West Herts College has invested in an Epson SureColor SC-F501 dye-sublimation printer to create womenswear, menswear and upcycle textiles.

Dye sublimation printing enables on-demand product development to help prevent the need for international freight shipping and empowers professionals with greater control of their textile design.

The college will use the printer as a tool to explain the ethical and environmental factors surrounding the design and production of fashion and how reshoring using dye-sublimation technology can make a positive impact.

Rehana Khan, lecturer at West Herts College, said, ‘The 24-inch dye-sublimation printer with fluorescent yellow and pink ink was picked for a number of reasons. We had a heat press and so wanted a dye-sublimation printer that was easy to use, had a narrow width, could manage pattern pieces and was compatible with the programmes we were already running. We also liked its ability to offer vibrant colour.

‘We wanted to be able to give students an opportunity to see for themselves how digital print can be used in fashion. Now technology has become easier to use, and more affordable, the time was right for us to make that investment. Having access to the latest technology is essential in making students aware of what is possible.

 ‘They will be able to see the key role digital print plays in garment production. Students can create their designs and immediately hold their end-product. They can also consider a different approach to garment creation – whether that is with the production process, or the textiles used. It will be the first time they will have used the technology to bring their designs to life.

The new addition will be central to learning from September 2022 onwards. First year students will understand the process and create their own digital designs. Second year students will develop their own textile print as part of a major project.