June '20

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Roberts notes that in addition to a wide selection of media, hybrid printing al- lows businesses to offer their clients high- quality images and presents an option for shop owners who may be tight on space. "The hybrid is a 'transformer,' allowing for a more compact work environment during roll-to-roll operation, then trans- forming into a f latbed to accommodate rigid output," he explains. "Most hybrid inkjets have adjustable or moveable f lat- bed attachments that extend from the back and then from the front, often sav- ing needed operational space." The quantity yields from hybrid print- ing in the apparel realm allow for deco- rators to tap into time-sensitive, event- based markets where clients typically need orders turned around quickly. "The sweet spot for many hybrid printers is a 50- to 300-piece run," says Landesman. "Within this, there are a ton of different markets. Smaller concerts, bands, and racing teams are where we have seen our customers thrive." With the rise of subscription-based services for lifestyle brands and boutique clothing lines, Moxley says this technol- ogy also presents a boon for business owners with the equipment. "A user signs up for a monthly T-shirt subscription service and receives an embellished gar- ment each month, and variable data cre- ates customizations for each subscriber based on analytics," she states. Shops can also expand those product lines for limited-run boutique shops and print on other screen-printable products with the hybrid technology, Moxley says, opening the door up to goods such as re- usable bags, polypropylene, canvas, and paper bags. TRAINING AND MAINTENANCE For some business owners, Rugen says the jump to hybrid printing won't be that dra- matic of a move. "The nice thing about a hybrid printer is that it is really not much different from a normal wide-format, eco- solvent printer," he contends. "So, the learning curve is not much more. About the only thing an operator might need additional assistance with is some main- tenance procedures or perhaps setting for 4 CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE GOING HYBRID IN THE APPAREL WORLD M ichelle Moxley, The M&R Companies, points out that while there's plenty to ask a manufacturer when shopping around for a hybrid printer, business owners should ask themselves a few key ques - tions before making the investment. 1. What is the plan for attracting cli- ents? "Thinking outside of the box is important; the hybrid offers so many unique applications, it is unparalleled," she says. "Special effects can be a great way to enhance and really pro - mote this technology." 2. What is the plan for existing cli- ents? "Hybrid print resolution is high— sometimes this can mean a difference in the image quality from screen print to hybrid," Moxley states. "This will be an issue to discuss with print customers in advance." Considering samples of a wide range of work is important in understand - ing the technology and its applications. 3. How do you plan to stay productive? "Hybrid is faster than DTG, but not as fast as screen printing. Like a true hybrid, it falls in the middle," she contends. "It offers unique aspects that neither screen nor DTG can offer, and capitalizing on these aspects is key to ultimately driving the success of hybrid printing in your shop." 4. What is your workflow plan? With more digital application methods in facili - ties, it is important to consider workflow. "Creating metrics and using analytics internally gives you the best guide for streamlining your process," states Moxley "Hybrid will introduce a new data work - flow that is more cumbersome than traditional screen print." "Hybrid will introduce a new data work - flow that is more cumbersome than traditional screen print." traditional screen print." 1 8 G R A P H I C S P R O J U N E 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M continued on page 90 Left: Shops can use hybrid printing to produce garments for short-run, time-sensitive occasions like concerts and racing events. (Image courtesy The M&R Companies) Left: One of the key perks to hy- brid printing is the pho- torealistic, high-quality image out- put. (Image courtesy The M&R Companies) Right: In the apparel decoration world, hybrid printing merges traditional screen printing with digital printing. (Im- age courtesy Lawson Screen & Digital Products) Below: Thanks to the durabil- ity of the inks used, shops can explore the outdoor signage market with hybrid printers. (Image courtesy Roland DGA)

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