April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R 4 7 port. While it may be good business sense to look for less expensive options to lower our operating costs, these copy-cat brands who offer similar products at reduced pric- es are not the same companies putting the money into research and compliance. Bar- gain brands from abroad are more likely to have restricted substances in them that can cost you far more than you saved when a customer you print for gets nailed for non- compliance on an item they hired you to print responsibly. Many of these restricted substances are known environmental threats. For instance, APEO has been banned from apparel pro- duction in Europe entirely, due to factors including its impact on aquatic life and the human body. APEO has been identified as an endocrine disrupter, causing aquatic spe- cies to change sex and as a skin and respira- tory irritant to humans. I could go on with more info concerning restricted substances that some of the more widely recognized brands are actively addressing, but the main point is that you get what you pay for with bargain alternatives. And that doesn't just include the product's questionable perfor- mance and the potential liability you pass on to your customer. It circumvents finan- cial support into research for more sustain- able future options. THE NITTY GRITTY I want to remind you that screen printing implies that both the screen and the print- ing aspect of our industry must be of some importance. And it's true. We are only as good a printer as the screens we produce. So, when evaluating how you can improve the quality of your screen making process, don't forget to ask yourself if you are reduc- ing waste. The most overlooked part of this process is the light source in your exposure unit. If you are using a bulb-type exposure, ask yourself these questions: 1. Is my emulsion the correct type for the light source I have? 2. When was the last time I verified my exposure times with an exposure cal- culator test? 3. How old is my light source? Is it cur- ing the emulsion properly? If you are unsure of your answers to the above questions, reach out to your local sup- plier and tell them you would like to speak to an emulsion representative. They will be able to evaluate whether you have the cor- rect exposure, light source, and emulsion to get the best screens for your shop's produc- tion parameters. By optimizing your screen-making pro- cess, less unexposed emulsion is sent down the drain. This means you retain more money, lessen your impact on the local wa- ter treatment facility, and get more life from your in-house water treatment system. In the end, you produce better screen stencils, which produce better prints, thereby reduc- ing your stress levels and increasing produc- tivity. In the previous paragraph I refer to in- house water treatment system. If this is a new phrase for you, then it is time to speak to your emulsion chemistry rep to see what your options are to capture solids and pre-treat the water you are discharging into your municipality's water treatment system. There are a number of systems that you can add to your existing reclaim process that will help meet or exceed your local requirements. If you are concerned that reaching out to an emulsion or re- claim chemistry company is just inviting a new sales pitch, keep in mind that their role is as much about keeping customers informed and compliant as it is to sell their products. A sales rep is a company's first line of defense in making sure they avoid legal issues related to misuse of the prod- ucts they offer. When doing your research to see if you meet local requirements, reach out to your chemical companies for their guidance before inviting unwanted atten- tion to your business. There are a number of systems that you can add to your existing reclaim process that will help meet or exceed your local requirements.

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