”Digital large format printing has changed a lot over the past few years“

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Interview with Oliver Hopert, Managing Director Procedes Digital Printing, Lemwerder

Oliver Hopert is convinced that digital textile printing opens up many possibilities in visual communication for the retail market. You can imprint fabric panels and use in vast banners. Illuminated from the front or back, textile is suited for light boxes as well as for interior design. The panels can even be stuck to the floor.

Procedes imprints fabric banners with digital printing machines. What formats are possible and which textiles are being used?

Most of the textiles we process are on a maximum print width of five meters. These are primarily fabrics made of polyester or PVC. Almost all materials nowadays meet the Öko-Tex 100 Standard as well as at a minimum the fire classification DIN 4102 B1 standard. There are virtually few size limits for the individual end products. Thanks to joining technologies – like welding or sewing – you can create banners with a total area of more than 1,000 square meters.

Which possible applications result from this?

The application of digital printed banners is extremely versatile and at this point shows up in all areas. The main application is at tradeshows and exhibitions, interior design, shopfitting, large-scale advertising in any form as well as light boxes.

What frame structures are possible?

There are different profiles for single and double-sided frame structures and light boxes, keder tracks or block type treads. We build anything that cannot be built from these keder tracks from round or square aluminum tracks. The current trend goes towards curved designs that work with organic shapes. The shapes are bent and the textile is coiled and processed according to the desired shape, so that in the end a perfect fit is ensured. From a small picture frame all to way to large, complex and curved constructions, today almost anything is feasible.

What is the benefit of your fabric banners compared to large format canvas for façade design?

In the near future, canvas will still be used in the outdoor area, since there are only limited possibilities to produce weatherproof textiles. However, the canvas is also advancing. Most recently for example, we are using the world’s first PVC free canvas and are in the process of testing it. Otherwise and for the time being it’s still “Canvas for the outside- Textile for the inside“.


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One alternative for the interior are posters or photo wallpaper. What are the results of a cost and utility comparison compared to textiles?

In the private domain, wallpaper is definitely still the one and only alternative at present when it comes to designing walls. Wallpaper has a big cost benefit compared to textiles. In the commercial sector however, there is oftentimes a different requirement on haptics and visual appearance for the area being designed. Textile has a different character and its theme can be interchanged at any time by means of corresponding rubber lip solutions. This is the fundamental benefit, which then also oftentimes compensates for the cost disadvantage compared to paper and wallpaper.

How can you divide interior spaces with textile constructions?

Textiles can be fitted onto all room surfaces and even be used as a floor decal. The textiles are frequently used in frames as room partitions. These partitions can then additionally be equipped with sound-absorbing foam, so that the acoustics in the room improves. This does not just make sense for offices; it is also used in retail. These frames can of course also be used as ceiling sails or murals for interior design and room dividers.

What lighting effects are possible with textiles? What makes sense for long-term usage, for instance in retail?

With the aid of lighting, textiles can create beautiful effects. This can be done with reflected light but also with backlighting, meaning transmitted light. Many applications in the store today already work with a combination of light and textiles and another increase is to be expected. Long-term usage with lighting is not a problem and already common practice today. Of course, in this case, LEDs are recommended.

Printers create ever-larger formats, but does the image resolution keep up with this?

Image resolution is getting better and better. That said it is indeed an issue to get high-resolution data for large-scale formats. The printers oftentimes can max out the full quality extent up to a size of about five square meters. The larger the image area gets, the lower the resolution of data sets gets.

Where in retail can we currently see your constructions?

Our constructions can be seen at almost every tradeshow in Germany. There are also a number of shops and offices where our products are being used as well as many banner ads of well-known big companies that hang all over Germany and have probably been seen by everybody. As an actual product, our merchandise cannot be seen in retail.


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Which projects are you currently working on?

We have a number of large productions for tradeshows in Germany, but also in Russia or in Brazil underway. We accompany our customers to the foreign tradeshows, since they do not trust the quality standards of the local companies and want to make sure that a high-quality uniform appearance is presented all around the world. Apart from that, 50 to 100 orders, sized from three to 1,000 square meters leave our house daily. We are currently integrating other technologies into our frame systems. In the future, images will also become loudspeakers that can be accessed wirelessly from your mobile phone or tablet PC.

What are the next technical steps in the digital printing industry, especially for large-scale fabric printing?

Digital large format printing has already changed a lot over the past few years. New printing processes entered the market and the resolution of the machines is getting better and better. Another major emphasis is on the environmental impact of ink as well as the used textiles. There will still be more changes in this area. The trend clearly goes away from solvents and PVC canvas will also not be used forever; there will also be changes in this area. In addition, it is expected that UV inkjet printers in the future are going to dry the ink with LEDs to become more energy-efficient. Early tests in this direction are already underway.

Interview by René Schellbach, EuroShop.de



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