Making a fashion statement with digital print

21 Jul 2022

West Herts College choose Epson SureColor SC-F501 to enhance students’ understanding of textile production

Dye sublimation printing enables on-demand product development that helps prevent the need for international freight shipping and empowers professionals with greater control of their textile design.

The impacts this can have on fashion design and creativity, and how that will shape future production, is a key consideration for the fashion and textile department at West Herts College following its investment in an Epson SureColor SC-F501 dye-sublimation printer.

Understanding the digital print production process and how it can influence design and execution will allow the students to reframe their designs, test their ideas and bring their final creations to life.

Rehana Khan, Lecturer at West Herts College, explains: “We wanted to be able to give students an opportunity to see for themselves how digital print can be used in fashion. Now technology has become easier to use, and more affordable, the time was right for us to make that investment. Having access to the latest technology is essential in making students aware of what is possible.”

The students will use the dye-sublimation printer to create womenswear and menswear and even upcycle textiles. The college will also use it as a tool to help explain the ethical and environmental factors surrounding the design and production of fashion and how reshoring using dye-sublimation technology can make a positive impact.

“This knowledge will help them be better prepared for their next steps after college,” says Rehana. “It will enable them to be further ahead in the game. Not only will they understand the process and how that can affect design but also how it can shape ordering, respond to demand, and address questions around sustainability.”

She continues: “They will be able to see the key role digital print plays in garment production. Students can create their designs and immediately hold their end-product. They can also consider a different approach to garment creation – whether that is with the production process, or the textiles used. It will be the first time they will have used the technology to bring their designs to life.”

“The 24-inch dye-sublimation printer with fluorescent yellow and pink ink was picked for a number of reasons,” explains Rehana.We had a heat press and so wanted a dye-sublimation printer that was easy to use, had a narrow width, could manage pattern pieces and was compatible with the programmes we were already running. We also liked its ability to offer vibrant colour.”

The new addition will be central to learning from September 2022 onwards. First year students will understand the process and create their own digital designs. Second year students will develop their own textile print as part of a major project. It will include the option to produce meterage.

It will also support the students as they explore ways dye-sublimation technology can help the clothing and textile industry respond to key pressures. The European Parliament says it is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater each year while the Australian Circular Textile Association (ACTA) says 30% of clothing is never sold. Dye sublimation does not use water and it enables the on-demand production of garments. It can also drive local production capabilities to reduce carbon emissions and miles travelled.