Monday, June 11, 2007

Introducing the Mimaki TX2 Printer

The Mimaki TX2 Printer is the newest addition to the Digital Pathway of the Textiles Course, here at Chelsea College . This printer is one of a series of relatively new technologies that will allow you to print directly onto fabric from a computer.

At first, this appears to be a fairly straight forward process, but the fabric does need to be left to dry before fixing the ink by steaming and washing it afterwards. It is possible to print on a wide range of materials with this printer, although the Mimaki TX2 at Chelsea is installed with reactive dye inks that are only suitable for pre-treated cottons or silks.

This is a relatively new technology, which enables you to print photographs and graphics with a wider colour range compared to the limit of just a few colours in screen printing. However, the colours from the Mimaki, do change during the steaming & washing process, as much of the ink gets drained. The following section outlines how to get a good colour match.

Managing colour when printing from the Mimaki TX2.

To start with, it is advisable to be fairly flexible when it comes to colour matching from a computer monitor to any printer. This is because the monitor does NOT give a true representation of how colours print. Light is emitted through the screen, which usually looks a lot brighter compared to the same colour on a printed surface. Also, there are also many settings in a computer & printer configuration that can easily affect the colour. (e.g: mode, gamma and profile.)

Additionally, every printer and fabric/sub strait requires different colour settings which determine the amount of ink used, as each fabric differs in the amount of ink it absorbs. It is easy to imagine how the colour can change when you consider that colour appears much darker on heavier fabrics compared to lighter ones.

If you are looking for a specific colour, then you must spend time to print some tests on the fabric of choice or consult the new fabric swatches। This will at least go some way to minimize any difference that may occur.

These swatches have been steamed and represent each colour with an RGB value. (Red/Green/Blue) Each set of squares are sectioned into different values of R. The example below is looking at colours within the 'R' range of 175. The vertical column gives the value of G and the horizontal row gives the value of B. All in increments of 5, 15, 25, 35 etc, up to 255.

The idea is to select the colours you want to use in your designs from the swatch first, by noting down the RGB value.

(eg: R-175/G-25/B-135. which will print out as purple indicated on the example above.)

Then open the colour picker in Adobe Photoshop and enter the values in the section indicated below.

In many cases it may be necessary to re-create the design, however this depends on your own idea on how the final outcome will appear. Some of you will take the relaxed route, with an experimentalist's attitude of accepting the outcome regardless of colour matching. Others, however, will need to plan ahead, if they wish to minimize any possibility of error.

Whatever approach you take, you must remember that this technology is in its infancy compared to digital printing on paper or even more so to traditional printing techniques.
The technique is not always perfect, and try to think of inaccuracies as happy accidents.

Please email me to book any printing time.


No comments: