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Separations in Screen Printing for Variable Data

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 21, 2011

Trimingham explores techniques that allow printers to satisfy different clients with the same designs.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Sales and marketing of variable-data screen prints
The proper marketing and education of clients during this process will save countless headaches during the printing of the final garments. There are certainly limits to these types of prints, so it is crucial that the customer’s expectations are addressed and managed during the sales process. The last thing a printer wants is to have the print run’s due date approaching and then find out that three of the clients want their full-color logos somehow embedded into the design.

The easiest way to market is to focus on the benefits to the client, which include the savings of art, design, screens, and shared cost of setup. Depending on the ease of printing and the overall scope of the order, some printers will also offer a portion of the volume print savings to their clients to really motivate the initial buy in. The limitations of the process must be explained carefully because multiple clients will attempt to push the boundaries of the name drop or stencil process to include all manner of things. As long as it is discussed up front during the sales and marketing of the variable-data process, it can be dealt with by either steering a demanding client into a separate, custom order or letting the additional cost speak for itself and allowing the client to make the decision based on their needs. Typically, this process works best if there is only one color and one screen to change out per client. Any time this limitation is not adhered to, the savings on the production end go up in smoke because registering the additional screens almost equals a whole new setup. Of course, there are always exceptions and clients that are simply worth the extra hassle, but a little education and prevention can really ease the burden on most orders.

A simple sales piece that shows some of the possible variations for the artwork when it is personalized can make a big difference in properly educating the client and addressing many of the potential issues (Figure 1). There will still be impossible requests, but having a visual reference makes for an easy discussion about the limitations while still giving some options for compromise.


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