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PrintEx Product Trail - Printwear & Product decoration - Andy McCourt

What is Printwear? It’s the pre-fabricated garment sector comprising wearable items that can be decorated using direct-to-garment or dye sublimation digital devices – and is one of the best growth/profit areas for the industry right now. What is Promotional print? It’s any non-paper or apparel product that can be marked using a digital UV printer – such as pens, mugs, USB sticks, iPhone covers, umbrellas, tote bags – even cheeseboards and vacuum flasks. One I like is a mouse mat that charges your phone as you work. If ‘company X’ gave me one of those, I would be seeing their logo all day!

Printwear personalizedfashion
 Printwear now goes beyond the t-shirt into exciting new areas (Roland DG image)

 STOP PRESS! Our friends at Datateam Publishing in UK have kindly agreed for us to link to their amazing Printwear magazine. Just click on the cover image to see  latest issue. Printwear magaine

The days of thinking t-shirts only are long gone now that Direct-to-Garment printers with white ink can adapt to almost anything. Hoodies, crop-tops, chinos and even kids’ personalised pyjamas have been added to the Printwear mix. T-shirts and Polos are still huge and a lot of fun of course but, whether DTG or Dye-sublimated, we are seeing new Printwear categories opening up such as Hospitalwear, Schoolwear, Chefwear and the established Sportswear, Workwear and Corporatewear; aka Uniforms. There is even a personalised underwear business operating out of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and selling online all over the world.

In Ballina, northern NSW, is Big River Printwear, a team of six or so supplying most of the Northern Rivers area with branded apparel and promotional products. Offering both ‘direct-to-garment’ and sublimation, plus UV, heat transfer and embroidery. Screen print is available but outsourced. Big River is a good example of a print business using the Printwear, or ‘decorated apparel’ phenomenon to provide a valuable service to its local communities.

A US survey report by , put the global ‘decorated apparel’ market at around AUD$34 billion in 2017. But wait…the CAGR is estimated at a whacking 11.5%, forecast to reach AUD$72 billion by 2024! That, friends, is a growth industry and most wide format printers can gain a slice of it. Sign and display printers know design files, they know inkjet (although toner with new white is being used for heat transfers); they know the differences are between direct-to-garment, dye sub, heat transfer and in many cases are already precision-cutting textiles used for soft signage, on CAD-driven cutting tables.

With the vast array of prefabricated apparel available at low prices from Asia, inhouse cutting and sewing is rarely necessary with the exception of high-value haute couture fashion. The ’substrate’ is the garment and it’s ready to go – to become Printwear. I had my own polos done by Brookvale, NSW outfit Parkway Custom Designs,

Printwear trail printex
X marks the spots where you'll find Printwear & Product decoration info at PrintEx


So where is the Printwear and Promotional Products trail at PrintEx? Well, you could start on Roland DG (A28) who hold a leading position in this sector. You can see the new Versastudio BT-12 benchtop  direct-to-garment printer for cotton-based fabrics and also the VersaUV LEF2-200 benchtop product decorator for customising just about anything. Additionally, Roland DG is big in dye sublimation with its Texart printers. They’ve even produced a great guide to personalisation you can get for free here.

Across from Roland is Mimaki (C37), a leading force particularly in dye-sublimation all the way up to 3.2 metres with the TS500P-3200. On an industrial high-productivity scale, you could talk about the Mimaki Tiger models, both in direct-to-textile and dye sublimation versions. These are serious grunt machines capable of up to 385m2 per hour across 1.8 metre widths.

Across the aisle is Mutoh (C47), with dye sub, direct-to and UV printers. The renowned ValueJet textile printers come in six models up to 2.6 metres wide, including a 1.9-metre-wide direct-to model. There is also the table-top ValueJet 462UF for product decoration, and its bigger A2 sibling the 626UF – both worth investigating. Not forgetting Mutoh’s vinyl cutters for heat transfers.

