Multi-ink platform fabric

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One of the important trends we’re seeing in the wide format digital printing market is the development of materials that are digitally printable using a variety of ink platforms. One of the coolest multi-ink platform media products I have seen recently is a product called PhotoFab Ultra by Perception from DigitalSource1. PhotoFab Ultra is a two-sided coated polyester that is printable using solvent, eco-solvent, UV-curable and Latex inkjet printers.

Larry Delesio of DigitalSource1 says that the objective of PhotoFAB Ultra is to bring to market a product that enhances the quality and cut properties of pressure-sensitive vinyl for wall decal applications, and provide a “greener” product because it is polyester, not vinyl.

The strong characteristics of the product come from the two-sided coating. The front coating provides excellent opacity and high whiteness, which makes the images really stand out. The back coating improves the cutting performance of wall graphics, which is critical because so many are die-cut shapes. Overall, the additional weight of the two-sided coating, which is 11 mil versus many of the PSA materials, which are 3 to 4 mil, makes the material a lot easier to handle.

PhotoFAB Ultra by Perception has an ultra-removable adhesive, making it repositionable multiple times—a feature that is key for retail, galleries and consumer applications. The product goes nicely around corners, and because it is a fabric and not a film, it releases air so it won’t bubble.

PhotoFAB Ultra by Perception has a matte finish, which gives it a richer texture and eliminates the “shine” or reflection you get with a lot of vinyl products. PhotoFab Ultra also has a water-resistant coating that provides high color gamut and dot control, and allows it to be used for outdoor applications on a short-term basis. The product is American made and currently sells for between 80 cents and 90 cents per square foot.

As an analyst in the digital graphics market, I believe that products like PhotoFab Ultra answer the call in today’s market because they offer improved performance on “premium” applications, such as interior wall graphics, and they do so using more environmentally friendly material and in consideration of the technology investments printers have already made.

Tim Greene is director, wide format printing and jetting technologies opportunities, InfoTrends, Wehmouth, Mass.

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