Textile Designers Study Environmentally Friendly Printing

The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York promotes itself as “Where Creativity Gets Down to Business.” A college of the State University of New York, FIT has been providing career education in art, design, business, and technology for more than 70 years.

For the second consecutive year, Kornit Digital collaborated with FIT on a design challenge for fourth-year student in FIT’s Textile/Surface Design program. One goal was to give students insight into environmentally friendly textile production methods that don’t compromise on design concepts and use of color.

For the challenge, the students were asked to create original designs related to the concept of sustainable, local short-run textile production. Along with the sustainability-themed design, the students submitted an explanation of the concept and an image of how the design could be applied to a garment. For the judging process, Kornit used their Allegro production system to produce 10 yards of each design.

The three winners of this year’s FIT design challenge were Hyuna Kim, Konchok Bercholz and Elena Kanagy-Loux. In addition to receiving cash awards, the winners will have the textile designs printed on fabrics and replicated as fashion items.

The students’ work was judged on several factors including: the concept, the effectiveness and marketability of the design; and the conceptualized fashion application.

Judges included: Leslie Baker, associate designer for Bon-Ton Stores’ Relativity Brand; Vanessa DeSousa, development manager of Prints and Embellishments for Diane von Furstenberg; Tom Cody, principal of Tom Cody Designs; Melissa Niederman, art director of The Style Council; and Joe Castaldo, president of The Style Council.

Representatives of Kornit Digital included: Paul Borucki, managing director of Kornit Digital North America; Jim Manelski, North American wide format business development manager; and Erin Doty, who is the company’s North American Art Director and Project Manager.


Sustainability Design Competition and reception held on the campus of FIT on April 23, 2015.
Hyuna Kim won first place in the Sustainability Design Competition at Fashion Institute of Technology.

With the Kornit Allegro single-step industrial print system, designers can immediately materialize their designs on any fabric at with no minimum yardage requirements and at the highest industrial print quality and standards. Unlike other textile-printing processes, the Kornit Allegro industrial print solution doesn’t require pre-treatment or post-treatment processes. As a one-step printing process, the Allegro is ideal for the trending on demand, close to market, short run local production and sampling.


Sustainability Design Competition and reception held on the campus of FIT on April 23, 2015.
Representatives of Kornit Digital congratulate the three winners of the Sustainability Design Compeition: Konchock Bercholz, Hyuna Kim, and Elena Kanagy-Loux..

“Our collaboration with FIT demonstrates an important example of how Kornit Digital can nurture the growth and developing expertise of tomorrow’s designers with the help of state-of-the-art technologies that are changing the way creativity is brought to life across all fabric types. The Kornit Allegro is the perfect system for this scenario with its truly sustainable production methods enabling designers and manufacturers to generate their concepts from start to finish in the shortest cycle time,” explains Merav Zimmerman, Kornit’s product marketing manager for the Allegro. “We are proud to continue this collaboration with FIT and we certainly plan to continue with it in future years as greater awareness increases both the need for versatility in high quality digital print and greener working practices.”

“The liaison with the Fashion Institute of Technology demonstrates how our ground-breaking single-step digital printing system aligns with creative processes where sustainability plays an increasingly important role,” comments Paul Borucki. “We see a growing demand worldwide for greater education into the potential for using more eco-friendly printing methods and this collaboration endorses the importance of environmental awareness within fabric designs in the future.”

About the Kornit Allegro 

Kornit Digital develops, manufactures and markets industrial and commercial printing solutions for the garment, apparel and textile industries, including designers, manufacturers, apparel decorators, and fashion brands.

Using Kornit’s Neo-Pigment inks, the Allegro offers a single-step printing solution that works with multiple types of fabric and with no additional finishing process. Its integrated fixation process removes the need for pre-treatment, steaming or washing, making it a truly environmentally friendly solution that meets the most rigorous environmental regulations, including OekoTex 100 standard and GOTS approval. The process reduces energy and water consumption and the creation of waste.

