2013 October 2

varsity hoodieChoosing a hoodie for yourself is tough enough – zipped or unzipped, loose fit or skin-tight, pouch or no pouch …? Choosing for a group or team is even more difficult.

Here’s our guide to the best way to choose a hoodie.

Before you begin:

1.    Obtain the right information – get those involved to make basic measurements (waist, hip, chest, neck and arm length) and supply them to you, so you can be sure that the hoodie you choose has the right range of sizes.
2.    If you’re buying for a club or society, check the rules – some places have strict limits on what you can and can’t do.
3.    Check the budget – the more colours you have printed or embroidered, the more hoodies will cost.

Now start your choice process:

1.    Make a shortlist of colours – neutral is best unless you’re sure everyone in the group will be happy with pink or banana yellow!
2.    See if you can try on garments from that manufacturer – each company varies and it helps a lot with sizing to know if they run big or small, relaxed or tailored.
3.    Ask your printer for samples if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Ale-House-T-Shirt-Fail4.    Check, check and double check and then get somebody else to check – think about how your hoodie will look in different situations … it’s so easy to have an epic fail!
5.    Make a shortlist of your final colours and designs – no more than three, preferably just two.
6.    Invite those involved to vote. Go with the majority even if you think they are wrong – it’s more important that people are comfortable and confident than that they have a stunning hoodie … you will probably get your way next time, if they are happy this time.
7.    Place your order. Wait impatiently for it to arrive.
8.    Look great in your new hoodies!


2013 September 27

AWDis_Girlie_Cool_TShirt_25_156It’s a strange paradox that individuality is one often best defined by uniformity! From the 1950s when teenagers began to rebel by dressing differently to their parents (and identically to each other) individual preferences, feelings, views and allegiances tend to be demonstrated by a uniform, whether it’s khaki and shiny boots or black PVC and safety pins.

Printed, personalised T-shirts have become a feature of daily life because they allow the individual to express their personality or views, whilst demonstrating how they fit into larger groups or societies. Hen and stag parties find the printed T-shirt or baseball cap to be a completely vital element of the celebrations as do fun runners and those undertaking events for charitable causes.

But businesses are seeing the value of the individual/uniform paradox too. While uniforms create a sense of unity and allow customers to identify employees easily, they can also foster a sense of corporate thinking with anonymity being the shield behind which uncaring ‘customer service’ and lacklustre treatment can lurk unchecked. After all, ‘all staff look the same’.

But a uniform which identifies the individual whilst locating them in the group is the ideal solution. Boldly printed T-shirts work for fun and young organisations, whilst elegant embroidered polo shirts or even cotton shirts can make a superb impression whilst still being easy to launder.

Corporate branding helps create a team identity whilst giving a professional focus to your business as a whole. It reinforces the image of your company and makes it more memorable and it shapes the way your staff operate because it determines the way they are seen by others.

Whether you choose printing or embroidery it’s a cost effective way to celebrate your big event or get your business into a good position.


2009 January 20

As technology makes it easier than ever for those of a creative persuasion to commit their fantastic ideas to paper (or rather to the computer monitor) those with a penchant for design and a passion for fashion have a wonderful opportunity to enter the t-shirt design industry. With design software and t shirt production growing ever more sophisticated and accessible, young aspiring designers are finding that they do not have to be snapped up by a large fashion label for their designs to be found on the front of a trendy tee. Design business can be a part-time venture for a bit of extra cash or even a hobby where the money isn’t particularly important to you as long as your designs are out there and enjoyed. Of course it can also serve as a full-time career and a primary means of income.

 

If you are just starting out there are probably many questions you have, and there are probably some that you might not even have thought to ask! Hopefully this three-part article will serve as a handy starting point for all those who wish to begin the exciting journey towards starting their own t shirt design company. Before anything else it might be a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the jargon used by those in the industry, The A-Z of T-Shirt Printing is a good place to find out the meaning of some of the more technical terms used in this article.

Part 1: Types of T shirt Printing – Which Method is Best for You?

