Sign & Digital Graphics

March '18

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84 • March 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • For dye-sublimation, Berger Eco is heavy-knit with a water-repellant coat- ing. • Waterproof for dye-sublimation, Berger E Z tent has a textured front providing a nice printing surface with a waterproofing backside. Awning Ink Options Selecting the right material is just as important as the selection of ink to retain depth of color over time. "For the awning application, the proper ink must be used to allow for stretch and durability," Guyett says. "The awning will be hit with direct sun, snow and all inclement weather." The ink can fade if the material is out- doors for a long period of time or if it is constantly in direct sunlight, Guyett says. "The only issue with long-term via- bility is ink and material lasting with the weather," he says. Weathertyte PLUS is easily printable for graphic images, logos and lettering, receptive to various ink types, such as solvent, eco-solvent and latex, and to pressure-sensitive films, Douglas says. To give the graphics greater outdoor longevity, a clear performance topcoat is applied, such as 3 M and Akzo Nobel, for graphics digitally printed onto the awning, he says. Latex, for example, employs a colo- rant that is suspended in a liquid and propelled through an inkjet printer to print onto the vinyl and other materi- als, Fisher says. The challenge of using inks like latex and ultraviolet is the media they can be printed upon being durable enough for the outdoors, he says. "Traditional awning materials are solution-dyed fabrics," Fisher says. "The printing technology can determine what application they can serve." Instead of direct printing onto the awning, an appliqué with the graphic image or logo is printed and then placed on top of the material, Fisher says. The image is printed on a piece of vinyl and applied to the awning as a second step, he says. "The decorating is happening via appliqué right now," Fisher says. "It's tougher and a lot of awning materials that are available are not suitable for direct printing." Digital Printing However, direct printing onto the awning is becoming an emerging mar- ket, Fisher says. "It really is dependent on the mate- rial and the ink getting better and the fabrics getting better for durability that an awning demands," Fisher says. In spring 2018, Fisher Textiles plans to release an awning fabric suitable for digital printing, Fisher says. The fabric will be coated to accept latex and UV ink, while also being durable, he says. It also will be scratch and UV-resistant after the printing, he says. "There's a desire for awnings to be directly digitally printed and this fills that gap," Fisher says. "Right now, there are not a lot of options for textiles that will hold up in the outdoors." Direct printing can be done digitally, allowing for large format color and pro- cess graphics. Digital printing can be done in house at the awning fabricator or farmed out to a printer, a wholesaler or a sign company with a digital printer. The images are printed roll-to-roll in large format with professional sewing and finishing. "All ink types are being used: solvent, eco solvent, UV and latex," Fisher says. Durst Image Technology is able to print on a wider format without wrin- kling, Guyett says. "We build machines to handle roll- able and rigid media consistently and with proper registration due to indus- trial media handling, tensioning and transferring technology," he says. "Our focus is on industrial media handling of the material coupled with robust printing technology to precisely print to media used in awning applications, all the while producing exceptional print output." SDG

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