KD Kanopy adopts UFabrik Tent Textile

April 18, 2023
Matt Kayser, president, KD Kanopy Matt Kayser, president, KD Kanopy

KD Kanopy Inc. the leading manufacturer and worldwide distributor of industrial strength commercial custom canopies, tension tents, and digital signage has adopted UFabrik Tent Textile for its dye sublimation printing work.

The business initially expects to print 40,000 yards (36,576m) per annum – representing 25% of its total output. It has already received its first shipment of 5,500 yards and has a contingency of 5,000 yards at all times stored at the UFabrik warehouse in Dallas.

“UFabrik Tent offers super vibrant colours. It prints, cuts and sews wonderfully, and I liked its pricing. I’m really impressed with the quality, and I like the size because of the panels that go on the back of a frame. When I was buying 63-inch lengths, I had to put a seam in, and it could make really good-looking graphics appear wonky,” says KD Kanopy’s president and owner, Matt Kayser.

UV and dye sublimation

KD Kanopy is the most respected name in the tenting industry. Its products are used throughout the events, promotion, and military sectors, with beverage promotion accounting for 40% of its sales. It currently holds over 20 patents for its products and is the exclusive distributor for the Majestic Style and Star Shade canopies.

AEC, Inc acquired KD Kanopy from the original owners in 2010. They quickly moved production away from labour-intensive screen-printing with the purchase of two EFI VUTEk dedicated roll-to-roll UV printers at 3.2m (126 inch) and 5m (199 inch) plus a UV flatbed. In just two years they have taken the somewhat languishing business and tripled sales. Dye sublimation capabilities were added to the mix in 2019 with the purchase of two EFI VUTEk 340i’s to handle the increasing demand for SEG work, plus the ability to offer the tenting world additional solutions.

“We wanted to go more dye sub as it’s just an easier process – the colours really pop, and there’s just an overall uplift in the tents and canopies,” says Matt.

One of the biggest benefits of UV inks is that they don’t fade. However, they can chip if undergoing frequent heavy handling. This is because they adhere to the surface of a material. “Customers just don’t listen to care guidance. If you drag your tent across rough ground, the print is going to get damaged. If a tent is not folded and stored properly, especially if there’s been high humidity or rainfall, the UV inks can stick together, and pull apart once the badly stored tent is unpacked,” he says.

Dye sublimation fuses inks into the fibres of a fabric, so the printed image becomes part and parcel of the textile. However, unlike UV, dye sublimation printer images will fade over time.

“We’ve made a tent using dye sub printed UFabrik Tent Textile and it’s been up on our balcony since October last year. It’s seen 15 snowstorms and been exposed to the sun, which is very penetrating here as we’re a mile high. Colorado gets 300 days of sun a year; you’d think with all the snow it would be something like 200 days, but we have more sun than Hawaii. Only now after six months of battling extreme weather, the tent is beginning to fade,” says Matt.

UFabrik Tent properties

Water-resistance and ink adhesion properties are crucial to materials used in the manufacture of printed tents and canopies. Both of which are innate characteristics of UFabrik Tent textile. In addition, this heavyweight woven polyester-based material is airtight and holds EN13501 and NFPA-701 fire certification. It has a lotus effect print face and 80% opacity, making it ideal for gazebos, marquees, canopies, tents, and outdoor event graphics. It is designed for direct or paper transfer sublimation. There is no ink offset when wet and printed textiles can be stored without compromise.

Increasing workflow

To help North American EFI VUTEk installed customer base achieves immediate out-of-the-box success with printed textiles, UFabrik has collaborated with EFI to ensure that all its colour profiles are available on the Fiery XF RIP. These can be accessed directly from the Fiery Profiles Updater for several super-wide printers including the EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340i and next generation FabriVU 340i+.

The UFabrik team has also produced a settings guide for the FabriVU that includes data for specific printer speeds, inline fixation temperatures, and material tension controls to achieve ultimate colour reproduction and textile stability for its textiles that are output through this printer family.

“UFabrik has really done a great deal of legwork. Giving us profiles for our FabriVU printers has really helped us. It’s only taken us two tents to figure out shrink and stretch, just because so much background work has already been done by them,” says Matt.

The stability of the UFabrik Tent textile has kickstarted production efficiency and accelerated throughout. “We can finally use our Zund digital cutter to cut dye-sub because our previous material would shrink and stretch so much that getting the right template to the cutter didn’t happen and we had to cut by hand. Now we can go from the printer to the cutter and then the sewing seamlessly, we’re now 60% faster,” he says.

Post Covid, the tenting sector has roared back to life with KD Kanopy reporting 2022 as its best year ever. Moving forwards, UFabrik Tent textile is set to be a significant enabler for the company to meet both current elevated and future demand.

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