So you’ve got your design all sketched out and are wondering which type of t shirt printing method will suit your emerging business best. There are several ways of printing a design onto a t shirt and all should be considered as you formulate your business strategy. Each has its benefits and drawbacks – there is no ‘best’ method, so tailoring the technique to your business is very important. There are five main options:
 

  • Heat Transfer Printing

 

Arguably the most popular choice for small businesses. This involves taking a high resolution image and printing the image onto commercial quality transfer paper. One can print multi-coloured images in most formats including BMP,TIF, GIF, AI and JPEG. Once the image is on the transfer paper it is then taken and applied using a commercial heat press to the t-shirt. Transfer printing can handle any coloured design on white t shirts but might fall down when attempting colours on a darker tone – for example trying to transfer a yellow icon onto a navy blue t shirt will often result in an undesirable greenish tint. The quality of the image produced is directly related to the quality of the image supplied so it is important to design a quality image.

Pros:
It is ideal for small quantities.
It is fast.
It requires relatively small machinery.

Cons:
It isn’t as lasting as other methods.
It has a tendency to crack more often.
It struggles to deal with certain colours on darker garments.

Best for: Those designers just starting out.

  • Vinyl Transfers

Vinyl transfers are perfect for colour layering and producing high quality final prints. The process involves embellishing a garment through cutting out a logo or design from a specific vinyl sheet. The design is then imprinted on the garment through heat pressing. This method is best used for single or small-print t shirts For a free video on the vinyl transfer technique click Here. The cost here is fairly high, with a matching quality. Note that if you’re interested in the vinyl manufacturing option, you will need an actual vinyl cutter which can be expensive to obtain. A good cutter is absolutely paramount to your success in the vinyl market and a company such as Roland will provide a large range of cutters, of which we recommend one with an 8 inch range, which should fulfil your basic needs. A video on how to cut vinyl can be found Here.

 

Pros:
It provides a very high quality product.
It is perfect for lettering and distinct contrasting colours.

Cons:
It is fairly expensive.
It is not suitable for mass production.

Best for: The dedicated designer who does not mind sacrificing some extra money for a higher quality product.

  • Sublimation

Sublimation works by dissipating ink through heating, which improves output when compared to the more traditional heat transfer printing method. This machinery only really works with lightly coloured synthetic materials though (such as polyester and acrylic) as the ink will struggle to permeate anything else. T-shirts printed through sublimation feel very different to those produced under the other two methods due to the fact the toners used are applied below the surface of the substrate. For a free video showing how to create a designed t shirt through sublimation, click Here.

Pros:
It allows extremely fine control of primary colour ratios.
It enables you to obtain a good quality picture even with relatively low printer resolution.

Cons:
It is fairly specialised.
Limited availability of the necessary synthetic clothing.

Best for: Those who have a supply of synthetic clothing to hand and wish to concentrate exclusively in this area.

  • Screen Printing

Screen printing is the traditional method of transferring colour to a t-shirt or polo shirt by applying colour with ink. In order to screen print an item the design has to be separated into the component colours (nowadays handled by a vectored design program) and then each colour has a separate screen produced using light reactive chemicals. The ink can then be screen printed onto the t shirts directly or via transfer paper and a heat press. Screen printing is ideal for large quantities of printed garments but can be expensive for smaller orders requiring more than one colour.

Pros:
It is excellent for large quantity orders of your design.
It provides very good quality tees.
It can deal with complex multicoloured designs.

Cons:
It is very expensive to buy and run.
It is not economical for small orders.
It requires screens to be set up.
It is not economical for simple designs.
It require a large space to operate.

Best for: The successful independent t-shirt designer who needs to expand.

  • DTG Printing

DTG (Direct To Garment) printing is the modern way to put a complex multi-layered and multi-patterned design on any colour t shirt. It utilises a fully digital printing method that offers far superior quality in comparison to full colour transfer printing. Rather than transferring a design via paper a DTG printing machines prints directly onto the garment, resulting in a fantastically high quality print and maximum detail.

Pros:
It handles both large and small quantities adeptly.
It provides superb quality for both simple and intricate designs.
It dispenses with screens.

