As the owner of an international business, I keep my eyes and ears open for signs of economic recovery and what I’ve been noticing lately is a shift within the garment decorating industry. Many industry contacts are experiencing all time new lows as large orders of custom garments done with the traditional methods of screen printing or embroidery are consistently being down-sized. While this is putting pressure on businesses who offer only the traditional methods of screenprinting and embroidery, it is opening doors for businesses who are embracing shorter run, instant customization, and specializing in quantities as low as one. Since this has been our business model for many years, I recently communicated to all GroupeSTAHL staff members in a memo that I have never been more optimistic or excited about the opportunities I am seeing for short run specialists. It seems that dealers large and small and garment manufacturers large and small are finding heat printing is rapidly becoming the answer to their garment decorating needs. In fact, there isn’t a large garment manufacturer or online fulfillment company out there today that isn’t using some type of heat printing method to decorate. I know because so many of them are GroupeSTAHL customers. I wish I could show you a picture of a factory that has 100 Hotronix® Air Swinger heat presses lined up applying transfers (we’re working on getting permission from the factory owner). Heat printing truly has been the industry’s best kept secret for many years but now it is on the verge of coming out of the closet in a big way. We have seen this coming for a long time and have been preparing for the upsurge in heat printing in many ways.
We have expanded our production capacity for custom transfers and full color digital CAD-PRINTZ™ at Transfer Express and Stahls’, we have increased our manufacturing capabilities for CAD-CUT® materials with the opening of our new Manufacturing and Engineering Center in Michigan, we have expanded our custom cutting services at our GroupeSTAHL West location near Phoenix, we have practically tripled the number of CAD-CUT® heat transfer films we offer this year, with the introduction of new softer, stretchier, and easier to work with films, reflectives, metallics and more.
What does this mean to you? As we’ve seen our sales increase, you should also be realizing that it’s time to get on the heat printing bandwagon and be open to discovering the benefits of offering short run solutions to your customers. If you haven’t taken a look at it lately, there’s a lot of new technology that you need to know about. The trend towards smaller orders and short run production is here to stay for a while so you need to make sure you can profitably service that type of demand.
Another factor that is contributing to the growth of heat printing is the growth in the demand for performance wear. More and more garments are becoming popular that just don’t lend themselves to traditional decorating methods. This is a whole new category that just didn’t exist until recently and it has created new demand for non-traditional methods, like cad materials, transfers or DTG, that provide stretch, softness and durability on impossible to screenprint fabrics.
I have a lot of new things to share with you, on products, people, services, websites, webinars and more, all related to the latest in heat printing. It’s too much for one blog entry…so look for more news in the days to come. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment. I always appreciate your feedback.