Designers Turn to Bespoke Textile Printing with Mimaki

Image: Mimaki

Today’s consumers want their clothing to be on demand, inexpensive, and bespoke. For designers on a shoestring, digital dye-sublimation printing can help. Dye sublimation works by using high heat to fuse images onto a material, such as plastic, paper, or fabric. The results are typically bold, saturated prints—delivered with quality, reliability, and precision—that won’t fade or crack.

The Mimaki TS30-1300, newly installed at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, is uniquely suited for emerging talents. A 54-inch-wide beginner-friendly model that is ideal for short-run pieces, samples, and custom orders, the TS30-1300 has few frills beyond the necessary functions but makes an accessible investment for anyone seeking to eschew subcontracting in favor of greater control over the production process, not to mention schedule.

“The TS30-1300 printer is an economical, entry-level model best suited to just-as-needed production of apparel prototypes and custom goods,” said Kelli Ramirez, public relations manager at Mimaki U.S.A. “The printer is purpose-built for easy operation with features and functionality specifically for sublimation transfer printing.”

The machine has a high gap setting, which allows users to print on thin and thick textiles, as well as woven patterns or raised fiber surfaces, “while maintaining accurate ink droplet placement,” Ramirez added.

Meanwhile the ability to print textiles as needed means less waste, whether in the form of deadstock or garbage in the landfill.Plus, fluorescent ink combinations are no problem for the TS30-1300, which means designers can remain effortlessly on trend with neon yellows and searing hot pinks.

Mimaki also uses technology to streamline overheads. “One of the innovative features recently introduced by Mimaki is the ability to use two different inks in one printer series, which contributes to the dual goals of cost-effectiveness and sustainability,” Ramirez said.

The choice of inks can whittle a product’s impact, as well. Mimaki’s direct dye sublimation ink require neither steaming nor washing, which reduces water use. Although the TS30-1300 works optimally with polyesters, “there are many 100 percent recycled polyester fabrics that can be used to make apparel or accessories,” noted David Lopez, textile specialist at Mimaki U.S.A.

Certainly polyesters derived from recycled plastic bottles are having a moment. H&M has been slinging the stuff in its “Conscious” collections, Timberland is working with Thread, a Pennsylvania-based social enterprise that turns castoff containers into fabric, to incorporate more of the material into its shoes and bags. Even British actress Emma Watson turned up at the 2016 Met Ball in a Calvin Klein–designed gown made from Newlife, a silk-like Italian textile spun from 100 percent post-consumer PET.

With digital printing’s profile also on the rise, novice designers can seize the zeitgeist and barely break a sweat. Learn more about the printer at Mimaki.

To learn more about how fashion brands are taking on sustainable strategies, check out the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator’s Sustainable Fashion Roadmap tool.