The soft signage market in the UK continues to expand, having been a substantial growth sector on the continent in recent years, the UK and Irish market is catching up and growing strongly.
Several factors are contributing to this; alongside customer demand, fabric development is also moving the market forward and the ability to print polyesters with an increasing range of ink technologies has made it simpler for printers to achieve, with products like Mimaki’s roll to toll UJV55-320 UV printer delivering grand format lightbox and exhibition graphics at a highly competitive hardware cost and with a single, simple printing process.
New fabrics and printer technologies are opening up the soft signage market with polyester materials for backlit displays, flags and light weight sheer fabrics for banners and hangings giving the market more choices than ever before. These advancements combined with ever faster and higher quality printers create an ideal environment for the sector to progress.
Alongside soft signage, the fashion and interiors markets are also expanding, with the polyester fabric suppliers already introducing new fabrics. Materials that look and feel like silk, cotton, linen and velvet yet are manmade allow print providers to output a range of fabrics with just the one printer and ink technology. However; the recent announcement of the dual ink upgrade for Mimaki’s hugely popular Tx300P-1800 direct to textile printer means the company’s pigment and dye sublimation inks can be loaded simultaneously for printing to natural as well as man-made fabrics and, as they share a similar fixation method, are able to be printed and processed very easily.
Printing hardware is constantly developing with machines getting faster and powerful technologies such as nozzle dropout detection on the Mimaki TS300P-1800 sublimation printer enabling the machine to run unattended. Equally, we’re seeing impressively specified entry level machines being introduced and the new Mimaki TS30-1300 will deliver quality, productivity and ease of use at a very attractive price when it becomes available in the very near future.
Competitive hardware pricing is also being matched with economically priced inks – and Mimaki’s Sb410 sublimation inks sit at a price point that make sublimation printing one of the most cost-effective ways of getting printed designs onto material.
It’s an exciting time to be so heavily involved in textile printing and with Mimaki’s broad range – both in terms of productivity and price point – we’re in a very strong position to really deliver local-to-market manufacturing across most sectors. Sportswear, fashion, homeware and the promotional markets can all benefit from a quick time to market and with hardware delivering the volumes required at competitive costs, the opportunity is there to make it work.