Category Archives: General interest

Save money on film

Now THAT is a good idea!

This could be a good tip, especially if you’re relatively new to the industry . . . Don’t throw away your films once the screens have been burned. Save them because if you’re running your business well and have return customers they may want the same designs re-printed. If you’ve saved and indexed them, you’ll be able to retrieve them quickly and not have to produce new films.

Fearing for the future of textile screen printing?

Been here a long time, not changing, not going away . . .

As technologies such as direct-to-garment slowly improve and expand, you hear people predicting, at worst, the demise of textile screen printing or, at best, drastic changes in the technique. Printsome in the U.K. has an interesting perspective on this: “Like crocodiles or sharks that have barely evolved over millions of years, textile screen printing hasn’t changed very much throughout its long history because it doesn’t have to—it already works.”

T-shirt care — do as I say, not as I do.

How we really treat T-shirts
Young man ironing tshirt on board against windows at home

So you tell your customers (maybe you even attach tags to their printed tees) to care for their T-shirts by: turning them inside out before putting them in the washing machine; washing in cold water; not putting them in the tumble dryer; drying them in the shade; and not ironing them.

Come on, let’s not kid ourselves and everyone else. Tees are not delicate high fashion. We throw them in the regular warm water wash, dry them in the dryer, and some of us (much to the amusement of others) even iron them (but not on the plastisol print of course).

It might be refreshing to see a printer actually attach an honest tag to their t-shirts. It could be a great marketing ploy.

Toxicity and Polyester

How toxic is this thing?

In January we posted an item about toxicity in cotton garments. That same report has some serious information on Polyester garments . . . “found that Polyester harboured the highest concentrations of quinolines, a potential human carcinogen that has been linked to liver damage and aromatic amines, which are found in tobacco smoke and diesel exhaust.” What can you do about it as a screen printer handling these garments if you want to stay in business? Realistically, probably not much, but at the same time we should know as much as we can about our industry.

Specialty pallets

How am I going to print this garment? I need a special pallet. I know, I’ll call Stanley’s.

Stop battling and trying to innovate . . . You can get pallets to accommodate special needs such as hoodie zippers and small sleeves. The Stanley’s staff at all four branches can help you. And if they don’t know the answer to your precise challenge, they’ll find the answer and get back to you. Just give them a call with your specialty pallet challenge.

Webinar! Roland’s D2G printer tomorrow (30th January 2019).

As posted earlier, Roland (of graphics and digital printer fame) has entered your textile world with a new “desktop” D2G printer. You should check it out by logging on to their webinar tomorrow (Wednesday, 30th January). The times are: 10.00 am to 10.30 am Pacific; 11.00 am to 11.30 am Mountain; 1.00 pm to 1.30 pm Eastern; and 2.00 pm to 2.30 pm Atlantic. Check on Roland’s website for the logon details.

Garment manufacturers taking action

It seems that some garment manufacturers and investors are actually taking action in light of the reports of worker abuse in garment factories around the world, particularly in low-cost off-shore jurisdictions. Recent examples are North Carolina-based, Badger Sportswear, who have reportedly severed ties with Hetian Taida Apparel Co. of China due to alleged forced labour. The Norwegian investor, Norway Pension Fund Global, stopped investing in Texwinca Holdings of Hong Kong because of alleged human rights abuses at Vietnamese apparel factories. Who’s next?

Were you at Long Beach?

See . . . no snow. (Picture credit ISS website)

No? Well some of your Canadian competitors were! They saw a new water based ink at the Wilflex booth and Roland’s new digital-to-garment “desk top” machine. But that was just scratching the surface. They also picked up tips and ideas from the hundreds of displays. And, the break from the Canadian winter didn’t hurt either. Make a note now to attend next year from the 17th to the 19th of January.

Sad irony . . .

Source smartly. Fight worker abuse.

The Guardian recently revealed that the Spice Girls pop group had shirts made to support a female empowerment-focused charity initiative. Here’s where the sad irony comes in . . . The garments were produced by women factory workers in Bangladesh labouring in abusive conditions for an unlivable wage. Another black eye for our industry. The take away lesson? Source smartly!

Added security for your Shopify store.

Keep hackers out of your Shopify store.

Sometimes it takes an incident like a hacker trying to get into the admin section of your online store to make you revisit your online security. If, like many screen printers, you have your online store hosted by Shopify, not only will they let you know that an unusual source has tried to get into your site, but they can offer you a two-step authentication process to vastly increase your security. If you’re not using the free two-step authentication on your Shopify store, you should be!

Sam Walton on the customer . . .

Take your business to my competitor!

Big business Chairmen and CEOs say things that appear to make sense and are taken to be great business wisdom. But “wisdom” doled out by big business doesn’t necessarily always apply to small business. For instance, take this attributed to Sam Walton: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” For a small business owner on the front lines, like many Canadian screen printers, encouraging a difficult customer to go spend their money at a competitor, can be a great idea. You don’t have to allow a customer to make your life miserable just because some big business guy has forgotten what it’s like on the front line with some customers.

Toxic chemicals in garments.

And I thought “organic” Tees were completely safe!

Do you know that a few years ago already in 2015, Jasmin Malik Chua wrote an article about the levels of toxicity found in garments textile screen printers handle every day? Even organic cotton garments tested positive for benzothiazoles—substances that can cause respiratory and skin issues. Some “eco-label”-branded organic garments contained 7 to 30 times more benzothiazoles than so-called “conventional” cotton garments.

