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Pink Inc.'s Dye-Sub Diva

Portland Color uses its HP Scitex XL 1500 to produce 'Fire Divas' and flaming graphics.




When cruise line Royal Caribbean needed some not-so-typical costumes for its greeters, it contacted the fabric-solutions experts at Pink Inc. In fact, Royal Caribbean wanted a variation on Pink’s distinctive Diva costumes-a futuristic, walking hourglass.

The hourglass costumes are a Pink original: Comprising a tube with flairs at both ends, the ends have flexible plastic rods/rings inserted into them-making circular shapes on the top and bottom that the performer can manipulate and transform. Pink’s traditional Diva costumes are solid white. The cruise line, however, wanted three “Fire Divas” with flaming graphics. The graphics would show on both sides, requiring the costumes to be made either with a double layer of fabric or two-sided dye-sub printing.

Through experience, Pink has found that a Diva costume made with two layers of fabric doesn’t work as well as those made with one layer. But most of its print suppliers just laughed when asked to do two-sided, dye-sub printing.

“Two-sided printing was definitely the challenge for this product, as well as finding a print provider who would do it,” says Debra Roth, CEO and creative director for Pink Inc.

But Roth found that Portland Color in Portland, Maine, was willing to experiment to get it right. The flaming motif actually made the two-sided printing issue a little easier, says Roth, “Fortunately, we were working with a texture graphic, so even if we were unable to line up the design exactly, it would not be as evident and would still look great.”


In the meantime, Pink’s graphics department designed the flaming motif, placing the graphics on the diva pattern pieces that made up the outfit-six pieces per costume. Once approved, the graphics were sent to Portland Color. The flaming images were printed onto SpectraJet Solvent transfer paper using Portland’s HP Scitex XL1500 solvent printer and newly developed solvent dye-sub inks.

After 2.5 hours of printing, the image was sublimated onto 75 square feet of Trapeze fabric using the shop’s Practix OK-130, a 130-inch heat press. Unlike most dye-sub jobs, however, this project needed two passes on the heat press-one for each side.

With the thin see-through fabric, the graphics on the front and back had to be carefully aligned. Section by section, Portland Color printed the graphics, sublimated the front, exactly arranged the second graphic, and then transferred those graphics onto the back side. The sublimation process took an additional two hours.

When the sublimated fabrics were delivered back to Pink in New York, the finishing department sewed the panels together using its Juki overlock sewing machines. After construction, fabric piping was added to the top and bottom with the flexible plastic ring inserted into the piping as a final step in the construction process.

The performers who wear the Fire Diva begin by donning a form-fitting black body suit. The hourglass flaming Diva goes on over it, with the constricted waist holding it in place on the performers’ bodies.

With 20 employees at its 5500 square foot, three-floor loft in New York City, Pink is a full-service design company offering a range of trade-show, meeting, event, and decor fabric structures in distinctive shapes, complete with graphics and lighting. Offered for rent and sale, the traditional Pink designs and custom builds with geometric shapes and futuristic designs are not your run-of-the-mill, squared-off configurations.





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