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Mimaki printers unlock students’ creativity

Mimaki printers unlock students’ creativity

The University of Huddersfield’s busy print room is a creative space that provides students with a collaborative environment where they can explore the full potential of inkjet printing.

It offers a full line-up of digital print equipment, including a Mimaki UJF small format flatbed LED UV printer and a Mimaki Tx300P-1800 direct to textile printer, together with further small format transfer printers, large format graphics devices, plus binding and other finishing processes.

The mastermind behind the university’s School of Art, Design and Architecture, Stephen Calcutt, explained: “Our initial investment in the Mimaki UJF and its subsequent location in our School-wide print facility totally changed our approach to teaching and supporting print design.

“We originally operated the facility like a traditional university print bureau, with about five large format printers churning out posters and graphics, but the arrival of the UJF changed our focus and transformed the way we work.”

Now, with the facility being used by students from other courses, as well as those involved with textiles, it’s been transformed into a thriving, interactive hub where students are taught to question conventional thinking and use the creative capabilities of the Mimaki printers to the full. Key to this behavioural change is PhD student and senior lecturer, Brent Hardy-Smith (pictured above), who said: “I’m not here to sit and critique students’ work. Instead, I run workshops, where I can continue learning alongside them. Our methodology is all about discovery and transformative design and using the printers as creative tools together with other technology and materials.”

He continued: “Teaching thus becomes more about facilitating, whether that’s facilitating people, equipment or thinking, it’s all relevant to the process and helps to lead the students in different directions.”

“I encourage them to ask, ‘can we?’ and to question convention. The design software provides the various possibilities, but it’s the Mimaki printers that add the potential, and this is transforming the way the students think about the connection between design and print.”

Huddersfield University is centrally located in the West Yorkshire town, which has a rich textile-printing heritage. With major investment and development on the cards, the university’s School of Art, Design and Architecture is set to move to a high-tech new building in 2019, but for now, it offers a creative resource that spans a multitude of disciplines, including architecture, animation, photography, graphic design and textiles.

Mimaki’s UJF series of multi-award-winning small format flatbed printers is used in a broad array of industries, from high-end décor applications to the promotional product printing market. The printers are also found within manufacturing environments too, as well as many other sectors that benefit from the machines’ host of creative features that include opaque white ink, clear varnish, vibrant process colours and the ability to print on to almost any substrate.

Purchased through Mimaki reseller R A Smart, the Tx300P-1800 is a versatile, wide format, direct to textile printer that can be used with digitally prepared natural fabrics, such as cotton, thus making it a popular choice for fashion and furnishings businesses, as well as designers.

Stephen Calcutt observed: “We have an excellent relationship with the team at R A Smart and it always keeps Laura Newill, our Textiles Specialist Design and Print Technician and me well informed about the latest product developments.

“However, what pleases me the most is the great service we receive from both R A Smart and Hybrid Services, Mimaki’s exclusive UK and Ireland distributor. As a manager, it’s essential that I feel confident that our staff is well supported and I know that Laura can rely on the technical expertise of both companies’ engineers and solutions experts.”

Brent Hardy-Smith added: “Our line-up of Mimaki hardware enables the students to appreciate the appropriateness of print – they quickly learn which machine they need to use to gain the best results.”

One of the university’s most anticipated annual highlights is the end of year show and the Mimaki printers play an important role in the creation of the work on display.

Steven Calcutt concluded: “Students learn to incorporate many different techniques, technologies and materials into their work to demonstrate the full breadth of their design credentials, but none of this would be possible if we hadn’t made the initial investment in the Mimaki.”

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