Cons:
It requires a massive initial outlay.
It has a small limitation in speed.
It requires regular maintenance.

Best for: Those with a rich uncle.

So now you have decided on the best method for printing designs your attention must be focussed on how best to transfer your painstakingly created design onto a t-shirt, and indeed where the best place to acquire said tee is. Part 2 will address both of these major concerns.


2007 August 15

Mayer House Business Media Limited is set to launch the inaugural trade show which they hope will raise the standard of shows aimed “specifically for the UK garment supply, decoration and equipment industry”. Entitled ‘Printwear UK’ the show has been confirmed for 17-18 February 2008 at Cranmore Park. The announcement follows the successful launch of their industry magazine ‘Printwear Today’, whose immediate and resounding popularity “proves emphatically that the market for garment decorators has been, and is continuing to grow” according to Managing Director Nick Carpenter.

Printwear Today will host the exhibition and raising its own profile in the process, proving that their ambitions to become the leading garment decoration publication are not unfounded. The show will provide an opportunity to showcase garments, decoration applications, equipment and consumables. But the focus of the show is said to be new and innovative products, meaning that if successful this could well become the most important annual event for all garment decorators in the UK, and possibly even abroad.

A great deal of thought has gone into providing the ideal venue for the event, free parking is provided and Mayer House are very concious of the high prices associated with such events, often a turn-off for potential attendees. Carpenter states that there was a need for “a venue that appeals to both exhibitors and visitors alike. A venue that provides exhibitors, unrivalled value for money and gives visitors a much needed break from high costs associated with attending other venues in the area”.

Mayer House will no doubt be hoping their show becomes as successful as the annual FESPA convention (seen below) which has become the industry byword for a show on printing techniques.

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An advertising campaign will be initiated to raise awareness of the show throughout the industry, comprising of trade press announcements, online campaigning and direct mail promotions, so this will certainly not be the last you hear of Printwear UK. It seems that the effort is barely warranted however, within a few weeks of marketing the event over 50% is already booked and reserved – so if you want to set up a stall and gain exposure, or keep up with all of the latest innovations in the industry, you had better book now before tickets are unavailable.


2007 August 13

Since most digital printers operate using water based inks you will need to cure your t-shirts to achieve the best quality look on a printed garment. ‘Curing’ involves heating the t-shirt at a prescribed temperature so that any residual water left by the digital printing process evaporates. Currently the two curing methods available are heat presses and conveyor dryers.

Assuming you are not a major producer or distributor one machine will be enough to meet your needs. Most t-shirts will need between 30-90 seconds to be cured; for an exact guide and a recommended temperature be sure to consult the requirements for the ink you are planning to use provided by the manufacturer.

Though not incredibly expensive (a basic heat press starts at approximately £350) it is recommended that you don’t immediately purchase the cheapest model available. As with any new machine to be incorporated into your business you should thoroughly research the options available to you and seek out previous customers of the prospective company you are to be dealing with, after all you may need technical support. It is probably best to look at a fully digital heat press that will automatically raise itself once the pre-set time has expired to ensure against scorching the shirts. The Geo-Knight and Company‘s digital heat presses (such as the DK20S, below) are usually a popular choice in this market for precisely the reasons outlined above.

dk20s.jpg

The chances are that if you are a screen-printer and are moving into digital printing that you already own a conveyor dryer, and this will work fine, albeit slower than a heat press. But be aware that you will have to slow your dryer belt down from its settings to allow for a full cure. A full guide to price a specifications to the most popular models of heat press can be found elsewhere on our website Here.


2007 August 10

Often the most prohibitive obstacles facing a small embroidery or garment printing business is the massive initial outlay on expensive technology and machinery, meaning that it is often difficult to break even in the first few years of business, let alone post a profit. The heat press manufacturer J&A International offer a unique solution which could help your fledgling business find its feet and weather the growing pains it encounters.

