We are frequently asked about the various printing methods and which one is the best. Always a difficult question and mainly depends on the application. Here is a bit of information on the main four large format digital print methods.
Dye Sublimation digital fabric 2400 DPI. Water-based dispersed dye inks.
This large format digital print is water based making it very environmentally friendly. Ultra high resolution at 2400 dpi this printing process is ideal for:
- Backlit displays
- High end exhibition displays
- Short run clothing
The graphics are digitally printed onto a transfer paper and then placed in a heat press called calendar unit (see video) and pressed to approximately 200 Celsius. Along with the polyester fabric that is being embellished, the heat turns the digital print which is in dry, solid ink state, into a gas. The gas infuses the polyester fabric to create a permanent graphic print. Polymers in the polyester let the inks gas bond to become fully implanted into the material. The final product is vibrant colours, ultra-high-resolution print which is completely washable. Machine width are 1.8meter, 3.2m and now even 5m wide.
Solvent and Eco Solvent large format digital print. 720 DPI Solvent pigmented inks.
These printers are very versatile and robust working in the same way as an office or home printer although much larger. Using on demand piezo print head these can print onto almost any material like PVC, Mesh, Carpet, Self-adhesive vinyl, cottons and fabrics. Fabrics although would not give the excellent print result of dye-sublimation. This type of printing method is by far the most common due to its versatility and excellent outdoor performance. This technology is older and will ultimately be be fazed out as they are not very environmental as there are more implications on waste. Even the so called Eco Solvents are not that environmental as other printing methods. Printing widths are 1.3, 1.5, 2.2, 3.2 and 5 meters. Ideal for:
- Building wraps
- Vehicle wraps
- Truck side Curtains
UV large format digital printing 1200 dpi, LED-curable UV inks
UV digital printing uses the same method as normal ink jet printing but the print is cured using ultra-violet lights. This has many advantages, mainly it can print onto virtually anything. Even materials like wood, glass and concrete. It also uses less ink and solvent making it more environmental than solvent printing. It can be roll to roll or ridged materials making this printing method very versatile. External life with laminate can be up to 7 years and These print machines come in many sizes from small machine to print onto mobile phone cases to 5 meters wide. Ideal for printing:
- Point of Sale
- Building wraps
- Retail Displays
- Floor Graphics
Latex large format Digital print water-based resin inks
Ridged or roll to roll medias. Great for vehicle wraps as the print comes off dry and needs no gassing off period. With a laminate the print can last up to 6 years in the UK outdoors. Latex printers do not emit hazardous VOCs making it a very safe machine to use in confined spaces. Machine widths are 1.5 and 3.2 meters wide. Latex printing take up has been slow, even with the good environmental credentials. Ideal for:
- Vehicle Graphics
- Exhibition graphics
- Outdoor and indoor displays