Equestrian brand Racesafe says it has plans to explore new business avenues and offer a more tailored service to its customers, following the installation of an HP Stitch S300 dye-sublimation printer.
Racesafe is a major manufacturer of riding silks in the UK and Europe, selling its range of clothing and accessories, alongside safety products such as body protectors, to a network of around 200 retailers. James How, Director of Racesafe, explains why dye-sublimation was chosen as the ideal printing technology for its riding apparel ten years ago.
"Weight is a big factor in horse racing," he says. "Sublimation allows us to print onto lightweight fabrics like polyester-based satin for the jockeys' jacket and cap silks. We produce one-off products customised for each rider, so digital dye-sublimation printing is an obvious choice."
However, after ten years in use Racesafe's original sublimation printer was struggling to meet customer demands for accurately matched colours.
"Riders have their own designs and colours for their silks and, increasingly, also want branding and sponsors' logos," says James. "Matching registered shades on our old machine was fine for regularly produced colours but not for any new or unique designs - often it was done by hand. We needed a new printer that made accurate colour-matching faster and more straightforward."
Racesafe's first point of call was HP reseller RA Smart, who had supplied much of its other equipment over the years.
"RA Smart was very quick to recommend the HP Stitch S300," comments James. "They understood that we had to hit these colour matches and gave us an impressive demonstration of the printer running different applications at The Print Show in September 2019."
The HP Stitch S300 dye-sublimation printer is designed to achieve accurate colour matches predictably, quickly and simply. As a multi-functional solution it can print on transfer paper and direct-to-fabric for maximum efficiency and versatility, while its front-loading design reduces the necessary floorspace. It is the ideal system for producing vibrant sportswear - such as equestrian apparel - as well as fashion, interior decor and soft signage.
"The S300 is the smallest HP Stitch model but it doesn't lack functionality," comments James, following the installation of the printer at Racesafe's Corby premises in December 2019. "It is far more intuitive than our older machine with software that is user-friendly even for non-technicians. It is also at a sensible price point.
"Crucially for us, it makes close colour-matching far more straightforward which has prepared us for the new customer-facing website. It ticks all the boxes."
James How says the Racesafe team is still considering new ways to further utilise the HP Stitch, but has already run trials to produce custom clothing and accessories for golfers such as head covers and towels.
"There are many different avenues to explore," he says.
For more information on Racesafe, please visit: www.racesafe.co.uk.