School of Textiles and Design gets smart with Mimaki
Heriot Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design is one of the UK’s foremost teaching establishments, and its recent investment in additional Mimaki textile printers puts its Textile Design and Fashion undergraduate courses at the cutting edge.
One of the first Mimaki Tx300-1800P direct-to-textile wide format printers to be installed in the UK joins the school’s line-up of Mimaki textile machines and provides its 25 final year Design for Textiles students with the capability to output designs onto a range of fabrics for their Degree Show (pictured above).
Senior Technician, Dr Roger Spark (left), indicates how the printer is a vital addition to the School’s print capabilities. “Our existing Mimaki printers have served us well for over 10 years but with the added capacity of the new Tx300, we’re able to more efficiently deliver the long runs required by our students for their final year collections,” he says. “We offer the potential for not only the Design for Textiles undergraduates to print their work but also the provision of printed fabric for our Fashion students to make into garments in our sewing workshops.”
Citing Heriot Watt’s emphasis on preparing graduates for life in industry, Spark details how effective the courses the school offers are. “Our graduates tend to follow one of two paths,” he says. “Many of them are successful in finding positions in the textile industry but we also see students starting up their own fashion and design businesses, as the footing they gain through the courses we offer stands them in good stead for their careers ahead.”
With programmes geared towards fashion as well as interior design, students benefit from the school’s significant printing capabilities. Along with its three Mimaki printers, the textile department also boasts one of the longest flatbed screen print tables in education and all were installed by specialist Mimaki textile reseller, R A Smart (CAD & Machinery).
“We’re proud of the enduring relationship we share with Heriot Watt,” says the company’s managing director, Magnus Mighall. “Their recent investment in the latest Mimaki textile printer will be of great benefit to the School and its students. Having supplied and supported the university with screen and digital print equipment for over 25 years; seeing their continued drive to deliver industry-ready graduates into the textile and fashion sector remains as satisfying as ever.”
The Mimaki Tx300P-1800 is a 1.8m wide textile printer, which, through using reactive, pigment, acid or disperse inks, can be used to print to cotton, silk, wool and polyester. With production speeds of up to 55sq metres/hour, it is ideal for short to medium run production and its superior print quality lends it perfectly to producing high end fashion, furnishings and other textiles.
With a critical element in textile printing being accurate colour management, Spark is seeing a tangible benefit in Mimaki’s latest reactive inks and profiles. “The School invested in a suite of Apple Macs running AVA design and colouring software a few years ago, and using these in conjunction with the colour profiles provided with the new Mimaki RIP package is delivering superb results.
“We waited for the right machine to come along and the new Tx300P-1800 has fitted in to our print room perfectly,” concludes Spark.
Mimaki set to launch next-gen digital textile printer
Mimaki has announced the launch of a brand-new textile printer; the Tx300P-1800B (Belt). The 1.8 metre wide printer is specifically designed to address the need in the textile and apparel industries for cost-effective, short run printing of textiles for products or samples.
The printer has been designed to print across a wide variety of fabrics, including bulky textured materials, as well as sheer fabric and stretchy materials such as knits. It also eliminates the need for steaming or washing when printing with Mimaki TP400 textile pigment inks, thereby reducing the space required for on-demand textile printing.
“As consumers increasingly turn to the Internet for their shopping needs, we believe they will want to regularly create custom designs and not rely solely on standard designs available in retail outlets,” says Mike Horsten, General Manager Marketing of Mimaki EMEA. “In addition to the need to cost-effectively produce samples and small runs, enterprising garment makers will be looking for solutions that will help them meet this emerging consumer demand. And they will not want their fabric types to be as limited as they are with many digital textile printing solutions today. That’s exactly what the Mimaki Tx300P-1800B belt-type printer was designed to do. Furthermore, while offering a complete set of textile inks, the TP400 textile pigment ink allows customers to produce small runs in-house without the need of steaming or washing.”
Mimaki is offering five different ink types with the Tx300P-1800B. These include; Sb420 Sublimation Dye Ink designed to work perfectly with polyester-based textiles, either direct to fabric or to a sublimation paper for transfer by heat press, which feature a broad colour gamut including a deep and powerful black; Dd400 Dispersion Dye Ink delivering high light-fastness and outstanding build-up on polyester and micro-polyester for sportswear, curtains, outdoor textiles, home textiles and the auto industry and TP400 Textile Pigment Ink; probably the most flexible of all the Mimaki textile inks, with its ability to print to a wide variety of textile types such as polyester, cotton, silk, viscose, rayon and wool. This ink also removes the need for steaming or washing, thus reducing time, cost and potential water pollution. However, it should be noted that a binder or primer is recommended to achieve the quality that both manufacturers and consumers demand.
