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Fabric Graphics, March April 2010, Digital Edition

Fabric Graphics, March April 2010, Digital Edition

doesn’t matter what

doesn’t matter what technology you use, whether it’s RF or hot wedge or hot air, you are essentially doing the same thing,” says Miller Weldmaster’s Pham. “That makes it one piece. Molecularly, scientifically, the materials are bonded at that point so the weld is actually stronger than the material itself.” Because of the general nature of welding, many believe it to be the most durable form of finishing a seam. “If you are making a pocket with a sewing machine, you’re actually perforating the material, which does weaken the material for a tensile strip,” Pham says. “If you’re welding, you’re fusing two pieces to make one piece.” Another benefit of welding is that it can create a seam without sew“It interfering with the graphics printed onto the fabric. “You can tell the difference in the look,” Pham says. “Obviously, if you’re sewing something, it’s punching the material and it’s pulling it forward, so it puckers the material a little bit. On a heat seal, it’s nice and flat and it doesn’t affect the print.” Sewing While Pham makes a convincing case for welding seams, many still prefer the tried-and-true method of sewing with a needle and thread. Terry Sheban of Super Stitches sewing shop in Youngstown, Ohio, says that sewing is one of the most accessible methods of finishing a project. “Sewing equipment is durable and inexpensive, relatively speaking,” he says. “It has an extremely long life. You could start with a machine as inexpensive as $1,000 and you can hem the perimeter of banners.” For a shop that’s just starting to examine finishing options, sewing can be one of the easiest places to start. “Some people would dispute this because a lot of people think that sewing is outdated, so there’s a 3 6 Fabric Graphics Mar|apr 2010

prejudice, but it’s an old technology, and because of that, it’s a very proven technology and a very cheap technology,” Sheban says. And though there are debates about durability and longevity, there are simply some projects that can’t be completed with the current welding technologies. Sheban says that the growing popularity of dyesublimation printing has ensured that sewing is still a necessity for certain kinds of projects. “If you had a really light or sheer fabric, it was difficult to print on because it was so light that you couldn’t use an inkjet printer,” he says. “So they developed a dye sub, which puts images onto a paper surface, and then the fabric goes through a roller and up against a paper, and the colors are transferred. It opened up the possibility of printing onto almost anything, including very light fabrics, even sheer fabrics. So that became something that we started doing about five years ago.” But even a sewing enthusiast like Sheban admits that both methods have their benefits and drawbacks. While sewing is generally cheaper and more versatile, there are some projects that require waterproofing, and that’s a corner of the market that has been conquered by welding technologies. “The downside of sewing is that you are punching a hole through the fabric,” Sheban says. “It typically was not the cosmetic appearance the growing popularity of dye-sublimation printing has ensured that sewing is still a necessity for certain kinds of projects. meThodS for maTerialS What’s the best finishing method for a particular type of material? The pros let you know. Vinyl laminated polyeSter Heat sealing “Provides a clean, pleasing finish to the quality printed product. No holes punched in the material. No thread to distract the appearance. And bonding strength to last the life of the material versus a tape, which can lose its hold in varying environments.” Jamie Nute, Sinclair Equipment Co. Vinyl Heat sealing “Advantages of welding are the speed and the strength of the actual seam itself. If you are making a pocket with a sewing machine, you’re actually perforating the material, which weakens the material for a tensile strip.” Truy Pham, Miller Weldmaster acrylic Sewing or tape “Because of the contoured nature of a textile material, I would think sewing might be the best result for the finishing of this material. A joint, hem or pocket can be heat sealed to an acrylic coated surface by use of a special thermal bonding tape. This can provide good tensile strength for indoor and outdoor applications. Jamie Nute polyeSter, cotton, cotton blend Sewing or heat sealing “You would have to either sew it or weld it. You cannot tape a textile banner. It’s just a matter of putting Scotch tape on your shirt— it wouldn’t stick at all.” Truy Pham canVaS Cutting “If a fabric does not fray, it is a candidate for a cutting table. And, it should last forever (theoretically) indoors or outdoors.” Bill Hartman, i-cut/Kongsberg www.fabricgraphicsmag.com 37

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