Start Here October '22

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12 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 2 Xpresscreen developed MiScreen, a direct-to-screen thermal screen exposure unit which images directly from a computer to a special thermal screen, eliminating the need for chemicals, emul- sions or water, keeping costs down and improving setup times. e only drawback of the technology is that the screens aren't as "rock solid" as conventional screens, so they are only good for 750 to 1,500 impressions. Most shops do jobs less than 500 shirts, so these screens are a more economical option, Doub says. DIRECT-TO-GARMENT & HEAT-APPLIED GRAPHICS Many pop-up hobbyists have surfaced, peddling their own brands of apparel decorating using some of the newer technolo- gies, such as heat transfer vinyl, which has gotten significantly cheaper, or heat transferable film. Both technologies are similar to direct-to-garment, only the design is printed on film or vinyl and then pressed into the garment using heat. "DTG has made great strides. ere's more flexibility but there is a learning curve to get involved in that," says Belz. A small shop can get into heat transfer vinyl with a 24" printer and a heat press. To make things even more unique, they can add a single-head embroidery machine to the operation. If a shop wants to digitize their own files, they will need a decent com- puter and a graphics program. Belz says that many shops will focus on one type of printing, whether it is screen printing or DTG, but "will outsource to some- one like us. We are a high-volume contract decorator doing eight million shirts per year." ey can handle the smaller apparel decorating orders and outsource the larger jobs to companies with automated equipment that can complete jobs more quickly. To print 500 shirts, it may take a shop a day or two if they are using a manual press. Belz explains, "We can do it in an hour. A lot of the time we can do that cheaper than they can. ey sign us up as a contract decorator to do stuff outside their nor- mal forte and they can still be full service and handle the part they are good at." He adds that if a shop outsources some of the larger screen printing or direct-to-garment print jobs, it makes more room in their shop for heat-applied graphics, an embroidery machine, or Image courtesy Xpresscreen

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