Also available will be Mimaki’s Rc400 Reactive Dye Ink, suitable for printing on natural fibres, such as cotton, silk and wool. This meets high automotive light-fastness standards but does require pre/post-treatment of the fabrics to prevent fading and bleeding of colour. The results are sharp images and rich, deep colours. The final ink option is Mimaki's Ac400 Acid Dye Ink which is similar to Reactive Dye Ink in that pre/post-treatment of the fabric is needed. These inks produce bright, deep colours in the complete gamut of shades required by the fashion and apparel industry as well as good light- and wet-fastness.
A beginners guide to dye sublimation finishing equipment
There are many different dye sublimation printers on the market from a broad range of manufacturers, and you can find more reviews and articles about them online than you can shake a stick at, but in the dye sublimation world, the finishing of the dye sublimation prints is just as important as the printing, and this means you will need to have a basic understanding of the type of finishing kit you will need to purchase along with that brand new dye sub printer that you have had your eye on for a while.
A lot of dye sublimation printer manufacturers don’t make finishing kit, but it’s this essential item that will bring your finished prints fully to life.
In order to fixate the dyes to the fabric - heat, dwell time and pressure are the key factors, and for this to take place you will need to invest in a high-quality heat press or calendar unit. So if you are seriously considering investing in a dye sublimation printer as an addition to your business service offering, here is a straightforward no nonsense guide to what else you need to consider purchasing before making that initial investment in a dye sublimation printer.
First and foremost, a heat press or calendar unit is used to facilitate the sublimation dye into the fabric. Both of these pieces of equipment house heating components and a part used to apply pressure to the transfer paper and the fabric simultaneously. During this process the dyes turn into gas, and as the gas moves and comes into contact with fibres, it penetrates and permanently dyes them. The dyes will not be fixated unless they are heated and pressed at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time, so this is a really important part of sublimation printing and ensuring you get a good result.
Although the purpose of a heat press and calendar is the same, to fixate the dye, the main difference is scale. Calendar units are used on an industrial scale and are designed for roll to roll sublimating, where as heat presses are designed for individual panels/garments.
Heat presses come in many different sizes and designs and carry varying price tags. Knowing what to look for in terms of a heat press is vital. One of the most important part of choosing a press is to be sure to make the investment for the long term. If you base your decision solely on price, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Whether you're looking for a small tabletop press or a larger press, cheaper models simply don’t offer the same quality or continuous level of heat and pressure that is required. Some of the cheaper presses have lower quality heat blocks made from thinner materials. Although these materials heat up extremely quickly, they also lose heat at a quick rate and therefore fail to maintain an even temperature.
As mentioned earlier, maintaining consistent heat and pressure is vital in producing quality prints. In order to create consistent image transfers from one print to the next, the process needs to be smooth and even. Heat presses need to be heated to around 200 degrees celsius in order for the sublimation dyes to transfer.
Maintaining consistent pressure during the heat transfer process is extremely important. A quality heat press has a heavy platen that generates enough weighted-pressure for a clean heat transfer without any cold spots. Cheaper models lack the necessary platen weight and struggle to maintain transfer consistency. Presses that have heavier platens may initially take longer to heat up, but they maintain a regular heat and ensure that each press has the same consistency when it comes to colour and quality of image.
Some heat presses may look the part and look really high-tech, but the worry is that underneath that may not be the case. It is important to do your research and ask dealers and manufacturers the right questions to ensure you have all the information. Another tip is to look at the wattage of the heat press, the higher the wattage the better.
When purchasing a heat press or calendar there are many factors you need to consider. For heat presses, you need to consider size, the type of heating element and warranties. Be sure to know what size you need to meet your requirements - and ensure it matches your printer. Look for a press with high quality heating elements that will deliver even heat consistently. Generally you should expect at least a one year warranty for your heat press, as well as training and installation guidance.
For calendars the factors differ slightly, you should consider width, capacity, length of the printing belt and how the drum is heated. The width should match the output of device you use. With regards to capacity, the diameter of the drum that is heated determines the speed of the calendar. The bigger the diameter, the faster you will be able to produce graphics. Most calendar units are heated with a drum filled with oil. The benefit to oil heated drums is that they produce very even heat and the temperature remains stable. Electric heated drums can cause hot spots in the fabric, so that is something else to bear in mind.
This might sound a tad complicated, but this is where having a supplier partner that you can rely upon comes fully into its own.
At Sabur we have seen major changes in the sublimation print industry and a shift from the traditional “Screen Print” to “Digital” was evident at the turn of the century. Sabur were there through this transitional period and are recognised by many as among the leaders in digital sublimation supplies. We are proud partners of market leading companies including Roland DG, Mimaki, Kornit, DGI, Kiian Digital (Manoukian), Klieverik, Sefa, Ergosoft and Wasatch, and our trusted partner portfolio enables us to tailor make the ideal solution to best suit your business requirements.