Pioneering a rental scheme entitled ‘Seal-Deal’, J&A are offering a new 3030 heat press with a choice of heat plate sizes, all repairs and maintenance covered (excluding non-wear and tear damage), an immediate replacement in the event of malfunction and carriage of machine for a small monthly outlay. There is no long term commitment necessary with the minimum term lasting just three months and the 15×15 headed machines start at just £15 a week, with the smaller machines costing even less. Obviously this is no long-term solution but for a small businesses the inherent benefits of rental are evident, with no capital outlay and low administration costs cash flow will be greatly improved and money will be freed up for other costs.

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Another reason people may wish to join J&A’s piloting scheme is that they might wish to invest in a 3030 but would like to test the compatibility of the machine with their pre-existing framework. Adrian Apletree, the Sales & Marketing Director for J&A International told Printwear Today: “Many people use a try before you buy service, as it provides an ideal opportunity to work with the equipment and assure them that it is suitable for their needs before investing in the actual purchase. Furthermore, it provides the flexibility of being able to exchange a machine as their business and heat sealing requirements evolve.”

Whether you are looking to free up cash for a start-up business or looking to test-drive a prospective heat press it looks like this innovative scheme could be extremely popular.


2007 July 6

There were three separate articles in this months ‘Printwear Today’ all documenting the Austrian screen-printing company MHM’s continued rapid expansion.

Founded only 27 years ago and now with dealers in 24 countries MHM has quickly established itself as the leading manufacturer of award-winning modern, efficient and easy to use screen printing equipment. Continuing its plans to grow in the UK, MHM has recently moved its sales office to new quarters in Derby, in preparation for further expansion plans. MHM has also recently revamped its online capabilities, with a new-look website enabling potential and existing customers to obtain advice and see their screen-printing equipment in action thanks to updated video feeds. Equipment specifications and brochures are now available as downloadable content and they are the first screen printing manufacturer to actually provide software updates for their products via their website, these can be instantly accessed by any purchaser of a machine and are easy to implement.

But perhaps the best indicator of MHM’s plans for dominance of the market is the hotly anticipated new digital textile printer that John Potter, of MHM Direct, promises will “revolutionise the industry”. Set to be introduced in January 2008 all that has been revealed of the system is that it has been developed with “one of the largest ink suppliers in the world”, it has been produced with high production capability in mind and that first test prints have been highly successful.

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MHM no doubt hopes that the new system will be as well recieved as the Synchroprint 4000 AC

The innovative new system, which is fully patent protected and necessitated the production of speciality ink, is so powerful that Potter fully expects it to “reverse the trend of printed garment work going off shore”. Good times are in store for British screen printers it seems, we’ll keep you posted if any more details come to light.


2007 June 28

I commented in my blog from FESPA that the Kornit machines were giving good results on dark T-shirts, and now I know why.

kornit_931d.jpg

The revolutionary 931D

Kornit recently announced that they had successfully applied for a patent on their revolutionary digital printing machine, the 931D Printer will be available to all in the garment/apparel industry soon. This cutting-edge technology, in conjunction with Kornit’s specially designed digital white ink, will allow t-shirt printers to produce sharp and vibrant colours on dark textiles using digital technology for the first time. Currently digital printing onto a dark t-shirt generally means “washed out and faded print colours”. Thanks to advances in technology, digital (DTG) printing looks to be the way forward for T-shirt printers.


2007 May 8

There are five items you need to consider when shopping for a heat transfer press:

• Ease of use
• Pressure Control
• Versatility
• Durability
• Price

Ease of use

When testing a heat transfer press, take note of the ease in which you can lay the garment between the plates, the amount of pressure needed to create a clean press, and how easily the machine works overall. If you choose to buy a swing-head manual press, make sure that the handle creates a tight seal on the clothing so the heat transfer is clean. The machine must be suited to the operator that is going to use it. Manual presses need a degree of physical strength and stamina particularly if they are to be used on a constant basis. If the operator can’t handle a particular press you have a problem.

Pressure Control

Nylon, cotton, and blended fabrics require different amounts of pressure in order to complete heat transfers. The more control you have, the more items you will be able to transfer print. A manual press relies on the strength of the operator to force the two plates of the heat press together. In contrast a Pneumatic press, relies on air pressure, supplied by an external compressor. This allows the heat press to close at the push of a button rather requiring the operator to close the press manually. This allows greater consistentcy of pressing from garment to garment. However the major benefit of the pneumatic press is greater productivity per operator. If productivity is critical to your business then chose a pneumatic press.

