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Digital Decorating: Sublimation
The Future of Flip-Flop Printing
Digital printing methods offer endless opportunities to create unique decorated items. A few miles outside of New York City, the team at Tidal New York is churning out the future of flip-flops using a not-your-typical printing process.
This proprietary print method blends state-of-the-art technology with a proven and clean manufacturing process.
Using a polyurethane base — the same material used in running shoes and other outerwear — the team creates flip-flops that are durable, hold color and most importantly, are replicable in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.
The first step in the manufacturing process involves molding polyurethane using a specially designed process — a unique approach that entails some technical aspects, but also depends upon subtle finesse.
Once cooled, the molded sole is moved through the factory to be trimmed and taken to a wash station where release agents are removed and the flip-flops are prepared for the strapping machines. Unique to Tidal, the strapping process features a left machine and right machine to ensure optimal comfort.
Using the Mimaki JFX-200, a wide-format flatbed printer, the team is able to print intricate designs onto flip-flops with eight millimeters of tapered arch support and varied thickness. The entire printing process resembles that of small inkjet printer.
One key element of the process is the use of flexible ink, which when finished allows for 200% flex — meaning it will bend but not crack.
The entire process to create one pair of flip-flops takes roughly 10 minutes and involves only a handful of people. What’s more, every stage of the production process was mindfully created to result in less overproduction (less waste) compared to high-minimum screen printing.
Tim Gibb is co-founder of Tidal New York, a New York-based flip-flop maker dedicated to creating the best and most environmentally friendly product possible. For more information or to comment on this article, email Tim at email@example.com or visit tidalnewyork.com
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