November '21

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1 2 G R A P H I C S P R O N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 1 G R A PH I C S - PR O.C O M (Image cour- tesy Epson) PURPOSE-BUILT PRINTERS LEAD THE WAY TO HIGHER MARGINS Textile Dye- Sublimation Printing Comes Into its Own B Y P A U L A A V E N G L A D Y C H D ye-sub printing on textiles is a growing part of the industry be- cause its applications are vast. From soft signage to clothing to furniture and sports equipment, the pos- sibilities are endless. Throughout this ar- ticle, you'll see many examples of what can be done with a dye-sub printer, and in many cases, it's far easier to produce than the fantastic end products would lead you to believe. THE FIRST DYE-SUB PRINTERS In the early days of dye-sublimation, it was a struggle for print shops to get into it because there were no dedicated printers specifically for that task. "Everything was Frankenstein'd," accord- ing to Gary Barker, Digital Technology Group. "You would retrofit your printer, use someone else's ink or another piece of software. Today, several manufacturers are now manufacturing their own dye- sublimation printers, their own inks and pairing them with known software. It is a lot easier for the end-user to get good consistent quality, and just the workflow process is much more streamlined." Tim Check, Epson America, agrees, saying that over the past decade, the dye- sublimation market moved from "cobbled photo and CAD printers to purpose-built sublimation printers with consistent out- put and high reliability." The equipment available in 2021 ranges in output volume from sampling size to high-volume digital production, while the cost of equipment has come down, along with the operating costs, to only be "a small portion of the overall cost of the apparel production," he says. Epson has seen growth with digital tex- tile print applications, and over the past 18 months, "there has been a shift from in-store to online purchasing. As such,

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