Kornit Digital is a global company with offices in the US, Asia Pacific and Europe, Founded in 2003, Kornit Digital now serves customers in more than 100 countries.


Kornit Digital

Fashion Institute of Technology

Fashion Institute of Technology Summer Institute: Sustainability and Textiles

Web2Fabric Connects Digital Designers with Providers of Digital Textile Printing Services

DESIGNERS. Could some of your brand clients benefit from the creative use of custom-designed textiles? If so, check out the new web2fabric app and website created by DPInnovations. They established the online community to link digital designers to print-service providers around the world who are using digital textile printing equipment to print hundreds of thousands of yards of fabric.

web2fabric.com by DPInnovations
web2fabric.com by DPInnovations

DPInnovations has been supplying software solutions to the digital textile industry for more than 10 years. One of their clients, Spoonflower, has proven that a digital textile printing business can be successful by focusing on providing small amounts of fabric to a high number of individuals, using the simplest form of dyes (pigments) for an acceptable color gamut and fastness. While contributing to the revival of U.S. textile manufacturing, Spoonflower has become the heart of a community. Their service brings joy to creative people around the world.

In recent years, digital textile printing equipment technology and inks have advanced to the point where it’s now feasible to reproduce deeper, brighter colors on longer runs of fabrics with better fastness. So, more textile companies now see the opportunity to sell custom-printed textiles directly to digital designers. These companies are experts in their fields, capable of printing different products than Spoonflower.

Web2Fabric doesn’t manufacture, print, or stock fabric. But their MESH technology allows you to set up your job online, and send the print-ready file  directly to one of the digital fabric printing companies that uses software from DPInnovations.





Online Fashion House Creates Wearable Art from Crowdsourced Designs

vividlylogoDESIGNERS. ARTISTS. Vividly is a new online fashion house for visual artists who want to turn their artwork into wearable art. To develop a fashion brand like no other, the Vividly platform enables artists, fashion designers and customers to collaborate on making visually striking apparel.

The Miami-based start-up was founded by sister entrepreneurs Silvia and Sabrina Scandar. Their business model combines the power of social networks with advances in digital fabric printing and manufacturing. The Scandars initially launched a crowdsourced fashion project called Sew Love after completing a successful Kickstarter campaign and winning a place in NewMe’s 2013 Accelerator class. The Scandars revamped their business model after recognizing some of the branding and production hurdles that faced the crowdsourced fashion design business.


“We wanted to remain true to our original vision of fostering creativity and personal empowerment in the fashion space, but needed to maintain a strong brand identity and a streamlined low overhead,” says Sabrina Scandar, cofounder of Vividly. “That’s when we realized digital fabric printing was the answer. Its versatility creates the opportunity to translate crowdsourced visual art and textile design into high-quality clothing that people would want to wear. That’s how Vividly was born.”

PerezTopArtists upload computer-generated designs or high-resolution photos of original art and Vividly applies that work to high-quality clothing and accessories. Every piece is made in the USA, using comfortable and stylish textiles such as silk and bamboo.

Depending on how the garment is sewn, the item might not display an exact reproduction of your artwork. That’s because your art will be printed on fabric, which will then be converted into the final piece of clothing. According to the company, “We sometimes alter the artwork slightly to allow for repeating patterns, better color representation, or optimal placement and sizing on the finished items. If you have in mind a specific way you would like the artwork to be presented (zoom level, graphic placement, etc), just let us know and we’ll do our best to make the item just as you envision it.”

If you can gather 10 pre-orders for an item, Vividly will manufacture it and ship it to the customers. As an artist, you will make at least 5 percent of the revenue for every piece sold; featured artists make 10 percent. Your name and photo are featured on the hangtag accompanying the item, and you get a site profile that includes your bio, photos of your art, and links to your website(s).

