Sign & Digital Graphics

September '19

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46 • September 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S TEXTILE there certain flame-retardant standards the fabric must meet that are required by the venue? What about visual properties, does it need to have a sheen or matte surface, translucent or opaque? Will the fabric need to be washed on a continu- ous basis? If used outdoors, does it need to be water resistant? If indoors, does it need acoustic properties? Ask the ques- tions before deciding on a media because these need to be explored before a fabric is chosen for the job. Characteristics of the fabric itself will dictate how it is printed, cut and sewn. Fabrics need a specialized treatment for direct printing based on the printer's ink type (disperse, latex, solvent). However, no treatment is needed for dye-sublimation (print to paper, then sublimated with a heat press) or UV-curable print- ing. For finishing, woven fabrics fray when cut, so the edges will need to be sealed with laser cutters, sonic knives or sewn. Knit fabrics do not fray when cut, so they can be cold cut in addition to the cutting options available for woven fabrics. The percent- age of stretch in both a fabric's roll length and roll width will determine how much tension needs to be applied when printing. Stretch also is a huge factor in sewing to ensure the best fit with nothing loose or drooping to interrupt the visual aesthetic of the finished piece. Since there is a seemingly endless supply of digitally printable fabric options, most all fabric suppliers will strongly recommend testing, printing and prototyping prior to making a final fabric selection. Finding the right fabric is a trial and error process and the constant introduction of new printers and new fabrics into the industry keeps everyone on their toes. One thing is certain, the digital print industry is evolving and thriving, and we are glad to be along for the ride. SDG

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