From the Republic of San Marino, Personal World 38 srl share their experience with sublimation printing. Using the Mimaki Bompan Textile transfer printer, they discuss production capacity and quality, costs and reliability (even in the absence of an operator), with an eye to ecological sustainability.
The field of textile sublimation printing is a promising one. Printing is first carried out on paper by plotters that enable fully customisable designs. The paper is then sublimated onto polyester media through a hot press (manual or calendar). From sportswear to furniture, satisfying and versatile user experiences are guaranteed.
“High resolution of the images, optimisation of production times, reliability of the processes even without an operator. These are the three strong points that make us satisfied with Mimaki Bompan Textile”. This is how Christian Giardi, owner of Personal World 38 srl – a clothing and gadget company based in San Marino – sums up the choice offered by the Mimaki TS55-1800 sublimation transfer printer. Providing flexible technology for small runs as well as for large productions, it is placed in the market at mid-range for textile machinery by Mimaki Bompan Textile: a company founded in 2017 in Tradate in the province of Varese, thanks to the joint venture between Mimaki and Bompan Srl.
The meeting of needs and solutions
Christian Giardi is just 40 years old and has a degree in biomedical engineering. The building is a well organised space in the industrial area of Galazzano, at the entrance of the Republic of San Marino. “I called my business this way for a reason: Personal World because I immediately dedicated myself to the world of customisation, 38 because it’s my lucky number,” he explains smiling. “We produce personalised clothing and gadgets, and we do sublimation, digital and screen printing; we are also an embroiderer. We work B2B, but also B2C, directly with end users. I opened Personal World 38 in 2003 with my best friend, who is still with me. Back then, the business was based in a shopping mall and was essentially an embroidery mill. Then came the impulse of digital printing, and about four years ago we entered the world of sublimation printing which has allowed us to grow. The main intention was to make flags and posters in polyester, but then I found a niche market: that of multifunction tubular bands. They can can be branded and used as neck warmers, sweat wipers, headbands, mouth masks and in many other ways. Used throughout summer and winter, they especially apply to sports and outdoor activities. I started out in e-commerce and now I manage four online sales portals: Bandane Personalizzate, T-shirt Personalizzate, Mousepad Personalizzati and Tazza Personalizzate.
The beginnings of collaboration with Mimaki
“For heat transfer,” explains Giardi, “I was using a transmatic press and calendar and a sublimation plotter from a Mimaki competitor. But after a couple of years of high volume work, I had to decide whether to double the number of those machines or switch to Mimaki. I initially met with Mimaki at a trade fair and had heard good things. So when the agent contacted me, I went and visited a dealer in Tuscany: I saw it working and was quickly convinced that it was right for us. It was a really good choice. The TS55-1800 is a very fast, reliable and flexible machine, and is new to the market. During installation at the beginning of the year, the Mimaki technicians followed us onsite to set up the machine and profile the colours according to my needs, showing themselves to be very polite and also available in the follow-up telephone assistance. When we tested it for the first time in a massive band production, we promised the customer two deliveries of 5,000 pieces each. But we were able to deliver all 10,000 pieces together, saving time and costs and making a good impression on the customer. The machine worked almost 24 hours a day for a week without interruption. Without a doubt, our core business found the TS55-1800 to be a great ally.”
Space for the user experience
“With sublimation printing, in addition to bandanas,” continues Christian Giardi, “we also produce mouse-pads and personalised cups; small surfaces that require a great definition of image and a sharp and precise resolution. Most t-shirts are digitally printed, except for a few sports t-shirts that we make in sublimation. The bands are born as white tubular bands, first printed on one side and then on the other, and the double pass is a real plus of this machine. Mimaki allows a perfect calibration of the amount of ink, which for us is essential; this avoids ruining the product with the ghost effect, which often occurs due to an excessive amount of colour penetrating the other side. By using water-based inks, our product has the advantage of being ecological, a fundamental aspect in the case of fabrics in contact with the skin, and in terms of health and safety. Moreover, the price of inks that Mimaki guarantees us is really competitive. This is also thanks to an option installed on the printer which allows us to use 8 tanks of 10 kilos in double four-colour, instead of 2-litre ink packs, with cost savings of around 30%. From the options, we have also chosen an additional heater to speed up the drying of the product, which is already fast.
Now we are thinking about the implementation of the Mini Jumbo Roll to print continuously even over 2,500 linear metres of paper, exploiting more and more the night hours. A prerogative for which we very much appreciate Mimaki products is in the complete reliability of the printing process, even in the absence of an operator, allowing us to run the machine continuously for 24 hours without jamming the work, and with the peace of mind of a perfectly printed roll in the morning. The new TxLink4 software, specifically designed for the Textile sector, allows the launch of several RIPs and the linking of several productions, thus meeting the most varied production requirements, from long runs to small samples.
Eight people work here and half of us are able to use this printer with ease. Mimaki TS55-1800 has a user-friendly and intuitive system, with many options that can be activated or not: for example, the end of work report with production data that orients the company programming in view of Industry 4.0. To avoid the banding effect, we can also activate the MAPS (Mimaki Advanced Pass System) algorithm that assists with ensuring homogeneity of colour between passes. We use it more frequently in the more precise jobs, such as with cups. Then there are the functions of control and rebalancing of the colour nozzles, as well as programmable maintenance checks, made easier by a convenient infographic display.”
Growing business opportunities
“Sublimation textile printing evolves at great speed,” concluded the entrepreneur. “The most eco-friendly aspect of this process, which uses water-based inks that are non-toxic, non-polluting and easy for companies to dispose of, should not be underestimated. Just think of the technical sportswear, where sublimation has the advantage of not blocking the pores of the fabric, leaving them free to breathe. As well as polyester towels, to which recent technologies have also ensured a pleasant “cotton touch” effect, a feeling of softness and greater absorbency. The same applies to large soft signage at the perimeter of football pitches or trade fairs; where heavy PVC banners were once used, they are now printed on fabrics which are lighter and do not fade in the sun. If we think that Mimaki Bompan Textile also has fluorescent colours (available soon with the TS55-1800), we can be sure that we beat our competitors.”