Printwear

October '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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22 | Printwear O ctO b e r 20 1 4 Graphics Hot Spot by Wayne Potter Wayne Potter has more than 25 years of experience in the screen, litho- graphic, and gravure printing of heat transfers and industrial marking devices. He is a pioneer in the area of digital heat-transfer papers. Potter has spent most of his career developing new business, managing market- ing, in sales, and writing technical trouble-shooting articles. Up through early 2012 he was vice president marketing development at Air Waves Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, he is senior sales executive for Joto. | | | | T here is little disagreement among historians about when the Industrial Revolution began. There is, however, much disagreement about when the Dig- ital Age actually began. From the early invention of Morse code by Samuel Morse in the 1830s to the revolution of the space program in the '70s and the many advancements in between, you can see why the precise birthday of the Dig- ital Age is clouded. It suffices to say that many of us lived through this landmark part of our history without knowing it. By the time the last baby boomer graduated from high school in the early '80s, digital art and production had taken hold. In our industry, that meant the birth of printing solutions such as digital transfers and digital direct-to-garment. EVOLUTION OF DIGITAL GARMENT PRINTING Sometime before direct-to-garment inkjet printing was commercialized, there were all sorts of digital garment printing in both the United States and Europe. Contrary to main- stream belief, the first digital heat transfers were not produced by an electrostatic copier but a dot-matrix printer using special ribbon. It was not uncommon to find the process at state fairs and resort spots internationally. In the next evolution, a competi- tively priced full-color wax ther- mal printer came about, and these wax images decorated literally millions of T-shirts at major amusement parks and fairs worldwide. Then, the introduction of the dry-toner color la- ser copier gave rise to the digital heat transfers that we know today. Some of the original products are still employed in digital small-run decoration and person- alization. Finally, we saw the next generation of digital decorating solutions when di- rect-to-garment printing technology emerged in the mid-'90s. It is here that we realized we were fully in the digital age of garment decorating and decorators had a choice to make in technology for small-run personalization. In this spirit, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the financial side of the newer technologies. Let's take a look at the rel- evant cost it takes to image a T-shirt with the newest digital decoration methods: di- rect-to-garment printing and digital-color laser heat transfer paper. COST SCENARIO 1: DI- RECT-TO-GARMENT PRINT One thing to note about direct-to-gar- ment printer technology is that it provides a comprehensive look at the consumables for every design you intend to print. Simply induct your print file into a software program, size the design, declare the print quality, and tell the printer if you intend to print onto white or dark shirts. From there, the software generates the ink consumption and cost for the design in ques- tion. Those are the num- bers I'll use here. For our comparisons, let's use an 11" X 11" full-color stock heat transfer design. For our estimates, we won't adjust the digital print for the dark shirt by knocking out the background. But, you would want to do so in production to maximize the ink cost and your profit. We also need to add factors for printer main- tenance and pretreatment for dark shirts based on 3,000 shirts per month. Let's fig- ure out what the costs look like for a digital print. (*Note: The data presented is for the sake of discussion; it is not specific to any device, but provides a good, general comparison.) two Options trump One the digital imaging world gives distinct choices Depending on your needs and budget, both direct-to-garment printing and laser heat transfer papers have their place in the mar- ket. (All images courtesy of author) l Beginner n Intermediate

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