By Cassandra Balentine
Dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printing processes—both transfer and direct—are well suited for soft graphics destined for silicone edge graphic (SEG) displays. This is because the inks embed into the textile, maintaining the original stretch and feel of the media.
While dye-sub is typically compatible with fabrics designed for SEG applications, Ken Bach, business development director, Aberdeen Fabrics, Inc., admits it is always important to consider the specific characteristics and printing conditions to ensure the desired stretch and other performance properties are maintained. “Working closely with fabric and printing experts can help achieve the best results for your specific project,” he suggests.
We’ve asked SEG display providers as well as textile vendors to share highlights of their products and services.
A display provider, Orbus also offers trade printing for its SEG displays. “We partner with fabric manufacturers that can guarantee optimal output and quality for dye-sub printing. We have an extensive quality control process that evaluates material quality, defects, and imperfections. This evaluation process ensures that Orbus prints on the best possible fabrics to enable our dealers and their end clients to visually communicate successfully in events, workplace interiors, and retail environments,” shares Megan Hardison, director of graphics operations, Orbus Visual Communications.
The fabric material is not the only factor that differentiates Orbus from the competition. “The careful selection of fabrics, along with a long-standing commitment to printing color accurate graphics per the G7 certification, and our continuous investment in state-of-the-art print technology ensures that Orbus produces graphics that are head-and-shoulders better the competition,” adds Hardison.
Another display provider, Expand International of America, shares that all of its SEG fabrics are printed with transfer dye-sub. “These include stretch fabrics form our frame systems, backlit fabric,s and outdoor fabrics,” comments David Nanamaker, national sales manager, Expand International of America.
“We use the latest printer/RIP technology paired with custom media profiles for high resolution and high color fidelity prints,” shares Nanamaker.
Global Imaging’s fabric offerings are from Berger Textiles. Lisa Scarafoni, national account executive, Global Imaging, Inc., recognizes Berger Textiles as one of the world’s most well-known names in textiles.
“When our customers develop their dye-sub sectors, we suggest they start with three or four fabrics to build their SEG line,” adds Scarafoni. “Most of these products can be printed on transfer paper or printed direct as long as they are coated.”
She suggests offering an economic friendly fabric, typically a soft knit like be.tex Display (4280-26-BE). Second, she recommends a more robust and higher end product such as be.tex Expandable (4468-26be), and finally a backlit such as be.tex Lumina (4484-26) or be.tex Magic (4323-26BE).
According to Bach, all Aberdeen fabrics—whether for frontlit or backlit applications—are specifically crafted and optimized for dye-sub printing.
“Sublimation printing technology is the perfect match for textiles, that’s why we have a wide range of products that can cover all market applications,” shares Giorgio Volpi, head of marketing, Berger Textiles. For instance, its be.tex Lumina and be.tex Lumina Green for backlit applications and be.tex Mozaik and be.tex Mozaik Green, blackback fabrics with high opacity, are best sellers and both can be printed on directly by sublimation.
Bach says Aberdeen stands out as a U.S. manufacturer specializing in fabrics for graphics. “Distinguishing ourselves through innovation, we produce fabrics using a proprietary CleanRTex process, utilizing only 1/20th of the water typically required, while simultaneously avoiding the release of microplastics into water streams. Aberdeen is committed to local production and environmentally conscious practices, ensuring a sustainable and responsible approach to textile manufacturing.”
Beaver Paper & Graphic Media Inc.’s TexStyles Backlit 90 was developed as a backlit fabric but also makes a very good frontlit fabric, according to Jeff Mills, national product manager, TexStyles Graphic Fabrics, Beaver Paper. “We were the first to make a backlit that would stretch in both directions, making it easier to put into the SEG frames. This feature was accomplished without pinholes showing up in the prints when the lights are on. The finishing process we recommend is very precise and may take a little time to dial in. Once dialed in, the fabric allows the picture to come to life. We consider our fabric to be the best on the market.”
The company is currently testing its direct to fabric version with several of its contacts to see if it can achieve the same positive results as its transfer version.
“We just launched TexStyles Heavy knit Smooth as our signature frontlit SEG fabric. This fabric has a very soft hand with very good opacity and, of course, four-way stretch allowing for easy install,” adds Mills.
Volpi says Berger Textile’s tradition and expertise set it apart in the marketplace. “We have known and cared for textiles since 1849 when the first seeds of the current Berger Textiles company were sown. We engineer our products with the needs of the market in mind and continue to strive to always improve that product.”
be.tex Lumina and be.tex Lumina Green ensure exceptional color brilliance with a very deep black even when viewed in transmitted light with a consistent diffusion and no hot spots. It resists creasing allowing it to be shipped in a folded state. Also, be.tex Lumina Green offers all the advantages of the original, but with the added benefit of having 100 percent of its yarn sourced from recycled plastic bottles.
Serge Ferrari North America manufactures numerous products geared specifically for SEG applications. “Of course, the optimal product depends on the print output used and application needed—i.e. frontlit, backlit, etc.,” comments Eric Tischer, senior business development manager, Serge Ferrari.
With regards to dye sublimation, Tischer says its fabrics geared for frontlit SEG applications are Select Blackback (Direct and Transfer), Select Heavy Knit (Transfer), Select Soft Knit (Transfer), Select Grey Back (Direct and Transfer), Select Ultra Heavy Knit (Direct), and Select Triple White (Transfer).
With regards to its backlit options, Tischer points to B4400 Premium Backlit (Direct), B4420 Select Backlit (Transfer), and Select Zumba (Direct or Transfer).
“Each of the above mentioned frontlit and backlit products provide different characteristics regarding weave, stretch, opacity/translucency, and width to best assist the print provider’s needs,” adds Tischer.
Serge Ferrari prides itself on utilizing the highest quality yarns, raw materials, and production processes. “This comes through in the ultimate quality of our products, which offers our clients peace of mind that the quality, consistency, and printability will meet their high standards. Several key boxes that we check are offering optically bright fabrics to optimize print quality, as well as needed stretch percentages in order to easily work in conjunction with SEG frames,” he continues.
Ultraflex Systems, Inc. offers its VorTex portfolio of products, made up of three distinct Lins. VorTex T is composed of fabrics designed for dye-sub transfer, latex, and UV. VorTex D is for direct dispersion—direct dye-sub printers. Finally, the VorTex S line is for those looking to print using solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex printers.
“The VorTex soft signage portfolio of materials is optimized and specifically designed and coated to hold a wide color gamut and rich black inks,” shares Kylie Schleicher, director of product development, Ultraflex.
The Right Fit
SEG displays provide many benefits, including changeability and reusability. However, it is essential that the right media and printing process are used to bring the most out of the graphics designed for these popular display systems.
Feb2024, Digital Output