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Ace job: Vivad covers empty seats at the Australian Open

Two teams worked 12-hour shifts at wide format printer Vivad’s Melbourne facility on the weekend to print 4,600 sqm of polyester fabric needed to cover empty seats at the Australian Open, after crowds were kept away during Victoria’s latest Covid lockdown. "We had the team and we had the capability with our Durst Rhotex printing technology."

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        "Our ducks were in a line":
   Ewen Donaldson, director Vivad

“Saturday afternoon and my mobile starts to vibrate," writes Vivad director Ewen Donaldson on the company website. "The tennis wants to cover all of the empty seats in printed fabric, can you do it? After a brief pause, ‘Let me get back to you, I reply.

“After some back of the envelope calculations, and half a dozen telephone calls, it was determined that all of our ducks were in a line. We had the stock, we had the ink, we had the team and we had the capability with our Durst Rhotex printing technology. The call is returned and the answer was a resounding ‘Yes, bring it on.’”

The job equated to 4,656 square metres of printed polyester fabric and the printing process was done by dye sublimation, in the same way that activewear is printed.

“The ink is heated to 200 degrees celsius, the temperature at which it fixes to the polyester,” said Donaldson. “Each panel was printed three metres wide and stitched together to form a total of 18 sections.”

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            Vivad at Campbellfield, VIC

The total number of linear metres of printing and sewing was 1.5 kilometres, and the print process took 26 hours.

“Vivad had two teams, split into two 12-hour shifts. This was to keep the process of printing, sublimating, trimming and sewing running continuously around the clock. We kept on going until the job was done,” Donaldson said.

“Everything was done at Vivad’s Melbourne facility in Campbellfield by our amazing team of can-do operators. We are incredibly grateful to Tennis Australia for the opportunity to demonstrate what Australian manufacturing is capable of.

“Now we are catching up on some well-deserved sleep.”

* Tennis fans will be allowed back into Melbourne Park for the rest of the Open after the Victorian government said the state’s lockdown will be lifted by Thursday.