Vividlyfounders“Vividly provides artists with a new way to share their art, and consumers with the chance to wear and share art they love,” says Silvia Scandar, Vividly co-founder. “We want to transform beautiful fabrics, designed by artists, into wearable art. Whether that’s a scarf, shirt, skirt or dress, we are creating consistently simple silhouettes with vibrant prints and unique stories behind each piece.”

Vividly currently features one-of-a-kind fabric printed designs from 10 South Florida artists as well as work from artists around the country that can be applied to two different wearable pieces: a scarf and a top. Other items, including a printed skirt, clutch, and silk bomber jacket are coming soon. Prices range from $78 to $198.




Specialty Printing Sparks Opportunities for Creative Entrepreneurs

“Just because books, magazines, and newspapers are migrating to tablets and e-readers doesn’t mean print is dying.” That thought flashed through my mind as I made my way through the crowded aisles of the SGIA Expo, Oct. 17-19 in Las Vegas, NV.  According to the SGIA, the 2012 Expo attracted 500 exhibitors and more than 22,000 attendees, 38 percent of whom were first-time visitors to the show.

Supplies for creating photo merchandise included this ChromaLuxe iPhone case with high-clarity sublimatable metal photo panels..

SGIA originated as a screen-printing association but is now the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association. SGIA members use screen printing, digital printing, pad printing, embroidery, sublimation, and other processes to create point-of-purchase displays, signs, banners, ads, and promotional items and to enhance garments, containers, vehicles, compact discs, and other products.

Everywhere I looked at the SGIA Expo 2012, digital devices of all shapes and sizes were printing and finishing colorful graphics and high-resolution images on every conceivable substrate from swimsuits and iPhone cases to tabletops and wallcoverings.


The 3-meter-wide Agfa Jeti 3324 AquaJet is a dye-sublimation textile printer.

According to the Expo guide, 198 different makes and models of digital output devices were on display. These included desktop printers outputting photo merchandise to industrial-grade textile machines. Some devices were printing on rigid boards and three-dimensional objects; others were outputting rolls of vinyl or textiles.

Clearly, the possibilities for cost-effectively creating custom-printed products are expanding.  The number of printable substrates has gone up, while the cost of producing shorter runs of products is going down.

As SGIA VP Dan Marx noted in his SGIA Expo report in the WhatTheyThink printing-industry newsletter: “Yes, ‘print’ is alive, but it is different….’Cheap print’ based on massive print runs is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The new opportunity in print is based on thoughtful, targeted, creatively executed campaigns and innovative conveyance of corporate brands.”

He points out that “The thoughtful combination of ink and media/substrate can present vast opportunities for new, creative applications.”

Why should you care?

Now that so many consumers are willing to buy products online, any creative entrepreneur with an idea for a custom-printed product can put up an online storefront, then team up with a print-service provider to have products made and delivered.

For example, at the Expand Systems press conference about textile printing at the SGIA Expo, I met Stephen Fraser, the entrepreneur behind Spoonflower, which enables anyone to design and order custom fabrics and wallcoverings.  Through his online marketing and social networking skills, he has built a community of 600,000 individuals who use their own fabric to make curtains, quilts, clothes, bags, furniture, dolls, pillows, framed artwork, costumes, banners and more. At the Expand press conference, I also met a textile artist who was striving to keep pace with the latest capabilities in digital textile printing.

One section of the show floor was devoted to showing top winners in SGIA’s annual Golden Image awards program.

This upside-down birdhouse from BuildABirdhouse.com won the gold award in the Unique Applications category. It also received the Best in Digital Creativity Award. The graphics were printed on a Roland VersaCAMM printer/cutter.

One of the gold-ribbon-winning entries was a whimsical collection of custom birdhouses that are being marketed online by Build A Birdhouse of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.  Some of the birdhouses are decorated in digitally printed vinyl graphics that Jim Dileva creates on his Roland VersaCAMM inkjet printer with a built-in cutter.

