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A Fabric Printing Appraisal

(January 2017) posted on Tue Jan 10, 2017

Dye sublimation or direct-to-fabric?

By Darek Johnson

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Consultant Vince Cahill, owner of VCE Solutions (Waynesboro, PA), says tradeshow and soft signage processes may comprise design, prepress, print and post-print finishing. The process may then require the phases needed to convert a printed fabric into a useable sign: the sign component (framework) design, the materials to fabricate the frame, a sign/fabric pattern, cutting, fastening systems, seaming equipment and related processes. Cahill says such signage is often for temporary and transport-able use, thus additional production steps could include test fitting (and necessary adjustments), followed by disassembly, packing and shipping.

Question: When is a signshop not a signshop – and do limiting edges exist? The obvious answer is always and sure, the latter because four factors limit signwork: tools, materials, staff ability and money (read clients). Without these, a signshop is in the water. The former question – not a signshop? – requires a much keener analysis because it essentially asks if signshops only make signs. A tighter examination would discover that the livelihood of any signshop resides in its multiplicity and, although a shop’s purpose may be to make signs, the true character of the sign trade resides in its ability to accept diverse assignments and, in turn, produce objects that effectively communicate.

Enthusiasm? Yes, because passion is the first element of all sign design and fabrication work. It’s also a personality trait often found in signmakers, which is exactly what I thought when talking with Wes Shinn, co-owner and general manager of PVS In-Store Graphics, a privately held graphics company in Portland, OR. The other owners of the 38-person business are Nick Olson and Jim Fletcher. Shinn told me their shop uses both types of fabric print systems – dye-sublimation and direct-to-fabric.
The PVS ad spin says “We make things, cool things,” which indicates it is not an ordinary signshop. Shinn says that PVS helps corporations create a retail sales environment and specializes in custom store and point-of-purchase displays. He has a BFA in theatrical engineering and believes the best sales/marketing approach is to invite corporate creatives to visit the shop, so they can see new and unique ideas in process and then form and discuss their own.


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