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T.S. Designs Focusing on People, Planet, and Profitability

(May 2006) posted on Tue May 02, 2006

Discover why the company decided to go green and what actions it's taken to make eco-friendly screen pritning sustainable.

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By Lori Leaman

"We could make organic T-shirts in China and put an extra $2 in our pocket, but if I'm going to sell those organic T-shirts in North Carolina—a state that has lost more than 250,000 apparel jobs due to globalization—that is not sustainable. I'm cheating the market," Henry says.

Next, T.S. Designs, along with Moore, developed and patented a water-based printing and fabric-dyeing process called REHANCE. They designed the system as an environmentally friendly alternative to printing with plastisol inks and to give the company a unique competitive edge.

Alternative ink technology

The REHANCE process consists of two base components, RESIST and ENHANCE, that are formulated to tell cotton fibers how to react when coming in contact with dye. The REHANCE workflow involves printing and garment dyeing. RESIST causes cotton to repel the dye, and ENHANCE forces cotton to absorb the dye.

"The interesting thing we found with REHANCE technology is that it has required us to pay a lot more attention to detail in controlling our production process," Henry says. "With REHANCE, once the dye is on the garment, and once it is cured and run through the dryer, it is bonded to the fabric, and it's not going anywhere. It's in the fabric, not on the fabric."

The REHANCE technology required the folks at T.S. Designs to learn a lot about fabric dyeing, including which dyes and procedures to use. Initially, T.S. Designs sent its jobs to an outside garment-dyeing facility. But in order to have more control of the process, the company decided to sublease equipment at a few nearby garment-dyeing plants and send its own employees to dye the products. One employee was designated to order chemicals, set up the procedure, and supervise the process.

A matter of sustainability

For T.S. Designs, achieving sustainability doesn't stop with the textiles and inks it uses and from whom the company purchases its products. T.S. Designs carefully considers every aspect of its business and what changes can be made to uphold its Three Ps approach.


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