Which inkjet printer for large format proofing of fabrics? Encad's old textile proofer Print

Encad used to offer a special printer to help designers proof their textile patterns, the Encad NovaJet 1500. This allows proofing everything from wallpaper to floor designs to high fashion to table cloths. Now you can get basic printing on textiles from their regular Encad NovaJet 850. Thus the Encad 1500 is no longer listed on their web site, nor any other textile printer.

Since I am interested in indigenous Maya textiles of Guatemala and Mexico I have begun to research the various wide format printers which can print on fabric. Of course many generic printers can handle some form of textiles, but Encad and ColorSpan all make special printers which are carefully outfitted to handle cloth and a variety of fabrics.

Encad, textile fabric wide format printer proofer overview

Downside of the Encad is that, if I remember correctly, the textile models were the older 300 dpi, with the awkward ink system that had to be primed and sucked by hand. The newer Encad printers from the 600e onward had slightly better systems. The newest Encad 750 and 850 are improved over that. Since we have only the original Encad Novajet Pro 36" we know every quirk of this printer.

Since the summer 2001 you can find all kinds of sophisticated solutions, from the DisplayMaker FabriJet XII which uses special textile inks to the basic Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 5000 which prints on textiles with it's regular inks.

ATP Color, Digifab textile printers evaluated by FLAAR
There are many companies that make or distribute textile printers. One that we know for many many years is DigiFab. Another textile company that has let us do evaluations on their printers is ATPColor. We have evaluated their printers and here are the results.

At DRUPA printer trade show (May 2000) I saw a remarkable textile printer, the Sintesi ColorSurf. This is a dye sublimation printer, the most sophisticated of the entry-level that I have seen. The ColorSurf uses ColorGate RIP software.

Another popular printer that prints on textiles is the HP DesignJet 2xxx series (36") or the 3xxx series (54"). These Hewlett-Packard printers handle silk and a wide variety of textiles. In the FLAAR facilities we have two HP 5000 printers which achieve outstanding results printing on textiles.

ColorSpan does an outstanding job of printing on textiles, indeed their FabriJet printer can use the special inks that do a better job on textiles than regular inks. Mimaki makes a series of printers which accept all the special textile inks. It is ironic that Encad made one of the earliest wide format printers to handle textiles but it was Mimaki, Stork, and ColorSpan who continued this class of printer.

Now that FLAAR has a larger facility on the campus of Bowling Green State University, we have the opportunity to print on a wider range of fabrics with our HP DesignJet 5000ps. The results look great. We have tried cotton and mesh from 3P and polyester from TAL. The HP 5000 is so versatile it seems to print on almost anything .

Encad, textile fabric wide format printer proofer closeup Encad, textile fabric wide format printer proofer.
At the CeBIT computer trade show in Hannover, Germany recently the Encad wide format printer for doing textile patterns really stood out. The quality was impressive. This kind of printer must really help the graphic design and textile industry (not to mention wall coverings including wallpaper). These awful snapshots lose the image in the process of being JPEGed. The original print from the Encad printer was a thousand times nicer than this unfortunate reproduction


Last checked Jan. 15, 2003,
Previously updated July 8, 2002, June 2, 2002

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