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A Textile Printer's Guide to Estimating Production Time

(January 1999) posted on Sun Jan 23, 2000

Combs presents good estimations for good business.

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By Terry Combs

Suppose I've just taken my first order for printing on nylon jackets. With a little research, I discover that nylon jackets are expensive and easy to ruin during printing and curing. I also find out that I will need a jacket hold-down and a flash-curing unit. Additionally, I learn that I need a special ink additive and that I will have to learn to use a different printing procedure. All of these changes are doable. So assuming that I have the money to buy the equipment and a book or a video that clearly outlines the process, why don't I just go ahead and print the job? The answer is that the risk of failure (ruined jackets) is high, and the cost of failure is also high (nylon jackets aren't cheap). Why spend money and time acquiring new equipment and new skills if I can buy the product I need from someone who is already an expert at printing on nylon jackets and can produce them much faster and cheaper than me? If I start selling a lot of nylon jackets, I can then bring production in-house. On the other hand, if my orders for nylon jackets remain infrequent, I can keep on subcontracting them. Obviously, making an intelligent decision about subcontracting takes more thought than I've outlined here. So let's look at other factors to consider when facing a make-or-buy decision.


Fig. 3: Special Job Times
Manual Press
Times shown in minutes 1 color 2 color 3 color 4 color 5 color 6 color
Production time/garment 0.67 0.75 0.86 1.00 1.20 1.50
Setup and breakdown 12 24 36 48 60 72
Automatic Press
Times shown in minutes 1 color 2 color 3 color 4 color 5 color 6 color
Production time/garment 0.20 0.20 0.20 0.20 0.20 0.20
Setup and breakdown 12 25 40 54 70 78
You'll need to create separate tables for jobs with special production requirements, such as flash curing or additional handling (heat-application of foil, embroidering, etc.). Note that while these special procedures add to production times, they may not affect setup/breakdown times.


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