By Udi Nachmany
In the previous column, I highlighted HP Latex inks as an almost ideal solution for textile signage printing. A simple and high-quality solution, HP Latex Inks and the new HP Scitex LX600 and LX800 printers provide high-quality output with the versatility to easily switch between soft signage and traditional signage applications, including POP displays, banners and vehicle graphics.
But is Latex the ideal solution for all your textile signage needs? Let’s reach a conclusion by examining the complexity of textile signage applications.
Digitally printed signage on fabrics emerged in the mid-1990s when print service providers began using various dye sublimation printing technologies to offer an alternative to paper and vinyl signage and to differentiate themselves in the competitive marketplace. Today, soft signage accounts for approximately 70 percent of the market for all digitally printed textiles, which also includes furnishings, apparel and specialty fabrics, such as tents and sails.
Typical soft signage applications can be roughly divided into two groups: indoor and outdoor. The indoor group of applications has in common an emphasis on high image quality and low odor, as most of these applications are close to the viewer and can often be found in a food or retail environment. This group includes POP/POS displays, interior decoration and exhibit graphics. For retail work, textiles provide an interesting, upscale and delicate visual effect that better draws the attention of customers. But because the application is promotion-driven and short-lived, durability is less important.
Outdoor textile applications, such as banners and specialty applications (sails and boating products, tents, awnings and hot air balloons are just some of the possibilities), usually require high outdoor durability, full flexibility to flutter in a breeze and good long-distance viewing quality. In this case, the ink and printer technology used have to excel in these specific areas, while attributes such as resolution or odor may take a back seat.
HP Latex inks and the new HP Scitex LX600 and LX800 printers provide a fit for indoor applications, with their environmental benefits, image quality, flexibility and color gamut. In addition, PSPs can use the same printers and inks for the wide range of high-quality applications noted above.
For outdoor textile signage, the HP Scitex XL1500 Dye Sublimation Kit, sold as an upgrade for HP Scitex XL1500 Printer users, provides outdoor durability and abrasion-resistance, with highly saturated, vivid color. It is perfectly switchable and does not prevent PSPs from continuing to use their printer for their usual applications.