5 Printing Trends to Watch in 2018

Welcome to 2018! As we begin the new year, we take a look at what’s hot now in wide-format printing and what’s going to gain traction in the coming months. Our team provided insight on what they see as the growing trends for 2018, so we can help you be prepared with the media and equipment you need to meet your customers’ evolving demands.

1. Digital Keeps Growing: During the past two decades, we were at the forefront as digital took the lead in the graphics, photography and signage markets. Now, we’re watching digital printing make new inroads in industries that range from décor to flexible packaging. In the same way digital printing made signage faster and more customized than technologies of the past, we’re going to see that advantage work for short-run, super customized, more quickly produced fabrics for applications such as signage, upholstery, drapery, bedding, accessories, fast fashion and much more.

Kornit Allegro roll-to-roll digital fabric printing system

Because digital allows a file to print directly to a substrate without expensive plate setup, short- or even micro-runs are a whole new possibility for fabric, specifically. With these shorter run possibilities, we anticipate more fabric printing here in the U.S., rather than mass production off-shore that equates to tons of inventory on shelves here. One-off digital printing means your customers no longer need to stock all that inventory from overseas.

Sub Shots: Making Great Artwork More Affordable

The evolution of SubShots by Dye Hard Sublimations over the past few years is a story that epitomizes the growing capabilities of inkjet and dye-sublimation printing. The team started out dye-sub printing uniforms for lacrosse leagues, but with new products and technology, they’ve begun to evolve into photography reproduction and décor applications and even Christmas ornaments.

“We had every intention of doubling-down on apparel, but once we got the equipment and printable hard surfaces, like ChromaLuxe metal photo panels, we thought: Why don’t we just produce really great, vibrant pictures on ChromaLuxe?” says Sean Calvillo of SubShots. “We think we make good artwork more affordable.”

Cavillo says his team is currently curating more photographic content from professional photographers, and customers can choose from a library of images and order metal or wood prints through SubShots ecommerce site. They also offer customized work for commercial interior design, such as the aerial shot divided into multiple ChromaLuxe metal panels, pictured above.

While the art/photography side of their business gains momentum, SubShots hasn’t veered to far from its sporting beginnings. With the purchase of an Epson SureColor P8000 44-inch aqueous printer from LexJet, SubShots was able to start producing complementary graphics, like life-size wall cutouts of athletes, like the lacrosse player pictured.

“We’ve augmented the metal pictures with LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric to create wall decals to keep with our sports roots,” Calvillo says. “We want to be the one vendor who can do both.”

The creative team has also been working with ChromaLuxe for customized holiday gifts. “We have a photographer customer who was taking the pictures she shot during a session and dye-sub printing them as double-sided ornaments,” Calvillo says.

The SubShots team became a LexJet Blue Business member, and Calvillo says the shipping program has been a game-changer. “LexJet’s personalized service combined with the free shipping program and your competitiveness on price is why you guys are always my first call,” he says.

For PPR Pix, ChromaLuxe Was the Answer for Customer Demand

When his customers started asking for ChromaLuxe metal photo panels, James Marks of PPR Pix in Atlanta, Ga., started researching how to add the colorful photo reproduction option to his operation. That also included the purchase of a new Epson SureColor F6200 dye-sublimation printer.

“We had been looking at getting into metal and there isn’t another local place in Atlanta to do metal printing,” Marks says. “Some of our customers had asked about it, and so we wanted to get our toes in there and jump.”

Now Available at LexJet: Geo Knight Swing Away Heat Press

As part of our expanding dye-sublimation portfolio, we now offer the Geo Knight DK20S Digital Knight 16×20 Swinger heat press, a state-of-the-art swing-away heat transfer press ideal for t-shirt and substrate transfers.

With its sturdy, heavy-duty solid steel welded framework and cutting-edge digital microprocessor, the DK20S is made and supported in the USA. The ease of use also makes this a leading choice, thanks to its SuperCoil-Microwinding heat platen, with coils that cover nearly the entire platen, ensuring accurate, even heat and level pressure.

The DK20S is one of Geo Knight’s most popular models with it’s swing-away design that allows for full access of the table — making t-shirt transfers a breeze, in particular.

Here are a few product highlights:

  • Fully digital temperature control
  • Automatic digital timer w/ pre-press
  • Digital pressure bar graph
  • 70 Programmable presets
  • Interchangeable tables
  • SuperCoil-Microwinding™ heater technology
  • Accommodates materials up to 2” thick
  • Temperature readout accuracy +-2°F.

Want more info? Call a LexJet rep at 800-453-9538 today.

Better Banners: When to Choose Vinyl or Fabric for Event Signage

Banner printing is a staple in many print shops, and vinyl was the go-to for years. However, fabric is a top trend lately that customers demand these days. While fabric used for banners has some advantages, vinyl is still the top option in many circumstances. We put together this quick hit list on when to choose which media for the best event banner results:

Printer capabilities. If you have an aqueous printer, vinyl is generally your best bet. Fabric works well on latex or dye-sub printers. However, LexJet does offer LexJet Poly Select Heavy, for example, which works on aqueous or latex printers. It’s a good option when you want the drape of a fabric, but a heavier option that won’t curl like vinyl. It’s also available in Poly Select Light and Poly Select Medium that are multi-tasking products that can be used for backlit signs and trade show displays.

rodeo bannerEnvironment. Asking your customer where the banner will be displayed and what the ambiance is are the two most important questions to help you deliver the best banner for their expectations. At a casual, outdoor sporting event, a vinyl banner with grommets can deliver great results for the money. However, as Nackard Companies found when working on the Chuck Sheppard Memorial Roping event, opting for LexJet Poly Select Heavy was a great outdoor choice because when the signage hit the chain-link fence, it didn’t make as much noise as vinyl would, which could spook the animals in the rodeo.

No Dye-Sub? No Problem. You Can Still Print Great Fabrics

There’s no doubt about it: Printed fabrics are in demand right now. And with the textile market seeing a 75% increase in the soft signage category, print service providers need to offer fabric as an alternative substrate, or their customers may just walk on by.

One major misconception is that printers need dye-sublimation technology to print fabrics correctly. But with the advancements in media options and printer technology, that’s certainly no longer the case. And in some instances, inkjet-printed fabrics are an even better option than dye-sub.