March '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 M A R C H P R I N T W E A R 5 5 A few of these items include: Thermol-Tel heat-sensitive tabs: "(These) are an inexpensive way to measure garment temperature coming out of your dryer," explains Landesman. "Making sure you properly cure your T-shirts is key to be- ing successful." Thermol-Tel strips change colors as they reach specific temperatures, ensur- ing shops will meet the right cure tem- peratures for whatever job they're ap- proaching, without breaking the bank. Tension meter: This tool helps shops check the tension of the mesh on each screen. This tool is useful for both in- house and outsourced screens. "Mesh is stretched and is measured in Newtons, and we need to make sure that when we are purchasing pre-stretched screens, or making our own, that the mesh is in its proper window of optimum tension," explains Marcotte. With this tool, deco- rators can verify the tension accurately. Even so, shops should touch base if they are using a pre-stretched screen from a supplier to match the tension measure- ment up with what it's supposed to be since it can vary on application from 18–28 newtons. Loupe: This magnifying lens helps shops check their exposure time. Op- tions on this tool can range anywhere from a basic handheld version, to a high- end, electronic microscope mode. Mar- cotte suggests searching for a reliable unit over the priciest version is the best route. The primary function should al- low a shop to check exposure and make sure you have good hard edges and prop- er coating, he adds. Pin registration template: These tem- plates allow a printer to quickly line up a film positive with a screen to ensure proper registration. Shops can order these items pre-made from manufacturers, and more experienced printers can build their own over time. "I think as far as pre-production goes, pin registration templates and jigs are invaluable tools that allow you to quickly register your screens and get to printing," says Morgan. "Especially on those multi- colored jobs, you never have to worry about registration inaccuracy." Exposure calculator: This tool will help sidestep one of the most common issues in screen printing: over and un- derexposed screens. "When reclaiming, if your emulsion is coming off stringy and in chunks, you are underexposed," notes Marcotte. "If you are having a hard time holding fine lines and detail without your screen dots shrinking, then you are over- exposed." However, these indicators aren't the only rule of thumb. With newer LED exposure models, the exposure time can be as small as one to two seconds, so hav- ing a more granular way to calculate the best screen exposure is helpful. Marcotte recommends shops invest in a reputable step-wedge calculator and check all mesh counts multiple times a year to account for ambient humidity and bulb aging. Vacuum wand: While they aren't an essential tool, Marcotte suggests this tool for shops that want to go the extra mile. Vacuum wands are connected to a wet vac, and decorators can vacuum off all the water from a screen's surface for both reclaiming and after rinsing an exposed image. "This will greatly speed up your dry time and cut down on lint and dust being attracted to your wet screen," suggests Marcotte. So, whether it's a set of new tools for the screen room, some automated technol- ogy to speed things up, or a new dip tank for efficient reclaim, shops can take their screen-making game to the next level with a few essential additions. Choos- ing reliable manufacturers for supplies and consulting with those companies to make sure they're purchasing the best screen-making tools will help reinforce a strong business core, so decorators can offer their clients reputable work for years to come. PW A decorator's screen- making setup will largely depend on their overall volume and job output on a weekly basis. (Image courtesy Lawson Screen & Digi- tal Products)

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