Mimaki and the Microfactory: From Printing to Manufacturing
For many years, Mimaki (Booths 1231 and 1345) has been a major player in solvent- and eco-solvent based wide-format printing equipment. In recent years, the company has launched units that run the gamut from latex (the JV400LX series) to a widening UV portfolio that ranges from “desktop” units that are ideal for printing ad specialties and three-dimensional objects like smartphone cases, golf balls and YETI cups, to large flatbeds like the JFX200-2531, which received the SGIA Product of the Year Award in the “Best UV Flatbed + White in $100K–$200K” category. Mimaki has also been developing a 3D printing system — the provisionally named 3DUJ-P — various prototypes of which have been popping up at recent shows, and the latest of which is being displayed this week.
Uniting all of these technologies is the concept of the “Microfactory,” the idea that with today’s equipment, graphics professionals can offer a wide variety of printed products and, by leveraging digital printing, different ink sets, finishing processes like cutting and sewing and complementary technologies from third-party vendors, print service providers can tap into the growing on-demand manufacturing market.
For Mimaki, a large part of that on-demand manufacturing centers around digital textiles, and this week the company is demonstrating two of its recent entries onto the dye-sublimation/textile printing market. The first is the TS30-1300 entry-level transfer-based dye-sublimation printer using fluorescent inks. “This 54-inch wide, roll-based model is a dedicated dye-sublimation transfer paper printer ideal for first-time users or design shops producing short-run pieces, samples and custom work for transfer to textiles or hard surfaces,” says Tommy Martin, Product Manager, Textile Business Development Group, North America, at Mimaki USA.
Mimaki is also showing its TX300P-1800 Series direct-to-fabric textile printer, which is available in standard drive and belt drive models. This is a 75-inch model designed to print directly onto fabrics without the use of transfer paper. It is also unique in that it can accept different kinds of inks, allowing it to print on a wide assortment of natural and synthetic fabrics.
The highlight of Mimaki’s booths is educating attendees about the entire textile production workflow. That includes not only printing, but finishing processes such as sewing and seaming, and forming printed fabrics into final products.
At the other end of the workflow, color management and profiling for wide-format — especially for textile printing — is becoming important, as more shops move into these areas. To that end, Mimaki is offering Mimaki SMART (School of Mimaki Applications and Resource Training) classes on profiling with Mimaki RIP solutions for textiles, as well as profiling support for Mimaki customers with RasterLink or TXLink RIP software. “With Mimaki offering such a diverse line of textile inks it is critical for customers to understand profiling for different fabrics,” said Martin.