HP has completely re invented the dye-sublimation printing process with a thermal based printing process in a bid to conquer the global market for man-made high tech sportswear, fashion, interior décor and soft signage fabric applications.
The company announced the launch of a portfolio of three new HP Stitch S series printers at the ISA 2019 convention in Las Vegas earlier this week offering a host of new features aimed to increase productivity and reduce downtime. The introduction includes three new printers from 64-inch to 126-inch wide: the HP Stitch S300 64-in Printer, the HP Stitch S500 64-in Printer, and the HP Stitch S1000 126-in Printer.
RA Smart (CAD & Machinery) is the exclusive UK and Ireland specialist reseller for HP Stitch and managing director Magnus Mighall believes that HP is set to revolutionise textile printing. “HP has come up with an incredibly exciting new technology for dye-sublimation textile printing,” he says. “It is a phenomenon. A complete end-to-end solution, from RIP to HP media. Only a company such as HP with its deep rooted print knowledge and expertise could have created such a thing.”
What is intriguing is how and why HP has developed a high temperature thermal head technology for the dye-sublimation process given that up until now, other dye-sublimation printer manufacturers have made use of the Piezo print head which runs cold. Why is this so intriguing? Simply put, the dye-sublimation printing process is best suited for the production of man-made polyester based materials and the dimensional stability of these materials can be affected if subjected to extreme heat such as produced by a thermal print head. Therefore to overcome this HP has invented a totally new thermal print head along with a completely new ink technology and drying system to accomplish this.
According to Mighall the biggest advantage of thermal head technology over Piezo from the users perspective is minimal operator interference. “The biggest, most obvious end user advantage of this new technology from the users perspective is the HP Stitch S300 Printer holds the first user-replaceable printhead that can be swapped over in minutes. The head is now a consumable item that can be changed on the fly in minutes without the need for a service engineer - which with a Piezo print head can sometimes take several days to accomplish. This alone would make the machine worth buying,” he says.
HP says this is its latest innovation designed to accelerate commercial digital print adoption, and this new portfolio of printers couple HP Thermal Inkjet technology with industry-standard dyes for what HP is calling superior colour durability.
Each system has user interchangeable print heads, patented media drying system, integrated built-in colour control, easy end user colour profiling, fully automatic smart nozzle compensation system, direct to textile and dye sublimation paper transfer capability for versatility plus so much more.
Mr Mighall says the machines can check colour consistency without operator interference. However, it is with colour profiling where the biggest gains are to be made. “These new printers are all about minimising downtime and maximising uptime and productivity. The HP Stitch series has the fastest colour profiling capability of any machine on the market. We have conducted tests where we have colour calibrated a new material to be printed in under an hour. To give you some idea of how fast this is, on any other Piezo printer this would usually take up to five hours to accomplish. It’s incredible, and this is just the tip of the iceberg where speed and productivity matters are concerned. All machines can be controlled by the user online via an app, and from a service perspective we can log into the machine remotely to monitor its operating performance for preventative maintenance purposes,” he says.
The new S300 and S500 solutions make their world debut at the ISA Show in Las Vegas on the 23rd April 2019 closely followed by the European debut at FESPA in Munich on the 14th May 2019 where the larger Stitch S1000 will make its debut.
RA Smart has been established since 1972 initially as a screen supplier to the textile printing industry and specialist textile printer and supplier of bespoke textile printing systems. RA Smart have been supplying and supporting digital textile systems since 1999 covering all aspects of textile printing including high end fashion, fast fashion, customised goods, home furnishing, household textiles, sportswear, education and soft signage.