By Lisa Guerriero
Part 1 of 2
Printing on fabric presents unique challenges. Some print providers limit the type of jobs they handle, specializing in select applications. Other firms accept a variety of requests, working with diverse textiles, shapes, and environments.
Rose Brand, based in Secaucus, NJ, maximizes its equipment and media to print output that appears everywhere from Broadway theaters to universities and special events.
Second Act for Rose Brand
Digital printing helped transform Rose Brand from a small rag and cloths maker and seller to a provider of custom fabrications and soft goods. Founded in 1921, the company evolved when customers in the theater community began requesting customized fabric for stage curtains and backdrops.
Rose Brand became a customer manufacturer and supplier over the years, providing printed fabric as well as hardware, paint, and other consumables. It introduced wide format technology in 1997 for a job for Ragtime on Broadway and today celebrates a constant flow of digital printing jobs.
Theater work comprises about a third of the business, from Cirque du Soleil to smaller shows. The remainder is varied, including museums, houses of worship, photo shoots, contractors, and colleges.
Rose Brand employs over 200. It handles jobs throughout North America and worldwide. A 150,000 square foot location on the East Coast and a 40,000 square foot facility on the West Coast contain printing operations as well as the company’s fabrication and inventory areas and offices.
The company uses a three-meter DuPont Artistri printer with DuPont Artistri disperse dye inks and Caldera RIP software. The Artistri is a key piece of equipment because it handles a variety of soft fabric jobs, says Michael Reed, director of digital printing, Rose Brand.
“We’ve got demand across the gamut,” he notes. “Our goal is to understand our customer’s needs and try to match them up with the right material and process.”
The printer offers ideal saturation and resolution, and “gives us a huge range of possibilities,” adds Reed.
Aberdeen Fabrics, Inc., Fisher Textiles, and Ultraflex Systems, Inc. are some of Rose Brand’s media suppliers, allowing it to choose the ideal textile for the job—whether it’s a tension fabric display or a roll-up banner.
“Most of our customers are looking for a fabric that is soft, drapes well, and installs without wrinkles,” explains Reed.
The company also uses a Durst Image Technology US LLC Rho. However, Reed says substrates that come off of the UV printer tend to be stiffer and they find print with UV ink don’t hang as well. This means that they aren’t a good fit for some jobs, especially those for entertainment and theater clientele.
One of the challenges of working with textiles is the graphics, observes Reed. Rose Brand focuses on production rather than design. Clients sometimes have excellent graphics, but they don’t translate as well to fabric.
“Fabric isn’t like printing on vinyl. It moves during and after the printing process,” notes Reed.
The company works closely with customers from the beginning, including providing textile samples and advice on artwork. That way, it can adjust the graphics to suit the pull, stretch, or tension of the fabric.
Meeting Variety with Versatility
Rose Brand demonstrates its versatility with an annual job, the AJC Global Forum, which is held at different venues every year. The company works with Triple A Studios, a boutique firm that designs the project.
Ernesto Gomez, project manager, Rose Brand, works with Aryn Chapman, principal, Triple A Studios. Together, they plan the best way to convert the AJC’s graphics into printed signage, branding, decoration, and wayfinding graphics.
The job entails varied output, including fabric for freestanding, 3D stretch shapes and adhesive vinyl for the sides of escalators.
Working with unique displays is challenging, especially for stretch shapes like the funnel-type branding used at the 2014 forum. The team must ensure the fabric is sewn perfectly to adhere to the shape and the artwork lines up precisely. You have to be willing to reprint—it is part of the job, notes Reed.
Rose Brand uses Fisher Textiles’ DD 7808 Power Stretch for the stretch shapes. “It gives us the flexibility we need to create these shapes,” he explains.
The process takes about three months from the initial contract to installation, and with installation taking place about three weeks after file submittal.
After working with the AJC for several years, Rose Brand knows what the client wants.
“Their goal is always to come up with something new,” says Reed.
Triple A Studios and the AJC gives Rose Brand a chance to show its printing skills by creating fresh, varied textile prints in a different venue annually.
“I think the fact that we have done this with Triple A Studios for a few years speaks for itself. Everyone is pleased with the final results,” notes Reed.
A Prospect for Printing
Textiles present a wealth of opportunity for digital printing. Rose Brand goes beyond commonplace output like banners, using fabric for varied and high-volume jobs. Carefully choosing the right equipment and media allows the company to produce high-quality, unique prints.
The next part in this series highlights another company and its insights into the benefits of digital fabric printing.
Jul2015, Digital Output DOUF1507