|FLAAR Reports moving more into reviewing and evaluating textile printers, textile inks, dye sublimation, and calendering heat presses|
FLAAR has been studying textile printers since the late 1990's and our reports on wide-format inkjet textile printers have been available since 2001. But in 2007 we moved more into textiles and for 2008 issued about five new reports on textile printers. For 2009 we are considering adding additional coverage of dye sublimation inks and workflow and printers as well as the new UV-curing textile inks (not regular UV-cured inks for roll to roll UV printers, but a special relatively new UV-curing process especially for textile printers).
There are many companies that make or distribute textile printers. One that we know for many many years is DigiFab. Another textile company that has let us do evaluations on their printers is ATPColor. We have evaluated their printers and here are the results.
We are adding additional coverage of dye sublimation inks, workflow and printers. We have inspected the InkTec factory of dye sublimation inks and then visited a successful printshop which was using the InkTec inks.
FLAAR will also be checking on price comparisons and general costs of textile printing machines.
Textile ink chemistries
acid dye textile ink,wool, silk, nylon,
reactive textile dye, cotton, linen, viscose, wool, rayon (and in some cases, silk)
pigmented textile ink: primarily for uncoated cotton.
disperse dye ink for direct sublimation onto polyester
disperse dye ink for printing on transfer paper first then transfer to polyester
Textile inks, major brands
InkTec (we are studying their dye sublimation inks currently, including their new InkTec SubliNova Pro)
And many others
Splash of Color
Algotex Rainbow, Italy (no longer exhibit at trade shows)
Mutoh textile printers (Mutoh Europe closed since 2011, but printers still offered from stock)
Roland textile printers (usually retrofitted under other names)
Mimaki textile printers (usually retrofitted under other names)
MS Printing Solutions
d-gen,Teleios, d-gen Heracle
and scores of low-bid Chinese-made textile printers.
Calendering machines for dye sublimation onto polyester
More and more textile printers have calendering built in: you print directly on the fabic and in a lower area the system heats the ink and sublimates it within the fabric itself. This is considered not as bright as if you print onto paper and heat press onto the raw fabric, but that requires TWO systems: a printer and a separate calendering machine.
But if you are a serious full time textile printer, you will prefer a calendering machine:
Dye Sublimation Transfer Paper
Qualimage Swiss Inkjet Solutions offered Transjet sublimation paper
Dr Ink, via Havir, offers dye sublimation transfer paper made in Brazil.
Wide-format Inkjet Fabrics and textile materials
3P Inkjet Textiles is the one we know the best, because I have been to their main office in Germany
If you need help on deciding what inkjet fabrics are best for signage, tradeshow graphics, banners, flags, backdrops, house furnishings such as curtains or wall coverings, murals, table cloths, clothing items such as ties, scarves, shirts, then thes upcoming FLAAR Reports are crucial.
Textile RIP software
Evolution RIP from DigiFab is the one I know best; Dr Wirth is another (I have visited another Dr Wirth division office, 6to5 3D scanning, outside Frankfurt), and several other textile RIPs are available.
Textile printer manufacturing companies which have dropped out
ColorSpan DisplayMaker FabriJet XII
Encad NovaJet 1500 DX textile system printer (1998)
Stork Amethyst, Storm Amber, and most original Stork branded textile printers are not really made any more. Stork may still exist on paper but lacks viable presence at trade shows during 2007-2010). But Stork reappeared with a booth and with a new wide-format inkjet textile printer at FESPA Hamburg 2011.
L&P Virtu, but their textile model, ironic since they originally started their printer division to print onto their own mattress covers. But they quickly realized that the world of textile printing outside their own company had other standards that would be very complex for them to interact with, plus creating a tech support system would require a staff larger than they were willing to hire and train.
Yuhan-Kimberly: wallpaper printer, silk & cotton printer; dye-sub. Their grand format (VU-180) was being made by Keundo but the printer was never finished and the entire Yuhan-Kimberly textile department was closed down because of the lack of a printer. Ironic, since within one year, the use of dye-sub and other textile inks increased exponentially worldwide. In hindsight Yuhan-Kimberly closed down two years premature.
Textiles for wallpaper and upholstery
The question is whether wallpaper should be printed with a solvent, eco-solvent, mild-solvent or textile printer. Or maybe a UV-curable roll-to-roll printer?
FLAAR will be studying more about these questions and providing the answers during 2009. The downside of solvent printers is outgassing of solvent smell.
The downside of most older grand format printers is their print resolution is inadequate for a mural seen in a room at close viewing distance.
The downside of water-based printers is the high cost of coated inkjet media.
So we continued to look for better solutions for wallpaper and found two: DECAL media, and Hongsam ink for printing on wallpaper with no solvents.
Upholstery is more a textile application and most of the Yuhan-Kimberly and many of the Digi-Fab printers can handle that.
Textile printers for ties, scarves, and clothing
Yuhan-Kimberly has one of the best displays on all kinds of samples of textile printing (in their main office, DTP Link, in Seoul).
Trade shows for digital textile printers
VISCOM Italy, SGIA, and FESPA Digital have plenty of textile printers every year. ITMA is only every several years but has even more textile printers. ITMA 2011 is in Barcelona this autumn.
Trade magazines for learning about digital textile printers
Fabric Graphics magazine is a great resource.
There are also articles on soft signage and digital printing of textiles in Digital Graphics, The Big Picture, and Digital Output magazines. For Europe try SIP magazine.
Books for learning about digital textile printing
Woodhead Publishing Limited has books on textiles, indeed they specialize on textile technology.
FLAAR Publications on textile printing are also available
Wide Format Printers