Sign & Digital Graphics

January '17

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36 • January 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S DIGITAL PRINTING AND FINISHING DIGITAL GRAPHICS cially in the last two years. That means end users are paying more attention to whether the fabric stretches or doesn't stretch, if it is matte or satin finish and the different opacity levels. Silicon edge graphic frames are a big part of the architectural movement. "Those are getting placed on walls where maybe paintings were being put before," Fisher says. Some companies will use large SEG frames as walls between rooms. They want to be able to put fabric on both sides of the wall and light them from the front. That's where the opacity and texture of the fabric really comes into play, he says. Fisher Textiles is also seeing some need for anti-microbial coatings for tex- tiles because many of them end up on the walls of restaurants or the fabric is made into shower curtains. Latex Printing LexJet's Mask says that the trends for soft signage for digital are starting to shift. Trade show graphics have shifted to fabric. In the past, people printed the graphics with dye sublimation, UV cur- able and direct to textile systems. "One of the major downfalls in the latex market was durability, compared to dye sublimation," she says. LexJet offers a new material called EnduraFab Frontlit Premier, which was designed specifically for use with third-generation HP latex inks. "You can get that look of and feel of other competing products with different technologies with a latex printer now," she says. In the past, materials printed with latex inks would show scratches or white breaks where the material was folded. "This technology allows the ink to adhere with the fabric material and you don't have a scratching issue at all. You can fold and do everything you do with dye sub fabric," she says. It also has a nice hand and excellent drape capabilities. The material also passed a wash cycle test, meaning it didn't fade after five washings. Typically, a fabric that was printed on a latex printer would have to be run through a heat press before it could be washed. "You have to affix the inks to the material. With this specific product, you don't necessarily need to do that," Mask says. The reason this technology is impor- tant is that print runs on a latex printer are shorter and don't take as much labor to complete. Dye sublimation requires transfer paper, a heat press and printer. "This is a game changer for our latex users," she says. "In our signage world, you can produce a lot more on latex than on a dye sub printer. There's still room for dye sub too. It depends on where your focus is coming up in the next few years and what choice you are going to make as a business owner." Scratch Resistence Top Value Fabrics, Carmel, Indiana, is also working on coatings for fabric that make latex ink more scratch-resistant and more durable. The company has a com- mercial product on the way. It will be a little stiffer but similar to dye-sublima- tion, says Mike Compton, product mar- keting manager for Top Value Fabrics. "Where you get an advantage with latex is it is such a media-friendly product and totally environmentally safe. It does away with eco-solvent and solvent that are not as environmentally friendly," he adds. The coating helps the ink adhere to the fabric better and makes the ink scratch and scuff-resistant. "We've made many of our fabrics, the majority of our fabrics, friendly for any type of ink set. That's what customers Fisher's GF 4395 Semi-Glossy Art Canvas contains 65% Polyester, 35% Cotton and has a semi-glossy and natural white finish. Its poly/cotton blend gives just the right amount of stretch for excellent resiliency when wrapped over stretcher bars or frames.

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