October '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Printwear 2013 Q&A I D2 profit. Speak with current and prospective customers to determine if there is a need for a specific product and what the customers would be willing to pay for it. This type of market analysis can help determine what products to offer customers. Mark E Bagley, My direct-to-garment printer is outrunning my heat press. What can I do? A number of T-shirt printing machines allow users to print two or even four smaller images at one time. You may even have the ability to put four or more platens through at a time. This can cause a logjam when it comes to heat presses because each shirt is cured for about 3.5 minutes. I generally recommend employing two heat presses as a minimum. If that's not an option, some digital print decorators use Nomex and a little creativity to fill the gap—take a piece of Nomex (available from supplies providers) and cut it in half. Next, lay the Nomex on the heat press and separate the two pieces by about an inch, top to bottom. This allows for two shirts, folded in half top-to-bottom, to fit on the press. Face the top shirt collar toward the top of the machine, and the bottom shirt color toward the bottom of the machine, with the folds falling in the gap between the pieces of Nomex. The gap will prevent the shirts from getting a crease in them. This allows you to press two shirts in the time it would normally take to press one. You will still have more setup time than those using two heat presses, but it should help. Mark Stephenson, ColDesi Where do you see the T-shirt industry going in a few years? Advances in technology will make direct-to-garment printers more prevalent in the industry. Sometime in the near future, I believe more startup shops will use digital printers rather than traditional screen printing. Digital is more efficient and, with newer models approaching automatic press speeds and better ink technologies in development, the shift is inevitable. There are already units in service that print at 300 pieces an hour, and soon there will be hexachrome ink systems that will replace CMYK. Shops that embrace this technology and get ahead of the curve and couple their sales efforts online are those that will be left standing when the dust settles. Marshall Atkinson, Atkinson Consulting LLC I recently started printing dark garments on my direct-to-garment printer using white ink. After only a few washes, I am losing most of the print. What could be causing this? There are a few important factors that can influence the washabillity of a digital print, the most common of which is an incorrect curing process. The step toward correction is to confirm that you are following the suggested temp and cure time provided by the manufacturer. If so, check that your heat press is reaching the required temperature. Just because the display is showing the correct reading, it may not be so, especially if your heat press has some age to it. Check the surface of the press with a laser thermometer to confirm its actual temperature. Also check different areas of the press—over time, heating elements may develop dead spots. Special test sheets are also made available by many heat press manufacturers to show temperature reached and heat distribution. If the curing time and temperature is up to par, another possibility is over saturation of pre-treatment or too much ink laid down. In some cases, it could be a combination of these factors. Master the art of "just enough." Don't drown the print just because it looks intensely bright. Using so much ink may not be cost effective and the more ink you lay down, the further away the ink is from the garment. More pre-treatment and ink means less of a chance for the print to bond to the surface. Paul Green, AnaJet What are curing papers and why do I need them? Curing papers have a simple purpose: to protect the heat surface of your press from a buildup of pre-treatment or ink that could transfer to subsequent shirts. Uncoated paper is used for drying pre-treatment on the shirt. You do not want to print on a wet garment. Silicon coated paper is used for curing the ink on the shirt. The silicon coating keeps the ink from adhering to the paper during the curing process. Terry Combs, Equipment Zone I want to save money on a digital garment printer. Is buying used a good option? When buying a used printer, the main focus should be whether the machine is still being manufactured. If not, find out whether the printer's parts are still available for when it needs repair. You may find it very difficult obtaining replacement print heads, encoder strips, and other critical parts if the printer is an older or discontinued model. There are many used digital apparel printers for sale from companies that are no longer in business. Buyers beware that there may be little or no technical support available for such machines. Matthew Rhome, Brother Intl. pw 100 | Printwear PW_OCT13.indd 100 October 2013 9/18/13 1:00 PM

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