In the northeast of England – in the shadow of the Lake District – is a factory in Lancaster that helps keep British manufacturing alive. Standfast & Barracks’ role in British textile design is extensive. It has been a creative force in fabric printing since 1923 and is now one of the few UK factories. To stay one step ahead, to be able to print complex designs for the brand, the building houses state-of-the-art technology and a team as passionate as they are skilled in bringing innovation in textile design into a new era. This is where printing is done for Sandserson Design Group, which I’ve been told accounts for 70% of the factory’s work.

Inside the walls there is a constant challenge (and threat) to find the balance to sensitively maintain its heritage, while meeting modern demands as a business. And with Sanderson Design Group announcing that it will be a carbon neutral company by 2030, the latest task has been to transform production into clean, conscious and, also, carbon neutral production.

In order to understand how the two companies are working together to achieve this end goal in less than eight years, we must first understand the step-by-step artistic process of textile printing.

After it arrives, before the fabric comes into contact with the dye, the fabric begins its preparation journey by being sewn into continuous sheets ready to be processed using the braiding machine.

The material then enters the Singer machine, which burns off any loose fibers from the surface. During this process, the starch used for weaving is broken down by an enzyme. It is then rotated for no less than 16 hours to further break down the “size” (starch).

Image credit: Standfast & Barracks

Mercerizing is an essential process used for cottons, which swells the fibers of the fabric and improves luster which aids in color payoff. The fabric is then stretched, as it shrinks in wet processes, which is the final preparation procedure before printing.

Fabric coming out of the dyehouse at Standfast & Barracks

Image credit: Standfast & Barracks

The fabric then enters the dyehouse, where there are different printing methods, depending on the customer’s request. The factory has six Jig Dyers, a pad-batch dye, known as “Padder”, and a small laboratory where testing can be carried out efficiently.

Jigs and Padder machines prepare base fabrics for printing, and each fabric has a standard shade that the team colorist checks for continuity.

Factory at Standfast & Barracks

Image credit: Standfast & Barracks

Flat printing

Using the flatbed printing method, up to 24 colors can be used on a design, using up to 24 screens to print a full design onto the fabric (each screen is used to print a different color onto the fabric ). Although this is a laborious and time consuming process, it is, I am told, the best method of printing on fabric to achieve the sharpest line quality and detail. sharper. Due to the time and resources required, the factory minimum order for flat printing is 200 meters per colour.

Yellow printed fabric in Standfast & Barracks dyehouse

Image credit: Standfast & Barracks

Rotary printing

With a rotary printer, the design is applied using cylindrical metal screens that are laser engraved.

The latest rotary printing machines can produce fine details and tighter prints; they are very precise and ideal for small garment prints. Limited to a maximum of 20 colors using this method, the factory minimum order for flat printing is 300 meters per colour.

Green and blue fabric inside Standfast & Barracks factory

Image credit: Standfast & Barracks

Digital printing

The latest printing method, which is part of the ever-evolving factory, is digital printing, which is the solution for the factory – and Sanderson Design Group – to achieve their combined goals of carbon neutrality, without making any compromise on quality.

The new EcoFast production process, which uses 30 to 80 liters less water per meter than conventional printing, provides high performance fabrics for indoor and outdoor use. Due to the nature of the technology, this method allows multiple stains to be developed and labeled for all markets and design specifications.

The factory has designed several durable polyester-based options. These are suitable for outdoor use, with a full list of performance related features including printing with durst greentex high definition inks and a fluorocarbon finish, making it smudge resistant. Additionally, the process requires a minimum order of only 100 meters per SKU.

Archive by Sanderson bedding in a night colourway

Image credit: Sanderson Design Group

So what’s the next step? To understand exactly how Sanderson Design Group and Standfast Barracks will achieve NetZeroby30, we caught up with Lisa Montague, CEO of Sanderson Design Group. “We made some assumptions and some advancements beyond the first five years are hard to predict, such as how hydrogen will be adopted,” said Lisa Montague, CEO of Sanderson Design Group. hotel designs. “Our Live Beautiful program has 2 big promises, to be Zeroby30 and to be the employer of choice in our industry. Both are very ambitious!

“The first challenge is that we are not a green industry,” adds Montague. “We work with dyes, solvents and chemicals that require a lot of energy to produce. There are many ways to reduce our impact and we are confident of achieving net zero in scopes one and two with a 50% reduction target in scope three. »

I’m told the focus in 2022 has been to design for longevity and explore the product lifecycle in depth with a project group set up to work on all aspects. “As you will have seen at Standfast, the base materials and printing processes are already at the forefront of the most environmentally friendly solutions available to deliver the desired product,” says Montague. “The afterlife hasn’t been our focus yet, and it’s an opportunity to reduce waste and make products as sustainable as possible. The packaging was changed a few years ago from plastic to sugarcane packaging Sample books have been reduced by more than half across the business with the introduction of digitally designed books and made-to-order physical books. vendors have been introduced and there is a great opportunity to work more closely with all third-party partners as we emerge from the pandemic and find a new balance.

“My ambition, 10 years from now, is to be a hub of creative talent, the destination for beautiful home interiors, at home and abroad, as a trusted business partner for architects, designers and retailers, and a trusted resource for inspiring fabrics, wallpapers and bespoke objects that complement and beautify a room.- Lisa Montague, CEO, Sanderson Design Group.

Designer wallpaper rolls

Image credit: Harlequin/Sanderson Design Group

Sanderson Design Group is well on its way to achieving its ambitious goal. The final milestone was to receive Planet Mark’s fourth annual certification. Without taking away the importance of long standing brands striving to become net zero, in the process there is the inevitable challenge of maintaining a legacy while ensuring it is an effort of team in all areas of the business. “When it comes to people,” Montague says, “we have worked extensively on culture and community over the past few years, especially the past two years in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, staying in touch with our workforce in various parts of the UK and some in other countries, was vital. We have significantly strengthened internal communication, and I am continuing my weekly post-pandemic newsletter, to maintain this link. Community groups at each site have been reformed and interconnected with Live Beautiful groups to develop both group-wide and local initiatives to support workflows (100 in total with priority 20).

With so much emphasis on the brand’s eco credentials – and plans to hit ambitious targets in the process – it’s all too easy to lose sight of the creative opportunities these production changes have brought. “Our vision is to bring beauty into people’s homes and lives,” concludes Montague. “My ambition, 10 years from now, is to be a hub of creative talent, the destination for beautiful home interiors, at home and abroad, as a trusted business partner for architects, designers and retailers, and a trusted resource for inspirational fabrics, wallpapers and bespoke items that complement and beautify a room. And after seeing what I saw at the Standfast & Barracks factory, and the collaborative nature in which both companies are moving with purpose, I would say Montague’s goals are within reach.

Sanderson Design Group is one of our recommended suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you would like to become one of our recommended vendors, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Standfast & Barracks


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