Start Here October '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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S T A R T H E R E 2 0 1 8 just starting out, it's suggested to use an inkjet printer because the process is simple and more affordable than a laser printer. Heat Transfer Vinyl Heat transfer vinyl (HTV) is another decorating method to consider for your T-shirt business. HTV comes in wide array of materials for application on nearly any substrate and also comes in special effect materials like glitter or reflective. This is ideal for lettering, numbers, and shapes. If you purchase HTV by the roll, you'll need to pur- chase a vinyl cutter to create your designs, but it's also avail- able from many vendors in ready-to apply designs. Easy-to-access design tem- plates allow you to create custom designs without owning or knowing how to use a graphics software. You can also purchase letters and numbers that are precut and/ or prespaced and ready to heat apply for personalizing sports uniforms or even cre- ating text-based T-shirt designs. If you're ready to purchase a vinyl cutter to cut your designs, it's important to know cutters come in a range of models from table-top craft cutters to top-of-the- line industrial cutters. No matter the investment you're looking to make, it's important to ask these questions to get the right cutter for you. What Type of Motor Does This Cutter Use? There are two main types of motors in vinyl cutters – mechanical step- per motors and digital servo motors. A stepper motor moves in small steps driven by physical gears. The biggest down- side to a stepper motor is a loss of precision on small graphics. But, this is an economical choice and works just fine for most cuts. A servo motor is digitally driven by soft- ware resulting in a smooth, precise move- ment of the cutting head. Letters as small as 1/8th of an inch cut just as precisely as larger characters. It's ideal when you're cutting a wide variety of sizes from small to large. What is the Cutting Width of the Machine? If you're creating mostly T-shirt designs, a cutting width of 9˝–12˝ is usually ideal. If you plan to cut larger designs, like signs, you'll want a wider width; around 24 inches and up to 52 inches or more for industrial-grade cutters. What Software Will I Need? Most vinyl cutters come with their own software that can be used to create basic designs. However, access to more power- ful graphics software like CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator will give you the flex- ibility to create great designs. The Right Blank Picking the right T-shirt blank is an extremely important decision as you start your business. Different fabric materials come with different prices, textures, and elasticity. For instance, is your shirt 100 percent cotton or 100 percent ring-spun cotton? The way a T-shirt fits may be even more important than the material it's made from. For the fashion market, a fitted shirt is ideal. For the athletic market, a box-cut T-shirt is perfect. Whatever fabric or fit you choose, remember that if it's not the kind of shirt your market wears, they aren't going to buy. No matter what T-shirt you choose, source the highest quality you can at the price point that works for both your brand and your target market. This will take some research and testing, but it's well worth the time to give your customers a quality product they'll be happy to wear and buy. With a little research, quality transfers, equipment, and T-shirts, your business will have a strong foundation to grow. 86 One of the best niches for heat applied graphics is the sports and team mar- kets. There are a variety of heat applied products that make numbering and let- tering team uniforms fast and easy. (Image courtesy of STAHLS') If you're interested in starting a custom T-shirt business, all you need is a good-quality commercial heat press, blank shirts, and transfers. You can buy stock designs or have custom trans- fers made ready to print until you raise enough capital to invest in equipment to make transfers in-house. (Image courtesy of STAHLS') HEAT TRANSFER PRINTING

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