White ink simplified

Hi, Stanley’s? I’ve been waiting for this white for years!

In June Stanley’s announced Wilflex’s Epic Single LC White. Have you tried it yet? It’s a non-phthalate white good for multiple fabrics from polyester to cotton. It’s low-cure, non-ghosting, soft-hand, fast-flashing, and has great stretch. And obviously with one white for almost all applications, your inventory carrying costs are reduced and your ink management simplified. Call Stanley’s and ask to try this white.  

Slower period good for shop spruce-up

Have you considered that if yours is one of those screen shops that slow down in January it’s an ideal time to spruce things up? Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, roller some concrete floor paint on the shop floor, replace the cracked sink in the washroom, tidy the ink room, clean up the equipment, clean the carpet in the reception area, and so on and so on. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to make good use of downtime and it will boost staff morale and impress customers.

Working safely, not explosively.

Work safely or you might be seeing me!

Have you ever had a serious accident in your shop? Here’s one that happened in a Calgary shop a number of years ago but it can so easily happen in any shop. All it needs is for a printer to use the arm of the dryer to rest an aerosol can of spray adhesive between applications and then accidentally knock it onto the belt without realizing it. The predictable explosion occurred in the dryer and an exhaust duct fire followed. Firefighters turned up to put out it out. The shop was closed for quite a while. Production and revenue was lost. Can this happen in your shop?   

First aid in your shop

First aid training.

What have you done to ensure that your shop can provide basic first aid until first responders arrive? Accidents happen and people get sick and as the shop owner it’s your job to make sure that you’ve done what is reasonably possible to make first aid available. It could be a matter of life and death. Why not provide basic first aid training for every staff member?    

Customer referrals

I’m so happy about my order, I’m gonna tell everyone I meet!

If you have a customer referral program (and you should) are you promoting it through your marketing emails and other marketing materials? Furthermore, referrals are proof that your customers love your products and which shop among us doesn’t need affirmation that what we’re producing is highly regarded?  

Sustainability, ethics and the environment

How seriously should we take trends developing in the U.K.? Images Magazine’s November issue reports on the Schoolwear Show, October 2018: “The topic that dominated this year’s event was sustainability and its close siblings, ethics and the environment. It seemed as though every conversation touched, if not centred on the growing customer demand for products that can be shown to have been produced in an ethical and sustainable manner—one that respects both people and the planet.”

Buying a dryer

Pick the right-sized dryer but make sure you have trade-in or trade-up options later.

What is one of your challenges in buying a new dryer? Outgrowing it. This is why you need to make sure that the manufacturer has a trade-in or trade-up program. With this assurance you’ll be relieved of the up-front challenge of guessing at future production demands and either over- or under-buying with no recourse.

Meeting face to face

Best to meet face to face.

Do you know that according to Nicole Soames in The Influence Book, it’s unfortunate that technology has made it increasingly tempting to avoid face-to-face interactions? As she writes, “The fact remains that when it comes to influencing (selling etc.), meeting in person really makes a difference.” She mentions Skype and Face Time and even telephoning as preferred options if face-to-face isn’t possible.

The price of warring with competitors

Avoid fighting with competitors!

Do you know that regardless of how annoying one or more competitors may be, there’s a very important reason for not warring with them? It’s in Characters Who Can Make Or Break Your Small Business: “When the day comes that you need an exit strategy, you don’t want to find that the obvious candidate to acquire your small business (screen shop) is the competitor with whom you waged bitter war. Now instead of a potential acquirer, you have an enemy who’d rather gouge out your eyes than negotiate with you.”

Motivating staff

Yes!

Do you know that motivating staff is a challenge in almost all small businesses in all industries? Here is a tip from Bob Nelson’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees – “When basic compensation is adequate, it takes something extra and something tangible to motivate people to greater performance.” What would it take in your shop to keep employees motivated?

Direct to garment

Is it time to do something to cope with small-run, impatient customers?

 

Do you know that a few months ago Impressions Magazine published an article in which it was claimed that: “In the online, instant -gratification society in which we live, customers are demanding increasingly shorter runs and customization—and they want it today.” They argued that this means that DTG is the answer and that therefore the industry is irreversibly headed in a digital direction. Is this your experience in your particular market? Have you paused to give it some thought?

Soft hand

Do you know that some of the newer fabrics with a knit construction that gives a smooth finish to print on allows you to minimize the ink film thickness? The benefits are not only a softer hand, but also a saving in ink and faster flash times. Next time you’re presented with a smooth fabric some experimenting might be in order.

Battling for the same customers

A must-read!

 

Do you sometimes wonder what you can do about the fact that your shop is engaged in an energy-sapping battle for the same customers with every other print shop? In other words, how do you get out of the red ocean of cutthroat competition into a less crowded blue ocean? Do yourself a favour and read Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne. It will get explain your predicament and get you thinking about solutions.

The maintenance behind the great print

How’s your maintenance schedule?

 

Do you know that when you see a great prize-winning print, it’s just the tip of the iceberg? Below it and out of sight lies a secret—proper maintenance of: the press; the exposure unit; the ink mixer; the squeegees; the screen; the coating trough; and a dozen other items of tools and equipment. How good is the maintenance program in your shop?