by Cassandra Balentine
Short-run, custom décor and apparel applications are certainly in demand as retailers and ecommerce sites seek to tighten supply chains and reduce inventory. Digital dye-sublimation (dye-sub) processes enable manufacturers, suppliers, and print providers to offer vibrant, low-volume runs to designers, boutique as well as large retailers, and even consumers.
Above: Catalyst Fabric Solutions utilizes a fleet of Epson SureColor F10070 printers for dye-sub printing to produce a range of decorative and functional finished products like home goods, accessories, and apparel.
Catalyst Fabric Solutions utilizes dye-sub printing, based on an automated web to print (W2P) workflow and onsite textile manufacturing to produce an array of decorative and functional finished products like home goods, accessories—including area rugs, draperies, lunch bags, and kitchen essentials—in addition to apparel.
In operation since 2015, it is headquartered in Marianna, FL. 270 employees are normally part of the workforce, but during the fourth quarter peak season staff increases to over 400.
While the print provider does produce programs on a contract basis, its core business is fulfillment of online initiated, drop ship orders that are produced and shipped on demand.
“Digital printing is the foundation for the rest of our operation. It gives our clients and their clients a far greater amount of design choices—including the ability to customize product—than would ever be possible in a traditional retail environment,” says Bill Finley, executive director, Catalyst Fabric Solutions.
The print provider has utilized digital printing since its inception. “It is truly our core competency,” shares Finley.
In a continued effort to fulfill its real-time manufacturing goals, Catalyst Fabric Solutions relies on a fleet of printing and finishing tools.
The company recently invested in ten Epson SureColor F10070 printers. This addition brings the total number of printers in the shop’s operation to 55 and offers a total daily output capacity of over 30,000 linear yards per day.
“We are pleased with the addition of Epson printers into our operation. My entire print production team has positive feedback. We are also pleased with the productivity,” notes Finley.
The selection was made based on ease of operation, print speed, and machine footprint.
The Epson SureColor F10070 is an industrial dye-sub printer. Designed to achieve around-the-clock productivity, it features four, 4.7-inch Epson PrecisionCore printheads to deliver roll-to-roll performance at speeds of up to 2,700 square feet per hour. The Epson SureColor F10070 utilizes UltraChrome DS ink technology. It also offers an array of features to maximize efficiency and minimize downtime, including user-replaceable printheads and a low-cost, high-capacity replaceable ink pack system that holds up to 20 liters of ink per color for longer print runs with less user intervention.
“Print speed is critical, but not at the expense of sacrificing print quality. The output and ease of operation of the Epson SureColor printers were an excellent fit for us,” shares Finley.
Catalyst Fabric Solutions also relies on Epson ink for the Epson SureColor F10070. For substrates, it prints on a large array of polyester and synthetic rich textiles.
Dye-Sub Transfer Quality
With a commitment to quality, Catalyst Fabric Solutions utilizes a dye-sub heat transfer process for decorating its textile products. Finley comments that this is a clean and efficient method to produce immediately colorfast textile-based items like apparel and pillows.
“We can take printed material directly from the transfer department to our onsite cut-and-sew operation,” he explains.
The textile print provider consistently receives high marks from its many clients on quality metrics. “Our digital print methods are conducive to helping us surpass customer satisfaction goals of over 99 percent for the last three years,” shares Finley.
Coming from a background in analog textile printing, Finley sees Catalyst Fabric Solutions doing things that would not have been possible ten or 12 years ago on a daily basis. “We commonly produce single rolls of printed material that could include 1,000 or more unique or custom images. This would never be possible without digital printing.”
While the company has years of experience and expertise in digital textile printing, it is consistently striving to do more and do it better.
One challenge Catalyst Fabric Solutions continues to work through is managing the inherent variability in textiles versus other substrates. “We work hard with our material vendors to create fabrics with very exact specifications. This work has paid dividends in the quality of our output,” notes Finley.
Of course, another ongoing hurdle is COVID-19, which had a moderate impact on the company’s operation in 2020. “Based on our capacity to cut and sew, we produced personal protective equipment used by first responders and medical personnel. This gave our associates a feeling of pride that they were contributing in the fight against the pandemic,” he shares.
Catalyst Fabric Solutions continues to invest in technologies that innovate and set it apart from the competition.
The company utilizes the capabilities of digital printing, along with an automated, W2P workflow to quickly turnaround a large amount of high-quality, unique products on a daily basis. IPM
Apr2021, Industrial Print Magazine