Surface Print is to expand its potential to produce unique wallpaper by combining digital and traditional analogue printing technologies with the purchase of a third HP Latex 3000 printer, with its latest collection about to go on show at Heimtextil.
A fourth-generation family business based in Lancashire, Surface Print is an industry leader in luxury wallcoverings and a pioneer in new printing techniques. In addition to manufacturing wallpaper designs for a wealth of high-end customers, in 2016 it launched its own brand, 1838, named in honour of the year the first wallpaper machine was invented.
Its busy Accrington factory combines an extensive range of analogue printing and finishing processes including flexographic, surface printing, flocking and beading. In 2013 it took a step into digital printing with the installation of its first HP Latex printer and currently runs two HP Latex 570 systems for proofing, development and short run panel wallpapers. It also has three HP Latex 3000 production printers – with the third, a Latex 3600, having just been installed.
Surface Print produces some wallpapers entirely using HP Latex digital printers. The technology allows for much shorter runs than analogue – it accepts orders of a minimum of twelve rolls – which appeals to emerging and niche designers, while the practically infinite number of colours enables creative freedom at a considerably lower cost than using traditional methods. The on-demand nature of digital printing also has economical and ecological benefits, as retailers no longer need to stock more product than they may need. In addition, digital print delivers the consistency required by the wallpaper market.
"Our investment in HP digital technology has been consumer driven," comments Jason Gilliat, Business Development Manager, Surface Print. "The demand for digitally printed products has grown at a rate nobody could have predicted."
However, it is by blending analogue and digital printing techniques that Surface Print is setting itself apart, by achieving highly creative designs and finishes. Wallpaper can be printed using a traditional method and over-printed with digital details, or vice versa, opening up a new world of substrates and finishes.
Jason comments: "The machines have the ability to print on a variety of grounds – paper-backed fabric, grasscloth – all of which are very tactile, very textured, and create some truly beautiful products."
The influence of design flows both ways, as James Watson, Managing Director of Surface Print, explains.
"Designers love new materials. We'll make our customers aware of the new substrates available to them and they'll be sure to create some amazing designs," he says. "In turn, digital printing systems will become faster and better as designers push boundaries."
The mixture of analogue and digital also provides an impressive showcase of what Surface Print can create, both for its commercial clients and its own 1838 customers. The new 1838 range will be launched at Heimtextil (Hall 3.1 E10), taking place in Frankfurt from January 7th to 10th 2020.
"The whole company is about wallpaper printing, wallpaper innovation, and creating beautiful products for your wall," says James. "So we always want to include the latest innovations to show off our talents."
A must-visit event for anyone working in interior design, Heimtextil opens the season with a showcase of the latest trends and opportunities to network with major players in the industry. HP (Hall 3.0 F81) will be exhibiting the groundbreaking HP Stitch textile printer series alongside the Latex 570 printer.
In addition, HP is inviting visitors to book a place at Take the Next Step in Textile Printing, a presentation by acclaimed designer Gino Anthonisse and HP's textile experts, which includes a personalised business consultation and a complimentary textile goodie bag printed with the HP Stitch.
Many of Surface Print's workforce have been experts in analogue printing methods for decades – indeed, some are second-generation wallpaper printers – so the addition of digital methods was significant.
"The introduction of HP Latex into a traditional print factory was a challenging one but it was one which was embraced," explains Jason.
The process was made smoother by the support from HP, he adds. "HP understood our requirements: combining traditional techniques that gave digital a new dimension."
Jason and James agree there is an exciting period of evolution ahead for Surface Print, using HP Latex technology.
"It's changed things dramatically," says Jason. "To be able to combine processes – the traditional with the modern – there's no limit."
HP has created a video revealing the innovation that goes on inside Surface Print's Lancashire factory, including interviews with James Watson and Jason Gilliat.
If you'd like to sign up for the HP Stand tour at Heimtextil, please visit www.hp.com/go/heimtextilregister