Category Archives: Contagious creativity

Have ink mixing systems evolved without you noticing? Part 1.

Money belongs in the bank, not on a shelf gathering dust.

Money belongs in the bank, not on a shelf gathering dust.

I once took a partial bucket of plastisol off a shelf— it had been sitting gathering dust for two years—and placed it on a meeting room table.  I asked everyone around the table what they saw. They all saw a partial bucket of red ink. That was of course what I expected them to say until I said I saw about $30.00.

My question was if it didn’t make sense to put $30.00 in coins on the shelf and let them gather dust for two years, why would it make sense to do it with a partial bucket of ink?

My next question, this time for you, is why would you buy ink in greater quantities than you need and accumulate the excess, sometimes for a lot longer than two years? It’s money. Shouldn’t it be in the bank?

The solution of course is a software-backed, in-house mixing system. Aside from the convenience of being able to make colours accurately and instantly without ordering and shipping delays, you can make them in the exact quantities required. No excess. No money gathering dust in a forgotten corner of the shop. No money to be paid for eventually dumping it. And the per-gallon cost is considerably less than ordering the ink already mixed—I once calculated to difference and it was considerable, somewhere around 20 percent, though I don’t recall the exact number.

And let’s not kid ourselves that the solution is an instruction to print shop employees to use up the old ink whenever possible. That’s because ‘whenever possible’ hardly ever happens—it’s a lot easier to phone for a gallon of a particular colour rather than search through old, dirty, partially-full buckets. And then after the job is printed, the left-over ink from the new gallon is added to the other partial buckets to gather dust. And so the expensive mountain of redundant ink grows.

If you’re not mixing your textile screen printing plastisol ink in-house, you should take a serious look at it. There’s the convenience of being able to make an exact custom or PANTONE match in the exact quantity you need in minutes, but then there’s my favourite reason for having an in-house mixing system—economics.

The next post will deal with ink mixing system options.



Labels that lie.

As life becomes more complicated and the choice of products we are presented with keeps growing, labels are becoming increasingly important. In our private lives and in our textile screen shops we need labels to tell us about the content of the product we’re buying, where it was made, whether there are hazardous elements, whether it needs to be handled in a special way, et cetera.

We assume for the most part that we can trust the labels to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And, thanks to a somewhat blind faith in monitoring systems that we assume to be in place, we tend to pretty much believe the many labels we read every day.

But what if some of these labels we trust are lying to us? What if they can get away with it because of inadequate monitoring? And I don’t mean little white lies like saying an ink is Phthalate free when in fact it has minute traces of Phthalates. I mean whoppers like saying a garment is made of sustainable materials, when it is not.

A lying label is something we have to guard against in our industry because not only can it cause embarrassment, but it can cause losses. If a screen shop put out a product in good faith with a label saying that it is a “sustainable” garment, and the garment turned out to not be “sustainable”, that could be very damaging. Labels have also been known to misrepresent the fabric. I know of a printer that trusted the sewn-in label in a consignment jackets and went ahead with a print in nylon ink. Only when the logo changed colour did they discover that the jackets were in fact made of Polyester.

Harvest the wool by all means, but cruelty has no place in a civilized society.

Harvest the wool by all means, but cruelty has no place in a civilized society.

With the increasing focus on “organic” and “sustainability” in our industry it is worth noting that even the big players can be caught out by miss-labelling of these qualities. Patagonia recently severed its relationship with an Argentinian supplier of wool because of a PETA film showing gross miss-treatment of the sheep from which the wool came. The label’s claim that the harvesting of wool was done in a manner that ensured the humane treatment of the animals, was untrue. The well-known fashion designer, Stella McCartney sourced her wool from the same supplier and has indicated that she is considering switching to animal-free wool.

It’s troubling of course that even a big outfit like Patagonia could be caught out not monitoring their sources and have to endure the embarrassment of a third party like PETA doing their monitoring for them.

As a textile screen printer reliant on the accuracy of labels, you might want to exercise added caution to ensure that lying labels don’t cause you losses.