Versatility

In order to choose the right press you need to know what you are going to print. Even if most of your customers are looking for printed t-shirts, you may need to be able to use your press in other ways. Will your customers want logos and names on bags, hats, umbrellas as well as other items.
If you want this versatility, buy a press with an interchangeable bottom plate so that you can print a variety of products.

Think about your business in terms of what you want to accomplish and buy a press that meets these needs.

Durability

There is a wide difference in heat press prices.

Unfortunately, there are presses that although low in cost, do not live up to expectations. A heat press is a piece of machinery that will eventually wear out. The manufacturer, Adkins guarantees the heat platens (plates) for life. Although they expect their machines to last 5 years they don’t offer any long term guarantee or extended warrantee for their press. If you need a press in order to stay in business, choose one that will last

In deciding which press to buy, it is important to consider what will happen if the press goes wrong.

Is there a warranty?
Are spares easily available?
Who will repair the machine and how quickly?
How will your business manage while the press is being repaired?

You may want to consider

• Demo Press – J&A offer the option to try out a press before you buy it. Effectively you are renting the machine on a 3 month contract but it gives the option of trying out the press.

• Loan Presses – The Magic Touch offer a loan press in the event of a press requiring repair. However, conditions may apply to this offer.

More than Just Price

Better quality manual presses offer a number of benefits of cheaper rivals. They are able to achieve a far greater pressure with less force required. Cheaper presses require more force from the operator and may deliver uneven pressure.

There are some good cheap heat presses around. If you are just dipping your toe in the water, a cheap press might be fine but if you are building a business it might be well worth considering a more expensive item with the backing and support of an established company behind it.


2007 April 21

In the past, you may have told customers ‘no’ on small runs of multi colour print T-shirts because it just wasn’t worth it. While the margins may have been good, the amount of time it took to prepare the equipment, set-up the design, print each color, and so on was too much. That was until digital garment printing came along.

What is Digital Garment Printing?

This form of printing has a few names including inkjet garment printing and direct to garment printing (DTG), but it’s all the same – an inkjet type printer that can take any design and print it out directly onto fabric.

With this technology, you are able to:

• Print multi-colour runs easily.
• Decrease the man-power and mess of traditional screen-printing.
• Be able to accept jobs that traditional screen printers would have turned away.

How Digital Garment Printing Works

The printing process is similar to that of a desktop inkjet printer. You place t-shirts or other items into the tray, upload and edit your design onto the computer and press print like you would with a normal inkjet printer. After the design is printed, you have to cure it using a heat transfer press or dryer.

Advantages of Digital Garment Printing

The main advantages to this printing process are in the process itself. You no longer have to worry about creating screens and cleaning up afterward

Being able to print garments quickly and easily saves time and money.

Offering Your Customers More

Even if you have been accepting smaller runs of less than fifty garments, chances are you had to charge considerably more per garment for the service. On small runs a digital garment printer is able to print t-shirts for a fraction of the price of screen printing allowing them to take on more work and increase profit margins.

What Digital Printing Can’t Do

While the advantages are many, there are drawbacks including:

• Unsuitable for larger runs. As each t-shirt has to be loaded and printed individually digital printing is much slower than traditional screen printing.
• Unsuitable for dark colour t-shirts. Although print quality can be excellent, printing white ink is still a problem

But as technology continues to advance, so will digital printing.

Why Your Business Needs Digital Garment Printing

Have you ever turned down business because of the following:

• Run wasn’t large enough
• Short-staffed
• Amount of time didn’t justify the money earned

The Bottom Line

The screen-printing industry is changing. In a year or so, most promotional clothing printers will have one of these machines. If you don’t have one, then you may begin losing business to those who do.

Investing in the right equipment will help you maintain customers and also allow you to take on smaller runs, which increase sales and your customer base. Return customers are vital to the success of your business. By being able to offer them the opportunity to place smaller orders, you will see more return business than ever.