Redacción AlabrentHowever, when it comes to adding patterns or other graphic design elements to a pleated garment, the nature of the process creates some complications. This is where the introduction of digitally printed designs and patterns can take pleated garments to even higher levels of quality and appeal. Not only that, but digital printing techniques can also offer designers and textile companies increased flexibility when it comes to modifying a piece. Whether to improve the end result last minute or simply create a slightly different version of an existing design - changing the colours gives consumers multiple options of the same product.
Omniapiega is a company who recognises the opportunities made possible with digital printing. This Italian company’s expertise in producing high-quality pleated garments is central to its success. Founded in 1970, Omniapiega has tackled various technological challenges over the years in order to continuously improve the complex pleating processes, enhance quality and deliver the best possible service. The most recent way this established business has driven even further success and maintained its competitive advantage was to add digital printing services to its offering.
Bringing Print into the Fold
Based in Carate Brianza, in the province of Monza Brianza – strategically located close to the textile districts of Como and Turin and the fashion capital, Milan – Omniapiega offers a highly specialist, customised pleating service to fashion designers and brands.
"In the past, we used external suppliers for creative development and for printing, with very long and complex production processes," explains Pierfilippo Longoni, Fabrics Developer at Omniapiega. "However, when dealing with the world of fashion and creativity, tight deadlines, and last-minute changes are the order of the day. Even when a product is approved, very often variants of the design have to be made very quickly. Consequently, with production times exceeding two weeks, outsourcing the print was complicated and presented several problems.”
This lengthy process and the need to create different versions of the same product on demand prompted Omniapiega's management to take the leap and bring digital printing in-house. The aim was to speed up production and guarantee consistent quality from the conception of the design to the choice of fabrics, right up to the delivery of the almost finished product.
Fashioning a New In-House Digital Print Service
With the support of Bompan, Mimaki's exclusive reseller in Italy, Omniapiega installed its first Mimaki JV5 printer in 2015, which was quickly followed by two more units.
"The first step was to create a dedicated printing team, including a technician specialising in sublimation printing for textiles, a graphic designer and a textile designer. It was with this new team that, after researching the solutions available on the market, it was decided to focus on Mimaki's technology,” explained Longoni.
With its expert team in place and three Mimaki systems printing reliably and at high quality, Omniapiega was able to successfully launch its in-house service, increasing both production speed and flexibility. The company could now easily meet the requirements of its customers for fast iterations or design versions, as well as provide more choice when it came to printing onto different fabrics.
"The ability to print in-house gave us the extra edge. Mimaki's technology proved effective right from the start, providing the quality, repeatability and production efficiency we needed. Over the years, we then turned our attention to perfecting the creativity and design element of our services," continued Longoni.
Latest Mimaki Technology for ComPLEAT Creativity
Focused on production technology innovation and with the excellent experience Omniapiega has had with Mimaki to date, the company decided to upgrade its production facility in 2022. They added a Mimaki TS55-1800 sublimation printer, intended for continuous production on 350-metre reels, and a TS100-1600 sublimation printer for sampling. The combination of the two high performance machines allows the company to run proofs with greater flexibility before moving to actual production. The consistently high quality achievable with these two systems provides Omniapiega with the certainty that it will achieve the same end results, identical to the prototypes, every time.
Longoni continued, "The investment in the Mimaki TS55-1800 and TS100-1600 printers enabled us to further improve speed and productivity. But that's not all - Mimaki's technology has enhanced our creative processes too, making it possible to replicate a number of vintage jobs in a modern way. In our archive, we have around 6000 different samples for pleating processes and fabric designs. Designers have access to this archive and often take vintage designs or garments as inspiration. Thanks to Mimaki’s technology, we are able to work with them to adapt these beautiful vintage patterns to ensure they look flawless when printed and then pleated. The Mimaki printers produce vibrant colours and intricate, accurate details that add that final touch of creativity to the pieces.”
"Pleating has always been our core business and we boast a leading position in the market. In fact, we can say that when we look in the shop windows of the high streets across Italy, the pleats on display are often our own work. With the addition of our dedicated team and Mimaki’s digital equipment, we have been able to further consolidate our position as an industry leader. The high-end fashion brands we work with are excited with the applications we achieved with this technology, and likewise, they are happy with the exceptional service in terms of flexibility and speed, both in development and production, that we are able to provide thanks to the Mimaki printers. Last but not least, digital printing has opened up countless avenues of development and innovation for us, allowing us to further accelerate our path of continuous growth and evolution. We look forward to what the future holds as we continue to push new creative and technological boundaries together,” Longoni concludes.