Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020 - 44

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and especially if you're a small operation,
the latex really gives you a good start
in fabric. You can eventually make that
transition once you've built up a portfolio
of customers."
Vinyl is still widely used in many
outdoor applications for a variety of
reasons, including durability and the
ability to clean it.
Polyester (and natural fiber) fabric,
however, continues to grow in popularity
and not just because of its ability to display
more sophisticated graphics.
"A big factor is the ability to be able to
put the signs or banners away, pull them
back out and still have them look good,"
says Schleicher. "You can fold fabrics, so

storing them is a lot easier. If you fold PVC
banners, they crease and you can't get the
creases out."
"Fabric is easy to ship, you don't have to
crate it, and it's much more convenient to
put up and take down," adds Geoff Kilmer
founder and CEO of PhotoWorksGroup
Inc. of Charlottesville, Va.
"It's a growing industry," says Kilmer.
"More print service providers are getting
into it all the time because there's a lot
more companies making use of it-there's
so much more media in people's faces.
Marketers want to get ahead of the clutter
to get a message out."
Jeff Moravec is a freelance writer
from Minneapolis, Minn.

ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER
ust because the equipment exists to print materials 16
feet wide doesn't mean that equipment is necessary
for all companies that print graphic materials.
"Yes, there are 16-foot machines out there, but we
don't plan on getting one," says Geoff Kilmer, founder and
CEO of PhotoWorksGroup Inc. of Charlottesville, Va., who
remembers when the limit used to be 50-inch-wide photo
paper. "They are so darn big to handle, and there's a limited
market. There is a market, but you better know if that's yours
before buying this kind of equipment. Big production wideformat machines run hundreds of thousands of dollars."
"It can actually be into the millions for a complete
automated print-to-cut solution," adds Leonard Marano,
vice president of product management and marketing at
Gerber Technology, which makes production hardware,
including printers, in Tolland, Conn. Such a system would
include high-end direct-to-textile printers, automated
digital finishing machines, and necessary software, he says.
"Print technology turns over very frequently; every
couple of years there are advancements," says Marano.

"You want to make sure that investment is going to last
you, so you have to outfit your entire operation to where
you want to be four years from now-not just where the
industry is today."
What many companies want when buying a printer is
"more bang for the buck," says Lily Hunter, product manager
of e-commerce and supplies for Roland DGA Corp., located
in Irvine, Calif. "They often want a printer that can print on
a variety of materials. That way the business owner can
be as much of a one-stop shop as possible."
Choices can be dictated by the size of a facility as well,
adds Hunter. "A lot of the businesses we deal with are
limited by space," she says. "They need a printer that can
do 80 percent of their business. And with a dye-sublimation
printer, for example, you're not just adding the printer,
you're adding a heat press, and a lot of spaces don't have
the footprint for that.
"Actually," concludes Hunter, "the biggest thing I hear?
'We want something that's a workhorse, something that
just keeps going.'"

44 REVIEW MARCH 2020

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Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020

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