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Creating Soft Spaces

(November 2010) posted on Mon Nov 08, 2010

Fabric Images Inc. helps awaken the world to dye-sub's possibilities.

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Going global
The company’s profile mirrored its expanding output capabilities. Fabric Images added a marketing office in Orlando in 2004. It established the Fabric Images International division in 2005, then added a powder-coating division with the purchase of Palapa Coatings in 2006. A manufacturing facility in Mexico and New York sales office began operations in 2007 and Fabric Images of Europe, based in Italy, opened its doors in 2008.

That year, the company upgraded its print capabilities with three new Nur-badged 10-foot printers (now HP) as well as a 16-foot HP Scitex printer. To further support its superwide capabilities, the company ordered a 16-foot Heat Press Monti-Antonio in 2009.

As the scope of Fabric Image’s operations have evolved, so have the range of installations showcasing its comprehensive capabilities. It offers clients worldwide turnkey services in design, engineering, printing and installation. Its metal shop can produce the framework to realize any vision, indoors or out, in finishes to suit any environment.

The company continually searches for new materials to inspire designers with even more possibilities. The selection includes a variety of textured and stretchy polyesters, Spandex, meshes, knits and gauze. “As we’ve been able to offer more fabrics and textiles, people started looking at printing on fabric to create a more tactile, sensory experience, to draw people into a trade show booth or other environment,” says Alvarez.

For example, a wall of fabric printed to look like bricks, catches attendees’ eyes as they walk the aisles of a tradeshow. “They see that, wonder if it’s real, and just have to walk over to touch it and see for themselves,” he says. “We can take a textured fabric, and print it with graphics that opens up an entirely new arena in visual merchandising for slowing traffic and creating attention for a brand.”

Awareness and opportunities
The solution which began as a superior approach to tradeshow graphics has moved well beyond the conference hall. “Architects and designers now come to us with a shape or concept and want to know if it’s possible,” he says. “We’re getting brought in early on projects where they want to create a unique environment or display, and realize there’s really no other practical or cost effective way to achieve it.”

At the new home of the Dallas Cowboys, for instance, Fabric Image’s expertise is on display in the Dr. Pepper Star Bar on the stadium’s upper deck. The permanent installation features wide spans of material, internally lit within the freestanding framework to capture attention and highlight the brand’s trademark logo and colors. And for Mexico’s Chedraui stores, Fabric Images designed and printed the graphics and framework hung from the ceiling to draw shoppers to different departments.

In trade shows and exhibit spaces throughout the world, the company’s fabric creations continue to redefine the look and feel of environments within closes spaces. And just this past year, Fabric Images unveiled its own line of outdoor furniture, built of tensioned fabric for homes and resorts.

All this only hints at what’s ahead for the company and the service niche it has helped develop. Fabric Images will soon double the size of its headquarters in a 200,000-square-foot facility. The move could suggest the company’s own bright prospects. “As brand marketers and designers get a higher level of exposure to this type of printing, more will begin requesting and even demanding the unique quality that dye sublimation has to offer,” predicts Alvarez. “People are starting to accept printing on fabric as a great way to enhance any environment.”

As early adopters, he and his team faced and met many challenges. Through persistence, dedication and unshaken confidence they have transformed those obstacles into Fabric Images’ sizable opportunities.
“Dye sublimation is not the easiest print technology to work with,” Alvarez admits. “But once designers, architects, and brand marketers catch on to what it has to offer, the sky becomes the limit.”