December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 30 of 118

2 6 | PRINTWEAR D EC E M B E R 20 1 4 lock the printing ink, which allows the dec- orator to transfer the entire coating with the ink to the garment's surface. Long-term du- rability is relational to the quality of the heat transfer, use of factory inks, and whether the ink system is aqueous or pigment based. It pays to do your homework with a few wash tests. If your desktop office printer isn't ad- equate, high-end nine-color photo printers are available for less than $800. • Sublimation: This is a vapor heat transfer that's produced using inkjet technology. A heat transfer is printed on a specially coat- ed paper and then applied to the garment with a commercial heat transfer press. When heat is applied to the imaged trans- fer, the printed dye vaporizes and outgasses into the substrate. In the case of a garment, remember to use a sublimation-friendly garment. • Direct-to-garment printing: Not only is this the newest digital garment technology responsible for production. Decide how much you have to spend to start or diversify your business and what you will print. Now it's time to familiarize yourself with digital decorating technology and how it will impact your business or idea. Consider the following methods to digitally decorate a shirt: • Heat transferable flex for digital vinyl cutters: This is a flexible, thin urethane film with an adhesive that fuses to fabric. It's opaque, colorful, and durable and allows decorators to cut and create three-color designs as well as special effects, such as glitter, neon, and camouflage. If you're starting from scratch, you need a vinyl cutter and computer. Your capital investment will likely range from $1,800 to $3,000. Most dig- ital decorating suppliers offer packages that combine heat transfer machines and flex. • Printable heat transfer flex for digital vinyl printer/cutters: This opaque media is contour cut to dimension and compatible with solvent and eco-solvent printers. The finished design is then applied to the garment with a commercial heat transfer ma- chine. Either a separate printer and cutter or an all-in-one device works with this ap- plication. Depending on whether you choose to go with a separate printer and cutter, the initial capital investment is usually at least $8,000. • Coated heat transfer paper for digital color lasers: In this process, the color laser copier or printer fuses the design onto polymer-coated paper, and the transfer indicia is melted to the garment with a commercial heat transfer machine. The capital in- vestment starts around $2,500, though this is somewhat dependent on whether you choose a tabloid-size color laser printer or a full-function color laser copier. The latter of which is available for leasing. • Coated heat transfer paper for digital inkjet printers: This is a popular decorating method for small-scale personalization. It uses a coated paper with an inkjet receiver to Graphics Hot Spot | | | | continued on page 111

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