Branded apparel increases sales

St. Patrick's Day Irish Pub Shirt Customized with your last name created by NW Custom Apparel. This t-shirt is 100% cotton.

Branded Apparel increases sales.

Direct to Garment printing (DTG) is a new method of decorating apparel. The most common item decorated using DTG is a tee shirt or a hooded sweat shirt. Historically apparel decoration was done by silk screening. This is still a popular method of decorating especially for large volume orders.

There are specific differences when choosing between DTG and Silk Screen printing.

Difference

The main difference is large orders. These would be orders larger than 144 pieces. Especially one color designs. The DTG excels for multicolor orders less than 144 pieces.

One major advantage DTG has over Silk Screen is the set up process. Silk screen requires a separate screen for each color in the design. The more colors the more expensive the set up.

DTG requires only a good piece of art. We prefer EPS, Adobe illustrator or a 300 dpi or better art.  Small multicolor orders are cost prohibitive for screen printers.

Process

The process is very simple with good art work. The process is the art is scanned, ripped and sent to the printer. Ripping is a process to ready the DTG printer for printing on dark colors. The rip part of the design is a white back fill. The white back fill is printed and prepares the DTG printers substrate to accept the colored portion of the design.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has implemented new safety rules which specifically address printed apparel for youth under 12 years of age. What the rules are is that no inks with carcinogenic compounds can be used is the printing of shirts in the youth market. DTG printing is 100% in compliance because the ink is water based and can be cleaned up with water. Screen print inks do not meet these regulations and will soon find themselves under the watchful eye of the CPSC.

Child Safety

Child safety has always been at the end of the pack in the silk screen decorating industry.. This is why the water based inks for Kornit are and always be in compliance with the CPSC regulations.

Choosing DTG is always the best choice if you are selling to the youth market. There are other reasons why DTG is superior to Silk Screen. The most obvious one is chemicals in one and no chemicals in the other.

 

How to make a DTG emblem

How to make a printed emblem.

This blog is to explain how we at Northwest Custom Apparel make printed emblems. The advantage of a printed emblem is that it can be made much quicker and offers more detail in the the design.

The first step in the process is to have all the materials necessary to manufacture a printed emblem.

Tools necessary are:

  • Digital Printer (We use the Kornit Hexa)
  • Die Cutting Machine
  • Heat press
  • MG3U merrow machine
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Materials
  • A good solid twill fabric to print the design on.
  • Acceptable art in a eps or 300 dpi jpg format.
  • Heat seal material (5mm or thicker).
  • Fusible backing to make emblem firm for finishing
  • Merrow thread with the correct color

The process is

  • Scan the art and adjust size to meet the emblem requirements
  • Load design into the digital printer
  • Print the design on a sheet of material. You should be able to print 24 emblems per sheet of material.
  • Apply fusible backing to sheet of emblems
  • Cut the emblems to size or use a die cutter with the correct size die.
  • The printed emblem now needs to be finished with a over lock border. This over locked border is achieved using a 3GU merrow machine. The Merrow machine was designed to apply a heavy stitched border to a emblem. This gives the emblem a real sharp finished look.
  • Last step is to apply the heat seal backing. Heat seal material can be purchased at a local fabric store. The application can be done with a steam iron or a heat press machine if you have one.
  • The finished emblem is now ready to be applied to a cap front using a cap heat press.
  • To put a emblem on a cap is very simple. Remove all the loose heat seal backing material and apply heat and pressure for about 25 seconds and then you have a finished product.
  • Trucker emblems are now becoming very popular so good luck.

In by 10 delivery by 5 screen printing

target market

Yes that is a true statement. It is now possible to offer same day tee shirt printing using a Direct To Garment system of printing.

To explain how it is done just review what it takes to print for example an 8 color design on a basic tee shirt.

A 8 color design will require 8 screens and one screen for applying the white ink on a dark garment.

  1. Art separation is the first item to get done
  2. Prepare the films for each color
  3. Burn the screens
  4. Wash out the screens
  5. Dry screens and block out the design
  6. Align the screens for registration
  7. Print a sample or press check
  8. Print tees
  9. Clean up the screens
  10. Breakdown the carousel and set up for next order

Now let’s examine the DTG process.

