1st Mar 2017 - Product
The Process: Digital Printing - British, and the Best
Print is paramount here at Riz and so in this, the second in our series of articles that looks at the process behind making your swim shorts, we will be sharing the details of how our designs are printed onto recycled polyester.
Our designs are digitally printed onto recycled polyester fabric here in the UK, a process that we’re rightly proud of. Having worked with a small collective of independent illustrators to produce the illustrations and patterns for our shorts, we e-mail the designs and ship rolls of plain recycled polyester fabric to our printers in Macclesfield. Macclesfield, in Cheshire, was once the world’s biggest producer of finished silk and in the 1830s there were 71 silk mills in the town engaged in throwing, weaving and printing silk as well as producing silk buttons. Printers used engraved wooden blocks and hand operated silk screens, with one printer in the town amassing a collection of 90,000 wooden printing blocks by the turn of the 20th century. These days, it is still possible to have designs screen-printes, however digital printing is a far suprerior process that is well worth the extra expense. The printers that we work with, R.A. Smart, have been at the forefront of digital fabric printing since the late 1990s, and operate eleven machines, two of which are capable of printing 150 metres of fabric per hour at the highest quality. They colour match so that the design on the finished fabric looks exactly the same as it does on our monitors here at Sunny Cove Studios.
“Printing digitally means freedom and limitless possibilities, particularly when it comes to depth and detail. As a brand built upon the beauty of nature and vibrant colour, we couldn’t wish for more!”
R.A. Smart was founded by Ron Smart in 1972 and produced silk screens for the screen-printing industry, before transitioning in the 1980s into printing silk for the fashion industry and then pioneering digital textile technology in the 1990s. They now operate one of the UK’s largest digital fabric printing facilities, and thanks to their technology they are able to offer a service with no limitations on available colours, no minimum order size and no restrictions on repeat orders.
“Unlike screen printing there are no set-up charges or minimum orders, which means that when developing new prints we can test as many variations as we like in small batches. This allows our design process to be a lot more experimental.”
As well as the quality and logistical benefits, digital printing is also a far more environmentally friendly process. Compared to silk-screen printing, digital printing uses around half of the amount of ink and water in production because there is no need to change inks and wash screens. Because we e-mail designs as opposed to having screens manufactured and then delivered to their factory, there is also a reduction in the carbon footprint associated with producing our shorts. Vibrant colours, limitless design possibilities and lighter on the environment, all whilst supporting British manufacturing. That’s why we are proud to print our recycled polyester fabric here in the UK.