Printwear

June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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24 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 5 contour cutting of complex artwork that is imaged with ei- ther inkjet or color laser printers. The heat-sealable flex material has changed significantly as earlier PVC materials have given way to more eco-friend- ly materials, such as polyurethane. To add this product ca- pability to your value proposition, you simply need a good heat transfer machine and a modern cutter. If you're starting from scratch, you can acquire all the equipment and flex material needed from decoration suppliers. For those test- ing the water, you can purchase precut heat transferrable numbers, letters, and designs. You can also add full-color heat transfers to your business right from your desktop printer. Several cutter manufactur- ers produce print-and-cut machines that allow you to pro- duce full-color mascots and team logos. Pay attention to the type of heat transfer flex material you choose. The industry has moved toward polyurethane films from PVC. Polyurethane films are generally thinner and suppler than their PVC counterparts. The soft hand, coupled with stretch, makes them perfect for athletic ap- parel decoration. In addition to the comfort factor, poly- urethane films are compliant with the Consumer Prod- uct Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and OEKO-TEX Standard 100. This makes them kid-friendly as an added selling feature. PVC heat transfer films, on the other hand, are generally thicker and less expensive. Being thicker, PVC heat trans- fer is generally less flexible and doesn't have the soft hand of polyurethane materials. They are not CPSIA or OE- KO-TEX Standard 100 compliant. Another factor to consider when choosing heat transfer flex material includes the amount of time needed for the adhesive to cure before removing the liner material. This is especially important for multicolor embellishment. Also, consider whether the backing is adhesive or nonadhesive. Adhesive liners allow for much finer detail to be cut. While weeding is harder for adhesive liners, the extra security is important for more intricate designs. Screen-printed heat transfers are another option for decorating athletic uniforms. Ink technology has improved considerably, and most custom heat transfer manufacturers offer a variety of options that apply to technical and athletic fabrics. Many of the offerings employ low-melt ink technology as well as powdered adhesives that lower the application temperature and time. The lower tempera- ture helps prevent fabric dye migration during the printing. This is important with athletic apparel because rayon and acrylic are often used. As a result of the lower application temperature, many heat transfer inks can be applied to performance fabrics and other mois- ture-wicking apparel without melting or scorching the fabric. Dye sublimation heat transfers are a natural decoration for the new breed of performance athletic apparel because they're designed for application to polyester fabrics and produce a vibrant, photo-quality image. High-end athletic wear, sports jerseys, and swimwear can be mass customized or individually personalized using sublimation heat transfers and a pneumatic large-format heat press. If your market demands large format, there are machines starting at 30" X 40" that don't require three-phase electric service. Large heat transfer ma- chines require three-phase electric service, which may be a problem depending on your location. BEYOND UNIFORMS Uniforms are not the only opportunity in the athletic market. Giv- en the importance of proper hydration in sports, water bottles are in high demand. Sublimation heat transfer is your key to making profits with water bottles. Water bot- tles intended for sublimation printing GRAPHICS HOT SPOT Many types of heat transfers work well for decorating teamwear. continued on page 111

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