Printing on Fabric
Perhaps one of the most exciting questions today in the print sector is why print on fabric? The simple answer is because it opens new and novel revenue streams that have not been capitalised upon by companies who continue to print onto traditional non-fabric medias i.e. PVC, vinyl’s film and paper-based media etc. Printing on fabric is now moving at such a fast pace as more and more companies recognise the enormous advantages.
Since the inception of digital printing technology as a means to replace older slower technologies, it has in its acceptance in the market place as a credible alternative, pushed all boundaries as it applications have become recognised. Long gone are the days when PVC reigned supreme for retail graphics, in fact PVC media is now considered yesterdays solution. Retailers of all sizes from the biggest to the smallest have now all accepted and embraced printing on fabric as their preferred choice for in-store graphics.
With careful fabric selection they are now used to best effect reflecting companies and retailers brand identity and its products perfectly. With a choice of fabrics that look natural such as canvases or semi-translucent, satins or even display-type fabrics each can be used to give stunning results. For example one major UK high street women’s retailer uses Knitted Poly 115g polyester for its store window graphics. They hang perfectly allowing natural light into the store and exhibiting the desired imagery when viewed from the outside the store.
There are other examples of digitally printed fabrics on every high street throughout the UK today. Display-type polyester fabrics are very popular as they can create very bold and vivid colours due to the density of the actual fabric couple with the best printing method. With the right type of printing equipment printing on fabric can produce exceptional results especially if using dye-sublimation printing technologies. Other printing technologies can be used but do not generally produce colours that match the vibrancy of dye-sublimation printed polyesters.
The retail sector is without doubt a major consumer of graphics printed on fabrics. This sector will continue to grow in terms of its consumption of digitally printed fabric media. Apart from the wide choice of effects possible another reason is because the graphics at the end of their useful life cycle (in the fashion industry for example spring summer collections replacing winter collections) the graphics can then be recycled. Polyester fabric graphics can be recycled and made into plastic wood for park benches, road cones, kerbs stones and even refuse sacks prolonging the use of the earths valuable resources.
Other reasons include the aesthetics and effects possible when printing on fabric that cannot be achieved on yesterday’s media such as PVC and paper-based media. In-store graphic displays consisting of multiple hangings banners can, by choosing the right polyester fabric with good translucency for example, encourage shoppers to go further into store to look at other products. This is by virtue of the fact that their vision isn’t obscured by paper-based or PVC non-translucent in-store graphics. This is another very good example of printing on fabric.
Article by Chris Drury