June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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84 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 5 with screen printing may also be difficult for some print jobs, such as photographic work. Decorators can easily create samples with direct-to-garment as well. In screen printing, setting up a sample job is a lot of work and unrealistic in most cases. Many promotional product businesses even turn to direct-to-garment printing because of the simplicity of operation, which cuts out the middle man for higher profit margins. When it comes to technological advances, direct-to-garment printing has come a long way in the last decade, especially in regard to white ink, which is a heavy pigment that's prone to clogging print heads if not prop- erly maintained. Downtime is the main issue here. When a printer sits, the white ink separates quickly and then coagulates. An automated cleaning cycle helps but only for a few days. It also wastes ink. With up- dates such as ink circulation, the white ink is moved around the ink delivery system. This helps white ink separation, and allows for a longer acceptable downtime. With the development of wet capping, the print head sits in a cleaning solution when not in use. This helps extend downtime for a maximum 30 days with the machine turned off. These two developments have changed the way we look at direct-to-gar- ment and helped wash away old stigmas. Print quality is another advantage of di- rect-to-garment printing. With a 300 dpi image, you will get a great print. After all, it's digital, so what goes in, comes out. Screen printing uses half tones to create blending between colors, but digital printing leaves you with the smooth blend of color. Addi- tionally, color isn't limited to the size of the press. Direct-to-garment printing gives you access to millions of colors with the press of a button. Of course, washability matters as much as print quality, and if you follow directions and properly cure the image, a direct print will last a long time. The wash lifecycle is slightly different from screen-printed gar- ments. As you wash a digital print, it slowly follows the progression of the garment. A black shirt fades into a dark gray, and the image follows along. In most cases, the im- age lasts the lifetime of the shirt. Screen printing will always be the ma- jor application of garment decoration—or at least for a long time. To become a true craftsman of screen printing, it takes years of knowhow. Screen printing is an art in itself. The process is involved and requires a solid knowledge of graphic design to col- or separate the image for film. Each color DTG PROS & CONS When left idle, clogging can become an issue with direct-to-garment printing, particularly in the white channels. However, new advancements in the technology have allowed ink to sit for longer, although this also means you're not making money with a dormant machine.

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