May '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 M ay Printwear | 25 24 | Printwear M ay 20 1 4 Graphics Hot Spot by Wayne Potter | | | | Wayne Potter has more than 25 years of experience in the screen, litho- graphic and gravure printing of heat transfers and industrial marking devices. He is a pioneer in the area of digital heat-transfer papers. Potter has spent most of his career developing new business, managing market- ing, in sales and writing technical trouble-shooting articles. Up through early 2012 he was vice president marketing development at Air Waves Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, he is senior sales executive for Joto. F irst it was the howling blizzards of January, and then there were the deadly ice storms of February which kept even the most stalwart customer shuttered up at home. Now, spring is fully in the air, the Boys of Summer in full swing, men all over are cleaning out the garage, and youth sports are about to explode on the summer season. Yes, that wonderful time of the year, when demand outstrips supply. The small run heat transfer business is back with vengeance! I looked around my garage and realized the true meaning of "Mission Impossible." There were boxes from my old office piled up in the corner. I distinctly remember the day I dropped them there, some two years ago. Digging through the pile, I found a box of vintage color laser copier (CLC) heat trans- fers. They were from early tests and were tucked away in labeled plastic bags. As sure as life, heat transfers made with a Canon CLC 200, CLC 300, and CLC350 stared me right in the face. So, as you can guess, it didn't take long to get off on a tangent. These transfers were close to 20 years old. Would they print? Off to the basement I went. Long sto- ry short, although printed with vintage laser technology, they all printed well. Long live the CLC! There is one thing, though: although the toner image was strong, the background polymer was visible. Twenty years ago, this was acceptable. Today, how- ever, many users are very critical of background polymer in digital heat transfers. Transfers in The new age Hence, came the invention of some of several next generation digital heat transfer papers. These took their name from the verb "weeding," which, in our industry is the removal of the unwanted parts of a vinyl heat transfer before it is applied to a shirt. These background non-polymers can be an excellent choice for decorating summer athletic apparel as well as T-shirts. There are even newer papers intended for application to dark fabrics. For the most part, these papers simply allow users to transfer only the toner image to the fabric and are much like an old dry-image transfer process used for duplicating fine art re- productions on canvas. The earlier process involved using an acrylic medium as the transfer agent. The print was coated with an emulsion that was allowed to dry. The original paper was then dissolved using water or a solvent. The finished film was then dried and literally pressed into the fabric with heat and pressure. The new non-polymer digital heat transfer process is similar in that the laser image is printed on a special piece of paper. After printing, you simply apply the toner image to the fabric with heat and pressure. Although some of the products do transfer a light topcoat of chemistry to the toner image during the application, none of the carrier polymer is melted to the fabric during the transfer pro- cess. The resultant image is free from any background polymer whatsoever. With zero background, that makes the new breed of heat transfer papers ideal for summer youth athletic shirts. Take, for ex- ample, soccer club crests, badges, and logos. Let's take the basics. Most youth soccer uniforms include shirt/jersey, shorts, and socks. The older age groups probably will want moisture wicking cool mesh polyester shirts. However, the lower age groups will probably use cotton T-shirts and shorts. Be aware there are some youth soccer leagues that have specific equipment regulations, many do not. So, it is important to make sure what the uniform regulations in your area are, if any. Add zero background crest and badges to normal Heat Transfer Flex letters and numbers, and you will surely hit it out of the park. how To Let's take a look at how easy it is to make badges or crests using a zero-background heat transfer paper: 1. Mirror image the paper in a color laser printer. 2. Prepress the shirt you intend to deco- rate to drive out any residual moisture and flatten the fabric for application. 3. Place the zero-background heat trans- fer face- (imaged) side down on the prepressed shirt. Long Live transfers Capitalize on seasonal markets with transfer technology Zero-background heat transfers are a great option for decorating team sports uniforms. (all images courtesy the author) PW_MAY14.indd 24 4/17/14 9:39 AM

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