People sometimes refer to me as a heat printing visionary—which I regard as a huge compliment, but many of my “visions” come from just being tuned in to what is going on in the world around me and to listening to the needs of customers. Since the imprinted sportswear industry has been a huge part of my life for many decades, of course I am especially tuned in to what is going on there, as are so many of the brilliant folks that work for GroupeSTAHL around the globe. I am always asking people for their thoughts and ideas, for feedback on what they have seen at tradeshows, for customer feedback and for input from suppliers, vendors and even competitors. Even though 2009 was an unusual year, I don’t want to waste time talking about water under the bridge. From my standpoint we only have time to spend going forward. In that vein, when we look to 2010, I think we can all agree it offers a lot of new opportunities. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see some of the things that are coming, but it does help to have solid input from experts in the field. I’d like to share what I’ve been hearing, and let you make up your own minds as to what 2010 has in store for us.
Here are some thoughts from Brian Baker, who has been involved with research and product development at GroupeSTAHL for many years. He is fluent in several Asian languages and has logged many travel miles on behalf of finding better, faster and easier ways to decorate garments. His thoughts on 2010:
BRIAN BAKER: “This coming new year will offer businesses a better appreciation for improved and lasting refinements, using mixtures of old/new products, surges in imagination young and old, changes in logos with mixtures of the most popular colors from black and white to that millions of full color.
Sizes of images will continue to offer new and challenging methods for output and applications as will the continued increase for garment decoration. Garment construction will continue to advance for sporting goods as well as fashion, light weight and breathability will become for some the norm and others just become harder to decorate until advancements in their overall business schemes grow.
In the league of screen printers and embroiderers, in my opinion, they will once again lead the pack for their own industry but continue to rely on cad and printable medias as direct to t-shirt printers and sublimation companies follow from the rear.
The phrase C.M.Y.K. might just become a personalized licenses plate after all but the challenge in trends that will advance business in 2010 will not be about stocking hundreds of medias rather finding reliable sources that provide service and support with products that work every time in price and performance on one off applications while buying direct and by passing the middle man.
There are many companies that will claim they have high quality films for various heat applications but what makes this possible is not just price it’s about the quality of a PU film and environmental (Green) chemicals used. Sure anything is workable but based on t-shirt mills ever growing concerns about quantity rather than quality of fabrics, application from inks to films are all going to perform differently, thus the challenge.
Digital films will allow the customer to see and utilize the print technology, as long as one logo is good doing an additional thousand will be just like the first image printed. Screen printers and embroiders will tell you they can make anything and for the most part they can but process and quantity rule the work order not the quality of artwork given, besides who wants to pay for something that isn’t seen or checked for flaws only until the machines stop. These processes don’t offer proof capabilities like digital does or the ability to make changes on the fly, basically what you give is what you get…
Oh, and the guys selling you direct t-shirt printers and sublimation printing will still lack the flexibility for soft goods, i.e textiles as technology currently available relies solely on Epson print heads. Sure white is easy for these types of printing methods but the majorities of textiles consist of dark color fabrics and lack of printable dark polyesters, so why spend money where return on investment isn’t guaranteed.
Digital print applications from white to that of colored fabrics doesn’t matter, there is no other process available that can truly guarantee what is provided in a print file given. Besides, when trends and customer demands combine flexibility for both light and dark garments, having the ability to use heat applied graphics in any size and shape, color combined with flexibility in creation of output in customized banners, stickers, etc… it’s like getting the drink and fries for free.”
Thanks Brian. I would like to wish everyone a wonderful New Year’s Eve, hopefully spent with those you love and I will raise a glass at midnight to toast to everyone’s prosperity, health and happiness in 2010. More 2010 predictions, from Josh Ellsworth, Ulrike Andre and more coming soon! See you all in the New Year.