  1. Create art on the computer
  2. Save art as a PNG file
  3. Upload to RIP software
  4. Transfer design to printer and print
  5. Cure design and it’s done.

The advantage of time is so important now that clients are getting accustomed to same day service.  This is pure hell for a screen printer who has to try and meet customer demands.

The old days of delivery in less than two weeks is starting to exit the process. Customers want it now. Decosource has 3 state of the art Kornit printers which allows us to make a same day delivery. Our motto in by 10 out by 5 will hold up.

DTG printed garments are now holding up under heavy washing and can go toe to toe with screen printing when it comes to the life of the garment.

The two scenarios above resulted in the fact that the DTG process is more efficient than the screen printing process.  The screen print would take at least 5 hours where the DTG would take less than a hour.

Same day screen printing?

DTG is the solution if you want tee shirts fast.

DTG solves the problem on short delivery time. At Northwest Apparel we invested in two state of the art Kornit digital printers. The reason we did this is that our customers are asking for faster delivery on their orders.

Fast and quick delivery is now becoming the norm.

When we first started Northwest Embroidery two weeks delivery was fantastic. We have now changed our name to Northwest Custom apparel and our delivery time can be as little as 6 hours. Speeding up our delivery options meant we had to change our name and rebrand the company. We are now Northwest Custom Apparel.

Millennials demand service

Doing business in a millennial environment means we have to meet the demand.  The internet doesn’t allow customers to wait two weeks they need it now.

Northwest Custom has invested in two state of the art Kornit digital printers. These printers are state of the art. We use water based inks which allow us to deliver shirts that are soft to the touch.  The old method of screen printing is actually environmentally unacceptable. The new consumer protection laws and regulations prohibit selling shirts with carcinogenic inks to children younger than 12 years old.

Because we specialize in Direct to Garment printing we meet all the environmental regulations. Our shirts are safe for the youth market.

When it comes to delivery we can offer same day printing. This is because if we have camera ready art work with all images 300 dpi or better we are ready to print.

We had a customer come in yesterday who was entertaining a group from Switzerland and wanted to give them a memento of their visit. He showed up at our office panicking because he forgot to put the tees in his things to do list. The Swiss Sportmen’s Club of Tacoma was so happy we could accept this order.

Fortunately we had excellent art work on file and we were able to go in our warehouse pull from our inventory and print the multicolor shirts in less than four hours. Because of our DTG printers we were able to create a raving fan who will spread the word about Northwest Customs customer focused service.DSC02717

Being located in Milton Washington we are able to service the greater Seattle area with our fantastic service.

DTG is better than Screen Print

The question is now is what is better Direct to Garment printing or Screen Print printing.

Direct to Garment often referred to as DTG printing is new and entering the production shops of decorators around the world. The reason for this evolution is that companies want a system which is easy to learn, operate and is environmentally friendly.

Most DTG systems are a four step process.

The first step is to pre-treat the garment with a pretreatment machine to apply the pretreatment solution to the garment.

Then setting the pretreatment with a heat press machine.

Step 3 print the garment

Step 4 back to the clam shell heat press.

This complicated process takes at least 10 minutes per item.
The heat and pressure is done with a clam shell heat press.
Decosource has a totally different and efficient process operating the Kornit DTG printer to print their shirts. The Kornit system eliminates the manual pretreatment process.
The system Decosource uses is a two step process.

Step 1 is load the garment on the printer platen, push the start button and

23298-rollie-tavern-swprint.

The pre-treatment is self contained in the Kornit printer and speeds up production by eliminating the pre-treat step of all other machines on the market.
Step 2 The final step is to remove the garment from the Kornit printer run through the dryer and then fold and finish.
The positive features of DGT printing is the finished product. The end result is a garment with a soft feel. The plastisol ink used in screen printing leaves a hard finish which is annoying to women. The plastisol ink also has carcinogenic compounds which have proved harmful to humans. This problem will eventually be addressed and screen print shops will start to come in compliance with the consumer protection laws.
Another positive feature of DTG printing is set up time. All you have to do is download your artwork click the green button and print. This process will print and infinite number of colors.

Screen printing we know takes a separate screen for each color. This eliminates the ability to print small orders with no screen set up and clean up.3966
To summarize DTG is faster, time efficient, cleaner, exact design matching and easy to use.

