Open wide

Wide format printing is a very specialised area needing specific machinery to complete the task. John-Paul Burton, director, Your Embroidery Services Ltd, talks about what can be achieved with these machines.

Well, at least that used to be the case. With the development of bridging machines, it is now possible to have a single machine that can print T shirts and wide format items.

Now please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. The machines I am talking about will, in no way, compete with the really wide format style printers aimed specifically at that type of work.

Those machines can print up to approximately 3.5m wide and none of the machines I am referring to here are going to compete with that, but there are direct to garment style printers out there now that have much-increased print areas. The newer models on the market boast an accessible print area of 1900x650mm.

But these are not just wide format printers. Essentially, they are extra-large direct to garment T shirt printers capable of loading four shirts across the bed with a loading and feed system that allows virtually continuous shirt printing. But although they are high production models they can also be used to print single items or designs. As with other standard direct to garment printers they offer a flexibility in shirt printing second to none. With these larger models though the flexibility has been stretched even further.

Print a wider range of products

Although originally designed to accept platen mounted T shirts, the bed can also be used without platens. This gives the user the ability to print onto a wider range of products which can also include flat items such as table and bed linen and kitchen textiles, as well as decorative and marketing products such as flags. It also means that other larger garments can be printed. Products such as jeans dresses and coats can be accommodated. More importantly, it means that an all-over print is possible.

Standard direct to garment printers struggle with an all-over print principally because the print area is just not big enough to accommodate an XXXL shirt in its entirety. This new breed of machines, with an expanded area, has no such problem. Basically, if it can fit onto the machine and if the textile mix is right, then it can be printed. It should also be remembered that the ink used in direct to garment printers can sometimes be used on other media and so, with the larger format machines, maybe even signage becomes a possibility.

The flexibility of these new machines gives the user the ultimate production unit – just look at the facts:

  • The print bed allows for multi-unit production, as with T shirts, or single/double large format printing.
  • The large print area allows for the printing of larger clothing items such as dresses.
  • The inks used allow for printing across a range of media such as canvas prints.
  • Can still be used for print-on-demand and personalised items such as sweats, etc.

Although emanating from the T shirt printer design, the large format versions offer a much broader spectrum of printing allowing you to offer a print service across a much wider range of products. All of this from one machine – what could be better?

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