Screen Printing - April/May 2017 - 26
photographic Works (www.photographicworks.com) in
tucson, Arizona, uses a roland texart rt-640 dye
sublimation printer to make prints on rigid substrates up
to 40 x 60 inches. they print on metal, wood, and tiles
for museums, galleries, and private collections, and have
handled special projects for the national park Service.
the company was founded in 1982 by Mary Finn, who
started her career as a commercial photographer. Early
on, she used roland's aqueous pigment-ink printers to
make archival prints for artists and photographers on fine
art papers and canvas. Since then, she has continually
added technologies that enable her customers to display
their art in new ways. today, artists and photographers
can create art wallpaper or have printed images mounted
on acrylic blocks, bamboo frames, and birchboxes.
When customers started asking for metal prints, she
researched roland's dye sublimation printers and chose
the texart for its wide color gamut, which includes
orange and violet. photographic Works uses ErgoSoft
roland Edition to manage image quality and color.
Finn notes that while the initial draw of rigid dye
sublimation was to do prints on Chromaluxe panels
- "prints on metal look so vibrant and alive," she says
- the company has leveraged the technology to work
with many additional substrates. "We have seen an
increase of interest across the board in our dye sublimation products," says rachel Castillo-Larriva, the
company's manager. "Both artists and the general
public seem to be interested in the possibilities offered
by new materials such as aluminum, steel, ceramic,
glass, and fabric. We are excited to add new substrates
to our product line." photographic Works now offers
bracelets and magnetic dry-erase boards customized
with dye sub printed images.
Castillo-Larriva says that learning to control color
was the most significant step to master. "Color management and consistency of color reproduction is one
of the foundations of our print philosophy," she says.
"Each new substrate reproduces color in its own unique
way. We color profile and manage each new material
and surface finish before offering it to our clients."
Archi-Texture Finishing (A-Tex, atexfinishing.com) is a
licensee of Decoral System, which developed an industrial dye
sublimation process that applies wood, marble, and similar designs to metals and other materials that will be powder-coated
for outdoor durability. Decoral's process allows high-resolution images printed on plastic film with UV-stable inks to be
transferred into durable, weather-resistant powder coatings.
Decoral finishes have been used on doors, windows, ceilings,
wall panels, and flooring materials. The finishes resist chipping and peeling, withstand corrosion, and endure exposure to
sun, heat, and rain.
Bison Coating & Supply produces sublimatable glass, steel,
porcelain, and tumbled-stone tiles for decorative accents and
murals in commercial and residential décor. Their textured
wall tiles can be used in showers and as backsplashes.
And in the large-format printing world, ChromaLuxe metal
and wood photo panels have captured the imagination of photographers, artists, and designers in more than 65 countries.
Manufactured by Universal Woods, also known for the Unisub
line of sublimatable products for gifts and awards, ChromaLuxe panels allow for high quality image reproduction and are
highly resistant to surface abrasion, humidity, atmospheric
ozone, and contact with water. Metal prints can be safely
displayed in public spaces without the need for framing under
glass or acrylic, face mounting, or surface laminating.
At the 2017 Wedding and Portrait Photographers Expo in
February, Universal Woods showed works by leading fine
art, commercial, portrait, and wedding photographers in four
separate galleries. The prints were produced on ChromaLuxe
panels by each photographer's preferred print provider. The
company displayed a wider variety of its hard surfaces for dye
sublimation at the BDwest hospitality design show in April.
"We lead with our wall décor products, which consist of the
wood and metal prints," says Ryan Holtzman, ChromaLuxe
brand manager, commercial channel. "We also show our tabletops and flooring products. But we make sure to show our line
of other products such as phenolic, fiber-reinforced plastics,
and steel [panels] with dry erase."
More InnovatIons In the Works
Beyond the increasing demand for customized goods and the
rapidly expanding availability of blank goods that are compatible with dye sublimation, there is no question that improvements to the technology have contributed to its growth in rigid
substrate applications. Inkjet technology itself has progressed,
and as demand for high quality imaging on rigid substrates has
increased, many print service providers have added newer sixand eight-color dye sublimation printers from manufacturers
such as Mimaki, Roland, Mutoh, Ricoh, and Sawgrass. Many
have also added bigger heat presses from companies such as
George Knight, ATI, and Monti Antonio, enabling them to tackle
ideas that can't be executed with older models. Hunter points
out that newer specialized heat presses such as 3D vacuum
models are driving further innovation by print providers.