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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Large Format Printing: Kornit and Mimaki Garment Presses

Ever since I saw the complexity and the stunning color of the new fabric-printed beachwear during my recent summer trips to the Eastern Shore, I have been a student of fabric printing. The advances in this technology are intriguing as well as beautiful.

So when I recently saw two articles about new large format printing equipment for fabric, I thought I’d share them with you.

Printer #1: Kornit Avalanche Hexa Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printer

The first article, “Top Promotions Installs Kornit Avalanche Hexa DTG Printer” (10/25/13, www describes Kornit’s new printing equipment, which offers the following features and benefits:

    1. The Kornit Avalanche includes a six-color, plus white, inkset. This expands the color gamut by 30 percent, allowing the Avalanche to match a multitude of spot colors for logos and other branded graphics.


    1. The white ink feature allows users to print on dark fabrics without compromising the intensity of the ink colors.


    1. The Avalanche uses NeoPigment inks, which offer the benefits of pigmented inks without the liabilities. Specifically, these inks are manufactured to meet rigorous environmental standards while being more efficient than dye-based inks. The inks also allow for shorter production times since they do not necessitate pre-treating the fabric, and this increased efficiency shows up in lower production costs.


    1. The NeoPigment inks are also durable, and they stand up to repeated washings without degrading.


  1. The Kornit Avalanche can print on multiple types of fabric while maintaining a soft hand (that is, the feel of the printed fabric is still soft and supple).

Printer #2: Mimaki Tx500-1800B Digital Textile Printer

The second article, “Mimaki Adds to Digital Textile Range with Tx500-1800B Launch” (10/25/13,, by Simon Nias), showcases Mimaki’s offerings in the same general arena as the Kornit Avalanche (i.e., direct-to-fabric digital textile printing).

Here are some of the features and benefits of Mimaki’s printer:

    1. The Tx500-1800B “can print reactive dye, sublimation dye, acid dye, and pigment inks, making it compatible with a range of pre-treated fabrics, including: cotton; silk, nylon and wool; polyester or transfer paper.” ( This provides huge breadth, both in terms of inks and substrates.


    1. The Tx500-1800B is 1.5 times as fast as its predecessor (the Mimaki Tx400). Faster speeds with this “eight pass bi-directional printing” ( yield lower production costs. At 600 x 1200 dpi resolution, the Tx500 will print up to 45 square meters per hour (in 4-color) or 22 square meters per hour (in 8-color).


    1. The printer incorporates a conveyor belt to feed the fabric substrate without tension, allowing the use of elastic fabrics.


    1. The Tx500 includes a “variable dot function” that provides “rich gradation without banding” and “accurate printing of fine lines.” (


  1. When compared to other fabric custom printing methods, the Tx500 requires less ink and water. This reduces both the cost of the process and its environmental impact.

Implications of the Advances in Fabric Custom Printing Technology

I see two major implications of this new direction in direct-to-garment custom printing:

    1. The speed, quality, and reduced costs, as well as the ever increasing number of substrates available for use in direct-to-garment presses, will speed up the transition from such traditional technologies as custom screen printing to the digital alternatives.


  1. Digital custom printing of garments and fabrics will allow for short press runs and personalized printing on a multitude of fabric substrates. This will foster mass customization and prototyping, since there will be no need to spend heavily on preparation. Short runs will be as economical as longer runs.

The Future of Printed Garments

I think the future of direct-to-garment and direct-to-fabric printing will be very bright. I look forward to my trips to the beach next year. I expect to see ever-increasing complexity, high resolution, and vibrant colors in the printed fabric designs, as well as garments produced using an increasing variety of fabrics.

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