By Cassandra Balentine
Textiles offer a suitable medium for a range of applications across many industries, from fashion and entertainment to sign and display. Maya Roth, founder, CADFab Digital, understands the growth and demand of custom fabric printing and through her business provides everything from sample prints to industrial runs consisting of thousands of yards.
Driven by fashion and technology, Roth began her career studying fashion design and computer graphics. She realized early on that digital textile printing was her medium of choice and launched her own business. In 1999, CADFab Digital was founded. Based in Los Angeles, CA, the company operates out of a 20,000 square foot facility with 20 employees.
In the beginning, the business primarily offered textile design services. While printing was a smaller portion, the company utilized digital from the onset. Meanwhile, Roth closely watched the technology evolve, attending a variety of trade events, including the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association Expo and ITMA, waiting until digital was ready to effectively compete with conventional print to invest.
She says this happened in 2012, when prices dropped for both consumables and the finished product. Simultaneously, printhead technology evolved to enable faster speeds and excellent output quality. It was then that Roth felt the latest digital textile printing machines were able to offer faster speeds and production quality at affordable prices and decided to make a significant investment in industrial digital textile printing technologies.
Since then, CADFab Digital has shifted to more production than design. Roth estimates that the company’s business ratio is about 95 percent print and five percent design. And the equipment continues to advance. When digital textile production was first brought in house, output was about an inch a minute. Now, it produces 100 yards an hour on average.
The success of CADFab Digital is due to its commitment to customer care and its ability to offer a variety of textile applications. With expertise in many digital textile printing methods, the shop prints on almost every fabric in house with confidence, including cotton, polyester, rayon, silk, and linen.
It does this by offering sublimation/heat transfer printing, direct printing, and wet printing methods. The shop’s digital print studio features more than 20 different wide format printers that create both sample and production runs, ranging from Mimaki USA, Inc. to MS Printing Solutions.
Sublimation is selected for polyester-based goods, providing output that is permanent and washable.
CADFab Digital’s direct printed products are wet printed both with reactive or acid dyes. Depending on the substrates selected, the garments are then steamed, washed, and cured to ensure the inks are set. The final product is suited for washing and hanging indoors and outdoors. A non-washable process is done on natural fabrics for quick presentations or photoshoots—these are more disposable short-term applications.
“We offer high-speed industrial textile printing for both direct and sublimation needs. We can print to almost every substrate and all processes are water-based, which also makes it a fairly ‘green’ operation,” says Roth.
This range of service and technique attracts a wide customer base, including high-end fashion, interior décor, entertainment, textile design, and soft signage.
CADFab Digital’s ability to create short-run custom prints allows smaller businesses and startups to get moving with little investment.
The company works with several U.S. and international fashion designers to help bring their collections to life, including Brogamats, a company that provides fashionable yoga mat bags, featuring designs with masculine appeal.
Selling direct to customers and wholesale, Brogamats relies on CADFab Digital for the textiles used to create the bags. After finding CADFab Digital online, it’s been a client for approximately three years. Roth says Brogamats generally orders prints at about 1,000 yards at a time.
The shop has used both wet printing and sublimation for this client, and the process selected is determined by budget and fabric. Based on the client’s price point, designs are produced on either a polyester or cotton canvas using CADFab Digital’s industrial high-speed digital printers.
In terms of finishing, the company will sublimate, steam, and wash, but only delivers fabric, not the completed good. Brogamats creates a final product from the printed textiles.
In addition to business-to-business relationships, Roth sees opportunity in consumer to business. A new endeavor for CADFab Digital is its direct-to-consumer custom fabric print offering, a Web-based portal that provides a user-friendly and affordable option for users to upload a pattern or artwork and have it digitally printed and shipped to them. Customers can also utilize the company’s in-house library of available prints.
Users upload images or select a design, choose a fabric, and add it to a cart where they can then select their desired size. Minimum orders are as low as two printed yards and pricing starts at under $20 per yard.
The site enables the shop to reach an international pool of clients that can order small runs of custom prints to create anything they desire.
An Eye for Change
CADFab Digital prides itself on its commitment to customers. To remain successful, it is always on the lookout for new trends in both fashion and technology. From managing critical color for high-end fashion clients, to offering a 24/7 easy access portal for the novice designer, the company attracts a wide customer base.
Jul2016, Digital Output