This article demonstrates the importance of broadening your skill sets and experimenting with new materials and techniques.
By Ryan Moor
I wasn’t able to find out who digitally printed the stadium banner, but I did track down the company that screen-printed the T-shirts. I bumped into Kelly Simmons, the ink tech for Latitudes in Portland, OR, at a recent tradeshow in Long Beach, CA. Knowing that Latitudes is one of the printing companies Nike uses regularly, I asked him if the shop had printed any BOOM shirts last year. Kelly confirmed that Nike had done several short/medium runs through Latitudes around the BOOM campaign. As you can see, what was an elaborate and creative process turned out to be a fairly simple screen print on a T-shirt.
Sure, this is a larger-than-life example of how an ad campaign can combine multiple methods of printing in our industry, but the point I want to emphasize is that if you are able to become versatile in your company, you can take advantage of many markets. Screen and digital printing for non-apparels is many times larger than the T-shirt market. In addition to T-shirts you could screen print on glass, metal, wood, plastic, and much more.
Though it’s a small percentage, some of our overall customer base steps outside of T-shirts. As a result, they have been able to print distortion pedals and gear racks for rock stars and specialty P-O-P displays for companies such as Nike and Adidas (Figure 5) and even digitally print on banners for professional sports organizations (Figure 6).
The beauty of what waits outside the world of T-shirts is the fact that these jobs can potentially be the most fun, creative, and profitable for your business. Be ready and willing to learn, experiment, and invest and you, too, can open the door to new markets while increasing print-piece margins by more than 10 fold and maybe even print for companies like Nike.
Ryan Moor is the president and CEO of Ryonet Corporation of Vancouver, WA. The company’s main website is www.silkscreeningsupplies.com, which offers online supplies, support, and education. Ryan loves training and helping screen printers become successful.
Heather Ashlock is the editorial manager at Ryonet. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Océ North America
The ability to mix traditional and digital printing technologies enables some unique benefits that would not exist if jobs were printed using just one technology. For instance, with variable data being printed on-demand, a screen printer can quickly and cost-effectively print the base graphics traditionally and then add whatever personalization as needed using a digital process. This keeps the cost per piece to a minimum yet opens up new opportunities in selling customized items. Another benefit is the full-color, photographic-like quality that can now be achieved through UV inkjet printing.
To get into this two-step workflow, screen printers will need to acquire a flatbed inkjet printer. For greatest versatility—and reduced labor and waste—they should select an inkjet architecture that uses a stationary vacuum table rather than a belt-driven hybrid design. This is similar to how many screen printers print conventionally: laying the substrate down on a vacuum table and positioning it with a three-point registration system. If they were to use a belt-driven transport there might be greater risk of mis-registration of the piece, and printing of non-square or rectangular items can be difficult—if not impossible. Another consideration is size in area and height. The more clearance a printer can offer between the print bed and printhead array, the more types of applications
it can handle.
Randy Paar has worked in the graphics industry for more than 30 years in a variety of capacities and technologies. He is currently based in Chicago and is Océ North America’s marketing manager for display graphics. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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