DTG printing is much better than Screen Printing.

DTG is much better than screen printing

The answer is send it to Decosource.  Decosource has two state of the art Kornit printers which are groomed for small order production. With Kornit all we ask of our customer is to bring us good art. We prefer EPS to make our life easier.

Lets think about the time of DTG vs a screen print order with 6 colors. One screen is necessary for each color and one extra screen for the white under base. Inks have to be mixed to meet the color requirements. Then comes the press check and we hope everything is done correctly. If not we go back to the drawing board.Jim Oktoberfest

Assume we did a decent job printing the 6 colors.(actually 7 because we have to print a white undercoat.

No mess with DTG

Now the clean up begins. Add another hour or two to the order to clean up the mess.

The order was for 6 colors and a lot of printers are not equipped to print 6 colors assuming the seventh color is white undercoat.

It’s coming and we have to aware that traditional plastisol inks contain carcinogenic Studies have been done which show these inks are harmful to children under the age of 12 years. The consumer protection act even states these chemicals are harmful.

Now let’s examine direct to garment printing.  This is commonly referred to as DTG printing.

DTG process

The process for DTG printing is have good art work. Good art work means easy set up. The computer is going to do everything.

Good art work means it’s time to point and click. All that is necessary now is to load the computer which drives the Direct to Garment printer. Time taken is less than 30 minutes.

Printing is a snap. The computer tells the printer what to print and it is as easy as one, two, three.

Erik Mickelson
Erik Mickelson showing off the multicolor design.

Loading printer is fast and saves a tremendous amount of labor. DTG set up compared to traditional screen printing is a breeze. (actually Kornit has a printer called the Breeze)

Good artist is all you need

To conclude all you need for DTG work is a good artist. Their productivity will increase when doing DTG art because there are not screens to set up. Check out the colors on this shirt. The setup was $40.00 for everything.

Deco Source History

  • Northwest Embroidery was the first commercial embroidery company in the Pacific Northwest. We opened our doors in Oct 1977. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary.
  • During those days we supported some major companies such as Nike, Eddie Bauer, Britannia jeans, REI, and Columbia to name a few. We had the market locked because we were the only company of size who could do embroidery.
  • Life was good until our government lowered the duty on imported decorated garments. The duty used to be around 28% on apparel with any decoration. Northwest at the time was able to do the embroidery for less than the 28% duty. But, our government lowered the duty with some nudging from some of the major apparel players at that time.
    With the duties lowered the manufacturing slowly started to shift to the far west. Hong Kong and Taiwan were the first big players to have factories and solicit this manufacturing business. It was a slam dunk the selling price would remain strong in the US and the cost of goods manufactured would go down. It takes a fool not to realize what was happening.
  • Seattle at one time was the leading manufacturing center for outerwear in the United States. Rainier Valley was a cluster of contract sewers who fed the retail industry. Northwest Embroidery was able to take advantage of this because of the fact that embroidered logos enhanced the perceived value of the finished product.company-unjiforms-1999
    The market during this period (1977-1985) was strong for everyone. But the majors wanted more bang for their buck. They started to turn to the Far East or far west if you are in Seattle to out source their manufacturing.
    Cascade Manufacturing just down the street from us was a prime contractor for Columbia and LL Bean. They had over 600 sewers in Puyallup and Seattle. This was no small operation. Today the property hosts a large apartment complex.
  • Northwest Embroidery saw the handwriting on the wall and turned outward to becoming a retailer selling logo merchandise direct to the end user. This proved to be even better than trying to hustle orders from the majors. Companies like San Mar, JM Products, Winkler Northwest were born. These companies were actually distributors who imported directly and marketed to the decorated apparel industry
  • .
    The decorated apparel industry was starting to take off in 1980. Logo apparel was just getting popular. A cottage industry was growing selling decorated apparel.
  • The industry has changed astronomically since 1977. In 1985 we bought our first fax machine and for $3.57 a page we could throw away our telex machine and communicate with the far west without having to send DHL packets. Our orders really flowed smoothly.
  • After the fax machine came the internet and the whole world opened up.
    Some of the new innovations which are coming to market are Digital to Garment printers which print directly from a computer to a garment.