Another top winner in the Golden Image Awards was the “Saladish” restaurant décor and branding campaign produced by Gamut Media of Brea, California. The campaign included floor-to-ceiling wall wraps, POP displays and other graphics produced on Roland’s VersaCAMM inkjet printer/cutter.

Gamut Media won a Gold award in the Building Graphics category for this “Saladish” restaurant wall graphics and branding campaign. The graphics were printed on a Roland VersaCAMM.

Rick Scrimger, vice president of sales and marketing for Roland DGA Corp said it was an honor to work with the award-winning companies:  “Their commitment to excellence, amazing creativity and craftsmanship are truly represented by these projects.” He said he enjoys working with all small business owners who apply the power of Roland’s technology to their own creative and entrepreneurial pursuits.  (For proof, take a virtual tour of Roland’s Creative Center, a gallery at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, California that shows dozens of products that have been created with Roland equipment.)

The “Roland at Work” exhibit in the Roland Creative Center in Irvine, Califoniia displays some of the items that can be produced with Roland’s most advanced inkjet, engraving, vinyl-cutting, and 3D technologies.

Personal Observations

The 2012 SGIA Expo was noticeably more advanced than the last SGIA Expo I attended in 2009. And, it was vastly different from the first SGIA Expo I attended in 1995, when we were launching The Big Picture magazine.

In the mid-1990s, large-format digital printing devices were promoted mostly to entrepreneurs who wanted to start new types of print-for-pay businesses making retail graphics, art reproductions, museum displays, billboards, bus wraps, truck graphics, and event signage.

Over the years, SGIA members have told manufacturers what performance improvements they needed in printers, inks, substrate, prepress and automation software, and finishing equipment. As a result of this cooperation between small-business owners and equipment manufacturers, the capabilities of large-format digital printing equipment have advanced at a remarkable speed, especially after the market for short-run digital printing grew big enough to attract companies such as HP, Epson, Canon, DuPont, Agfa, EFI, and Fujifilm.

For awhile, I attended the SGIA show every year, paying close attention to the dialogue between business owners and equipment vendors about what technical problems and market-development issues still needed to be addressed.

Now that I’ve stepped away from the industry for a few years, it was astonishing to see the field from a fresh perspective. At the first show I attended, a few, primitive first-generation color digital printing devices were scattered among aisles and aisles of screen-printing equipment. This year, digital-printing devices dominated the show floor.


The 2012 SGIA Expo provided a vivid reminder that plenty of opportunities await graphic designers who would prefer to work on tangible, printed projects instead of apps or interactive media.

To learn more about the capabilities of the latest generations of specialty printing equipment, visit the SGIA website.  Through their “Find a Print Provider” link,  you can locate SGIA members  in your area who are equipped with the specialized printing equipment you need to create whatever type of printed product you might want to design and sell.

In future posts, I will write more about what I learned at the 2012 SGIA Expo. For example, I was very impressed to see how SGIA is helping printing companies of all types operate in a more environmentally sustainable way. And, I learned about advances in digital textile printing that might help U.S. companies bring more textile manufacturing back to the U.S.

The 2013 SGIA Expo will be held October 23-25  at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. It will be co-located with a show sponsored by the Industrial Fabric Association International.


About the SGIA

Find Print Providers: Guide to Digital Imagers and Screen Printers  

SGIA Expo 2012

Roland DGA Creative Center

“The Strength of Specialty Graphics” by Dan Marx in WhatTheyThink.com

Roland VersaCAMM



Spoonflower Lets You Custom Design Wallpaper

Digitally printed, custom wallpaper is a rapidly growing trend in the decorating world, but until now it has been expensive and hard to find. With a new line of eco-friendly wallpaper and wall decals, the Spoonflower.com website has put personalized home decor within the reach of more designers, including crafters and do-it-yourself decorators.

