ImageData Group has started to operate a new Durst Rho 512 at its Howden large format display print factory.
The 5-metre wide machine will address a growing demand for backlit display screens printed on fabric, says Paul Price, IDG managing director for the retail sector.
“We have seen the change over where large retailers want to migrate to stretch fabric light boxes,” he says. “We needed a machine that could produce these at high quality.”
His research led to consideration of a specialist dye sublimation machine which would have to be dedicated to fabric printing rather than be able to cope with existing jobs while demand grew. Then Durst demonstrated a new flexible ink that could be used to print direct to fabric with none of the problems associated with more rigid UV inks.
“We can print with this, fold or crunch the fabric up then once it’s opened back up on the stretch frame the creases drop out without problem,” he says. “You can’t do that with conventional inks. The flexible ink allows us to compete with dye sub printing.”
The roll to roll printer runs with 12pl variable sized droplets to give the quality needed on the one hand and speed on the other and it can run with PVCs, papers, films and other substrates which the dye sub machine could not. It has a seven-colour ink set which includes white “which means there are a lot of options” he says.
This mitigates the risk because while fabric displays are becoming a large market, demand is not yet enough to justify a dedicated machine. “We already have work contracted to it,” says Price, “and have installed two Matic Cronos Ultima Pro sewing machine for finishing. My hope is to get to these large volumes.” The company already has a team able to install graphic displays at the customer site.
It is the company’s fourth Durst machine, running alongside an Inca Onset X3 which was installed a year ago.
Price says: “These two new additions mean that we can deliver the highest quality graphics printed on a wider range of substrates, faster than ever before.”
The 5 metre wide roll to roll printer can cope with conventional substrates as well as the fabrics that ImageData has bought the machine to handle. This is thanks to a flexible UV ink that does not crack or splinter when the material is folded or man-handled.
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