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Under the Hood

Durst P5 TEX iSUB

Durst claims to have produced a game-changing step forward with a printer that can provide in-line fixation of dye-sublimation inks printed direct-to-fabric. Brian Sims takes a closer look at the P5 TEX iSUB to find out more

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The iSUB technology eliminates the need for post-production calendering

Printing Direct-to-fabric

There is quite often an issue when printing directly to fabric due to the fact that a secondary process is needed to set or fix the dye into the fabric. Clearly, this can be an issue with regard to the handling of what can be large and heavy rolls of materials which is not easy.

Durst has overcome this problem by designing into the P5 TEX a unique IR (infrared) in-line fixation device specifically used for direct-to-fabric printing. 

The device is called iSUB and the full moniker for the new machine is the P5 TEX iSUB. The size of the kit is very impressive with a maximum width of 3,370mm (132 inches) which can also be configured as full-width, multi-roll, or dual-roll formats.

The Durst P5 TEX iSUB can print direct-to-fabric or to transfer paper, making it an extremely flexible dye-sublimation printer

The width and ability of the machine to print direct-to-fabric and fix the dye-sublimation inks in one pass makes it very efficient when producing a wide range of products.

According to Durst, various applications such as sports and fashion items, interior décor, events and trade show banners, backlit signs, and a full gamut of visual communication materials are easily achieved on this printer.

Breaking the key features down into four areas, the aforementioned iSUB in-line fixation technology has to be the USP (unique selling point) for Durst. As said, this device allows the fixing of the ink into the directly printed fabric in the same pass.

Wide-format print company MacroArt invested in a Durst P5 TEX iSUB in 2022

Durst says the iSUB technology eliminates the need for post-production calendering and gives excellent colour consistency and avoids colour bleeding into each other giving very sharp and crisp edges to the colour boundaries. 

It is also very useful to be able to print difficult materials such as onto black fabrics and tricky materials used for backlit promotional products. As the iSUB is contactless, if you were printing on more tactile substrates, they retain these properties once printed.

Roll After Roll

The dual-roll option allows two rolls of up to 1.6m in width and 600mm in diameter on the machine at the same time and the kit then queues and deploys different jobs on each roll. 

This has an obvious advantage of making the full width of the machine available for production, ensuring that the uptime of the P5 TEX iSUB is maximised. At the end of one roll, the second can be simultaneously spliced to the first.  
Flexibility in Paper

Whilst the P5 TEX iSUB has the unique ability to print onto fabric and fix the colour in one go, there are times when the need to print onto transfer papers is required. Durst has taken this into consideration and has a facility in the printer to be able to print onto a transfer sheet.

There are a series of plates that can be quickly and easily added to the machine which act as a vacuum table pulling the paper down tight onto them so the ink can be laid down precisely and accurately.

This is an important feature as any discrepancies when printing onto the transfer paper will directly affect the quality of the final product. So whether it is directly printing to the fabric or onto a transfer paper to allow for post-print application, Durst has a solution in the P5 TEX iSUB.  
So what of the inks themselves? Well, as you would expect, they come with the OEKO-TEX®100 standard meaning there are no harmful substances or chemicals that would affect contact with any of the printed materials.

The ink known as P5 Sublifix has been specially developed to work with the direct in-line fixation system but aside from this, it gains a high level of resistance to washing, light, and rubbing. The ink comes in a number of colours as is standard on these large machines. Colours include the process set (CMYK) along with light magenta, cyan, and black as well as orange.

Depending on the mode of the printer, these inks are dropped onto the substrate in one of three droplet sizes, seven, 14, or 21 picolitres. All the inks used in the Sublifix range are fast drying, have excellent vibrancy, and do not lack sharpness even when printed directly to fabrics.

The P5 TEX iSUB has some smart technology when it comes to handling the ink too. Durst has designed a Safe Ink Refill system that prevents incorrect inks being used; there is a date expiration system to avoid using inks which are out of date; and for added protection, there is a mechanical lock and light alert system on the inking reservoirs.

As the inks all have the OEKO-TEX® hallmark on them, this has not been taken for granted by Durst and to ensure this machine is as user friendly as possible, it comes with technology called Smart Exhaust System (SES). 

This is an efficient integrated exhaust system which avoids ink misting and colour set by engaging an active airflow system within the machine. Following the application of the ink, the evaporation that takes place is all handled by SES and thus stopping unpleasant odours making the machine uncomfortable to use.

A Stitch in Time

Not missing a single trick on the machine, Durst has even gone to the extent of adding a sewing unit to the P5 TEX iSUB which has the benefit of stitching a new roll directly on the machine, reducing waste and saving time.

A sewing unit is included on the P5 TEX iSUB which has the benefit of stitching a new roll directly on the machine

Durst claims that this machine is a game changer, a claim often banded about when a new machine is on the market. But on close inspection, the P5 TEX iSUB with its in-line fixation technology allowing direct-to-fabric printing, could well be worthy of the claim.

  • Resolution: 400 x 600dpi grayscale; 800 x 600 binary
  • Drop size: 7-14-21 pl grayscale
  • Colour Channels: Up to 8
  • Max. roll width: Max. roll width (Single roll) 3400mm (133.8 in) (Dual roll) 1625 mm (63.9in)
  • Max. printing width: Max. printing width (Single roll) 3370cm (136.7in) (Dual roll) 1595mm (62.8 in)
  • Colours:    C/M/Y/K/LC/LM/LK/Or

Brian Sims Principal Consultant, Metis Print Consultancy, www.metis-uk.eu

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