With an eye toward environmentally conscious consumers and moms looking to decorate nurseries and kids’ rooms, Spoonflower wallpaper is printed on PVC-free paper using durable, eco-friendly inks. Unlike traditional wallpapers that can be devilishly difficult to take down, Spoonflower wallpaper is removable, making it suitable for renters and college students.

Individuals who don’t feel comfortable designing their own wallpaper can choose from thousands of designs by independent artists who have made their work available first on digitally printed fabric, and now as wallpaper.

The wallpaper sells for $5 per linear foot (24  by 12 inches), or $60 per roll (24 by 12 inches).

Spoonflower also offers three sizes of peel-and-stick wall decals: 5 by 5 inches, 15 by 15 inches, and 30 by 30 inches.  These easy to reposition decals are printed using eco-friendly inks on a tough polyester material that’s perfect for any room in the house, as well as for decorating furniture, trays, refrigerators, laptops, and many other everyday items. The decals can be easily removed.

“Wallpaper is definitely on an upswing in the decorating world, especially in the US, where it used to be perceived as fussy and old-fashioned. We’re incredibly excited to introduce custom wallpaper and decals at prices that make them accessible to everyday people, using materials that will appeal to folks who rent as well as homeowners,” said Spoonflower co-founder Stephen Fraser. He  says he hopes to persuade his wife to let him cover one of the bathrooms in their house with narwhals in the near future.

Lori Craffey of Little Rhody Design Company, a crafter from Rhode Island who sells on Etsy, was impressed by Spoonflower’s new products: “I just received my first wallpaper samples today! I love the quality and the packaging.” Craffey is one of thousands of indie artists on Spoonflower planning to make their designs available for sale to consumers as wallpaper.

Spoonflower has been in business since 2008, making it possible for individuals to create, print, and sell their own fabric designs. The site was founded by two Internet geeks who knew nothing about textiles, but had crafty wives.

Spoonflower’s community includes more than 600,000 individuals who use their own fabric to make curtains, quilts, clothes, bags, furniture, dolls, pillows, framed artwork, costumes, banners and more. Spoonflower’s marketplace offers the largest collection of independent fabric designers in the world.


Spoonflower: Create Your Own Wallpaper

Spoonflower: Custom-Designed Fabrics


Designers Develop Photographic Print Process for Textiles

When two enterprising designers wanted to raise $50,000 to bring their new Lumi Printing system to market, they turned to Kickstarter. Their idea proved to be so popular, the campaign has attracted more than $268,000 from 3,525 backers.

The Lumi Process is a photographic print process that you can use to turn smartphone pictures into beautiful designs on textiles, wood, and other natural materials used in art, fashion, and furniture design. In addition to printing on 100% cotton T-shirts, the process works on delicate materials such as silk, suede and wool that can’t go through heat-setting stages.  You can also use the Lumi process to print images and design on rough materials such as burlap, jute and sewn garments.  Once fixed, the color becomes permanent and can go through repeated machine washes without fading.

The contact-negative print process uses Inkodye mixable, water-based dyes that develop their color in sunlight. There is no need for electricity, silkscreens, or high-end equipment. Inkodye is currently available in three colors: red, orange and blue.

To see how the process works, watch the fund-raising video Lumi produced for their Kickstarter campaign (below) or read the illustrated step-by-step guide: How to Print a Photo on Cotton with Inkodye.

Kickstarter backers of the Lumi Printing System will receive different configurations of Inkodye Starter Kit, depending on their level of contributions.  The basic Starter Kit includes 4-ounce bottles of each color, instructions, a vignette-shaped stencil, and a negative that you can cut out and start experimenting with.  The Full System Kit includes a textile detergent and 11 x 17-inch sheets of film that have been specially coated to make negatives on laser printers or copiers. The coating on the Lumi transparency film is designed to absorb more toner than typical transparency. Each Lumi transparency sheet is backed with a carrier sheet of paper so that it will feed through typical copiers more effectively.

