By Richard Stuart-Turner, Friday 11 May 2018
Bang Tidy Clothing has invested around £90,000 in new kit to enable it to offer a specialist dye-sublimation print service onto large-format aluminium sheets from substrate supplier Metal.
An Epson SureColor SC-F7200 printer and a Monti Antonio Mod. 200 Maxiprinter industrial heat press, both supplied by I-Sub Digital, have been installed at Sheffield-based Bang Tidy’s premises over the past few months, with the aluminium printing service launching in recent weeks.
Metal’s aluminium sheets have a specially developed polymer coating for dye-sublimation which, according to the supplier, produces “a perfectly flat, glossy, richly colourful high-quality image”. The aluminium is 1mm thick and, once printed, can be displayed flat, curved or folded.
Bang Tidy Clothing managing director Nick Collinson said: “I-Sub told us that with the new Monti Antonio heat press, we could be a trailblazer in the UK for the Metal aluminium solution. We carried out extensive testing and were very impressed with the quality of the finished product and could immediately see that this could open whole new markets for our business.
“It is an amazingly flexible solution. There are lots of people that can print onto small-format aluminium, but to create something digitally with the impact and presence of an 8x4ft aluminium sheet is not something available elsewhere in the UK. We can also produce these at a hugely competitive price.”
He added: “It’s opened up a new market for us and we’ve had enquiries from art galleries to print this on high-resolution images – it offers something different to a standard canvas.”
Bang Tidy Clothing is primarily a B2C specialist but anticipates most of the business for this new service will be to the B2B sector. Potential new markets include signmakers, architects and interior designers, Collinson said.
He added: “There has been a fairly steep learning curve with the new setup because there are some differences in times and temperatures compared to textile sublimation. Removing moisture has been a key element as this can destroy a sublimated print.
“However, by purchasing the new Epson printer, we have been able to overcome these challenges and are now producing very high-quality output that is ready to go to market.”
The Epson device prints a reverse image onto transfer paper, which is then run through the Monti Antonio machine, which uses heat and pressure to turn the ink into a gas that sublimates onto the specialised coating of Metal’s aluminium sheets. Once sublimated, the printed aluminium can be bent, folded or rolled, and it can also be laser cut into intricate shapes.
Bang Tidy Clothing has 18 staff and turns over around £2.5m. It also operates additional Epson sublimation printers, Resolute DTG direct-to-garment printers and an M&R screen printing carousel as well as embroidery machines and digital transfer equipment.