Bernard—The most unique application was for a set of four fabric banners for the Italian Space Agency to be taken along on the shuttle mission STS 120.
Crestin and Woods—One recent application was a big billboard made for Castrol in Mexico. The final size was 25.25 feet by 11 feet. The frame was made with aluminum lengths of 40 inches, so it can be shipped easily from place to place for their road show. The textile graphic is a big part of the project because it can be shipped easily, washed and it is very resistant.
Beck—We are very fortunate to have a design team that is creative. This challenges everyone to continue to look at innovative ways to fabricate our products. We had a project at CES that had many unique applications. One of our challenges was to hang large concrete-looking billboard panels with the clients name glowing inside. The solution was to use different fabrics and blackout materials that sandwiched internal lightboxes. Another challenge was a 20-foot centerpiece white panel with white printed flowers viewable from 25 feet away; again we turned to a sheer printed fabric.
Kozar—We recently produced 10x10-foot fabric graphics that were custom cut into the shape of a Z for a popular shoe company. The job was printed direct to fabric on an 8 ounce Oxford with our Aquajet.
Q. What do you see next in fabric graphics in the wide-format market?
Bernard—Soon after UV flatbed printers came on the market, the print shops came to realize that they need a digital router as well to produce the finished products the market demanded. I anticipate the same for fabrics. In addition to printing, fabrics need to be cut and sewn utilizing appropriate finishing equipment (which is not the same as for vinyl banner materials) in order to deliver a finished product ready for installation or use. My personal opinion, admittedly biased, is that direct solvent printing on fabrics will outpace dye sublimation. The quality and vibrancy is getting better and better and its just more cost effective and simpler.
Crestin and Woods—We really believe in a new market, which is Interior Architecture. It will, of course, include the architects in charge of designing retail environment, workspaces (we are using our products for wall partitions), lobbies, and also homes. It is now possible to personalize walls or frames hung on walls with pictures or signage, which can be changed according to the homeowner's moods. It is even possible to print bed sheets. It's really huge market!
Schmitt—I see the number of applications continuing to explode beyond the obvious markets and more into everyday life. This will create new markets and opportunities for printers, which will draw in competition and grow the market even more. I also see the applications driving the need for fabric prints to have a longer UV life and broader fabric selection.
Mark Lynch, Catalyst Exhibits—We need to use our fabric graphic capabilities to create dimensional solutions. After all, fabric is flexible in many ways. Fabric graphics can conform to complex shapes in exciting, organic and beautiful ways. It can be—and should be—sculptural. We see a great deal of two dimensions. I want to push farther into the third dimension.
Kozar—The evolution of direct to fabric dye sub technology will allow for faster, more productive printers to be available to the industry. Fabric choices continue to expand and give customers more choices and options when creating a display or exhibition. Ultimately, I see fabric continuing to grow in popularity with its versatility to be used in many applications and the availability of biodegradable and recyclable options to offer a green solution for textile options.