By Melissa Donovan
Part 2 of 2
The first part in this series on digital textile printers focused on Paterson Fabric Printing LLC of Paterson, NJ. The company got its start in analog dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printing back in the 1970s, before adding digital dye-sub capabilities in 2015. Today it offers its customers everything from artwork design to printing, cutting, sewing, and packaging.
Paterson Fabric Printing’s success proves that traditional print service providers (PSP) aren’t the only ones utilizing and benefiting from digital dye-sub processes. There are many businesses similar to Paterson Fabric Printing that once operated using analog or even manual processes and then transitioned to digital.
TaggerWear Inc. of Ottawa, ON, Canada started in 2005, with the business incorporated in 2010. In the beginning, two employees worked out of its 1,500 square foot location utilizing manual processes—hand drawn designs, sewing patterns, and cut and sew production.
Looking to break out of its niche market and start to provide customers with different services, digital printing was added in 2017. Initially, Susan Trott, co-owner, TaggerWear, was considering purchasing an existing business, which used Epson equipment. Not impressed with the business, but with the printers—she decided to purchase the latest model—the Epson SureColor F6200—for her own company
“Epson’s technology is ideal because their dyes are biodegradable. That is very important to us. Non-toxic, water-based dyes that are infant safe mean we can make children’s garments,” shares Trott.
Epson UltraChrome DS inks are designed to work exclusively with Epson SureColor F-Series printers. High-capacity refillable ink tanks hold 1.5 liters per color. The four-color set features a High Density Black ink formulation, combined it offers vibrant colors, intense blacks, sharp contours, and smooth gradations.
What Works Best
Today TaggerWear houses five employees providing design, print, cut, and sew services for custom sportswear. It services Canada, the U.S., and generally anywhere customers would like their products shipped. These products include fully sublimated garments, signs, banners, flags, and fabric yardage for designers. An average run on the Epson SureColor F6200 is 40 to 50 garments. With the ability to do such small runs, a variety of prototype work is completed.
The Epson SureColor F6200 is matched with a 45-inch continuous rotary press from Eastsign Inc. to keep up with production. “Our capability and capacity is enormous. The press outruns the printer, so we can print all day, and still we are able to press everything in one day,” explains Trott.
While many companies of TaggerWear’s size and background opt for a clam shell press, she says the process is limiting, as it only presses one piece at a time. “For us, we wanted to maximize the press and be able to print yardage, not just one piece at a time.”
The printer and transfer press are paired with Epson’s own transfer paper. The allure was twofold—one the material is recyclable and two Trott believes the Epson printer and paper are engineered to work best together.
Stretch-Tex International, a manufacturer in Australia, is the provider of TaggerWear’s most commonly used fabric, Chloroban. Developed for competitive swimwear, the fabric features 50 SPF and is resistant to chlorine and salt water.
Digital dye-sub influences TaggerWear’s customer connections, helping it reach a larger audience and providing opportunities to work with design houses and custom shops. However, Trott is not content to stop there. While she admits that digital capacities have certainly expanded what the company is producing, the challenge is finding the right people for these products and then of course showing them new ideas.
“Our product sells itself, but it is difficult to find people. The most popular sublimated products are hats, cups, and mouse pads. We are not doing this. We do not want to enter a market where there is so much saturation. Instead, we want to create new markets. We have a lot of ideas, it’s just getting noticed,” explains Trott.
End-to-end solution providers like TaggerWear and Paterson Fabric Printing are huge influencers in the world of fabric production. Their commitment to digital printing technologies backed with experienced in traditional fabric construction processes is a testament to the future of fabric production.
Jul2019, Digital Output