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The Quest for the ‘Next Big Thing’

(May 2011) posted on Tue May 10, 2011

Exploring the wants and needs for the Next Big Thing.

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By Craig Miller

A print media can also drive the NBT. Dye-sublimating assembled garments has shown tremendous potential. It’s currently hip to have this particular look (where the base fabric color shows up where the wrinkles are), and a company can get into garment printing without cut-and-sew capabilities. So a simple flatbed heat press with technology as old as the hills could become the NBT for someone.

Five-meter printers and calendar units have also made a big impact on fabric printing, particularly in the tradeshow arena. I know – I lost a big account to a competitor who could print 15-feet wide without a seam. Speaking of seams, when will we get sonic tools to both cut and weld seams in polyester fabrics without sewing?

* 3-D: A bit off the fabric thread, but dye-sublimation to three-dimensional solid objects has been on my radar screen since the 1990s. I was recently informed that 3-D dye-sub is picking up steam around the marketplace. Speaking of three-dimensional printing, two technologies come to mind: The first is water-transfer printing – in which you float a printed film on the surface of a tank of water and lift an object like a rifle or a helmet through it to cover it with a permanent print. This film is made with traditional printing methods. If someone could figure out how to print water-transfer film digitally, it would make quite a few people millionaires, especially if they could also register the print to the 3D object. That would definitely be the NBT.