Choosing the Right Decorating Method

Stahls' Europe provided me with this photo of a pro beach volleyball team that they sponsor. After evaluating the job, heat printing was used for many of the custom items.

My readers know this blog is primarily about heat printing. That being said, I know many of those same readers probably use screen printing, embroidery, or Direct to Garment printing in addition to heat printing. (by heat printing I mean CAD-CUT, custom transfers, stock transfers, film, flock, CAD-Printz, digital transfers, ink jet, laser transfers, reflective materials, lettering, numbers, sublimation, anything that can be applied to an item with a heat press). The smart garment decorator learns how to evaluate the desired end result of the customer and then choose the appropriate and hopefully, most profitable decorating method. There are many factors to consider.  For example:

  • What is the garment made of and what processes can be used to decorate it?
  • What kind of investment is needed in supplies and equipment? (or should you farm this job out to an expert?)
  • How much labor will you need to produce shirts in your chosen decorating method?
  • How much training will be needed to train workers in your chosen decorating method?

Each specific job also has its own set of questions. For printing team uniforms you want to consider:

  • How many pieces?
  • What type of decorating, names?
  • Numbers? Mascot?
  • How many locations?
  • When do they need them?
  • How will you do fill ins?
  • What size garments will you have to accommodate?
  • How will you accommodate rush orders?
  • How much can your customer afford to spend?

There are pros and cons to each decorating method out there. If you want to get in on some of the latest discussions with your peers, T-ShirtForums.com is a good place to do some research. It’s all about finding the right decorating method for your business and for your particular job. It isn’t always heat printing, but now please allow me to list some of the advantages of heat printing as a garment decorating method. Screen printers, embroiderers, DTG-ers, please feel free to jump in to speak on behalf of other methods. 

Heat printing is used to decorate millions of garments a year. It’s perfect for both short run situations in retail shops, as well as high volume garment manufacturing. The only limitation comes when a customer insists on a particular type of garment decoration, such as direct embroidery.  But if the customer is flexible, there is always a heat printing decoration alternative available that will produce more than satisfactory results. The ability to offer instant, on-demand personalization of a wide variety of items, at a profit, is the single greatest advantage. There are so many situations in which it just doesn’t make sense from a cost standpoint to use screen printing or direct embroidery. And there are many instances where it is also nearly impossible from a technology standpoint, like when it comes to direct screen printing on nylon or odd shaped items.

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