School of Textiles and Design gets smart with Mimaki

Written by Colin Gillman on 23 February 2017.

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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).

31324263551 1751d32c1c h resizedSenior 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.

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Dedicated to bringing to life the creations, dreams and aspirations of designers around the world, RA Smart has re-defined the ‘art’ of fabric printing and are acknowledged experts in the fields of specialist digital and screen print for the textile industry.

Education at RA Smart

RA Smart is committed to supporting the next generation of designers and actively involved with all UK and Irish design colleges, including The Royal College of Art, London College of Fashion and Central St Martins as well as a little further afield with the likes of The Philadelphia College of Science and Technology, Academy of Arts San Francisco and the Danish Design School in Copenhagen.

Our strong links with education have seen equipment supplied by RA Smart being used by graduates finishing their diplomas and leaving university to embark on a career in design and, in many cases, starting their own business.

Whether it’s a simple hand textile print table that’s required or a complete digital print facility, RA Smart is able to equip design studios of any size, and our expert knowledge of the printed textile and graphics industry means we can work closely with technicians and lecturers to ensure the print equipment supplied meets the requirements of specific courses and any special applications.

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About RA Smart

Based in the silk town of Macclesfield we operate one of the country's largest digital print facilities with the capability to print on cottons/wools/silks and polyesters.

Much of our work can be seen on catwalks around the world and found in leading department stores, working as we do for some of the biggest names in fashion and soft furnishing design. We provide a complete fabric design and print solution for businesses of all sizes, as well as working with all UK design colleges, where we actively support and encourage the next generation of designers.

RA Smart (CAD & Machinery) has been at the forefront of digital textile technology since the early pioneering days of the late 1990’s and can rightly claim to be experts in the supply and support of dedicated textile digital print solutions, partnering with the leading machine manufacturers and installing the latest systems throughout the UK. Covering a vast array of applications including fashion/furnishing/sportswear/household textiles and soft signage we are in a unique position to advise our customers of the various machine solutions, ink chemistries and processes required for any textile application. Not forgetting our heritage as a major supplier of screen printing equipment, we continue to manufacture and supply bespoke equipment to Universities, Colleges and design studios as well as artisan screen printers.

But leading the way in digital print is not all we do: we are actively committed to keeping the ancient art of weave alive, as well as promoting Macclesfield's rich silk producing history around the world. We also continue to support the screen print process and have a large commission screen making capacity and can manufacture and engrave flat screens to any size utilizing the latest wax jet engraving process

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