, UV-curable, solvent, pigment, and dye-based inks.
Aurora’s Northern Lights Printable Textiles include fabrics for digital inkjet solvent, UV-curable, dye-sublimation (dye-sub) transfer, dye-sub direct, screenprinting, and offset litho printing, with 27 different weave styles in various combinations from cotton and blends to polyester.
Dazian offers solvent printable fabrics and dye-sub printable fabrics. New versions of Dazian’s Trapeze line of stretchable fabrics are designed for dye-sub printing and contain balanced and controllable stretch and recovery characteristics.
Fisher Textiles Inc.’s GF 600 Poly Duck for sublimation and UV printing has a rugged canvas look with a tremendous amount of outdoor durability, according to Jeff Cheatham, director of sales, Fisher Textiles. "It is a great fabric for roll up banner stands," he adds.
The company also offers polyester fabrics for dye-sub and UV printing prepared for extremely high temperatures and feature optical brighteners. Many of Fisher Textiles’ fabrics are equipped with specialty coatings for direct digital printing—depending on the ink technology. The company ultrasonically slits fabric edges to eliminate fraying and head strikes.
IBENA manufactures cotton and polyester fabrics up to 197 inches in width for dye-sub transfer, direct dye-sub, and digital printing. The company recently introduced suede for direct dye-sub, available in 60 and 98 inches.
Neschen offers a wide variety of textiles for solvent, UV-curable printing, as well as direct to print and standard transfer dye-sub. The company recently introduced the Pure Color textile line. "The key attributes of these substrates are superior color and ease of printing without a heavy ink-receptive coating that takes away from the natural feel of a textile," says DeGroot. Products include Golden Gate Fabric, VersaFabric, Monet Canvas, Mambo Fabric, and Calypso Breeze Satin.
Pabric Inkjet Printable Fabric offers coated polyester textiles, which are compatible with dye or pigment inks. Pabric Soft is a light and pliable option for sewing and fabric art, Pabric Art is a cardstock-like fabric for art and design, and Pabric Sticker is adhesive-backed fabric for medium tack binding purposes.
"We use advanced nanotechnology in the manufacturing process. A three-layered fabric construction creates three-dimensional printed images with high saturation and vibrant colors. We also offer fabric in different weights. The lighter and pliable products are mainly for tablecloth and fabric designs. Slightly heavier ones are widely used in advertising banners, art reproduction, wallpaper, and lamp shade designs," shares Ting Hsiao, sales and marketing manager, Pabric.
Pacific Coast Fabrics, Inc. offers fabrics for aqueous dye-sub, UV, pigment, reactive-coated, acid-coated, and disperse coated fabrics. Popular textiles for dye-sub include satin, chiffon, polyester, knit, and jersey. One customer favorite is the Polyester Taffetta, a lightweight 100 percent recyclable polyester with aqueous, flame repelled coating. It is used for flags, banners, POP, and trade show displays.
Soyang manufactures coated polyester textiles compatible with dye-sub transfer, direct dye-sub, UV printing, and solvent printing. Textiles include DY-STRETCH, which has elasticity; DY-FALG19 satin; and the light DY-FALG350.
This series studied the various technologies involved with printing on textiles; as well as the many benefits associated with them. Look for an in-depth, three-part series on textiles in the July, August, and September issues of Digital Output.