April '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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34 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 7 Josh Ellsworth is an industry expert on apparel customization and General Manag- er of Stahls' CAD-CUT Direct. His portfolio includes a YouTube site ( joshellsworth) with more than 50 educa - tional videos, a blog ( that is updated regularly and consulting PRESSING MATTERS B Y J O S H A N D Z A C H E L L S W O R T H visits that have been made to some of the largest apparel-customization businesses in the U.S. You can reach Josh by email at and you can find him here, on the hot spot, talking about customization beyond the basics in every issue. Tune in for marketing strategies and sales tips in the heat-applied graphics discipline. Zach Ellsworth is a lead educator at and manages equipment sales for STAHLS'. He has helped thousands of business owners successfully start and grow their decorating business. You can reach Ellsworth at H eat printing is a unique process in many ways. It gives you the ability to decorate items with no mess. In relation to other apparel decorating technologies, it's very inexpensive to get started. Heat printing also gives you the ability to decorate a wide variety of items without significant downtime in production. The breadth and depth of what you can accomplish with heat print- ing technology is extraordinary. However, the mechanical process of heat printing is far from being unique. The fundamental elements of a successful heat application are shared across the making of many things, specifically a couple of things found in nature. Time, temperature, and pressure are the trinity responsible for cre- ating some amazing things. Is your mind thinking about what those things are? Outside of the heat printing world, time, temperature, and pressure can take credit for creating some of our most sought after resources and luxuries: coal and diamonds. For the purposes of this article, we're going to assign coal the Christmas association. Getting a lump of coal in your stocking is a bad thing, but that certainly wasn't the case a few centuries ago. Before the modern tradition started, coal was the only way a family was going to keep warm during the chilly Christmas season, which made it a treasured commodity. But, today, coal on Christmas means you've done something wrong. Diamonds, on the other hand, are considered one of the most valuable things you can own. Yes, they differ in cut, color, clarity, and carat, but getting a diamond means you've done something right. So, how do we make sure the fundamental elements of time, tem- perature, and pressure make us diamonds and not lumps of coal in the heat printing process? START WITH THE DIRECTIONS Every heat transfer manufacturer, whether they're mak- ing vinyl, screen print, or sublimation transfers, should provide a recommended time, temperature, and pres- sure at which to apply their product. This recommenda- tion is made in consideration of a few factors. The most important factor being considered with recommendations are the melting point of the adhe- sive. Every adhesive that is sprinkled or laminated on the back of your transfer has a melting point. The right combination of time, temperature, and pressure allow that adhesive to melt and adheres the transfer to the item. If you don't apply enough time, temperature, or pres- sure, your transfer will not fully adhere to the fabric. This might not be noticeable immediately after appli- cation but will show up in the wash and dry cycles. The transfer, if not applied properly, can delaminate or peel away from the item while your customer washes and wears it. The assumed easy fix to this problem is applying more time, temperature, or pressure than is recom- Diamonds or Coal? Which are you delivering to your customers? Time, temperature, and pressure are the key factors to achieving a job of "dia- monds." (All images courtesy STAHLS')

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