The printer is a replacement for a Mimaki JV5, the company’s first foray into dye sublimation printing. “We have been printing high quality back lost fabrics on the JV5, but is was too slow,” says director Lee Egan. “Because it might need 12-16 passes under the heads, the output might be down to 30m2/hr The Stitch runs at 1302/hr.”
The company has been able to print fabrics on its Vutek GS UV printer, but without the benefits of the dye sublimation process. The EFI FabriVu was a possibility, but beyond the company’s financial reach. “We have also got a couple of HP Latex 360 printers and in five years we have only had the engineer out once,” he says.
The company produces a lot of backlit prints for tension fabric systems where the dye sublimation process is better suited to these materials than using UV to print direct to fabric. It saw the new machine at Fespa, ran tests in the HP headquarters in Barcelona and checked performance with one of the first US users. And in the first two weeks of use, the new printer has lived up to expectations.
“We have been testing different fabrics to check which performs best,” he says. “We have never seen any banding in the print. In fact it is pretty straightforward and pretty usr friendly. The heat press the most difficult having to understand the shrinkage in the fabric.
“We are now testing a new fabric that is reasonably priced and once printed can be folded up into a delivery bag.”
The printer was supplied by RA Smart, Macclesfield which has an example of the machine in its showroom, providing a comfort factor for Egan. If necessary he says, the supplier can use this as a back up. The acquisition of the printer follows investment in a Blackman & White laser cutting table 18 months ago where the laser is essential for materials that are subject to fraying.
By Gareth Ward
Manchester Print Services added a Blackman & White cutter to improve finishing of inkjet printed fabrics around 18 months ago. Now it has become the first in the country to install the HP Stitch 1000 dye sublimation printer to boost productivity in textile printing.