Iraci visuelle Medien moves to water-based textile printing with EFI VUTEk FabriVU

Technology update gives German company high-quality, XXL advantages of 5-metre dye-sublimation printing.

Electronics for Imaging, Inc. announced the first installation of the EFI VUTEk FabriVU 520 printer in Germany, at Neu-Ulm-based Iraci visuelle Medien GmbH.

The new printer is the company's third 5-metre EFI VUTEk device. Iraci visuelle Medien also prints textiles on a pair of VUTEk UV-cure, roll-to-roll printers, but with the new VUTEk FabriVU, the company can efficiently produce growing volumes of textile soft signage using the printer's high-quality, aqueous dispersed dye-sublimation printing.

With its purchase, Iraci visuelle Medien, a company that specialises in large-format textile printing, is expanding its existing dye-sublimation printing capabilities from 3.2 metres wide to over 5 metres. "With this new printer, the advantages of superwide-format, direct-to-textile dye sublimation printing are now available for XXL format work," said the company's owner, Andreas Iraci.

Superior imaging for high-end trade fair graphics
Trade fairs are the company's most important vertical market, and the show exhibitors Iraci visuelle Medien serves are increasingly switching their stand designs from wood walls and panels to textiles in aluminium frames. UV-cured textile prints are less flexible than dye-sublimation and not as suitable in those types of close-viewing environments.

"We will not have this problem with aqueous dye-sublimation inks, which we will print directly onto polyester material without transfer paper and then sublimate in our heat press," said Iraci.

Unlike with UV printing where inks sit on the substrate's surface, on the company's new VUTEk FabriVU printer, sublimated inks are absorbed into the textile. As a result, the textile feels softer, is odourless and shows brilliant colours. The prints are easier to re-use because they can be folded without forming wrinkles. The biggest advantage, however, in Andreas Iraci's eyes, is that the colour in sublimated textile material does not change when it is stretched in a frame.

With the EFI VUTEk FabriVU 520, Iraci visuelle Medien can now provide trade fair exhibition stand builders with larger, seamless graphics. The larger width also addresses a new market segment for XXL applications such as concert halls, movie sets and opera and theatre venues. "We are the first in Germany with this machine and we want to be among the first in this new market," Iraci said. "Because I'm convinced that, with its advantages, aqueous dye-sublimation superwide-format printing will soon be the leading technology for those types of applications."

EFI: Reliable, consistent quality year after year
The family business, a former photo lab founded in 1980, specialised in large-format printing from the very outset. The company started doing UV-based textile printing in 2012 with its first VUTEk printer and added a second in 2015. Both VUTEk machines print directly onto textile polyester materials and have significantly contributed to the company's growth. "We achieved an incredibly good print quality thanks to the printer's certified 3M inks, the printer's greyscale technology, its high resolution, the good textile transport through the machine and precise printing that does not produce streaks, even on solid areas," Iraci said.

"Our first VUTEk machine from 2012 still provides the same quality as it did on its first day," he added. It is a formidable statement from the career imaging specialist and photographer who has handled colour management and profiling for all of his 30 years at the company.

Just like with Iraci visuelle Medien's 5-metre UV printers, the company's new VUTEk FabriVU is also be controlled by EFI Fiery proServer digital front end. The Genuine EFI inks the company uses on its new printer ensure smooth, consistent production, just as the company has had with its previous two VUTEk devices.

The staff at Iraci visuelle Medien know that staying the course with technology, or a technology vendor, that has already proven its worth, can be important to a company's success. Or, as Andreas Iraci emphasised about his trust in EFI, "Never change a running system!"

VUTEk FabriVU technology for soft signage production is one of the advanced digital print product offerings EFI is featuring this month at the FESPA tradeshow, 15-18 May in Berlin.