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About Polar Bear Paper

A simple mission – thin quality transfer paper for digital print

Polar Bear Paper seeks the perfect balance of weight and technical performance.

The global market for printed textiles amounts to approximately 24 billion meters annually, increasing every year. We estimate that only a fraction of this, approximately 225 million is printed digitally – a number which also continues to increase.

By reducing the weight of the paper, not only do we reduce costs, we also lower CO2 emissions and the overall impact on the environment – without compromising on the quality of the print.

The history of transfer paper

The use of transfer paper in the textile industry is not new. Back in the early 1970’s, the company Stork developed a calander for heat transfer printing on synthetic textiles. At that time, the dispersion ink took form of a paste, mostly mixed with solvents. This paste was used for textile printing by rotary or screenprinting using paper as the carrier. Only the dispersion particles stayed on the paper, the solvent vaporised. The technical paper requirements were not so high and the weight of the paper was as low as 20 or 30 gr/m2.

More or less like today the printing on textile took place in a calander or a flatpress heating up to temperatures of 160 to 220 degrees celsius which made the ink sublimate. During this sublimation process, the ink went from a solid phase into a vapour phase without becoming liquid at any point.

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Sublimation textile printing made environmentally friendly with water-based ink and digital technology

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The sublimation process was popular all over the world for printing on textiles. However, the negative environmental impact of the solvents started to get more and more attention in the industry and made way for the entry of more environmentally friendly water-based ink.

At the end of the 1990’s, the digital printer was introduced in textile printing. The digital printer extended the possibilities in terms of repeat size, colour control and printing details. The digital printer and the new water-based ink went hand in hand, but also required thicker transfer paper of much higher quality to handle the moist of the ink without causing cockling or stretching the paper.