Whenever we talk about soft signage, most people think of direct to textile printing and or dye sublimation printing.
This can often scare people as they believe additional investment is required for printing and or finishing equipment. Additionally, they tend to associate soft signage as an environmental solution with different and/or additional expensive and space consuming equipment and it is more expensive to produce output.

Yoong Lee
This is certainly a misunderstanding. When it comes to soft signage, producers can use their existing wide format printing equipment in conjunction with the numerous eco-solvent, UV and aqueous ink printable textile medias available in the market.

According to the manufacturers of these textile medias, soft signage applications have grown substantially in Europe and Asia. These alternative medias have already replaced PVC, PP and PET media in many applications and provide numerous benefits.  They are made of polyester with the appropriate treatments and rigidity for feeding through existing large format printers and utilising existing ink systems the operator uses for their other day to day jobs.

Dedicated direct textile feeding or transfer systems are not required and the workflow for the designer and printer operator is the same as usual with similar or in some cases, better output quality.  Some of the additional benefits is the light weight and easy to handle nature of the finished results and, very importantly, many are degradable and do not produce any hazardous chemicals compared to other PVC materials.

An example is in the State of California as well as some European countries who have already started to enforce the restriction of using PVC material for sign banners.  The Australian durable sign graphic has been dominated by PVC materials for quite a long time which undoubtedly adds to the negative effect on the environment.  Essentially, the sign industry, like all other industries, is responsible for their impact on the environment and as good corporate citizens should continue to try and act responsibly wherever possible.

It is important that people realise that textile or soft signage printing for sign graphics does not necessarily require a dedicated textile printer, but at the end of the day is dependent on what material is used for the final output.

Users who already have an investment in existing Eco-Solvent, UV and aqueous printers and workflows will find they already have the perfect solution to start producing soft signage using receptive textile medias now!

Yoong Lee
Applications Development Manager
Roland DG Australia
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