Whether you are thinking of investing in a dye sublimation printer, or choosing a heat press or a calendar for finishing, Sabur has it covered.
Mimaki to launch 3.2m one-stop solution direct sublimation inkjet printer
Mimaki is set to launch a new 3.2 m-wide direct sublimation inkjet printer model - Tx500P-3200DS - in January 2017. The printer features a built in, in-line heat fixation unit that Mimaki says significantly reduces production time through the simultaneous performance of two operations; printing and colour fixation.
With a print speed capability of up to 130m² per hour, the company says the Tx500P-3200DS is ideal for the production of samples as well as large batch production with short delivery times.
“Direct sublimation transfer printing requires the fixing of printed inks through heating, and this machines ability to deliver this at the same time as printing removes a step in the traditional process, speeding up the operation, saving valuable time and enabling both short-run bespoke commissions and large scale production runs to be achieved with equal efficiency,” says Hybrid Services Stephen Woodall.
Aware that the textile industry is moving ever-larger volumes from analogue to digital printing in order to meet market demand for the growing number of small lot orders and shortened cycle times, Mimaki says the new Tx500P-3200DS was specifically designed to meet these requirements in both segments, as well as increased demand for digitally printed textiles in home décor, including extra-wide fabrics for draperies, linens and upholstery. The improved productivity benefits of the new printer will also make it ideal for meeting the growing demand created by custom orders requiring a speedy turnaround, received via the Internet by print providers.
Versatility is the watchword where the Tx500P-3200DS is concerned with the company stating that the new printer will be suited to a wide array of textile printing, including soft signage, customised apparel, and fabrics for home décor and furnishings.
Feeds and speeds geeks will be pleased to see that the printer can knock out print at speeds of up to 130m²/hour in 4-colour print mode and up to 105m²/hour in 6-colour mode at 720 x 1080 dpi using 12 print heads in a staggered 3-line array. The in-line heat fixation unit, capable of generating temperatures of up to 200°C, ensures the machine is able to perform its full ‘single-step’ print and fixation process even at the highest operational speeds.
According to Magnus Mighall of textile printing specialist supplier RA Smart, the arrival of the new Tx500P-3200DS can’t come quickly enough. “This promises to be an extremely popular printer. There has been so much interest in it that we have taken at least ten pre orders already,” he says.
Exclusively distributed in the UK and Ireland by Hybrid Services Ltd, the first machines are expected to be shipped in January 2017. In the meantime, Hybrid Services is offering a two year warranty on the Mimaki TS300P-1800 1.8m production dye sublimation printer.
RA Smart to launch new LaForte Studio textile printers from Aleph
Textile printing specialist supplier RA Smart is set to launch the latest digital textile printing innovations from Italian manufacturer Aleph.
The soon to be released LaForte Studio range of systems will be introduced in the 4th quarter of 2016. RA Smart envisage these systems will have great appeal in the UK marketplace with a combination of innovative Italian design and uncompromising engineering taken from the LaForte Industrial range and introduced into a cost effective solution for both dye sublimation and direct to textile printing at 180cm, 220cm and 320cm print widths.
According to RA Smart managing director Magnus Mighall RA Smart has partnered Aleph for nearly 20 years and has a long and successful relationship. “The New LaForte Studio systems will be available towards the end of 2016 at both 180cm and 320cm print width for direct to textiles and dye sublimation,” he says. “Both printers offer the same level of manufacturing quality and design as the LaForte Industrial range with an extremely attractive price point which is sure to appeal to a wide range of our customers.”
Both systems will appeal to a wide range of sectors including soft signage, apparel, sportswear, home furnishing etc.
“With a full range of textile ink chemistries to complement the printers as well as finishing solutions for both natural and synthetic fabrics available from RA Smart, the LaForte range of systems will certainly have a widespread appeal across the industry sectors. The LaForte printers fit perfectly in the range of solutions RA Smart already offer from all our manufacturing partners so we can offer the best possible solution without compromise at every level of productivity to meet the demands of our customers,” he says.
Formed in 1999 in Como, Italy, the heart of Italian Textile Manufacturing, the Aleph Team have unparalleled experience in the world of digital textiles including writing proprietary textile software and manufacture, supply and support of dedicated digital textile solutions.
With 50 years of experience of textile printing and nearly 20 years experience in textile digital printing, RA Smart has the knowledge and expertise to advise and support new and existing customers at every level from new start-up business through to large commercial and industrial printers.
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