A short walk down the aisle will bring you to Kissel+Wolf (H37) who have the first direct-to textile printer that can handle polyester materials – the Kornit Avalanche PolyPro. DTG has traditionally only been good for cotton or majority cotton fabrics but, with the opening up of the polyester market, brings vastly expanded opportunities. Kornit has models from entry-level up to industrial scale.

Look across from H37 and you’ll see PrintEx’s largest stand, Starleaton (I28), where the Printwear-textile range extends to Neenah Coldenhove sublimation papers, the Klieverik heat transfer calender, and textile/product printers from EFI, Epson and Roland DG. Pattern cutting should not be forgotten, with the Swiss-made Zünd machines in action.

Next door is Neopost (F28), an Epson and HP Latex reseller. Epson’s direct-to-garment SureColor F2000 benchtop DTG printer makes t-shirt printing quick and easy. On show will be the sensational new HP Stitch dye-sublimation textile printers which were released at FESPA in May.

Keep walking and you’ll come to HP (C25) where you can get a close look at the new HP Stitch devices. The HP Stitch S Series portfolio is the first to introduce dye sublimation ink into HP’s Thermal Inkjet printing technology, designed to meet growing demand for polyester-based textiles across sportswear, fast fashion, home décor and soft signage. The inbuilt colour management is a bonus.

Head south from HP and you’ll come to Epson (C18), where you can be treated to both sublimation and direct-to-garment technologies. Well-established in dye-sub, the SureColor F9360 and 6360 roll models deliver superb imagery using PrecisionCore printheads and UltraChrome DS inks, A number of new dye sublimation models aimed at clothing, furnishing, merchandise, soft and hard signage producers will be on display, plus the very popular direct-to-garment F2160, which now supports polyester fabric. The newly released Mona Lisa textile printer won’t be there but you could certainly speak to Epson specialists about it.

Just south of Epson is EFI (C18) and, although there won’t be a model on show, no doubt samples from the EFI Reggiani textile printers will be there. These are industrial-scale models made in Italy and capable of up to a blitzing 1,600 m2 per hour in the Top model.

Next door is Ricoh (D18) and the star in Printwear is sure to be the new Ri1000, a CMYK+White garment printer with Ricoh’s 1200dpi printheads. Its print area is a generous 406mm x 508mm and its optimised for 100% cotton, 50% cotton blends and 100% light polyester. Best of all, it’s fast with graphics coming off in as little as 30 seconds. There is also its little sibling the Ri100, without the white ink but a pocket powerhouse for an affordable price. Over 75 already installed in Australia.

You might also want to call in next door on Pozitive (E18) who are dealers for Epson, Roland and Mimaki and know dye-sub very well. Pozitive also markets the Monto Antonio heat presses as well as Roland’s Texart heat press, and DGI dye-sub machines with Kiian inks.

Sublimation Systems (E01) nearby is an essential visit as they have been in the dye-sub business since 1984 and resell Sawgrass and Epson. Not just that but they have the world’s best toner-based transfer system with white from Uninet i-colour, and heat presses from Geo Knight.

You are now near the Café; stop and have a cuppa and rest because it’s a long walk down to Impression Technology (Q37) but well worth it! This company does nothing else but Printwear and Product decoration technology including the new G4 DTG printer reviewed here:  Also on view is the Compress range of iUV flatbed hi-speed printers - up to 5 times faster and designed for industrial decoration, and the all new PTM basic: a pre-treat machine designed for perfect coating in an enclosed spray chamber. Pigment.Inc advanced range of textile inks for roll - to -roll and DTG applications, with up to 15 colors including neon will also be there.

While you are down that neck of PrintEx, have a chat to sublimation experts Nova Sublimation (K10).

If I have missed anyone, sorry but part of the fun of PrintEx is the treasure hunt to discover unexpected things. But, if you think beyond paper, films and vinyls and get into Printwear and Product Decoration – you might just re-discover profit in printing and meet a whole new customer base!

 Printwear Got You Covered image1145x336
 Printwear at PrintEx - you're covered! (image Impression Technologies)