Digital textile printing is currently one of the fastest growing textile related technologies. The lab specialises in printing natural fibre materials and is home to both a Shima Seiki SIP 160F flatbed digital printer and a Mutoh Valuejet 1628TD roll to roll printer enabling us to print fabric piece lengths, panels, made-up garments and products including knitwear, and continuous lengths of printed fabric. Digital printing opens up vast opportunities to create customised products with a distinctive point of difference. The benefits of digital printing are numerous: there are no limits to the number of colours within a single design, there are no set up processes and associated costs, turnaround time is extremely quick, designs can easily be recoloured and rescaled, and the process is far kinder on the environment due to the use of process colour and the ability to employ ‘engineered printing’ techniques to significantly reduce waste material. The lab uses water soluble reactive dyes, which produce vibrant durable prints.
The lab is home to 2 digital textile printing systems: its original Shima Seiki SIP 160F flatbed printer is capable of printing made-up garments and products, panels and short lengths of fabric. Its most recent addition, a Mutoh 1628TD Valuejet roll to roll printer, has continuous printing capability with excellent print definition. Both printers use water soluble reactive dyes that produce vibrant and durable prints that do not affect the handle of the fabric.
Ancillary equipment including a pre-treatment machine for garment preparation, a steam fixation unit, wet finishing room and rotary press support the lab’s digital printing capabilities.
Design development: Designs for digital printing can be created from digitised hand drawn artworks, CAD drawings and imagery, and digital photographs. Imagery can be created in any programme so long as the resultant image file is to our specifications. For those who would like to learn about designing for digital textile printing, we strongly recommend attending one of our design-based short courses.
Print file specifications: It is vital that digital print files are delivered to us in the correct format. The specifications required are as follows:
- Create files in RGB colour (8 bits/channel)
- Use 150 ppi (pixels per inch) as the file resolution
- Scale the image to the size of the intended print
- Save as a .tif file
The size of the print files are likely to be too large to attach to an email so we suggest they are sent to us on a disc or USB drive, or uploaded to a file sharing website such as Dropbox or HighTail.
Test prints: We strongly recommend having test prints done before going ahead with larger quantities. Test prints enable you to assess the printed colours on the fabric of your choice bearing in mind that the colours that you see on your screen will differ to those on the material.
Colour matching: Providing your imagery consists of a relatively low number of colours, each of the colours can be matched to a Pantone reference number or colour fabric swatch supplied to us. Colour charts for matching purposes can be supplied by us if required. Time spent on colour matching is chargeable.
Turnaround: Turnaround time varies according to workload, which is normally at its peak between August and November. We normally require about a week outside of this period.
Our fabrics: We stock a range of natural fibre materials consisting of cottons, linens, merino wools, silks and viscose. See fabric swatch card.
Your fabrics: We will only accept fabrics for printing if they have been prepared specifically for digital printing with water soluble reactive dyes. Such fabrics are unlikely to be available locally but we can suggest overseas suppliers if required.
Garments/products: We will test print your garments/products to ensure that they are compatible with our printing processes before undertaking any commitments. Test prints are chargeable.
Minimum orders: One of the major benefits of the digital printing processes is that there are no set up processes and associated costs. We do not therefore need to apply minimum quantities and will happily print fabric pieces from A4 size and upwards.
Maximum orders: The lab is geared towards printing modest quantities whether for development, sampling or production purposes. If your needs exceed our capabilities, we will endeavour to suggest an appropriate commercial printer for you.
As there are no set up charges, you are charged only for the quantity of fabric printed. Please contact us for our current price list.