Digital Transfers In Production

Digital Transfers In Production

They’re not just for onesie-twosies anymore

Article Author: 
Theresa Brisch
Publication Name: Printwear Magazine
Publication Date: January 2007

Even though many would not consider digital transfers an apt solution for high production volumes in the apparel-decorating business—and would, therefore, advocate subbing such work out to the local screen printer—17 years of experience tells me otherwise. My rule? Keep it in house and keep the profit in your pocket!

Many different formulas have been advanced to determine the volume break-even point when determining whether to screen print or stick with digital transfers. If, for example, the original is multi-color and 500 or more shirts are to be made of the same image, conventional thinking would suggest that cost per piece would most likely be less with screen printing. However, I’ve found that this is not always true, depending on the original artwork/photography to be reproduced, the type of equipment (printer versus heat press), and the transfer-media type one is using. Even though screen-printing technology today is capable of achieving high-quality photographic images better than in the past—given that the printer doing the work is at the top of his or her game—some photography is still best duplicated with laser or inkjet printing systems. This, however, is also affected by the image-reproduction quality of the transfer media being used.

Production time, original art, and per-unit cost are some of the factors to account for in determining when to use digital transfers over screen-printing technologies, according to the following evaluation criteria:

        1. Time:

             a. Set-up time of equipment and screens (for screen printing)
             b. Speed of laser/inkjet printing system
             c. Time needed to transfer onto each garment
             d. Total production time
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