November '20

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1 6 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 décor jobs, Compton explains the broader implications of this trend. "With a large portion of the North American workforce working from home, there has been a tremendous increase in custom-printed home décor fabrics, as customers have extra time to focus on their living environments," he explains. The do- it-yourself, aka DIY, market is experienc- ing what Compton says is a "virtual explo- sion in business" for dye-sub printed tex- tiles. This means a whole set of customers looking for custom-printed goods such as upholstery, pillows, curtains, accessories, and even wallcoverings. Roland notes that sublimated home dé- cor offers numerous benefits—both for the producer and the end-user. "With the rise in customization for home décor com- bined with the benefits of dye-sublimation printing, the vibrancy of print detail, quick turnaround time, and low mini- mums, throw pillows and window curtains have become hot products for the industry and a quick way to personalize any living space," she says. For producers interested in tapping into the home décor market with dye-sub tex- tiles, Compton urges them to make sure they're sourcing the proper material. "It is important for print shops to under- stand what true home décor fabrics are," he states. "Some suppliers will classify soft signage fabrics as home décor fabrics." Instead, Compton says, producers should look to textiles explicitly developed for home décor and offer important compo- nents such as stain and soil release coat- ings, Wyzenbeek ratings for rub and abra- sion ink-fastness, as well as flame-retardant certifications. PRODUCTION APPROACHES When it comes to the production of dye- sub textiles, Roland points to one signifi- cant difference between signage and ap- parel. "Banner and signage production obviously use a lot more volume of fabric, whereas for apparel production, there needs to be a focus on finishing, specifically cut- and-sew operations," she says. If they have the expertise and machinery to do the cut-and-sew portion of the opera- tion in-house, shops can move ahead on ap- parel sublimation. Still, if they aren't fully equipped, Roland notes that it's common for businesses to outsource this part of the process. "Either way, this step is more tech- nical and specialized than signage produc- tion," she stresses. As with most production considerations, a shop's goals of high-volume or low- volume printing largely determine how to equip themselves for printing dye-sub textiles correctly. Compton says that high production versus small-run production is primarily focused on printing and finishing equipment available in the market. "Printer manufacturers throughout the industry provide a selection of printers from narrow width up to 16-foot-wide printers with print head and fabric handling tech- nology capable of short-run production to long-run, continuous production at high speeds," says Compton, adding that there Above: Producers can tap retail and foodservice businesses during the COVID-19 era with sublimated goods like this soft-knit barrier. (Image courtesy Fisher Textiles) Below: Color schemes can be used to coor- dinate a full set of home goods with dye-sub textiles. (Image courtesy Mimaki)

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