December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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56 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 that are hard on the environment and the people exposed to them. To combat this, there has been a stronger effort to introduce closed screen-cleaning systems with eco-friendly products and filters in place that allow fewer harmful chemicals into the environment. Research and development are also underway for more economical solutions for reusing water since many systems currently on the market are financially out of reach for most screen printers. EMBROIDERY Alterations in embroidery machines have been developed for both 2016 and 2017 that allow for custom programming on some machines, per Ed Levy, Hirsch. This allows the user to assign specific tasks, such as thread cuts or color-related specifications to an individual head on a multi-head em- broidery machine. Andrea Bommarito, ZSK Embroidery Machines, says there have also been concerns about difficult placement as decorations move higher up on hats and into smaller, tighter spaces like on pockets. Likewise, bird's nesting, long trim trails, and garments getting caught in the machine have all been addressed as well. These have been resolved by removing the front picker from the tubu- lar embroidery arm, Bommarito says. She adds that technical embroidery will be a growth area for 2017, along with specialty attachments. Fortunately, most commercial embroidery machines today are compatible with specialty attachments. "With this type of technical work, the spectrum of application is increased ten- fold," Bommarito says. "We are seeing many new projects within large technology firms using new yarns and materials to create a plethora of new types of wearables." Further increasing automation is another focal point embroidery machine manufac- turers have been looking at for this year, Levy says. He adds that automation has been a goal for every conceivable process, which allows businesses to work to scale without having to scale employees incre- mentally. Error reduction and consistency are factors as well. Likewise, many galvanometric lasers have seen improvements and are moving toward automation and innovation. Ed Balady, BITO, says that he's seen decorators begin to use standalone lasers over single-head embroidery machines for customization work, such as names on karate and other sports uniforms. 2017 TECH FORECAST Left: Embroidery lasers will continue to become more accessible to single-head machines. This setup works well with customization jobs. (Im- age courtesy BITO) Right: New innovations in laser and embroidery technology mean that appliqué is easier than ever. (Image courtesy BITO)

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