 

  • There is no setup involved and the quantities can be as little as one. This is a labor killer which addresses the must have now generation.
    This little brief can give you an overview of who Deco Source is and how we started out as a small embroidery company who is the leader in the decorated apparel in the Pacific Northwest.

Embroidering on leather

Leather can be somewhat tricky to embroider on. It always presents a challenge but to a brave embroiderer it can be done.

The level of difficulty always depends on the grade of the leather. Heavy leather is always a problem. At Decosource we have honed our skills and at times will accept leather for embellishment on a cost vs worth basis. We will not do one jacket because of the potential loss.

Easy to work with

Natural leather is very easy to work with because it does have a soft hand. The hand of the leather depends on the tanning process. There is oak-tanning, bark-tanning or vegetable tanning. This type of tanning involves the use of tannic acid. This is where we get the term “tanning.”

Another type of tanning is referred to as chrome-tanned. Chrome tanned leathers are soft to the touch and easy to work with.

One important item to consider is the various types of leather which include Cowhide (one side is suede and the other is smooth)

Split cowhide results from the hide actually being split in the finishing process and both sides of the leather are suede. Stay away from this type of leather

Deerskin is the favorite of all hunters. Sportsmen love to get a jacket made out of their trophy and embellished with a custom logo. This is a great background for embroidery.

Thickness

Leather varies in thickness. It is best to stay away from thick leather unless you want to become a specialist. The cowboy boot manufacturers will give you all the work you can handle. Jim Yates of Yates Embroidery made a good living doing single color boot designs.

Its best to use a backing with leather work. At Decosource we found that the backing will actually protect your hooks form debris getting clogged in your machine. Some companies even use newspaper just to give the leather some stability. You can also use wax paper or a light weight iron backing.

Use a thick backing for soft leathers so it will hold the stitches. Thick leather you can use anything.

You should always use a sharp needle for soft leather and a ball point for thick  leather. Ball points will always leave a smooth finish.

Thread

robison-anton-polyesterThe best thread is a 40 weight with a loose density in the design. You must give your needle penetrations some space. This can be done in the digitizing.

When programming us a longer stitch and a loosed density. The objective is to not stitch so close that you  punch a hole in the substrate.

Is summary experiment with a scrap piece of leather before taking the big step.

Small order Screen Printing

Small order printing

Small order screen printing is a market most screen printers will not undertake. The problem with small orders is the preparation, set up involved and clean up.

 

Small order challenge

Decosource has accepted this challenge by investing in two Kornit direct to garment printers. We made the decision to go this route because of the following comparisons we make before our purchase.

Set up time

For example setting up a 4 color project takes time. The art has to be completed; the screens have to be made. One screen is necessary for each color and one extra screen for the white under base. Inks have to be mixed to meet the color requirements. A press check is necessary first before the printing can start. At this point in the process the design is tweaked to make sure all colors are correct.
Once the printing is completed it is clean up time. All the screens have to be washed and made ready for the next job.

Multi color designs

Another major problem with screen printing if there are a lot of colors in the design it is might take more screens than the screen printer has in inventory. The majority of screen printers have carousals that have less than six color stations. Multi color jobs at times are lost.
Another draw down for screen printing is that the inks do contain carcinogens. There have been studies done which indicate these inks are harmful to children under the age of 12 years.

Compare DTG to Screen Print

Now let’s take a look at direct to garment printing. This is commonly referred to as DTG printing.
The process for DTG printing is first prepare good art work. This can be done and reviewed on your computer screen. Tweaking is easy using adobe illustrator or photo shop.

Ridgeline Girl's Basketball with Coach Daniel J. Helms
The ‘s Basketball Team went undefeated for the 2015-2016 Season. Coach Daniel Helms from Yelm lead the way

When art is approved it is time to point and click. All that is necessary is to click and load in the computer which drives the Direct to Garment printer.
Printing is very simple. All the hard work is done in the art department. The DTG printer can print as many colors as needed. Clean up when done is just a wipe down of the platen.

Load design in minutes

Orders can be set up and loaded in minutes which save a tremendous amount of labor. When you compare the set up for a screen print order to a DTG order it is a no brainer. The result is more money to invest in a good artist.

Purchase a Kornit

To summarize when using a DTG printer hire a good artist. Invest in a name brand printer (Kornit) and you are on your way to having a successful business.