Sign & Digital Graphics

April '18

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • April 2018 • 55 temperature and humidity to keep the ink flowing, Crocker says. In large spaces, it is difficult to control temperature and humidity. He recom- mends that people with large floor spaces put their direct-to-garment printer inside an enclosed space inside the big- ger building. That could mean putting a greenhouse-type building around it or hanging heavy plastic around the space. "I've seen some pretty creative approaches to dealing with that," he says. If the printer is in a medium-sized room in which a shop can control the humidity, just having a non-misting humidifier in the room right next to the printer will suffice, he adds. Screen printers have started seriously looking at direct-to-garment printers because they are tired of turning away small orders, says Crocker. They get a lot of high-volume orders, but occa- sionally a client will request a small run. Then it is up to the printer to decide if it is worth wasting money on screens for such a small order or whether they should send the job to a print shop that has a direct-to-garment printer already. They lose profit, and customers, when they go that route, he adds. Direct to Garment Dye Sublimation Thermal Transfer Screen Printing Basic Technology Inkjet, direct printed Print onto release paper, image transferred to garment by heat press Transfer pre-printed images to garment by heat press Screen printing image directly onto garment Graphics Full color Full color Color separations Color separations. 4-color process Tech History 10 years 50+ years 50+ years 50+ years Supported Substrates 100% cotton, high cotton blends, polyester, canvas, hemp and linen 100% polyester, or polyester- coated fabric Synthetic, poly blends Any fabric type White ink supported Yes No n/a Yes Inks Used Water-based pigment ink, or UV-cure Water-based dispersed dye Ink is already on transfer paper Plastisol inks Tactile Feel Soft, Natural Soft, Natural Dependent Thick, Rough Profit for short runs High High High Conducive for longer runs Capital Equipment Investment $10,000 to $50,000 $2,000 to $10,000 $2,000 to $10,000 $5,000 to $250,000 Ideal Owner Profile Professional Hobbyist, small scale professional Hobbyist, small scale professional Professional Shop Footprint 50-100 sq. ft. 50-100 sq. ft. 50-100 sq. ft. (heat press only) 250 sq. ft. and up Set-Up Time 2-5 minutes 2-5 minutes zero 2-4 hours Chart adapted with permission from one developed by AnaJet Comparing Apparel Printing Processes A lot of times they will add direct to garment to their mix so they can offer clients the full gamut of products. Screen printers also use direct-to-garment print- ers as a sampling tool. If they make their own designs, they can print out samples on the direct-to-garment printer to show wherever they distribute their designs. Embroidery shops are also getting into the direct-to-garment market because their customers decide they want something beyond just embroidery. Sign shops get into it because their business customers will sometimes ask them if they can do shirts for them as well, Crocker adds. For the most part, direct-to-garment printing is simple to learn, says Perrelli. The software, print modes and process steps take a lot of the guesswork out of file setup and shirt prep. SDG (Image courtesy of Direct Color Systems)

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