March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 5 M A RC H PRINTWEAR | 95 These transfers can be created for near- ly any type of garment or fabric by using different media. Transfers can be made for cotton, polyester, polyester/cotton blends, nylon, Lycra, performance wear, dye-subli- mated apparel, neoprene, leather, and more. There are roughly a 1,000 different types of media available. For fabrics alone, there are more than 20. Printers start at a 20" width and go up from there. The most popular sizes for ap- parel are 30" and 54". You can purchase an all-in-one printer/cutter or a standalone inkjet printer and cutter with an optical eye. Prices start around $8,000 for the 20" printer, and graphics software ranges from $500 to $600. The cost of eco-solvent inks depends on the size of the printer, but a 220-mL cartridge is around $70. The me- dia cost depends on the type of substrate. It's possible to get started for less than $10,000, but you could easily invest $30,000. Buyer's regret comes most often from not buying a larger-width printer. Printer/cutter transfers are a jump up from other digital processes in terms of ver- satility. With respect to garments, durability and colorfastness of the media are based on standards for the garment. A typical rating is 50-plus washes. Breathability and hand can be issues be- cause it's vinyl. Thin films provide a softer hand; however, the hand may still be too heavy for an all-over print. The process is also more involved and time consuming. You have to set up the graphic for printing and cutting, and then send it through RIP software. However, once it's set up, this pro- cess is the most amenable to higher-volume capacities than the others. This process is typically better suited to an intermediate to advanced decorating opera- tion. It takes some research for a shop at any level to realize a significant return on invest- ment, but the potential is there. A printer/ cutter can be used for orders ranging from one to 2,000 or more pieces. In today's economy, diversification is a basic survival principle. For many shops, digital transfers offer a great way to capture more sales from existing customers and to expand into new markets. Consider these options when choosing which type is the best fit for your business. pw Above: These arm sleeves feature dye sub- limation transfers. (Image courtesy Condé Systems) Right: Dye sublimation can be ap- plied to many polyester-coated hard goods, such as mugs, plaques, coasters, name plates, buttons, boxes, and tables. (Image courtesy Sawgrass Technologies)

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