November '20

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1 4 G R A P H I C S P R O N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M Due to a shifting economy in which many people are working from home and reassessing their living spaces, the DIY home improvement culture has influenced the demand for dye-sub furniture upholstery. (Image courtesy Top Value Fabrics) a built-in liner," Roland says. "By using this (type of ) fabric media, exhibit producers no longer need to sew liners into pillowcase tension signage and save money by not having to purchase additional liner media." In addition to this, Mike Compton, Top Value Fabrics (TVF), says he's seen a trend in recent years of more specialized fabrics that address sus- tainability and backlit fabrics. A call for green-conscious textiles has helped bring products like TVF's Deko-Green, a sublimatable material derived from recycled plastic bottles, to the forefront. Backlit fabrics, meanwhile, were typically demanded for event spaces and trade shows, as well as retail applications like POP and sale signage, Compton explains. With the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, how- ever, he says this trend has shifted signifi- cantly. Since local and regional mandates still restrict many group events, and retail spaces operate at limited capacity, producers and manufacturers have been finding new ways to respond to the demand instead. WHAT'S TRENDING For better or worse, traditional seasonal trends for sublimated textiles have been re- placed with situational factors. The ongo- ing dilemma of dealing with COVID-19 has undoubtedly been daunting, but many companies and shops now offer products that address this issue. Huebner says he and his staff have been making a large number of neck gaiters, which many people continue to use as face masks, and other protective gear. For decorators, this can also present an oppor- tunity to custom-design face masks with any branding a customer might call for— whether that's a company logo, a school sports team, or a specialized slogan. Textile makers have been pivoting to ad- dress COVID-19-related challenges, too. Both TVF and Fisher, as well as others, have been actively producing products to address this demand since the pandemic's height and continue to do so. Roland points out that when the pan- demic hit, Fisher sourced additional face mask and gaiter options. They've since part- nered with HeiQ Materials AG to treat fab- rics with an antimicrobial textile treatment that uses a combination of silver and vesicle technologies to create a hygienic and self- sanitizing fabric for apparel, table throws, and barriers. Similarly, TVF has expanded its dye-sub textiles line with antimicrobial finishes for non-medical PPE, including masks, neck gaiters, gowns, and other products. In line with this, Compton says TVF has also produced textiles featuring enhanced anti-fungicide treatment for medical tents, drive-through testing, and canopies. Dye-sub textiles for signage have also con- tinued trending towards health and safety messaging and applications. Curbside pick- up and social distancing instructional signs are still in constant demand, which provide opportunities for producers to tap into new avenues for medical, retail, and foodservice markets. Like the textiles used on medical tents and drive-through facilities, many of the materials offered by manufacturers fea- ture antimicrobial finishes. Some are even mildew-resistant, making them versatile for outdoor applications. THE DIY IMPACT One of the most significant changes to the job landscape in the U.S. since the pandem- ic began has also significantly impacted the dye-sublimated textiles market, Compton says. As Huebner cited an uptick in home Dye-sublimated textiles have found their way into fashion- forward looks, colors, and designs. (Image courtesy Roland DGA)

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