November '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 N ov e m b e r Printwear | 53 What's great about water-based ink as opposed to plastisol ink, however, is that you don't have to tailor as many variables, such as base and mesh count, to create a soft hand. With water-based ink, you can use a lower mesh and put down a large amount of ink. When the water-based ink goes through the oven, most of the ink's volume evapo- rates, which leaves it smooth and soft. Even if there's fibril- lation, the fibers popping out are the same color because they've been hit with the water-based ink, so the color difference is not as noticeable. Major advances in wa- ter-based and high-solids wa- ter-based inks have emerged in recent years, including highly pigmented soft bas- es. Instead of loading a large amount of water-based ink on top of a white plate and trying to cover it up, you can use high-solid water-based ink on top of a white plate or print directly onto garments to produce nice colors and a soft hand. Defining expectations When it comes to a successful balance of aesthetics, it all comes down to meeting customer expectations through communi- cation and education. Understand what the customer wants. Ask the customer to bring in a shirt or artwork or look through your samples. This can prevent many problems. Don't promise what you can't deliver. Let customers know if a treatment requires a different garment or the garment calls for a change in the ink or artwork. Clearly communicate what to expect from each ele- ment, and explain what type of ink is—and isn't—compatible. Proactive communication with customers is far more beneficial than disappointing them and never seeing them again. Even if the customer chooses a competitor with unsatisfactory results, you're on record as the educated print shop, and that is a great selling tool if you're willing to learn about fabric, inks, and the marketplace. pw Above: The look and hand are the cornerstones of a garment's quality and major factors in customer satisfaction. Left: While most inks are designed for smoothness, discharge and plastisol inks are made for softness.

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