Printwear

December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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24 | PRINTWEAR D EC E M B E R 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 in sales, developing new business, managing marketing, 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. | | | | M any years ago, I witnessed my first inkjet di- rect-to-garment printer. At the time, some didn't think it would replace coated color laser transfer paper, which was the cutting-edge decoration method of the moment, but direct-to-garment printing has continued to grow over the years and remains a popular decoration technique. EARLY TECHNOLOGY The earlier direct-to-garment machines couldn't lay down a white underbase to decorate white and light fabrics and instead used printheads designed for sign and banner substrates, not T-shirts. Traditionally, white pigments were produced using titanium dioxide, a high-density mineral pigment. The pigment particles must be large enough to scatter light and provide a white reflective surface for printing colors. The problem is that the higher pigment load and particle size were not friendly to the then-leading printheads, which required different ink technology and more print nozzles to lay down a sufficiently opaque white underbase. That bar was crossed with the introduc- tion of white ink technology; however, white printing also came with a pretreating process that ensured the white ink maintained its opacity and bonded to the fabric. Still, the novelty and utility of decorating dark garments with a direct-to-garment printer overshadowed the cumbersome pretreating process. As technology has con- tinued to improve and more companies have entered the market, previous issues and white ink improvements have been addressed. EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS If you're starting a new business or consid- ering the addition of a decoration capabil- ity, first determine how much the target market will pay. Establishing a selling price on your product or service is always diffi- cult, and it must be grounded by the cost of production. Include the shirt, embellishment, and la- bor cost. From there, add in your profit margin and research the price of shirts at retail. General- ly, you should charge $12 to $20 for light shirts while dark shirts command higher prices, say $15 to $30, depending on the novelty. From a business perspective, clearly define your customers and identify what differentiates your designs, shirts, or products from competitors. Does your product appeal to the broader market or have a smaller focus? Niche mar- kets can be attractive to small businesses. Although pursuing a niche market doesn't guarantee success, it focuses your business plan and avoids the scale eco- nomics of competing against a major corporation. Identify who's responsible for selling and who's The Digital Dilemma Choose the best decoration method for your business All garment decorating shops have their own requirements that should be considered when adding a new technology. (Image courtesy the author)

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