Dedicated Followers of [Digital] Fashion
One company that has been at the forefront of the dye-sublimation textile printing market has been Epson, with its SureColor F series of dye-sub printers. Epson’s (Booth 1301) booths have highlighted not only the full range of Epson’s hardware offerings (not just in textiles, but in photo printing, technical printing, vehicle graphics and many other applications), but also the full transfer-based dye-sub textile printing workflow, with Epson partner companies demonstrating heat presses and other post-printing processes to produce finished products.
This week, Epson is showing, for the first time, its new SureColor F9370 64-inch textile printer designed to deliver high-speed, reliable productivity for transfer-based dye-sublimation for a range of textile and apparel applications. The new printer delivers industrial-level production with speeds up to 1,169 sqft/hr and features an integrated new fabric wiping system coupled with an advanced roll-to-roll media support system to accommodate a greater variety of transfer papers. Designed to support high-speed, economical, medium- to large-volume dye-sublimation transfer printing, the SureColor F9370 replaces the SureColor F9200 to join Epson’s complete line of SureColor F-Series printers.
“We are seeing increased interest in digital textile, from traditional textile printers looking at ways to increase profitability and offer greater capabilities, to their customers,” says Tim Check, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America Inc. “We are also seeing interest from entrepreneurial-type customers looking to offer on-demand personalized apparel.”
Although inkjet textile printing is growing in a number of different areas — soft signage, décor and others — Check sees apparel as the biggest growth area.
“There is a dramatic shift in the apparel market from mass producing for an entire season to smaller production runs that will only be in stores for as little as two weeks,” he says. “The smaller production runs allow retailers to constantly have new designs in store to keep customers coming back, as well as reducing excess inventory.”
The growing demand for on-demand printing, faster and faster turnaround, while at the same time not compromising image and color quality, is paralleling — and perhaps being driven by — the improved capabilities of digital inkjet hardware and its surrounding ecosystem. “Digital inkjet textile printing continues to improve in both efficiency and productivity,” says Check. “Today’s digital printers, like the Epson SureColor F9370, are designed to increase performance, efficiency and reliability, allowing customers to produce output across a broader range of applications with unprecedented color performance.” At the same time, speed and production cost improvements move the point at which digital inkjet becomes appropriate for production runs that would traditionally have been suitable for analog technologies. In many cases, digital can become more cost-effective for longer and longer runs.
This isn’t an area likely to slow down, at least in the foreseeable future. “I believe we will continue to see strong double-digit growth in digital inkjet textile printing for the next several years as a result of the need for textile product to get to market faster and the demand by end customers for unique products that are not mass produced,” says Check.