(Note: I asked this question on another SE site but I figured this site is more appropriate so I moved it here)
I'm looking for a material on which I could print digital media, and a suitable printing technique for it.
My intention is to print custom-made designs onto flexible products on-the-spot.
- Different individual prints - The printing process should be suitable for single-use design and not require stencils, masks etc.
- Water resistance and color durability - the printed dye should not be washed off of the material in warm water. It also should not fade easily due to friction or exposure to the sun. Ultimately it should last years in direct sunlight.
- (Physical) flexibility - the material should be bendable to the degree of forming a 5cm ring at least.
- Resolution and color - I don't mind a low printing resolution and a limited palette. I expect at least several dozen producible colors and the resolution doesn't really matter (even 10PPI will do).
- Affordable - the material, printing process, printer and dye would preferably be cheap (i.e. around the cost of regular photo printing). If the printing is possible through regular inkjet printers it would be awesome.
- Quick Process - I prefer the completed process (including preparing the substrate, printing and drying) to be done within seconds or minutes.
- Eco-friendly - if the material can be made from recycled products and the dye is not too bad on the environment it would be nice.
What I've Found So Far
For now, I think my options are:
- Inkjet printable vinyl - very cheap, but I'm not sure about its durability. This one, for example, claims 1 year outdoor durability.
- Fabric printing - durable and as flexible as it gets but VERY EXPENSIVE.
- Plastic/Nylon printing - there are a few methods and substrates for this one.
I would love to get any advice or suggestions. I'm especially interested in inkjet printable vinyl. Is it as good as it sounds? Can I make it last longer?