Paul Bristow Associates, a specialist supplier to the gallery and museum sector, has installed an HP Stitch S300 textile printer in response to the demand for decorated face masks.

The family-run company in Wrexham, which produces apparel and accessories for gift shops at institutions such as the Tate, V&A, National Gallery and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, had the 64” textile printer installed at its premises by RA Smart in August.

Ben Bristow, director at Paul Bristow Associates, explain: “Pre-Covid, we already used dye-sublimation for apparel because it achieves all-over print in rich colours, which is great for reproducing artworks on T-shirts. This summer, we were experiencing more and more demand for printed masks, so needed more capacity, with the width to match our rotary press.

“We started as a screen-printing business and those skills suited the art world. However, it’s difficult for screen printing to compete with the definition and colour accuracy possible with digital, or with the potential offered by low order numbers.

“With screen, only large orders from big galleries were financially viable, but digital dye-sub enables us to make a profit whether we’re printing 50 pieces or 500. We can now reach smaller galleries, who can order just 50 masks, 50 tea towels and 50 bags and then have the confidence to reorder. HP Stitch has expanded the size of our market.

“The HP Stitch is good quality, robust, versatile and straightforward from an operator point of view. The integrated rewind unit makes life easier, and colour matching is quick and simple, which is essential for reproducing artworks.”

Once the coronavirus pandemic and the demand for face coverings recedes, Paul Bristow Associates will continue to use the HP Stitch for other products and services, added Ben.

“This year we have been moving more into print-on-demand and drop shipping, which requires a productive digital workflow. Our customers are conscious of sustainability and we’re looking to use recycled polyester for fashion products, which is compatible with the HP Stitch. We’re expecting a busy 2021.”