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Education from the Ground Up

Philadelphia University's Digital Print Program

By Melissa Donovan

Education is essential to growth. Philadelphia University in Philadelphia, PA combines the tutelage of how digital works with the capability of successfully selling the service. The Center of Excellence of Digital Inkjet Printing for Textiles is the headquarters. The program teaches students the process and technology of digital inkjet printing on fabric.


Specific classes found in the curriculum include Intro Digital Imaging, which instructs on CAD skills; Digital Printing Practice on Textiles, learning about screenprinting and CAD skills including prepping designs from marking screen separations; Print Design II, designing from design research to finished collection with advanced CAD skills; and Textile Print Technology, which provides an overview on dye and fiber chemistry, fabric preparation, screen and inkjet print production, and finishing. After graduation, the university offers Business Incubator. This course supports students looking to go into the print business.


The center isn’t just for university attendees. Workshops are held for those already in the textile, fashion, interior design, graphic arts, photography, and printing fields. On May 27 to 30, 2013, a digital surface imaging and printing for textiles workshop will be held. It focuses on the integration of design and technology.


Invaluable Experience

The center is headed by Hitoshi Ujiie, director, the Center of Excellence of Digital Inkjet Printing for Textiles, Philadelphia University. Ujiie is no stranger to wide format digital print, particularly with textiles. His first encounter was with an Epson Stylus Pro 3000, where he flipped the OEM inks with a fabric-friendly set. With this discovery, he founded Ion Design Studio in 1998 and personally invested in a Mutoh America Inc. printer.


In 2000, Ujiie joined Philadelphia University to update the inks and printing devices. Using many of his connections he acquired a vast portfolio of machines—Mutoh Falcons and several Mimaki USA, Inc. devices including a JV3, TX2-1600, and DS-1600. The Mimaki TX2-1600 prints with both disperse and reactive dye inks, whereas the Mimaki DS-1600 uses reactive dye. Printers are powered by TexPrint RIP by ErgoSoft AG.


Ujiie continues to grow the center’s capabilities. At the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association’s (SGIA’s) expo in 2010, in Mutoh’s booth he discovered the ValueJet 1628TD, an affordable, easy-to-use device. “We appreciate the output quality and the fact that it does not require any high maintenance,” shares Ujiie.


The center prints on silk and wool using acid dye inks with the Mutoh ValueJet 1628TD. Students create industrial textiles for the fashion and home décor segment.


The Imaging Initiative

The range of printers shown in the Center of Excellence of Digital Inkjet Printing for Textiles attract visitors who walk through to see and learn about the capabilities of digital print technology. With the success of textile print and the education model enacted at the university, Ujiie aspires to expand further and create a center that teaches printing onto all substrates.


“Our knowledge as a textile printer is essential. If you print to textiles, you can print to anything,” explains Ujiie. The initiative includes imagery and design. He’s noticed a trend with signage moving more towards a decorative side, similar to textiles.


Focusing on imaging and not just textiles allows Ujiie to greatly expand the center’s message. His goal is to educate the industry on the proper integration of design, technology, and business. “Communication between partners and peers is an issue. Many think new technologies should just fit into old systems, but that isn’t true. End users and manufacturers must understand these issues,” continues Ujiie. His belief is that print providers using any media type must understand the technology and how it relates to the design, as well as the business aspect, to be successful.


While the first and most influential part of the initiative is to release graduates from Philadelphia University out into the graphic arts to educate others and create their own businesses that reflect these ideals, the second step is to speak with current industry players. The most recent SGIA expo in October 2012 found Ujiie communicating with both Mimaki and Mutoh again, as well as Epson, Seiko I Infotech Inc., and Roland DGA Corporation.


Further down the road, the hope is that the Center of Excellence of Digital Inkjet Printing for Textiles will turn into the Center of Excellence for Surface Imaging. Here, education, research, and leadership combine to offer a Masters in Surface Imaging and Design through which research is undertaken by students and industry leaders. Design, business, and engineering together influence the learning experience.


Jan2013, Digital Output

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