December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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58 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 likely to bleed, states Ellsworth, and it removes the limitation of only being able to work with dye-blocking heat transfers. Even heat presses have seen a bigger push toward automation. Since several parts of the heat transfer process require the opera- tor to be present, Ellsworth says there isn't much of a production savings on labor. However, automation could still help re- duce labor costs long term by reducing the amount of work done by the operator while still increasing output. TECHNOLOGY Many upcoming technology features are designed to increase efficiency and reduce labor and labor costs across all methods. Whether it means cutting down setup time, altering equipment to prevent problems, or further automating machines, these chang- es boil down to efficiency, cost reduction, and increased sustainability. "Labor is getting harder to come by, so if you can run your shop more efficiently with less labor, then that's one way to remain sus- tainable," Moor explains. On the other hand, the race for efficiency doesn't necessarily mean that all machines and equipment are becoming faster. Al- though machines are always trying to handle increased speed, Levy explains that this is often to the detriment of your qual- ity. Citing sports cars as a metaphor, he says, "What's the difference if it goes 140 mph or 170 mph if you're driving it at 60 or 70 mph?" Levy asks. "Your driving speed is de- termined by the material and the intricacy of the design." This can be translated to thread breaks and needle breaks on embroi- dery machines, he explains. This theory can also apply to screen print- ing and sublimation, where it may be an ex- pensive loss if your very fast machine breaks and isn't producing shirts while you're wait- ing for it to be repaired. In other cases, it could mean an operator getting hurt while working with the equipment if it's running too quickly to be safe. "Thinking of safety while maintaining efficiency is the key here," Balady says. "In terms of driving, you have to drive slower." Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and integrating electronic devices into your shop setup are also important in keeping 2017 TECH FORECAST Right: Transfers have become lighter and able to adhere at lower temperatures for more delicate tri-blend fabrics. (Im- age courtesy STAHLS') Below: Trans- fer and apparel companies have been working together to make transfers that won't bleed onto fabric after being pressed. (Image courtesy STAHLS')

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