Sign & Digital Graphics

November '12

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Leather FX offers a pro- cess called "digital image transfer" for imaging onto leather products such as this leather fash- ion jacket. The process can even be used to image onto snake- skin. (Images courtesy of Leather FX) Bill Schiffner is a free- lance writer/editor based in Holbrook, N.Y. He has covered the imaging indus- try for 25 years and has reported on many evolving digital imaging technologies including wide- format printing and newer electronic digital signage. He was the editor for a number of imaging publications and websites. He can be reached at bschiffner@optonline.net. L eather is probably one of the oldest and mostly widely utilized materi- als for making clothing, shoes, purses and scores of other everyday items. In 2012 this durable and flexible media is continuing to make inroads in the digital printing market. Recent developments in digital printing technology are pro- viding print shops with new options to produce a vibrant array of one-of-a-kind custom products. Today, digital printing graphics onto leather provides a variety of applications for a diverse cross section of niche markets, from high-end fashion wear and accessories to specialty items to automotive and home interiors. Printing onto Leather Room for Growth In the United States, the market demand for "digital leather" is still in its infancy but there is plenty of room for growth. New processes for imaging onto leather goods opens niche markets for output providers BY BI LL SC H I F FNE R "Right now European countries such as Italy seem to be the hot spots for digital printing onto leather. The fashion designers in Europe have fully embraced the digital leather concept. That's a major reason for its suc- cess overseas," says Paul McGovern, national sales manager IP/TA, Mimaki USA, Suwanee, Ga. "Right now the U.S. is still a fairly untapped market and one we intend to heavily target going forward," he adds. "The capability to out- put onto leather gives print businesses an entry into a number of new markets, most 60 • November 2012 • SIGN & DIGITAL GRAPHICS SPECIALTY IMAGING DIGITAL GRAPHICS

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