When it comes to fabric printing, there are a number of important details that need to be taken into consideration. While many fabric printing professionals focus on the quality of a fabric, the different inks used, and the actual printing process itself, the finishing process is what has the ability to set your work apart from the rest.
Having the highest quality print finishing equipment is perhaps the best way to ensure that your product will be highly appreciated. Furthermore, you need to know the different methods of fabric printing finishing in order to select the method that will work best for any particular job. Each finishing method ultimately depends on the type of fabric that will be used, among various other factors.
Different Types of Fabric Finishing
There are several different ways to finish a piece of fabric, depending on intended use. This can include raising, calendaring, chemical finishing, and shrinking. While many of these procedures are usually completed before the printing process ever begins, it might be helpful to consider adding some sort of finish to a fabric depending on the use to which the final product will be placed. For example, certain chemical finishes can produce fabrics and textiles that have low flammability, which might be a good idea for a specially designed piece that is intended for indoors.
If you don’t have the ability to finish the fabrics before printing, it is important to
understand the different qualities of the fabric that clients bring before beginning printing.
The first and most important step of finishing a fabric print is cutting the fabric to size. While a simple pair of scissors, or a manual hot knife, can be used for this job, it is also possible to use small, electric cutting machines, such as a rotary cutter. The best tool for the job will depend on the type of cut that is required.
For example, scissors might be the best tool for the job with respect to an individual, high-end pieces that require strangely shaped cuts which must be individually made. A small rotary blade might be better, however, when cutting several pieces all at once along a similar line, such as in the case of a large order of similar sized pieces.
Finally, straight blades can also be purchased as an essential piece of print finishing equipment for fabric printing companies that plan on receiving large orders of pieces that need long, straight cuts. These blades come in a variety of different sizes that can make straight cuts through several pieces of fabric at once, thus eliminating the need to make individual cuts on each piece of fabric.
The Cutting Table
In the world of fabric printing, the type of cutting tool used is certainly important;
however, the cutting table itself is also a very important piece of equipment. The VersaTech2 cutting table is one of the top cutting tables available on the market today. It is a digital finishing cutting system that can help to streamline operations and vastly increase overall productivity and profitability.
Sew Up The Cuts
One of the biggest mistakes that can be made after using print finishing equipment is forgetting to sew up the cuts which have been made on a piece of fabric. Cutting a piece of fabric will reveal its individual fibers or threads, and, if left untreated, these fibers will eventually begin to fray. This will lead to the eventual ruining of the product and will considerably lessen its overall life.
While you can sew up each individual cut, there are also other options available, including sealing cuts. Many laminating processes will essentially seal cuts, and heated knives will also seal the cuts made on certain types of synthetic fabrics. If you are printing on cotton or other types of natural fibers, hemming up cuts will be necessary in order to avoid eventual fraying. With flatbed digital cutters, full finishing automation, including laser cut and sealed edges, can be a boom to throughput, accuracy, reducing scrap and more.
While most people think of welding as a process of using heat to bind metals, welding is also a term that applies to the fabric printing industry. Welding essentially uses high amounts of heat and pressure to fuse a fabric to itself. The most common form of welding is rotary welding, by which a printed fabric is “rolled” between two wheels that apply heat and pressure. Hot air welding is another option, which, as the name implies, uses hot air to bind a fabric to itself in a sealing process.
The Choices with Fabric Finishing
Within the fabric printing industry, finishing is often considered to be the most important part of the entire process. Learning the different options available is essential. Since you will most likely be dealing with several different types of fabrics, having awareness of multiple options will allow you to choose the best fabric finishing option for each type of job.