Specialists in high-quality textile printing choose SureColor

Transferab stepped into the textile industry with three SureColor SC-F7000s

Specialists in high-quality textile printing choose SureColor

Transferab was founded by two entrepreneurs whose previous experiences led them to choose dye-sublimation textile printing as the basis of their offering, and found the best printer to be Epson's SureColor SC-F7000.

Transferab in focus

Transferab specialises in dye-sublimation transfer printing onto polyester. That one sentence sums up a detailed story about the creation of a business that, for both Transferab and for Epson, is linked to one key product: the SureColor SC-F7000 64-inch dye-sublimation printer.

Transferab, based in Vilanova del Camí, Spain, was founded just over a year ago by Jordi Ferrer and Antonio Abad, when the company they were working for closed its digital printing division.

"At the time, we saw an opportunity if we got to work immediately. So we formed a private partnership, which has fewer administrative requirements than other company formats. We set up the company using our unemployment benefit and personal savings," explains Ferrer. "We knew that if we could set up the business and deliver products within the space of a month, we would gain some clients from the previous company, because they had been left without a supplier. We spent August 2013 setting up Transferab, and in September we were already delivering the first orders."

Both Ferrer and Abad have more than 25 years experience in the dye-sublimation textile printing industry, initially with traditional techniques and, more recently, with digital printing.

Tecnoprint - the specialist partner

Transferab's experience with the digital printing industry meant that both partners had contacts at Tecnoprint, a specialist Epson textile printing partner that, from the outset, took charge of the supply, installation and maintenance of Transferab's fleet of printers.

The decision to use Epson's SureColor SC-F7000 was taken when Transferab discovered that, in addition to its excellent, consistent results, the device is available at a competitive price. In addition, the SureColor SC-F7000 ensures a consistency of quality, performance and reliability, and offering maximum productivity.

Three is better than one

Transferab started with one SureColor SC-F7000. During its first year of operation, the company expanded its print capabilities by adding two more machines. Having three printers with the same features provides excellent response levels, because it not only increases production capacity, it ensures that backup equipment is available in the event of any problems.

"During this first year we have gradually been settling into the market and considering expanding our equipment to keep up with demand," says Ferrer. "In our field, fulfilling orders in the shortest possible time is essential. You cannot sell something that you are not able to deliver on time. For our product, we don't need lots of versatility in our printing equipment. We print onto transfer paper with special inks that, when inserted into a press at 200 degrees, react and transfer into the fabric."

A technical challenge, the best solution

"Much of our current production is for the sports market: sports shirts, football or swimming kits, cycling suits, or customised items with numbers, names or logos," says Antonio Abad.

Both partners emphasise that they had a steep learning curve because the type of work they do is very complex. This is not straightforward printing with simple colours in one or two inks, as they were doing before. Their most common print jobs require vector graphics with many layers, gradients and drop shadows. This requires the availability of a RIP that is able to handle a heavy workload, such as RIP TexPrint from ErgoSoft, that is supplied with Epson's SureColor SC-F7000 printer.

We find different ways to face the challenge that modern designs can pose, including sometimes having to modify a design to avoid problems in the RIP.  "We have been developing our workflow processes so that complex designs no longer cause us any problems," explains Abad. "We now manage to print the majority of designs without having to use any special processes."

When the company was first set up, the two partners developed an intensive method of colour matching, to avoid any future problems.  "Epson's UltraChrome dye-sublimation inks have excellent colour clarity that make the finished products look really striking," states Abad.

The best solution for creating high-quality garments

The high quality and excellent colours achieved by Epson's printers can easily be ruined if the inks do not transfer properly onto the fabric. To achieve the best results, the transfer process must be carried out in a way that the inks achieve maximum penetration into the fabric.

Jordi Ferrer highlights the importance of the calendering machine that passes the printed material and fabrics through heated rollers to transfer the ink. With calendering, the ink penetration into the fabric is very superficial. The result is that, when the fabric is stretched, white shows through on the printing. This effect is particularly apparent on swimwear or cycling apparel.

Maximum productivity and quality

The three SureColor SC-F7000s work day and night. During the day, Transferab mainly produces documents for subsequent processing and printing. The machines are working, but less intensively. It is at nightfall, once the workshop is empty, that the three SureColor SC-F7000s work at full pace, continuously until the following morning.

With their automatic, pre-programmed cleaning cycles, each printer can print a 120-metre roll every night – and at a quality that meets the company's strict requirements. This dye-sublimation printer prints at resolutions of up to 720x1440dpi at slightly lower speeds of 16-57m2 per hour. The built-in, easily refillable 1.5 litre ink system and auto take-up roll allow uninterrupted production with minimal maintenance.

"We could run at much higher speeds, and the market would accept that level of quality, but they would know that the quality is not the best that could be achieved. We would rather lose a bit of production speed, but be sure that the final product is perfect," says Antonio Abad. 

A third SureColor SC-F7000 unit enables Transferab to maintain high levels of quality, without its production capacity suffering. The added advantage is that the machines suffer less wear as a result of not having to continuously operate at maximum capacity.