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Inking a plan

January 1st, 2010 / By: / Graphics

So, you’ve got this fantastic new idea for a fabric graphic and you are looking for the best ink to create vivid colors, subtle shades and sharp details. But with so many choices, where do you start?

You decide to attend a trade show to see, feel and learn about new digital ink technologies. As you approach the first booth, a salesman pitches to you the virtues of his ink. At the next booth, a representative tells you how super his printer is and how it can make fabric graphics fantastic on its own merits.

There is so much more to creating brilliant fabric graphics than the ink. Successful fabric printing is dependent on a total solution. From the printer to the fabric to the coatings and the inks, all the parts make specific contributions to the success of printing on fabric. So start with ink businesses that are looking to work with you and put together a solution that is tailored for your specific needs.

But what about the ink? Of course there are considerations when looking for inks for fabric printing. Dye sublimation and pigment inks are two of the top choices for fabric printing. They produce great color and are more environmentally friendly than solvent inks. Other factors include:

Runability. The bottom line is when your ink performs well, your business is more profitable. Fewer power-cleans and less maintenance downtime add up to maximum revenue potential of every machine in your shop.

Reliability. Print after print, inks need to be reliable. If your inks clog or fail, then your business fails. There is no reason for you to suffer through it. Ask for references. Ask for test samples.

Great color. Ink for fabric printing must have great color. Deep blacks and rich reds. Sharp contrast. Color must be vibrant and it has to be uniform. If you are not getting that from your ink, keep looking. Compare samples against each other or to your current output. With the selections of dye sublimation and pigment inks available for fabric printing, there are quality choices that can make a huge difference in your output.

UV considerations. If you have an outdoor application, keep in mind that certain inks can stand up to the sun. Look for pigment inks that have more UV stability.

If you are looking to invest in a new ink or into a new fabric application, this is a great time to expand your business. Advances in ink performance are better than ever. Just make sure you get the big picture so you can reap the rewards.

Ashley Scoville is a member of Sawgrass Technologies industrial division, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

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