The textile manufacturing industry is on the edge of significant change. Tom Owers, Pro Graphics product manager, Epson UK, discusses how dye sublimation is poised to capitalise on the convergence of three key trends.
An increased focus on sustainable practices, the move towards reshoring and local production to reduce transportation, and a review of the supply chain to deliver the right quantities at the right time.
These redefining issues are being explored by the industry and digital technology is helping businesses reimagine their working practices. It is enabling them to identify ways to minimise their overall impact.
Just 6% of the world’s textiles are digitally printed. This presents a great growth opportunity for businesses that are prepared to make the change. Interest in this has been accelerated by the impact the pandemic has had on supply chains for businesses across different sectors. As a result, many companies are considering how reshoring can change their practices for the better now. By adapting to an on-demand business model where users print what they have sold, reliance can be reduced on waste going into landfill or being sent abroad for disposal.
Increasingly there is an emphasis on local manufacturing and a move away from printing textiles abroad and finishing locally. This allows better control of production in terms of time, quality, cost, and waste. Start ups in gifting and promotional items are able to adopt the technology, too, while large format printers and sign makers can adapt their production focus with just a few additions in their workflow.
At the heart of all these conversations we are having is customer confidence. They want to know they can consistently reproduce the quality required.
They are looking for:
Ease of use
Systems that are ready in seconds and allow jobs to be set up quickly and smoothly make all the difference to optimising efficiency and reducing errors. Simple interfaces and built-in user guides enable faster set up times and reduce print problems – all of which supports operator confidence and greater productivity.
Being able to rely on system that delivers valuable peace of mind is a key factor in any buying decision. This is something that can be delivered by manufacturers who offer a complete solution. Customers can choose to partner a supplier that designs, develops and manufactures every part of their product. They should also check that the ink chemistry works in harmony with the print heads and the hardware is specifically designed for dye sublimation applications – it is not as simple as just putting a different ink set in a printer. There are internal changes for the efficient use of dye sublimation ink and features that improve reliability and media handling.
Customers want to know they can consistently achieve high quality results. They should look for ink sets that ensures crisp, vibrant output. One with a choice of colours that delivers accurate and consistent colour performance on both soft and rigid manmade substrates. Another thing to consider is if the inks are part of a complete solution, which includes hardware, printhead, sublimation papers, service, and support. Offering further peace of mind is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification assuring approved use for a number of applications.
End-to-end printing solution
Smooth reliable set up is paramount – particularly for those operations expanding their dye sublimation capabilities or for those looking to offer the service for the first time. Genuine drivers support this as does dedicated RIP software that contain ICC profiles and mechanical parameters for a wide range of third-party media. Cloud based solutions can also allow users to monitor their fleet remotely, keeping an eye on print job costs and tracking usage over time.
These features are integral to all the dye sublimation solutions in our growing portfolio that range from entry level to industrial. The latest additions include Epson’s first A4 dye sublimation printer, the SureColor SC-F100. It was developed for small businesses and start-ups looking to expand their product offering into the promotional goods sector when space is at premium. Joining the portfolio in 2020, too, was the 255sq m/hr SureColor SC-F10000 76in wide-format printer. It was designed for high productivity, speed, and reliability. It is suited to the production of fashion, sportswear, home furnishings, promotional goods, and soft signage.