With more than 200 brands at this year’s Sign & Digital show, there was plenty for visitors to see, from new DTG printers to the latest software

When upholsterer Anthony Devine, of BBC1’s Money for Nothing, first visited the Sign & Digital UK show 14 years ago, there were only a few companies dealing with digital printing on textiles. It is a very different picture now; when the show returned to the Birmingham NEC from 2 to 4 April its two halls were filled with kit for decorators and promotions. 

Now running his Ministry of Upholstery school in Manchester, Anthony was back this year in collaboration with Your Print Specialists (YPS) showcasing the creativity now possible through digital printing on fabrics including leather. The two businesses are collaborating on a new venture to provide start-up textile designers with access to expertise and equipment, such as a Mimaki TS30-1300 sublimation transfer printer, through workshop hubs, first in Manchester and then at YPS’s base in Killingworth near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Atlantic Tech Systems is also tapping into the potential for leather. It showcased the Azon Leather Grande digital flatbed inkjet printer, a dedicated machine for printing on leather with vibrant colours and no cracking and a maximum sheet and print area of 600mm by 750mm.

The busy Hybrid stand, featuring Mimaki printers

Roland’s TrueVis VG2 at the Sabur Digital stand

The new T.Foil Dark from TheMagicTouch

I-Sub had an eye-catching stand

Textile and garment printing

Amaya Sales UK demonstrated its range of garment decoration equipment as well as discussing the new Kornit Avalanche Poly Pro for printing onto polyester – described by the team as a ‘gamechanger’ for the quality of its print onto white and dyed polyester fabrics, including dark polyester. The Poly Pro can be seen at Fespa in Munich this month.

With an extensive range of printers for textiles and printers, CMYUK used the show to promote how its digital print equipment could be used for textiles through a collaboration with designer Hazel Carruthers of Avalana Design. Focusing on the FabriVU 340, Mimaki TS55-1800 and Mimaki TS200P-1800, the stand featured her work on upholstery and other soft furnishings including cushions, lamp shades and drapes.

Among the latest innovations from Roland DG was the company’s first-ever desktop DTG device, the VersaStudio BT-12, an entry-level easy-to-use way to customise T-shirts and tote bags. At the industrial end, Roland unveiled an upgrade for its TrueVis VG2 printer/ cutters, with a new configuration allowing the use of orange ink. Roland’s TrueVis VG2 was also among the digital printers showcased by Grafityp, specialist in systems for vinyl, films and overlaminates. The VG2 could also be found on Sabur Digital’s stand as one of the models new to its line-up. The supplier also demonstrated the Fabrijet HSFT III high- speed industrial dye-sublimation printer suitable for high-volume textile printing. Able to use jumbo rolls, it can print at speeds of up to 250 sq m per hour.

Hybrid Services unveiled the latest addition to its range from Mimaki, the high-performance TS55 dye-sublimation printer for garments and furnishings. The 1.9m transfer paper printer can use a plotter roll for small runs or a mini jumbo roll for long runs which, according to the Hybrid team, means it offers flexibility for growing decorators. Hybrid also showcased new metallic LED UV ink on a Mimaki UJF-7151plus as well as a new clear ink option for Mimaki’s popular UCJV300 Series LED UV printer/ cutters. The new UV silver metallic ink for the UJF-7151plus was also one of the highlights on I-Sub’s stand.

Epson used Sign & Digital UK to demonstrate how effects from skin tones to vibrant colour can be produced using its SureColor technology, including the use of white ink and red ink. The company was exhibiting a range of equipment including the SureColor SC- F6200 dye-sublimation printer, its entry- level textile and décor model that can also be used to produce promotional products in tandem with an oven.

Mimaki Tx300P-1800 textile inkjet printer could be seen at R A Smart

CMYUK showed how its digital printers could be used for textiles

Merlin Transfers has introduced the Nova-Flex range to the UK

The VersaStudio BT-12, Roland DG’s first DTG printer

Software solutions and DTG

Ink was also one of the draws on RA Smart’s stand, where the company demonstrated the versatility of the Mimaki Tx300P-1800 textile inkjet printer with split ink technology. It was also a chance for R A Smart to present the newly launched, flexible, lightweight RexFrame display system with customised printed fabric stretched over an aluminium frame.

The main attraction for decorators on the Ricoh UK stand was a new mid-range DTG printer, the Ri 1000, which can be used for printing on a variety of items such as light and dark shirts, hoodies bags, large prints, socks and poly blends. Aimed at mid-volume production, it can print full-colour to a high quality on light garments in less than 28 seconds. The Ri 1000 was also part of the range showcased by reseller Resolute DTG, which was also celebrating a new contract to manufacture Kodak’s water-based DTG inks in the UK.

Sign & Digital was the first UK trade show at which decorators could see the recently launched CorelDraw Graphics Suite 2019. Now available for macOS as well as Windows, the new graphic design software suite includes a host of new features. See Images next month for an exclusive step-by-step feature from Corel using the Graphics Suite 2019.

Software specialist CadLink Technology promoted the latest updates to its products for decorators, such as its Digital Factory v10 OKI Edition, with newly engineered custom printer drivers and modified colour profiles, supporting a wider variety of printers than ever before. Its Digital Factory Apparel edition has added new features including camera support for focusing on specific areas.

Target Transfers had a host of new colours for visitors

The new Ri 1000 mid range DTG printer from Ricoh

Graphtec had a range of cutting solutions on display

Epson demonstrated its SureColor technology

Graphtec GB showcased a range of vinyl and flatbed cutters, including the CE Lite- 50, which has just been reduced in price to enable wider access to its digital cutting technology. There was also innovation in heat presses from Secabo UK, which showed off its TC5 Smart and TC7 Smart that use smart technology so they can be controlled via a mobile phone.

The show halls shimmered with new transfers for garments. Merlin Transfers has introduced the Nova-Flex range of heat transfer film to the UK after becoming European distributor. They bring glitter effects and reflective colours such as metallic red and blue as well as animal prints, with “more coming in time”. TheMagicTouch presented the latest addition to its metallic-effect T.Foil system, T.Foil Dark. With over 18 foil colour options, this transfer process can be used quickly on nearly any garment regardless of colour or textile, but with no need for cutting and weeding.

Target Transfers has been keeping on top of trends with its expanding range, dazzling show visitors with its Disco Effect two-tone vinyl transfers in four new colours of blue, green, red and gold. The team also presented 26 new flock vinyl colours, such as fluorescent orange, yellow, green and pink, which “give a vibrant pop when you put it onto material”, according to marketing manager Andy Rogers. “People are looking for something a bit different and original. These are real showstoppers,” he added.