We often think of fabric in relation to dye-sublimation (dye-sub) transfer, but it is much more than that. Hard surfaces such as stone, tile, metals, and glass are able to be printed on thanks to digital technology. Images In Tile, based in Joplin, MO, began in 2002 with a goal to provide custom tile murals to the architectural and interior design industry. The company uses a Mimaki USA, Inc. JV4-130 54-inch dye-sub printer to create products shipped worldwide.
Paul Whitehill, founder, Images In Tile, educated himself on the benefits of dye-sub printing in 2000. “While researching digital imaging, I was amazed at the clarity and color this process provided. At this time, dye-sub tile decoration was primarily used in the gift industry. I saw an opportunity to take it to a commercial level and started offering custom tile murals. When I established that this was a viable market, I formed Images In Tile,” he explains.
Both residential and commercial clients flock to the company’s Web site to upload personal photos, company logos, and paintings that will then be printed onto Beaver Paper and Graphic Media Inc.’s TexPrintXP-HR transfer paper, which then runs through a heat press at 400 degrees to transfer onto ceramic, porcelain, tumbled stone, and glass tiles.
TexPrintXP-HR works with all piezo inkjet dye-sub printers and all OEM dye-sub ink. It is designed to transfer successfully to both hard and soft substrates. Because tiles are squeezed at very high pressures when going through the heat press, Whitehill needed a transfer paper that could achieve this, and the TexPrintXP-HR has done so flawlessly. “This is one part of my production that I do not need to worry about,” he says. Additionally, the paper provides ideal color output.
There is no shortage of locations for these unique works of art. Excellent environments include lobbies, entrances, fireplaces, backsplashes, pools, showers, and walls in residences, restaurants, hotels, schools, retail centers, and even sports arenas. Once an entire mural is printed, each tile is given a number on the back that represents its place in the mural, to provide installers with easy instructions for application.
The company continues to create custom tile murals for such high-profile companies as The Kroger Co., Hilton Worldwide, Publix Super Markets, Inc., The Walt Disney Company, and Whole Foods Market. Whitehill credits the innovations and improvements in sublimation coatings for custom tile murals transferring from smaller residential jobs to large commercial projects. Today these coatings are much more durable and scratch resistant, allowing for a more polished, finished look for all projects coming through Images in Tile.
Click here to read part one of this exclusive online series, Paper to Transfer Away.