When working with digitally printed fabrics, welding gives print service providers (PSPs), who lack experience in sewing or don’t have an industrial sewing machine, or a pool of talented sewers, a quality alternative to finishing. A popular resource when creating vinyl banners and large outdoor billboards, many print service providers are already familiar with this new process but remain unaware of the slew of advantages and capabilities that welding machines offer.
To weld or not to weld? The answer to this question is dependent on end use, the specific application, and the user. There are several types of welding technologies, and their suitability varies across different fabric types and functions.
As a whole, the fabric welding process combines intense heat and pressure to fuse pieces of fabric together and is a cost-efficient, waste-reductive alternative to industrial sewing.
Now that you’ve developed a basic understanding of the welding process and it’s growing importance for PSPs let’s dive into the specific functions and overarching benefits of this unique technology.
Benefits of Welding
Welding machines are incredibly durable, reliable, and relatively easy to maintain. Without stitching that could potentially crease and ruffle fabric, welding technology bonds two layers together, and therefore never interferes with an image. Welding produces a clean and polished product that is aesthetically pleasing.
Welding combines quality with durabitlity; not only are finished materials visually appealing, but strong as well. Industrially sewn outdoor signs and billboards are at high risk for their thread rotting and seams unwinding, whereas with welding machines, there is no puncture at the seam. The same is true with grommets, where not puncturing the fabric gives welded grommets significantly more strength.
On top of finishing benefits, labor costs are lowered when companies utilize welding machinery because its operation doesn’t require high user experience. By reducing waste and increasing efficiency, welding also cuts material costs.
Welding is Securing Market Success
Welding is becoming very popular, its application driven by competitive market forces. PSPs who’ve adopted welding will be set apart from the digital printing standards. Meaning?
As the digitally printed fabric industry grows, finishing procedures and hardware will become necessary to balance the burden of heavy workloads. Welding offers an excellent, affordable, and rapid finishing method. Equipped with UV technologies, welding machines work with a wide range of digitally printed textiles and fabrics.
According to current statistics, the costs for digitally printed fabric are now roughly 28% of the job cost and finishing, including cutting and sewing/welding now approach 72% of cost. As one of the key components in finishing, welding can ultimately reduce finishing bottlenecks; or stalls in production due to overwhelming workloads. This method will enable PSPs to be more productive, efficient, and profitable in the long run.
Different Types of Welding for Different Materials
Welding is a fantastic approach to finishing textiles. Various textiles, however, will require different welding methods. Let’s review the different types of available welding practices and the fabrics they coincide with best.
Ultrasonic welding is typically associated with polyester fabrics, non-woven materials, and some Tyvek-type materials. This method uses high-frequency vibrations to melt and fuse thermoplastic layers quickly. Ultrasonic welding pairs well with light, delicate fabrics, and doesn’t require seaming tape or other special materials.
Impulse welding controls positioning and measures temperature wherever heat is applied. It’s a rather quiet, inexpensive method that is common in workshop environments.
Radio Frequency Welding
Great for PBC/PU coated and unsupported materials, radio frequency welding uses a stamping machine to hold fabric pieces in place while they are being welded.
Unweldable materials include non-coated acrylics, nylon materials, true silicone, non-PVC SEG (silicone edge graphics), and cotton. Consider these limitations when setting up welding processes. While welding is a better finishing alternative for many materials, it, unfortunately, isn’t applicable everywhere.
Conclusion: An Ideal Way To Finish Digitally Printed Fabric
For many PSP’s, finishing is one of the most challenging processes in the production process, and often creates bottlenecks. As a result of finishing inefficiencies, many PSP’s, when bogged down with heavy workloads, opt to turn down jobs or extend delivery dates.
Welding, however, offers a solution. On top of the welding opportunities described above, its wide range of perks and capabilities can add an effective finishing method to a PCPs portfolio. Affordable, durable, and easy to operate, welding machines reduce labor costs and waste production.
With a plethora of different caliber welding machines available, aim to find one that matches your primary fabric line and therefore maximizes production.