Awards & Engraving

January '17

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Sublimation offers a permanent and vibrant image that many customers find desirable. BY AARON MONTGOMERY AND TERRY COMBS 38 a-e-mag.com • A&E JANUARY 2017 IMAGE COURTESY OF BEFORE + AGAIN The New World of Digital Decoration 38 IMAGE COURTESY OF BEFORE + AGAIN The New The New The New The New The New The New The New The New World of World of World of World of World of World of World of World of World of Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital Decoration Decoration Decoration Digital Decoration Digital Digital Decoration Digital Digital Decoration Digital Digital Decoration Digital Decoration Decoration Decoration Decoration Decoration Decoration Decoration Decoration Decoration Decoration The New World of Digital Decoration D igital decoration, in both the forms of direct- to-garment printing and sublimation, have been hot topics in our industry lately. We have read the internet forums, Facebook groups, and talked to different people, and have found that there are hundreds of "suggestions" for ways to properly digitally decorate. We have made it our mission to set things straight; we hope this article can provide you with some valuable information on best practices and how to leverage digital decorating in your business. Note: Terry Combs leads the discussion on direct- to-garment, while Aaron Montgomery focuses on sublimation. HISTORY OF DTG Terry: Viable direct-to-garment printing began in 2004, with three companies entering the mar- ketplace at once. These early machines were CMYK- (light shirts) only machines. Two years later came white ink. Early versions created clog- ging issues and the replacement of many print heads and capping stations. All these early machines were converted paper printers using ink systems not intended for the print heads. Today, two types of machines exist in the market. Some machines are still being built with repurposed paper printer heads, and there are also machines built with print heads and ink systems compatible with one another. The days of the experimental machines are coming to an end, ushering in the days of commercial printing devices. HISTORY OF SUBLIMATION Aaron: Sublimation was actually invented in 1957 by Noël de Plasse, from Lainière de Roubaix in France. In the 1970s, commercial sublimation transfers were made using rib- bons and were traditionally single color for decorating awards. In the early 1980s, Wes Hoekstra developed the first computer-driven sublimation system using electrostatic (toner) sublimation. But at that time, polyester was starting to lose popularity and garment deco- rating was shifting to natural fibers like cotton. In the early 2000s, wide-format textile printing with sublimation dyes was brought into vogue by companies like DuPont and Reggiani. Around the same time, several com- panies were working on the small-format inkjet printers, especially the Epson models,

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