June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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64 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 5 EMBROIDERY BUSINESS When positioning the product, Silva plac- es it so that the etching area is in the path of the laser alignment, he says. By doing so, the operator can place the product in the same spot during loading. Silva compares this process to loading a shirt on a screen printing platen. It's possible to create single and tonal etched effects based on the length of expo- sure, number of laser passes, and vector or raster data file. With experimentation, you can create a surprising number of different looks on garments as well as different appli- cations on other types of substrates. For instance, a vintage, stone-washed look on denim can be created without using multiple time-consuming processes, such as stone washing, but it can also add a specific pattern or design. Laser etching can create a unique presentation of a logo or branding that's difficult to counterfeit. EXPAND YOUR MARKETS Etching makes it easy to expand into new markets because of the broad range of sub- strates it can decorate. Examples include add-on sales to apparel customers, promo- tional products, work uniforms, industrial applications, and the medical industry. La- ser etching does a great job on all kinds of plastics with items ranging from flash drives to containers. Part of the versatility of laser etching is that it doesn't require an embroidery ma- chine. A laser bridge machine can travel across workstations that consist of a simple table. Depending on what is etched, jigs to hold pencils, wallets, coated metal boxes, and the like may be set up. A tray can be de- vised to hold multiple items at a time. You might have a tray that holds six or 12 pens that are etched in one pass of the laser. For Silva, part of his success with the etching capabilities of his laser bridge was educating his customers on the possibilities with samples, which is included in his setup cost, he says. "Whether you are etching a customer's product or something you are providing, an etched sample is sent to the customer to evaluate," Silva says. "We also have photos of etched products on our website, so peo- ple can get an idea of the color tones and effect etching creates." If you already own a laser bridge machine or a galvanometric standalone laser, you're missing out on sales if you don't offer etch- ing. For those considering adding etching services, most shops with this equipment are happy to provide this service on a con- tract basis. For any shop looking to diversi- fy, etching is a viable solution that can help increase sales. Performance polyester apparel is ideal for etching because it is the only decorating technique that doesn't interfere with the garment's wicking properties. (Image courtesy BITO and Henry Bernstein) Laser etching opens the doors to all kinds of new looks and techniques. Here, the laser cut holes in felt wine koozies. Suede appliqu├ęs were then etched, laser cut, and sewn onto the koozies to create a sophisticated logoed design. (Image courtesy BITO and Henry Bernstein)

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