September '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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tion, many printers now automate the process. With other mainte- nance tasks, many D2 printers now display smart alerts, so operators know when it's time to perform the designated duty. According to Casing, alerts can direct a producer to a section in the included manual, making the whole process even more comprehensive. In addition to machine-based improvements, Tim Check, Epson, points out that pricing has become more streamlined with digital machines. "Job-cost estimation tools enable print shops to know the production cost before quoting a job to help maintain desired profit levels," he ex- plains. WHAT TO CONSIDER Arguably one of the biggest changes in the appar- el decoration world is the shrinking gap between retail and wholesale. While e-commerce used to be non-apparel goods and bulk items, the online marketplace now encompasses a large variety of custom-decorated garments. How can decorators tap into this trend? With the timely capabilities of direct-to-garment, direct-to-substrate, and even dye-sublimation printing, printers have the "ability to fulfill small, highly-customized orders with virtually unlimited colors," notes Casing. All these offerings, she adds, can distinguish a shop from its competition. Shops can also offer a similar service on the hard goods side. With direct-to-substrate print- ing, Makrinos says businesses can save time, energy, and money while providing exceptional quality and efficiency. For walk-in clients, digital technology has its perks as well. Decorators can use the technol- ogy to speed up job approvals on larger orders that previously may have taken weeks to finalize. "(Producers) easily create product design sample proofs for large volume runs; utilize digital to win these jobs that can then be printed either on digi- tal equipment or with traditional screen-printing equipment," Check points out. For clients who require a physical garment sample to get final ap- proval, like corporate accounts, this method is a powerful tool to seal the deal, he adds. Above: Shops can also use digital tech- nology to print order samples and speed up the approval process with customers. (Image courtesy Kornit) Right: Digitally printed apparel often boasts photorealistic and vivid, full-color graphics. (Image courtesy Kornit) DIGITAL DIGITAL PRINTING 5 2 P R I N T W E A R S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 9

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