Are you Printing on Fabric

The last 10-years has a steady but dramatic increase in advertising and promotional graphics being digitally printed onto a range of polyester fabrics. This raises the question are you printing on fabric yet? Or do you have plans to invest in the near future?

Companies that have invested in print equipment capable of printing on to a wide choice of polyester fabrics are enjoying success with these systems. Fabric prints offer printers a higher revenue stream compared to PVC and this is justified by the graphics possible that are without question more aesthetically pleasing than conventional media. By virtue of the fact that fabrics are often softer and have fantastic handle and drape means they can satisfy a wider choice of applications compared to Hackneyed PVC.

Printers that have invested in dedicated fabric printing systems are able to achieve truly stunning results. Dye-sublimation (paper-transfer and / or direct-to-textile systems) UV and more recently Latex all offer something different in the results achievable. Dye-sublimation is perhaps the best but with greater versatility in ink technology and delivery systems means that UV and Latex are now also capable of printing on fabric.

As dye-sublimation technology has advanced it has brought with it a choice of entry-level systems enabling the financial commitment to be made wisely. In doing so it gives printers the chance to fully evaluate for themselves whether they should then go onto to make a higher investment later in a more sophisticated and advanced system.

There has been an evolutionary development in the production of fabrics to satisfy demand. Some years ago most applications could be satisfied with a very limited choice of fabrics. It was literally flag fabric, a display-quality and perhaps a canvas and that was it. Today though there is a far wider choice available including speciality canvases, backlight fabric, satins and even speciality flag fabrics. All of these have been made possible as a result of growth and demand.

The demand for fabrics is being driven by consumers of print in other words print specifiers and buyers who are now aware of and understand the advantages of printing on fabric. Fabrics can convey the right message about a company or brand and with a rich choice of fabrics available this is possible. Many leading high street brands across a broad product sector – everything from cosmetics to cars, petrol station forecourts to fashion, jewellery to events – to name just a few, choose to have their corporate graphics printed on fabric. One of the other reasons they do this is because the used fabrics at the end of a campaign can also be recycled.

Whether you have already made an investment in a fabric printing system or are considering making this investment the signs are good. Continual and steady growth is certain to continue long into the future as polyester fabrics in particular challenge to replace graphics that were traditionally printed on PVC. The obvious question therefore is printing on fabric will require a commitment and determination to succeed, that the end results will justify but can you afford to ignore it?

Article by Chris Drury

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