Sign & Digital Graphics

November '12

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notably the specialty advertising market. Right now, we are seeing the majority of printing that is being done on leather for customization of promotional items such as leather bracelets, key chains, cov- ers for laptops, iPods and iPads as well as other accessories," adds Hiroshi Ono, group product manager, Roland DGA Corp., Irvine, Calif. "Within the specialty advertising industry, there is a demand for customized products across many applications and substrates, including leather. Digital printing is a very efficient solution for this type of product decora- tion, and businesses that have the right digital printer can profit from offering custom-printed leather goods." New Technologies In the past, output providers had been using screen printing and dye-sublima- tion inkjet printing onto leather, but now more economical technologies are help- ing change the playing field. Last year, LexJet rolled out a prod- uct called Infinium which it describes as a "fully transportable" graphic print medium with laminate and adhesive built into one conformable material. Developed by Sarasota, Fla.-based Avatrex, Infinium is compatible with low-solvent, solvent, and latex ink sys- tems; and can be applied to virtually any surface, including irregular surfaces and curves, using heat, water or a primer. However, "The killer application for this product is leather," says Jeff Leto, prod- uct manager at LexJet. "By printing to leather, output providers can charge a premium price for these services." According to Leto, this technology enables on-demand mass customization of leather products by providing a pho- tographic image quality, no change to the feel of the material, and improved durability compared to sublimation- printed leather. "Fully transportable means that, with Infinium, you can print the same mate- rial with the same image on the same printer for use in multiple applications," Leto says. "This conformable material gives you the ability to take the graphic Bill Cardwell of C&C Custom Drums utilized Infinium to decorate custom drums for the clos- ing ceremonies of this summer's Olympic Games. (Images courtesy of LexJet.) anywhere you want onto virtually any substrate and image it." He explains that Infinium is printed in reverse and applied to the substrate. "It's a clear material," Leto says. "You reverse print onto it and apply it face- down on the substrate. And, depending on whether the graphic is temporary or permanent, you apply it using either water, heat or a primer. This process is a new way of thinking. You can print on the transportable coating so you are not married to a particular substrate any- more. It's a big departure. Now you don't have to worry about what substrate you print on." Leto also reports that a number of businesses out there that are using this process for some interesting applica- tions. He says that one consumer com- pany, Shoe Attitude, allows consumers to decorate their sneakers with graphic designs at home. "Infinium is the eco-solvent and sol- vent version and LexJet has the exclusiv- ity. Shoe Attitude uses the aqueous prod- uct and they have the exclusivity for that application," he adds. SIGN & DIGITAL GRAPHICS • November 2012 • 61

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