Cycling and sublimation, the ideal jerseys for escape

In a sport where thousandths of a second make the difference, the details of technical clothing also have a key role to play. GSG masterfully implements the combination of cycling and digital printing thanks to Mimaki digital printers.

In the 20s and 30s, famous cyclist, Ambrogio Binda, said that nothing else was needed outside the “legs” to achieve maximum results. Yet today we know how important the aerodynamics and material is to the sportswear worn. And for its “commercial”, visual and communicative side, the graphics and colours of the jerseys play a fundamental role, as does the technology that revolves around the printing process. With this in mind, GSG made the choice for Mimaki machines, including the new TS55-1800.

Creativity and technique at the service of the cyclist

Founded 35 years ago thanks to the intuition of Simone Fraccaro, a professional cyclist from 1974 to 1984, GSG, based in Vallà di Riese Pio X in the province of Treviso, produce technical clothing for cycling at the highest levels. The company’s mission is to intercept and respond to the needs of the sport, aiming to design and manufacture a product of high quality and reliability, to promote the best possible athletic performance, but also to create a look that allows teams to stand out amongst others.

“I have been a professional cyclist for 11 years, an experience that has allowed me to discover the elements that affect the performance during a race. When I raced the “Giro d’Italia” in 1975, one of my greatest sufferings was the feeling of suffocation generated by my uniform. With sportswear playing a very important role, I set myself a goal to bring innovation into this field; forgetting the old wool suits which were hypoallergenic and uncomfortable, and replacing this with technologically advanced materials. Therefore, the union of skills with my partners, including an expert in screen-printing, has led to the creation of GSG. A large family now consisting of 70 people, it has achieved significant growth in turnover in the last 5 years in an increasingly demanding market, which aims for record-breaking performance. Also in the cycling segment, Made in Italy is of great importance. An Italian pride, which guarantees all-Italian design and production, with the Japanese help of its printing machines.”

Technical clothing

To promote physical well-being and results on the road, the cyclist’s clothing must have the right ergonomics and aerodynamics and pass all the tests in the wind tunnel. As far as the fabric is concerned, the basic material is always polyester, worked as a honeycomb to create air chambers which allow transpiration and quick drying. It is also extremely printable, allowing easy transfer of colours. The microfibers can be bio-ceramic, in carbon or with special elastomers, offering a high degree of elasticity which avoid the formation of wrinkles and brakes in the air. In winter, it is ideal to wear polypropylene or meraclon underwear, as it is in summer, as well as polyester-based clothing with the addition of membranes to protect against air and cold.

“When supplying professional sports groups, it is necessary to pay attention to the smallest of details and be prepared for customisation. Athletes who compete in major competitions seek maximum performance and sometimes ask us to modify their sportswear according to the needs of each race. Given the importance of the aerodynamics of fabric on the skin, there are teams who are needing to gain a few hundredths of a second, a time that is often decisive in cycling, and would therefore require a different length of sleeve, for example”. Simone Fraccaro also told us that a study is underway to create fabrics resembling golf balls for greater air penetration into the jersey. “Among the fabrics in vogue today there is also seamless, but it is not ideal for cycling because it weighs down when wet. It is very bandaging and not printable. In such a dynamic sport, the printing phase is fundamental: you need aggressive colour and attractive graphics.”

The eye wants its share

In cycling, the colours of the jersey are very important and GSG – which has been awarded several times for its productions – is well aware of this, as it also carries out graphic and customisation consultancy. “The colours must be attractive, brilliant and the sponsors must be clearly visible and strategically positioned on the jersey. The psychological factor is important: if you do not use the right formula that allows you to stand out using graphics and colour, the team loses interest, with the result being a less incisive personality and, especially on television, is likely to “blend in” with all the other teams. Current fashion trends sees the prevalence of fluorescent colours, but GSG has developed several innovative solutions with different colours, such as the black jersey with fabric that repels the sun’s rays and a turquoise central stripe for the English team of Sky.

The GSG-Mimaki partnership

GSG’s printing partner, Cekin in Castello di Godego (TV), has always been the Mimaki dealer in the Veneto region. Here, the partnership between Simone Fraccaro and the two owners of Cekin, Plinio Cecchin and Alberto Didonè, was born and continues under the protection and quality of the Mimaki brand. “Cecchin and I have always known each other and thanks to the advice of its service center, GSG has always been abreast of the times, following the developments of technology. I remember that we went together to a fair in San Francisco in 1993 to see with our own eyes the first sublimation inkjet printer with piezoelectric head. In the past, screen-printing was used to create team uniforms, but it was too demanding for small sports groups because it was too expensive and complicated for just a few pieces. However, with the advent of digital machines it was possible to satisfy with an excellent price/performance ratio for even those who required small quantities.”

Machinery

In GSG’s production laboratory, the JV5, JV300 and the new TS55-1800 Mimaki machines are installed, with the option of 10kg ink tanks in double four-colour. “Among the most important plus is its reliability. The machines guarantee higher speed, absence of the operator and limited maintenance. We use the machines a lot, for about 16 hours a day, so we have chosen to equip the machine with 10kg ink tanks to achieve an even higher level of efficiency and productivity. This is a flexible machine, fast and easy to handle and even for short runs it allows you to operate with extreme ease and flexibility.”

Once they print the paper with sublimation ink using graphics in a mirror-like position with respect to the desired effect, the paper is placed cut out in contact with the fabric by means of a hot press, allowing the uniform adhesion of the paper onto the fabric. With this sublimation thermal printing process, the ink printed on the paper is transformed into gas, resulting in an image that is permanently and indelibly transferred onto the synthetic fibre of the polyester fabric. “The range of colours available today”, explained Plinio Cecchin, “is much wider than in 2000 and the colour result has also improved over the years. Previously, the colour saturation of the sublimation was not at all comparable with screen printing, but a lot of work has been done to ensure that a good colour intensity has been achieved with digital.”

Written by Technofashion