Talking Textiles with Mike Sanders
There is perhaps no one better equipped to talk about fabric and textile printing than the “Fabric Guru,” Michael Sanders, VP, Apparel Sales, Digital Sales, and Technical Advisor, Pacific Coast Fabrics (Booth 2445). For more than 40 years he has lived and breathed fabrics, and, he says, “there is nothing about fabric I don’t know, no question I can’t answer.”
So what does the SGIA resident guru see as the biggest trends in this space? Digital textile printing, in particular, is where he has seen the most change over the last year. And that change crosses all types of applications, from signage, to backlit displays, to apparel and home furnishings. And he only sees the applications continuing to expand.
“A lot of the new machines have much higher speeds than ever before,” he points out. “And with the introduction of pigments picking up, there are a lot of changes as to what can be done on fabrics, especially blends with pigments.” Blends, in this case, aren’t with colors, but with types of materials — before, only certain types of fabrics could be printed on, and most of those required dye sublimation processes. Today, there are some amazing blends that take the best of cotton and polyester, and put them together in the same substrate. That particular substrate is called Colorado Light, which is launching at SGIA Expo this year, and, Sanders says, “that has the same ‘hand’ as cotton, but with wicking ability of polyester — it is the best of both worlds.”
The rise of pigment digital printers has other benefits that Sanders is watching as well, including the ability to print on less expensive cottons without the need for special coatings. He also points out that pigments don’t have any washoff of the color, so printers know that what they are producing isn’t going to fade as soon as it gets into customer hands. This combination of factors is what is contributing to the rise of applications, like a line of true upholstery fabrics that can be digitally printed and customized by the piece.
Toni McQuilken has been writing and editing for more than a decade. Her work includes B2B publications – both in print and online – in a range of industries, such as print and graphics, technology, hospitality and automotive; as well as behind the scenes writing and editing for multiple companies, helping them craft marketing materials, write press releases and more. She is a self-proclaimed "tech geek" who loves all things technology, and she knows that she is one of a select group of people who get to do what they love for a living.