The new Roland Texart XT-640 wide format sublimation printer promises to make short runs of bespoke garments and one-off creations a quick and affordable option for any fashion or sportswear label, as the company ably demonstrated at ITMA

Demand for bespoke sportswear is accelerating faster than a road racer wearing a unique, self-designed cycling top on a weekend club ride. Similarly, boutique brands are mushrooming across the web, driving up demand for small orders of bespoke fashionwear that promise customers they will never arrive at a party to find somebody wearing the same frock.

Today, consumers want clothes with a sense of uniqueness; brands are looking to profit by delivering on that exclusivity (and lack of inventory); and garment and textile decorators who are capable of satisfying this requirement are set to become everybody’s new best friend.

Roland DG is well aware of the trends that are shaping the market. Encarna Luque, business Development Director, states: “Digital textile technology is ideally suited to the fashion industry where trend cycles are becoming ever shorter and the desire for on-demand and bespoke runs is stronger than ever. Digital offers an agile, cost-effective, high quality solution.”

This understanding has led directly to the launch of the company’s latest wide format sublimation printer – the Texart XT- 640. Building on the success of the popular Texart RT-640, the new model boasts enhanced features and faster printing speeds, and has been designed specifically for the production of colourful fashion and sports apparel.

The new printer boasts a number of high-specification features to appeal to the bespoke clothing supplier, including dual gold print heads positioned in staggered formation, the Roland ink switching system, 40kg capacity rear holder, and an optimised vacuum fan for quick drying. The improved Feed Adjuster at the front and back of the printer provides even tensioning and prevents skewing of the media, even when the machine is charging along at its top speed of 63m2/h. “The 4-colour ink configuration and Roland’s switching system streamlines continuous printing, ensuring consistent textile finishes,” adds the company.

On paper, there’s plenty to like about the new machine, but what about in practice? Fortunately, we had the opportunity to see it in action at ITMA where Roland DG pulled out all the stops to demonstrate precisely what is achievable using its latest sublimation printing technology. The company had invited local Italian fashion design students to set up shop at the exhibition and work together with printers and a seamstress, model and photographer to demonstrate the efficiency, speed and ease of digital textile production. Each day, the students designed a different garment from scratch, with the original designs then being printed, pressed, sewn into finished garments and modelled live on the stand. The entire process took an average of four hours from start to finish – just half-a-day to create, print and produce a unique, bespoke garment!

A step up

We weren’t the only ones to be impressed by the XT-640’s capabilities: Roland distributor, Sabur Ink Systems sold the first Texart XT-640 to a UK sportswear printer within minutes of the machine’s launch at the beginning of November. MD, Dean Sanger comments: “The Roland XF has been phenomenally successful for us since its launch two years ago. The XT-640 is a direct replacement that has been specifically designed for sublimation printing, so we no longer need to convert the XF.”

Dean adds that the XT-640 could be viewed as a beefed up, more robust version of the entry-level RT-640 with a stronger chassis. He points out that the machine’s dual staggered print heads give it a top speed that’s more than double that of the single-head RT-640, even though both machines share the same footprint.

“If you print 100m a week then you might choose the RT-640; if you print 500m a week it will be the new XT-640. It all depends on your production. The XT-640 represents a step up from the RT-640 and covers all avenues and all requirements. We expect it to replace the XF as our new bread-and-butter machine.”

For Roland DG the appeal of its new wide format sublimation printer is clear: “The new Texart XT-640 is the perfect investment for bespoke clothing manufacturers across the textile industry looking to diversify their products and stand out in the highly saturated market.”