Manchester Print Services is forecasting that its total output will be digital textile print in 12 months’ time, following the installation three weeks ago of the UK’s first HP Stitch S1000 dye-sub printer.
The company, formed in 2010 by Lee Egan and Andy Lambert, only became involved in dye-sub output 16 months ago when it installed its first large-format dye-sub machine - a Mimaki JV5 320-DS dye sublimation printer - to test the market. A subsequent tranche of retail work wins, including a large European account, prompted the recent HP Stitch purchase.
Apart from servicing the traditional sign and graphics market, the move into dye-sub print has taken MPS into upholstery, using its JV-300 160 machine. In the next year Egan believes the company will move further into non–traditional textile markets.
“We can expand by 15 to 20% in these new areas without needing any more new dye–sublimation equipment or any additional staff. The margins are less but it's a definite growth area, and one we didn’t anticipate,” he said.
Central to the company’s dye-sub print ambitions are printable textiles from Pongs, supplied in the UK and Ireland exclusively by CMYUK (which also delivered the Mimaki printer. RA Smart delivered the HP Stitch).
MPS predominantly uses Pongs PrintTex Artist Mambo for all its UV work output through its EFI Vutek GS 3250 flatbed and roll-fed hybrid printer, and is using Pongs Softimage Creaseless Premium on its new HP Stitch, having been using it on its Mimaki machine.
Egan said: “It's a bit tricky with dye-sublimation because once you’ve got the sizing right, and you put the material through a heat press, it can shrink and stretch at different ratios. When you’ve got a material you trust, you stick with it. Pongs Creaseless is very stable. As soon as we got the HP Stitch we loaded it straight onto the machine and it’s not let us down.”