By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Digital printing technology helps print service providers (PSPs) take fabric to the next level. With an eye for perfection, the right printing equipment, and efficient finishing tools, PSPs transform textiles into custom displays such as silicone edge graphics (SEG) and pillowcase frame displays.
SEG frames and extrusions are most popular in trade shows, events, retail, and interiors. SEG offers perfect tension throughout the graphic, easy change outs, and backlit possibilities that are ideal for the visual communications industry.
Established in 2005, D’Andrea Visual Communications is a visual communications producer for Fortune 500 brands and start-ups. The company has two locations in Cypress, CA and Las Vegas, NV.
D’Andrea Visual Communications started with eight employees in a 15,000 square foot facility offering lithographic printing services. It soon expanded to grand format printing, project management, custom fabrication, and installations.
Today, the shop operates in a combined workspace of 105,000 square feet with 100 employees. It primarily produces exhibit, event, retail, and entertainment applications, although its most popular textile offering is SEG and SEG light boxes.
For textile printing, the PSP uses an EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340. Designed for soft signage graphics, the press offers a maximum print width of 133 inches and handles fabric weight from 28 to 140 grams per square meter.
“We chose this model because the quality is absolutely stunning, customers say the graphics almost look three dimensional,” shares Scott Powers, founder/VP of sales, D’Andrea Visual Communications.
By using water-based inks, the VUTEk FabriVU 340 has no odor. This helps the PSP create eco-friendlier products. “Our customers are very happy with the results and they keep coming back for more,” adds Powers.
Textiles Take All
Digitally printed textiles promote versatility in D’Andrea Visual Communications’ product offering. Different ink sets and heat setting techniques are available, including up to 16 feet wide capabilities with direct dye-sublimation (dye-sub).
“For applications such as displays, structures, SEG, and pillowcase frames, the applications and options are almost endless,” shares Powers. “Compared to screenprinted dye-sub for example, digital is superior in productivity, color, bulk printing, and ease.”
D’Andrea Visual Communications prefers fabric from Fisher Textiles. However, Powers says it also sources from other suppliers such as Beaver Paper and Graphic Media, Inc., Dazian, and Media One Digital Imaging Solutions LLC. “Relationship, quality, cost, and availability are all key factors to media selection.”
The shop has a multitude of finishing requirements for fabric items. Most include some type of sewing such as SEG fabric gaskets, liners for pillowcased fabrics, special shapes or figures, and daily items such as webbing or Velcro.
For SEG sewing, D’Andrea Visual Communications uses single-needle machines. The shop also recently purchased a Matic Cronos sewing machine for gasket edging. “Depending on what we are doing we have double-needle machines for more durable items such as bags and awnings,” offers Powers.
As with any type of production, problems occasionally occur in D’Andrea Visual Communications’ textile printing. “From color variations in the print, paper, material and calendar to knits versus wovens to stretch versus non-stretch fabrics, there can be a complex maze to figure out,” admits Powers.
To avoid challenges, the shop experiments on a variety of fabrics and maintains an informational database for control purposes. The PSP also tracks stretch, shrinkage, color saturation, clarity, white point, sewing performance, and overall finished product performance.
This process allows D’Andrea Visual Communications to group fabric types together and to make efficient, educated guesses for new fabric products.
The PSP also uses this information to formulate base lines with its standard textiles, which Powers says gives the company consistency across the board to reduce daily production issues. “By achieving consistency and predictability we better understand our costs and can estimate jobs accurately.”
To stay competitive, D’Andrea Visual Communications is always up to date with the latest trends in textile printing. The shop recently noticed that the use and availability of five-meter fabrics continues to grow and that fabric types are increasing.
Another trend the shop finds is the advancement of knit fabrics for backlit applications. “Traditionally everyone used wovens to eliminate pinholes but then complained about cutting solutions such as hot knives and the cost of adding laser technology for cutting,” explains Powers.
As technology advanced, other textiles became available such as coated fabrics for UV and dye-sub. According to Powers, people soon complained about fracturing lines in the fabric, which led to costly packaging fabrics rolled on a core.
“There are some good knit fabrics out there that look great sublimated and are able to be folded in a box without the whole rolled in a core situation. I expect this trend and development to continue,” he adds.
SEG Wall Frames
In 2018, repeat customer Decathlon approached D’Andrea Visual Communications for SEG prints and two SEG wall mount frames. The client’s goal was to display eye-catching, custom graphics in a system that easily changes out the message.
Decathlon selected an SEG system for its ability to be wall mounted, easy change out, and ideal graphic tension. Fabric is also much lighter than large rigid graphics, which helps save on shipping costs.
For this job, D’Andrea Visual Communications used Fisher Textiles’ GF 8880 Opaque White polyester fabric. It is available in widths up to 125 inches and features an extreme white point that allows printing on one side without the use of a blockout liner.
The fabric was printed on the EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340. Finishing included a sewn gasket.
D’Andrea Visual Communications completed the job in seven days. According to Powers, the client was completely satisfied with the SEG wall frames and fabric.
In the advertising and visual communications industry, most brands prefer the modern look of tension fabric printing for event backdrops and trade show booths. D’Andrea Visual Communications keeps clients satisfied by offering both SEG and pillowcase fabric frames and custom soft signage.
The next article in this two-part series looks at a print provider that offers step-and-repeat banner systems with digitally printed textiles.
Oct2019, Digital Output