Select Page

British Fabric Printing gets to grips with pigment inks

British Fabric Printing gets to grips with pigment inks
Following the installation of a Mimaki TX300 pigment ink printer and a Klieverik VERTEX calender press, both purchased from CMYUK, start-up company British Fabric Printing (BFP), which has been trading online for the past five months, has now completed 650 plus orders.

Stuart Kettridge, the company’s co-founder and co-owner confided that he was delighted with the results that BFP has achieved with its new kit. He said: “We’d never had a decent experience with a pigment ink printing as we’ve never liked the finish, but when we saw the results achievable with Mimaki pigment inks on the TX300 printer, they really weren’t like anything we’d ever seen before. And, in addition to the way they looked, they also felt good too, as they barely impact on the fabric’s surface.”

Stuart went on to explain that the company specialises in printing stretch jersey fabrics. “We set up British Fabric Printing due to the fabric inconsistencies across the globe. There’s nobody in this country that prints stretch jersey the way that we do. Everyone was crying out for a UK print company to do it!”

The germ of the idea that spawned British Fabric Printing had really begun four years previously when the company’s co-founder/owner Lisa Bence had established an online childrens’ clothes store from which she sold her own designs, while Stuart worked as a stone cleaner by day in the City of London and as an audio mastering engineer by night.

However, the popularity of Lisa’s digital store and the effect of lockdown on Stuart’s work encouraged them to concentrate on the childrens’ clothing company. The initial idea was to purchase a textile printer that would primarily be used to output Lisa’s designs, and to offer a bespoke fabric printing service to other online digital stores as a secondary activity.

After researching equipment choices online, it became apparent that the Mimaki printer was the best machine for the job, which led Lisa and Stuart to Brett Platt, Textile Business Manager at CMYUK.

Initially, Stuart and Lisa had chosen to use reactive inks, which post-printing, require hot steam fixation and extensive washing to ensure that the dyes penetrate the actual strata of the fabric and produce the desired level of colourfastness and washability.

Stuart continued: “Right from the start, we were in trouble with the reactive inks. We were having so many problems with the fabrics.   The coatings were causing real colour headaches and it was impossible to speak to our usual suppliers because of furlough issues, but luckily Brett really helped us.”

So after throwing away 800 metres of material and temporarily closing the website to avoid letting any customers down, Lisa and Stuart decided to take Brett’s advice and embrace the pigment ink process, which necessitated the purchase of a calendar press.

They selected the Klieverik VERTEX hybrid transfer press, which was launched last autumn, offers a working width of 1650mm, and handles both single pieces and roll-to-roll fabrics. It features a robust build quality, an oil-filled heat drum that facilitates consistently vibrant colour reproduction and high print definition. It also includes an ingenious belt tracking system for right-first-time production and is cheap to run.

Stuart enthused: “It’s an amazing piece of kit. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It warms up very quickly and holds its heat unbelievably well for a smaller drum. The combination of the calender with the Mimaki pigment inks has reduced my contact time by half. We also plan to do sublimation work in the future, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it copes then.”

BFP had its Mimaki printer flushed to take pigment inks in January but as the VERTEX is a new piece of equipment there were no pre-built customer units available. Accordingly, CMYUK has offered BFP the use of its own in-house Kleverik machine until the VERTEX is built.

Once the pigment inks were set up and the calender press organised – Stuart now spends every Friday at CMYUK’s Shrewsury HQ to use it – BFP once again reactivated its website and hasn’t looked back since.

Stuart opined: “It’s an entirely different ballgame with pigment inks. The sharpness is brilliant. Everyone comments about the detail, especially when you’re using lighter or neutral backgrounds. In the short time I’ve been printing, I realise that with reactive inks you’re prone to bleeding and, even when you’re steaming, you get a minimal bleed that changes the detail.

“Now one of the things I most like about the Mimaki, and I think I’ve amazed Brett at times, is that I’ve managed to take it from printing seven metres per hour up to 12 metres! It’s absolutely my playground and I love using it and seeing where I can take it – it’s in my nature to build and improve upon things.”

As well as revising its production methods, BFP’s original business model has also slightly changed. The demand from other smaller digital shops for printed fabric has meant that its in-house designs have been pushed to the back of the queue.

Looking forward, BFP is determined to follow the wave. Stuart concluded: “We’re not going to be complacent – if something needs to change and we need to move in a new direction that’s what we’ll do.

Kids’ clothing remains our core business but there are so many other décor-related opportunities to explore too. We’ve only really been up and running since February but it already feels like we’ve been doing this forever!”

 For further information British Fabric Printing, visit: https://www.britishfabricprinting.co.uk/stock-designs

 

For further information on CMYUK, visit: www.cmyuk.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

The latest Projects, Features & News

Discover the latest projects, industry news and new products for the UK sign and graphics industry.


Recent Tweets