July '12

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Sublimation is a viable system for any decorated-apparel business. The size of the system required will depend on the size of the graphics. (Images courtesy (clockwise from top left) Sawgrass, NON'PA*REIL and Vapor Apparel) BIGGEST The final category in terms of large-image shirt sublimation is the all-over print that covers every square inch of the front and/ or back side of the shirt including the sleeves. This can only be achieved with wide-format equipment; roll-fed printers capable of a field width of 44" or wider along with a heat press with at least a 30" X 40" capacity. But the category is not just about su- per large graphics. All-over printing also enables users to conceptually sublimate any color of shirt (including darks) with- out needing white ink. To do so, start with a white shirt and recolor it as part of the graphic printing. Leave any areas that are supposed to be white open in the design. A couple notes specific to this type of printing: the artwork has to be shaped and sized specifically to the contours of the shirt. The concept of one-size-fits-all does not apply to the production of all-over designs. Also, it's important to avoid any wrinkles from forming in the shirt during pressing, as this will end up causing white streaks in the design. This is common for the "under-arm" area of the shirt. As with all sublimation production, the dyes will only bond to polyester fibers. Thus, it will not work for cotton products. However, it will work for blends, albeit the colors of the image will appear faded in comparison to 100 percent polyester products. READY, AIM, CHARGE Regardless of the size of the print, the key is to charge appropriately. For example, new trends command higher prices. All-over designs may only cost a couple of more dollars to produce than a standard image, but don't just pass on the additional production costs. It is all about the perceived value in the eyes of the customer, so markups should reflect that. The price should also include business costs and overhead accrued for the equip- ment that makes this possible. Big, bigger, biggest: three opportunities for increasing your decorated apparel revenue by taking advantage of the latest customer trends and the hottest new technologies in sublimation printing. Like everything else, it pays to be a leader, not a follower. Do some research today to see if oversize shirt printing fits into your game plan. pw 2012 JULY PRINTWEAR | 91

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