Epson’s new dye-sublimation printers enter the market for ink-jet printed fabric

Blognosticator Head

My friends at Epson were showing a couple of new ink-jet printers at PRINT13, printers which are designed to fit into the fabric printing industry.

I’m working on a project right now that involves dye-sublimation printing, and I was impressed by Epson’s new offerings. The company has two, which are the 64-inch-wide SureColor SC-F7000, and a 44 inch version of the same printing technology.

Epson fabric printer

The Epson dye-sublimation printer at PRINT13. The company was printing on dye-sub paper, and showing examples of fabric transferred from the paper. These printers feature roll take-up, and very large ink reservoirs (on the extreme right end of the photo).

My project will be described in a blog in the near future; it’s a major development for me, and I will share it with the world in a week or two. Part of that project will be some large sheets of Lycra fabric sublimated from paper imaged an ink-jet dye-sublimation printer.

Though I have toured the plant that will be doing my printing, and I have seen numerous dye-sublimation devices at the trade shows, I have not done much of this kind of printing myself. That’s about to change.

Dye-sublimation printing on fabrics is done by imaging backwards onto paper, then pressing that material against a synthetic fabric – Lycra polyester is the most common – and applying heat to the sandwich. The heat activates the dyes, creating a gaseous state to occur. The colorants in their gaseous state are then transferred to the polyester material. The result is a colorfast image with brilliant color, tremendous saturation, and reasonable resolution (limited by the weave of the fabric itself).

At PRINT, the Epson 64-inch dye-sublimation printer was printing fabric images onto paper, which was then rolled-up onto a take-up spool. The company did not have the transfer press at the show – that comes from another manufacturer – but they did have many beautiful samples to share with visitors to their booth.

Also on display at the show was a one-off shirt printer that uses fabric inks to image onto cotton and cotton-blend T shirts. That printer is capable of printing short-run production. The demonstrations of that printer were also impressive. The color looked beautiful, and the speed seemed to be reasonable for making one-off or short-run T shirt runs.

I’m looking forward to telling you about my big dye-sublimation printing project. Keep an eye on The Blognosticator to learn about it!

About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is a Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
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2 Responses to Epson’s new dye-sublimation printers enter the market for ink-jet printed fabric

  1. What is the difference between Bachelor of environmental design (architecture) and bachelor of design?

    • Brian Lawler says:

      In the case of our university, a Bachelor of Environmental Design is from one department, Architecture and Environmental Design, while the other, a Bachelor of Design connotes a degree in fine art, specifically Applied Art & Design.

      In our university, this could be graphic design, or it could be one of several applied arts including painting, ceramics, sculpture or photography.

      Brian

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