…argues Blaise Humphries, Senfa’s Decoprint business unit manager. If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into textile printing why not use what you’ve got?
Senfa is the France-based technical textiles division of the Senfa Group. What is particularly interesting about it is its remit is to help graphics businesses wanting to diversify into textile printing without having to invest in new equipment. Well, not immediately anyway. With its range of Decoprint textile solutions for sign and display applications, Senfa enables print businesses to use existing UV, latex - and even solvent - printers to create textile graphics. Its business unit manager Blaise Humphries expands…
“The large-format digital print sector has been growing significantly since the pioneering days of the 1990s and with it the multitude of media used. Environmental concerns have caused people to think twice about printing large quantities of PVC for short-term use before ending up in landfill. Enter textile printing. Printed textiles are PVC-free and are therefore much less damaging for the environment than vinyls or banners. They are much lighter, so cheaper to transport, and easier to install. Perhaps, most importantly, they simply look better than prints on plastic! And, with trade show season upon us, manufacturers are lining up their latest textile printers to showcase them to the great and the good of the print industry.
“Thus the textile revolution has begun in earnest. However, for many businesses, the up-front investment in textile-specific hardware is not always an option. But, as a PSP, you don’t actually need to buy specialist hardware to print on textiles. With a bit of research into the fabrics available, you will discover a raft of products out there that are compatible with your existing equipment.
“We have recently come across plenty of printing companies who are interested in the textiles arena, but feel that they don’t have the knowledge or experience to enter this market. We explain to them that it’s a lot easier than they think, doesn’t initially require dedicated textile printing machines, and that they can print onto practically the entire Decoprint range with their existing UV, latex or solvent printers.
“Whilst it’s true that there is a learning curve involved - in as much as finishing involves sewing rather than welding and laminating for instance - the initial investment is minimal and with the development of Silicon Edge Graphics (SEG) sewing and stitching has become much more accessible.”
SEG prints have a silicone beading or band sewn to the outer edges, which can be installed into an SEG frame. Typically sewn, the silicon band can also be attached to the textile with double-sided adhesive tape. SEG textile prints are seamless, and lightweight, and allow graphics to be simply and easily installed or changed without the need for specialist fitters.
“Many of the PSPs that we supply have started in such a manner - entering the textiles market with their existing hardware and then investing in dedicated sublimation machines as their experience and confidence grows. It’s a low-risk market-entry strategy that enables PSPs to quite literally ‘try before they buy’.
“The range of materials available is extensive. For example, Senfa’s Decoprint textiles for UV and latex machines are woven or knitted locally in Europe and coated in Alsace, Eastern France. From retail graphics to backlits and wall-covering to interior decoration, there is a product for every need.
“However, we also understand that once businesses have explored the opportunities opened up to them within the textile arena using their existing hardware, they often choose to invest in dedicated textile printers. For those businesses that do then decide to invest in textiles-specific hardware, Senfa’s R&D department is working on suitable media too - and has recently developed the Aqua range for sublimation technology - both transfer and direct to textile.”