Since being installed by RA Smart last spring, Northumbria University’s HP Stitch S300 has helped hundreds of students continue their learning journey.
Northumbria University has paid a special tribute to the impact of its HP Stitch S300 dye sublimation printer, revealing that the device has played a key role in allowing students to continue learning and working during the pandemic.
Installed by HP distributor RA Smart at Northumbria University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Social Science in the spring of 2020, the HP Stitch S300 was initially brought in to increase the textile offering to non-specialist students throughout the university.
The printer’s dye sublimation technology allows students to make use of modern man-made and recycled fabrics that have traditionally been difficult to print onto. In addition, the device now plays a much wider role in the education of students on new MA (Masters) courses, specifically around performance/sportswear and sustainable and ethical fashion.
Put into use
The HP Stitch S300 printer was first put into use just as the first lockdown measures in England were being eased, though disruption for the university continued for some time after this as students were severely limited to when they could access facilities to produce their printed fashion work.
However, Kenny Macrae, technical manager for Fashion and Textiles at the Faculty of Art, Design and Social Science at Northumbria University, said the remote management capability of the HP Stitch S300 printer was critical during the pandemic as it allowed students to continue to engage with the practical element of their studies.
He explains: “Thanks to HP PrintOS our students were able to electronically send us work to be printed out and transferred onto fabric. We would send the finished article back to them and – in conjunction with half scale mannequins we provided the students with to allow them to engage with the blended learning over lockdown – undergraduates were able to develop their garment shapes, silhouettes and print designs from the safety of their own homes.”
While the printer has been in place for less than a year, Mr Macrae said there is no doubt as to the important role it will have to play in educating thousands of students over the coming years.
He adds: “The printer is seen as something that will become integral not only to fashion students but as a resource for the whole of the design school. The speed, efficiency and simplicity of the printing process means that eventually anyone from the school should be able to utilise it. It allows students to be experimental and develop their samples and ideas with a minimum of waste and allows us to move from small samples to full sized garment prints easily.
“From interior design students wanting samples for soft furnishings, to fashion students looking to push the boundaries of print through fabrication, it will allow everyone to prove concepts and realise their ideas.
“It’s not a machine that has been brought in to replace traditional skills and practise that sits at the core of what we do, but instead a modern printer that will help enhance our output and allow our staff and students to push the boundaries of print design and research within their chosen discipline.”