May '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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38 || P R I N T W E A R M A Y 2 0 1 6 Josh Ellsworth is an industry expert on apparel customization and General Manag- er of Stahls' CAD-CUT Direct. His portfolio includes a YouTube site ( joshellsworth) with more than 50 educa - tional videos, a blog ( that is updated regularly and consulting PRESSING MATTERS B Y J O S H A N D Z A C H E L L S W O R T H visits that have been made to some of the largest apparel-customization businesses in the U.S. You can reach Josh by email at and you can find him here, on the hot spot, talking about customization beyond the basics in every issue. Tune in for marketing strategies and sales tips in the heat-applied graphics discipline. Zach Ellsworth is a lead educator at and manages equipment sales for STAHLS'. He has helped thousands of business owners successfully start and grow their decorating business. You can reach Ellsworth at H eat-applied transfer materials are extremely popular for customizing apparel in a variety of different markets. Be- ing able to cut a single graphic to size and on-demand al- lows for unique advantages in decorated apparel versus other print technologies, such as screen printing, which is best left to quantity print jobs. Names and numbers, personalized monograms, birthday party Ts, dance school track jackets, footwear, hat bills, and oversized jerseys are just the beginning of trending applications being custom- ized by businesses with a heat press and a vinyl cutter. In today's market, a cutter is readily available off the shelf at your local craft store. As hobbyists become legitimate for-profit busi- nesses, a baseline knowledge of cutting is already acquired and most make the jump into a more industrial-grade machine. As the popularity of cutters has risen, so has the popularity of heat presses. While many materials can be processed with a cut- ter and ironed on, there is an undeniable longevity, quality, and efficiency gain in applying these materials with a heat press. Tens of thousands of decorators make entire businesses solely with a heat press and a vinyl cutter, and many more consider it an indis- pensable toolset alongside their screen printing press, embroidery machine, or large-format printer. As the demand continues to rise, there is a need for readily- available knowledge and education. With that being said, let's explore the many tips and tricks that make heat printing with heat transfer film easier. IT'S NOT VINYL ANYMORE A large range of heat transfer films are available in today's heat transfer marketplace, free of harmful substances such as plasticizers and phthalates, making them suitable for use with even children's wear. Additionally, this makes today's materials safe for laser cutting. As you look to differentiate the products in your shop, consider calling vinyl by another name in order to dispel any negative connotations previously associ- ated with older types of transfer materials. With heat transfer film, the process requires each layer to be applied to fabric, individually cut, weeded, and heat applied. The innovation that really catapulted the category was laminating the film to a carrier, which al- lowed it to be cut with a blade and held in perfect regis- tration for single step alignment on a shirt of free float- ing graphics. As the need for customization evolves, so does the de- mand to press it further. Nearly every decorator wants to create something innovative while still eliminating time from the manufacturing process, specifically in weeding. TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL If we look at groundbreaking art creation, a myriad of special effects come to mind: reflective, glitter flake, neon, metallic, foils, suede-like finishes, and translucent Hot Topic Heat Transfer Films for Today's Apparel Decorator Weeding, especially small details, can be a headache and take up a vast amount of an owner's time. However, this step is becoming more user-friendly with new equipment. (All images courtesy STALHS')

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