The Interiors Market

Independent research conducted by Infosource shows that Epson’s SureColor SC-S series is the top selling eco-solvent technology in its class in Western Europe. Maev Martin talks to Daniel Rafferty, Manager, Epson Ireland, and Epson UK’s Pre Sales Technical Specialist Paul Restarick about the interior décor demand driving this growth.

The Infosource research shows that Epson grew market share for these printers from fifth place, with just over nine per cent in 2015, to a league-topping 28.4% by the end of 2016.  This success follows the launch of a new generation of 64-inch width Epson SureColor SC-S printers in January 2016 – the SureColor SC-S80600, SC-S60600 and SC-S40600 – which gives users the choice of four to 10 colours (including white and metallic) and up to 95.3sqm/hr single-pass productivity. They feature Epson’s permanent PrecisionCore TFP printheads with variable size ink droplet technology, delivering consistent 1440 x 1440 dpi output. “As a result, the range can create stunning results on a range of coated and uncoated substrates for indoor/outdoor signage, display graphics, posters and backlit panels, POS materials, vehicle wraps, wallpaper and photo canvases,” says Paul Restarick. “Since the launch, these printers have generated considerable interest from companies looking for technology that delivers quality, productivity, flexibility, ease of use and rapid ROI in one complete package. The hugely successful 10-colour 64-inch SureColor SC-S80600 uses the UltraChrome GS3 inkset, which includes red, white and metallic for accurate and consistent corporate colour match signage, and produces exceptional print quality, even on the cheapest monomeric vinyl. It also offers a low total cost of ownership and superb reliability.”

Pioneering Printers

The SureColor SC range’s suitability for and success in the signage market has been well documented but Epson is now responding to a growing demand for press installations to service the interior design sector. “Epson is actively promoting the opportunities that the requirements of the interior design market can offer commercial printers in Ireland,” says Daniel Rafferty. “In fact, Epson Ireland has been responding to a growing demand for press installations to service the interior design sector.”

Alphaset in Limerick, a print and design studio with a strong presence in museum interior design and kit, have invested in a SureColor SC-S40600. “The vast majority of their digital wall coverings are produced in-house and the SureColor gives them a fast and flexible printer that can produce just about everything, from a simple entrance sign to a complex interior,” says Daniel. “Also in Limerick, Pro-Image Sign Print & Tint use a SureColor SC-S80600 for their interior fit outs and wall graphics. The white and metallic inks of the SC-S80600 have given them the ability to produce some very interesting interiors. Pro-Image chose the SC-S80600 because they wanted a printer with a huge colour gamut that gave a photographic quality output. Figure2Ground studio are a niche creative enterprise, providing surface design solutions for make-to-order digitally printed wall coverings, textiles, luxury vinyl tiles and glass curtains. Their tailored offering includes original surface designs and artwork specifically created and engineered for architects, specifiers, interior designers and fit out contractors. Using the SureColor SC-S80600, Agnes de Vlin has translated her fine art print series ‘Breeze’ into a range of super wide digitally printed wallcoverings for the contract interiors market. Black is a key colour in de Vlin’s palette and the improved density within the Epson Surecolor printing technology gives a black that appears infinitely deep and plays with the different expression of hues in her work.”

Via their two local reseller partners, Infinity 2 and Irish Print Support, Epson Ireland are using these and other examples of what they have done already to promote the opportunities and creative possibility in this sector. This year they are also planning demonstration days where they will invite designers to come and see for themselves what can be achieved with their technology. “We also have the ability to support our potential users by offering to test materials and ideas for them in advance of purchasing a printer,” says Daniel. “This enables desginers, or indeed any potential end user, to have the confidence to express themselves knowing what can be achieved on the SureColor range.”

Print Interiors Showcase

Paul says that the print industry now expects to be able to produce the best quality products at the best price. “This is reflected in the success of our SureColor printers across the board – for signage, graphics and textiles (T shirts, fashion and interior décor),” he says. “The Sign & Digital UK exhibition, recently concluded, and Fespa in May are happening at just the right time as many printers are now looking to upgrade, expand and add new products to their portfolios. Our range of aqueous, eco-solvent and dye-sublimation SureColors are unbeatable when it comes to quality, productivity, versatility, ink efficiency and low cost of ownership. To demonstrate this, and to show visitors to Fespa exactly what it costs to produce different products on different substrates, we are running a cost calculator on our booth throughout the show.“

To show visitors the breadth of applications and production potential of the SureColor range, Epson will showcase a selection of high-quality signage and photographic products (banners, soft signage, vehicle wraps, POS, and back lit displays on a range of substrates, including vinyl and canvas); décor products (wallpaper, curtains, upholstery, splashbacks), customised 3D promotional and giftware products (e.g. phone cases, mugs, keyrings etc), and a selection of textile items (polyester and cotton T-shirts, tote bags, and fashion outfits). For the Printinteriors interior design showcase at Fespa, Epson will be demonstrating interior design production and applications, alongside signage and fashion/garment applications. “We will show wallpaper, deocrative window film and a selection of soft furnishings (curtains, cushions, upholstery), plus other décor products such as customised plates, cutlery, mugs, vases, and lampshades,” says Paul.

Unique Features

Paul highlights a number of what he believes to be unique features that combine to make the SureColors so successful. “The automatic tension controlled feed system, coupled with a larger diameter friction roller and motor controlled pressure rollers, means more consistent feed, so it is ideal for printing wallpaper, wall coverings, and large format advertising posters and hoardings, where the first drop needs to line up with its neighbour,” he says. “The Epson UltraChrome GS3 and GS3 with red inks are also Green Guard Gold certified, which means that no special ventilation is required during production, and they can be installed in restaurants, nurseries, schools, hospitals, etc. The inks also have an exceptional colour gamut from the four colour GS3 inks set, with the GS3 with red having an additional red and orange ink to increase the overall colour gamut for better Pantone/corporate colour accuracy, and the light inks to improve gradations. With the new ink technology, Epson engineers were able to achieve a higher chromogenic value in the GS3 and GS3 with red ink set, which means less ink required to achieve maximum density. Epson have also introduced a new HQ microweave mode, which dramatically reduces the appearance of visual banding, meaning jobs that would have had to been printed at 8 pass previously, can now be run at 6 pass with comparable quality, so there is faster throughput.”

What’s Trending

The rapid growth of digital printing in the textile industry for both décor applications and fashion is driven by the design and business opportunities it enables. “The ability to print designs digitally and cost-effectively, and in high quality, onto a range of textiles is inspiring designers, textile manufacturers and retailers,” says Paul. “The trend for fast fashion and bespoke décor is well known, but it is far from established and we are really only experiencing the start of a trend that will grow significantly over the next few years. Sales of our SureColor SC-F2000 direct to garment printer have exploded across Europe. This isn’t just because T-shirt printing is an active market (which it has been for many years), it is more because companies want a printer they can depend on to work all day, every day, that needs very little maintenance and produces superb quality products. Our printer is the only t-shirt printer on the market where everything has been designed and made entirely by one company, including the dedicated CMYK + white ink and pre-treatment fluid. That is clearly having an impact on sales.”