July '12

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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| | | | The Digital Workstation An example of a graphic in what the author ref- erences as the "biggest" cat- egory, this wrap- around, all-over sublimation print requires the use of a wide-format printer (44" and wider) and a large-format heat press. (Im- ages courtesy Vapor Apparel) larger garment prints. Considering that the larger the press, the higher the price tag, make sure to maximize every inch of the heating surface possible. BIGGER At the next level, "bigger" prints run in the range of 18" X 20" and require a printer that can produce substantially larger images. Look at 24"-wide format capability with roll feed, which makes the length of an image limitless. Of course, match this capability with a compatible heat press with a 20" X 24" unit as an absolute minimum. A wide-format heat press—such as a 30" X 40"—might be a better choice, depending on overall production needs. An alternative way to deliver creative "bigger" prints is to use a multi-placement tech- nique rather than single-image printing. Naturally, this depends on the design, but multi- placements are rapidly gaining in popularity. Multi-placement production using a standard printer and press is just as it sounds—us- ers print and press separate images such that the finished product looks uniform. Make sure to avoid any overlaps; reheating a previously-sublimated image will cause it to re-gas, which can lead to quality issues such as ghosting. The downside here is that takes separate printings and pressings to create a single image, as opposed to a single application when using a larger printer/press combination. Materials cost is the same, but production costs are significantly increased. Looking at the low cost of ink and print media—on the level of $0.64 for an 8" X 10" im- 90 | PRINTWEAR JULY 2012 age with the Ricoh e7700N ($0.32 for same image on Epson 7700)—pay close attention to the cost of production time, as it will have the most impact on total production cost. For example, if the hourly cost of opera- tion was $60 (or $1 per minute) and it takes three minutes to print, position and press a single "bigger" image using the multi-placement method, the production costs would be $3 (not including setup and post-production time). Going through four separate cycles to create the same look, as is necessary with a smaller printer/press combination, would run about 12 minutes, totaling $12. Thus, for those who will do these types of jobs routinely, it would be worth looking into the cost of larger equipment, in order to keep production costs down.

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