ULTRA-SHORT-RUN FABRICS MADE POSSIBLE WITH MIMAKI
MIMAKI TX300P-1800 MkII
Back in 2014, Ania Laskowski, observed there were no good resources for buying contemporary fabrics in Poland for her sewing hobby; overseas websites were the only option and ordering processes proved difficult. So together with CEO Michał Laskowski, they founded CottonBee with the vision to sell ultra-short-run textiles – averaging just one metre in length – direct to consumers.
But when these espoused entrepreneurs set upon their venture to create a textile business serving the Polish craft community, they had little experience in the business of printing on textile. Teba, a Mimaki Authorised Partner, supported CottonBee with the installation of the first Mimaki Tx400 printer in Poland; a highly productive direct-to-textile printer, it offered exceptional speed and superior print quality on an entry-level system. In addition, it was an eco-friendly alternative to other processes. Using only cotton fabrics and pigment inks, CottonBee kept post-processing to a minimum to achieve fast turnarounds.
“Mimaki was the first and only choice for us. We were a start-up business with a limited budget and didn’t need a huge amount of capacity to start with. However, we had strict criteria with regards to the print quality, turnaround times and we needed equipment that was easy to operate,” Michał explains. “We also felt Mimaki was a trustworthy brand and working with a company like that would mean continual investment in the technology and excellent customer service.”
From the outset it was obvious digital production was a must for the business as short run-lengths were essential. Recognising that their own knowledge of print was limited, Ania and Michał worked with local vendors to find a technology that would be simple to operate, whilst providing the vibrant fabric prints and fast turnarounds needed – at the right price.
When Mimaki launched its TP400 pigment inks, vastly improving dry and wet colour fastness and the vividness of colour to that of a large-scale industrial printer, it was a welcome development for CottonBee’s remarkably tough customer-base. This enabled CottonBee to expand their target market to include small-scale businesses as well as consumers.
The timing was even more fortuitous when Mimaki later launched its Tx300P-1800 series. CottonBee was looking for more capacity as it once again looked to scale-up the business, this time venturing into new territories. “CottonBee just became too big for Poland alone!” enthuses Michał. “It was clear that to keep the business thriving we needed to expand and the next step was to launch the website across Europe.
CottonBee invested in the Mimaki Tx300P-1800 direct-to-textile printer and the Tx300P-1800B with a sticky belt for printing on thin and stretchable fabrics. Effortlessly combining quality and high speed, the Tx300P-1800 series reflects Mimaki’s undisputed expertise in the digital textile sector. With Mimaki being one of the first to introduce the sticky belt for smaller printers, it allowed CottonBee to increase their range of cotton fabrics. And by using two printers from the same series with the same printheads, customers could make repeat orders and get exactly the same result, whichever printer the job was allocated to.
Five years on and CottonBee has transformed from a side hustle for these entrepreneurs to an established business that goes from strength to strength. Still engaged in small volume printing, the business today has 15 employees and has shipped over 28,000 orders to hobbyists and small businesses throughout Europe.
For more info on their products: https://ctnbee.com/en
MACHINE SUPPORTED BY TEBA PL • https://teba.pl/