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.
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!