Textile & Soft Signage
Indoor wall graphics
Trade show displays
Digitally printed soft signage boasts vibrant colours, is washable, re-useable, light and easy to transport. Create output that really stands out for your customers with digitally printed soft signage.
Soft signage is usually produced by one of two digital print technologies: dye sublimation or direct-to-textile. Dye sublimation is a two-stage process, but this doesn’t make it tricky or slow! In brief, your chosen design is reverse printed onto dye-sublimation paper using heat reactive, water-based inks. In turn, the printed design is then put in to a heat press (or calendar) along with the polyester textile. The heat opens the pores of the textile and transfers the heated ink. The ink permeates the fabric and on cooling, the pores close. This locks in the ink for lasting, vibrant colour and a soft, comfortable feel to the end product.
Direct-to-textile is also a two-stage process whereby the image is printed direct to the textile using dye-sublimation inks and then fixed using a calendar. While dye sublimation is used to print to 100% polyester textiles, direct-to-textile is usually used for 100% cotton or cotton/polyester blends. Your choice depends on where your market lies and whether the demands of your customer base mean you will gain the additional flexibility in terms of other substrates. Another consideration is that dye sublimation delivers very saturated, vivid colours which direct-to-textile doesn’t. This is because the ink is absorbed into the fabric more using the direct-to-textile option meaning the colours are less vibrant. In terms of the soft signage market, direct-to-textile is used predominantly for short term applications. Again, your choice depends on your market.
What You Need – Dye Sublimation
Dye sublimation printer
Heat reactive dye sublimation inks
Dye sublimation transfer paper
Heat press (size dependant on your application)
Polyester fabric (white)
How You Can Benefit
There are both business and operational benefits to soft signage printing:
Growth market for on-demand rapid customisation
Premium product business, high margins
End product is washable, re-useable and cheap to transport
Soft signage produced via dye-sublimation or direct-to-textile gives you the flexibility to produce one-off’s for single orders to full production runs. Your costs will be the same for both. A huge customer benefit is that the output is washable, re-usable and cheap to transport and in certain applications such as events, this is a big selling point. To add more value, good quality finishing (grommeting and flag sewing) can enhance margin and customer retention. Produce high volumes quickly with digital technology and retain the high margins this premium product business model affords.
Perfect for sampling, one-offs or short to long production runs
Extremely fine details retained
Cost-effective substrates and inks
Easy colour management
One of the biggest advantages of dye-sublimation for textiles is it’s colour vibrancy because the ink is locked in to the textile and not sitting on top of it. This also means, that there is absolutely no fade and the results are truly eye-catching! The technology also affords the minutest details and absolute clarity so no matter how small your design, it will always be as perfectly clear as the original.
Your costs are kept low with transfer paper and inexpensive water-based inks and very little requirement for colour management as you’ll always be printing on to the same paper. It all adds up and it all helps retain your margins.
Direct-to-textile has the advantage on material costs as the transfer paper isn’t needed, but more colour management expertise will be required to switch between substrates.
Finishing, however is a key consideration for soft-signage providers as the output will need to be stretched on a frame, sewn or grommeted in some way before use for the perfect finished product.
Your Target Markets
Hotels & Leisure
Localised or global branding applications
Corporate marketing departments
Local businesses and community projects
Public services (hospitals & Government buildings)
Mutoh Equipment Options – Dye Sublimation & Direct-to-Textile
ValueJet 2638 Dye Sub