Specialty Fabrics Review May 2021 - 37

clients. Durability and colorfastness
are also way up there. "
Meacham says there are certain
advantages to outsourcing, such as not
having to maintain the equipment,
manage print supplies, pay an operator
or make specific accommodations
like establishing a climate-controlled
space. " Saturation changes based on
humidity and temperatures, " says
Meacham, so keeping the room at a
consistent temperature and humidity
is critical to ensuring colors will look
uniform on long runs. However, the
oft-mentioned lack of control over
the entire process was a big downside.
Consequently, Landmark Creations
does most of its printing in-house
on two printers and employs five
full-time designers.
RESEARCH BEFORE BUYING
Gaffke advises deep-diving into
researching printers, seeing them in
action, getting samples printed on
the same kinds of fabrics the business
typically uses, and checking them out
at trade shows before deciding on
which would make the best choice.
" Think about how your current
operation is set up and the space
required for the printer, " she says.
" How wide is the media you would
typically be using? Do you need
ventilation or climate control? How
expensive are the inks and media being
used? What other avenues would you
be able to pursue to help pay for the
operation of the printer? "
Merlot says the team at
Merlot Vango Tarping did a lot
of self-education-talking with
manufacturers/vendors at trade
shows including IFAI Expo-before
purchasing a large-format printer. The
first one lacked a white underlay so
the company could only print on white
vinyl, she recalls, but now it has large-

format printers and can print on any
color vinyl or aluminum, allowing for
the creation of rolling billboards with
state-of-the-art resolution.
When calculating whether adding
digital printing to the operations
makes sense, Syverson says businesses
should review their current offerings
and talk to their clients.
" They may already be talking to
providers who have digital offerings for
their shorter print runs or specific jobs
that lend themselves to digital versus
screen, " he explains. " There is often
a saving in labor costs with a digital
option, as a print device can be set up
and operated by one person instead of
the two or three on a rotary press, but
it's important to understand the overall
costs of the process and equipment to
ensure a digital solution makes sense. "
And when it comes to costs,
remember this, says Merlot: " Quality
printers come with a price tag and
knowledge, which is what it takes
to make a business thrive. "

G & J Awning and Canvas created
this custom shade sail for a
customer who wanted a design
versus a solid color. The image was
digitally printed on a mesh material
by Ultraflexx. The project entailed
the setting of a steel post and
wall brackets for the three-point
connection required for the sail.
The shade sail is installed in the
spring and removed in the fall.
Photo: G & J Awning and Canvas Inc.

Want more? We have it!
Search " printing technology " at
www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com

Pamela Mills-Senn is a writer based
in Seal Beach, Calif.

www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com

37


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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2021

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