Innovation Central

Compelling printing advances were on display at the SGIA show.

Attendees at the Specialty Graphics Imaging Association (SGIA) show, which ran from October 22-24, didn’t have to look hard to find answers to their most pressing decoration questions. They could have simply participated in educational sessions such as the “Garment Decoration Dream Team: Stump the Experts.” For an hour and a half, a host of top experts from the decorated apparel industry answered the hardest questions the audience could muster. Subjects ranged from technical subjects, such as how to eliminate dye migration with camo fabrics, to business topics, like how much to charge for custom artwork. “We don’t charge by the hour [for creative art],” said Rick Roth, owner of Mirror Image, “because everyone wants to know how long it is going to take. So we just charge a price.”

Beyond the wealth of knowledge available, there were scores of new products and trends being showcased. Here is what should be on decorators’ radars in 2015:

The Next Steps for DTG: Those who say direct-to-garment printers can’t print on polyester will have to change their tune after Kornit Digital (asi/14972) displayed poly garments that were printed with the company’s DTG machines. The company tweaked its NeoPigment inks and the amount of its built-in pretreatment and underbase to create poly prints that, according to the company, have minimal tackiness and eliminate dye migration or bleeding. “We found the right formula to make it work,” says Ulrike André, director of marketing. Meanwhile, AnaJet (asi/16000) has introduced Spectrum ink, a value ink that produces whiter whites and dries faster. The company also debuted a new CMYK ink formula for 2015 that offers brighter colors.

Phasing Out PVC: In an educational session on PVC-free inks, the team from Nazdar SourceOne revealed intriguing data. One interesting fact: six of the top 10 global apparel brands now require PVC-free screen-printing inks, while another two have partial restrictions. Shops switching from PVC-free plastisol inks will need at least a year and require a multitude of alternatives to replace standard plastisol. “There won’t be one chemistry that is the absolute solution for all your fabrics,” said Rob Coleman, segment marketing manager of textile screen inks. In the same session, M&R CEO Rich Hoffman revealed his company has adjusted everything from its squeegees to its dryers to accommodate plastisol alternatives. “We’re not even addressing plastisol [with our equipment] anymore,” he said.

Up in the Cloud: Pulse Microsystems, makers of software solutions for embroidery and other types of decorations, debuted a new cloud-based solution called PulseCloud. Available to all customers who purchase the companys new DG15 software, PulseCloud stores up to 100,000 embroidery designs. Users can update digitized files, post on social media and even send to their embroidery machines, which they can monitor in real-time. “We’re trying to unleash the user of our software from his desktop,” says Brian Goldberg, president of Pulse.

Set Your Sights on Lasers: A number of companies have debuted new laser alignment systems. Stahls’ ID Direct (asi/88984) revealed a new mounted alignment system to work with any heat press. A system from Ryonet (asi/528500) will mount to any screen-printing press. It improves efficiency, says Jessica Marshall, who works in marketing and sales for Ryonet, because the laser marks will never be obscured when loading a shirt onto the press, unlike traditional registration marks on a pallet. “There are a lot of things that factor into production speed,” says Marshall, whose company also featured a new dryer (the HotRoqit) and new eco screen cleaners.

Savvy Sublimation: Roland showed off the new TEXART RT-640, a dye-sublimation printer with a bulk ink system that allows the ink pouches to be switched out on the fly while the printer is still running. “We built the RT-640 to answer user demand for a high-production sublimation printer that’s affordable, reliable, inexpensive to run and easy to operate,” says Lily Hunter, Roland product manager. The company had a busy show, rolling out additional items (a new 3-D printer called the monoFab Arm-10 and the new VersaUV LEJ-640FT UV-LED flatbed printer, capable of printing on substrates up to six inches thick) and holding its one-day imagiNATION user conference.

Versatility: Apparel decorators looking to expand into wide-format printing only had to stop by Agfa Graphics’ booth to see the possibilities. The company erected a “Surf N’ Crab Application Zone,” recreating a beach staple with signage, wall graphics, exterior textures, promotional products and more that were all printed with Agfa printers – even the tiki bar.