Printing with More Vibrant Colors
Most fabric printers print in three colors – Cyan, Yellow and Magenta. If you’re lucky, your printer has a dedicated Black. When you want to print any color other than those (say Green), the printer just sprays a few drops of Cyan and a few drops of Yellow. The drops don’t really mix, since they are absorbed quickly into the fabric. The spots are small enough that things blend together and the human eye doesn’t see the difference. Or does it? There’s a reason a photocopy of a painting looks different than the original, and a big part of that is color mixing. Conventional printers don’t mix color, they overlay it.
With FabricZoom, we wanted the most vibrant colors. That means pre-mixing inks before they get to the print head. Pre-mixed inks don’t just look more vibrant, though – they allow sharper lines of mixed colors. A line of pre-mixed ink can be a pixel wide and will still be mixed perfectly. A line of overlaid ink is really two or more lines of droplets that you really hope are close enough to overlap.
There’s another advantage to premixed inks – reliability.
When we asked fabric designers what they loved and hated about fabric printing services, the number one complaint was that the printers weren’t always calibrated, and they ended up with different inks that didn’t quite match up. One designer told us she bought printed fabric from China because of the low cost, but had to return half of her orders because of calibration issues! When we asked owners of fabric printers what their biggest headache was, everyone replied “Calibration!” Its most of the maintenance on a printer to get things to go right, and when things go wrong its usually why.
With pre-mixed inks, there is simply no opportunity for multiple printheads to become misaligned – there’s only one head per color! Each pre-mixed ink is laid down once, not in four passes that absolutely must match. That means that if the FabricZoom becomes misaligned to the fabric, you will not notice it because the entire image will be off by a tenth of a millimeter, but each drop will still have the desired color and each pixel will be offset by the same amount. An entire layer of maintenance and service is gone in a flash.
There is planning involved, though. When you use pre-mixed inks, you have to think ahead about what shades you want (we have a video to guide you on this). If you are printing many patterns, you may need to change the ink between prints. Using pre-mixed inks is more like dying fabric with incredible resolution than it is like printing. This is more of an art that printing a flyer on your deskjet printer, and it takes more thought. But we’re confident that the sort of creative and quality conscious designers that the FabricZoom is made for will prefer a machine that is reliable and prints gorgeous product to one that prints mediocre colors easily.