Make Negatives on Your Smartphone

The easiest way to convert images from your smartphone into negatives is to use the Lumityper App that Lumi has developed for the iPhone.  (An Android version will be developed in the future.)  Lumi’s instruction guide describes other ways to create negatives, such as using web apps such as Pxlr.com or Photoshop on your computer.

After you’ve printed your image or design onto the negative, you apply the dye to the surface of the substrate, then position and secure the negative on top of the substrate. Next, expose the art to sunlight to develop the colors on the substrate. According to the guide for printing a photo on cotton, it takes about 10 to 12 minutes for the image to develop.  The process can work on overcast days, but it works best in direct sunlight.

To stop the developing process on textiles, you will need to wash off the unexposed dye in hot water with a strong detergent. Lumi offered its backers a 16 oz. bottle of a detergent specifically formulated to clear residual dye. Regular laundry detergent will work if the item is run through the washing machine twice.

The founders of Lumi, Jesse Genet and Stephan Angoulvant, met while studying product design at the Art Center College for Design in Pasadena, California.  On the Lumi website, they state, “We believe photographs shouldn’t be limited to a page or a frame. They’re meant to be lived with, cared for, and last forever. That’s why we create photography you can touch.”

On Kickstarter they stressed that, “We believe in sticking with great ideas through thick and thin and are passionate about developing new creative tools.”

To see the range of products that designers have created with the Lumi Process, visit the lumi.com website. To Lumi’s progress as they bring this new process to market, follow them on Twitter or Facebook.


Video: We Are Lumi

Website: Lumi

Facebook: Lumi

Twitter: Lumi

Guide: How to Print a Photo on Cotton with Inkodye

iPhone App: Lumityper

Lumi-Printed Images on Reupholstered Vintage Furniture

How Designers Are Using Digitally Printed Fabrics

DESIGNERS. In other posts on this blog, I observed that continuing advances in digital fabric printing might open up new opportunities for designers. This could be especially true as older fabric designers who relied on screen-printing retire and as customer expectations for fast turnaround continue to intensify.

Since then, I’ve been taking note of articles that show how and why fashion designers have started using digitally printed textiles. Here are just three examples:

Wall Street Journal: Are You Wearing a Watercolor?

An article by Christina Binkley in the Wall Street Journal called attention to dresses and tops in the Helmut Lang collection that use photographs shot by the brand’s designers, Nicole and Michael Colovos. Some of the images were shot with an iPhone. She says the designers uses make collages from photos they’ve shot of peeling paint, subways walls, and other sights. Thus, the resulting collages may look nothing like the individual photos.

She cites another example in which designer Albert Kriemler made a dress fabric from part of a painting by the late artist Ian Hamilton Finlay.

Binkley notes that some designers still prefer the deep, clear hues of screen prints because digital inks don’t soak into the fabric as thoroughly. Plus digitally creating and printing designs require technicians who understand software and “have a great hand with the computer.”

But she also gives an example of how digital technology enabled a designer to get a fast-turnaround job for an awards-show dress that he might otherwise have lost.

Brisbane Times: How to Wear Digital Prints

This article by Glynis Traill-Nash notes that digital fabric printing has become accessible to more designers. She says designers either use photographs manipulated to abstraction or create uniquely designed panels that can be sewn together to create an overall graphic effect.

Wall Street Journal: Akris Captures the Season with Wedding Tower Views

In this article, Christina Binkley notes how precisely digital photos can be reproduced on textiles by showcasing a dress on which designer Albert Kriemler reproduced a photograph by Jurgen Schreiter of the Wedding Tower in Darmstadt, Germany. She calls the effect “mesmerizing,” but notes that one of the risks of wearing a photographic-print dress is that it may be too memorable to wear frequently.


Are You Wearing a Watercolor? by Christina Binkley

How to Wear Digital Prints by Glynis Traill-Nash

Akris Captures the Season with Wedding Tower Views by Christina Binkley


Are Designers Making the Most of Digital Textile Printing?