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How to buy t-shirts with prints on the Internet to be satisfied and not to be deceived (part 2)

In the first part of the article “How to buy T-shirts on the Internet in order to be satisfied and not to be deceived,” I tried to expand the process of football shopping to “bricks”. We also examined the first “brick” - the base products, what the print is applied to, what you will wear, wash, etc.

Well, let's continue. After we have dealt with the basics, it's time to talk about printing technology: after all, no matter how good the T-shirt itself is, without a quality - and therefore clear, saturated, resistant to washing and fading - application, get the finished product that the customer likes. will not succeed.

Online stores and services Runet work with products, prints are printed as follows:
- shelkotrafaret;
- film thermal transfer (it is also called thermoapplication);
- digital thermal transfer (sometimes mistakenly referred to as thermal transfer);
- direct printing on textiles (often used abbreviation DoG - direct-on-garment);
- thermosublimation;
- embroidery (rarely);
- thermal application of ready transfers (exotic for our edges).

The choice of “one's own” technology by one or another store or service is primarily related to the type of T-shirt business of this resource. There are three main types:

A. Printing on demand.
B. Design Competition.
B. Sale of stock.

A. Printing on demand.

The main feature of print-on-demand services is the absence of a physical product in nature until the placement (and, as a rule, payment) of an order. That is, the user first creates the product (or acquires a T-shirt, previously drawn by other users or the site administration), orders it, and then this same T-shirt is the world as a physical entity.

By the way, for this reason, such online stores, as a rule, do not deliver goods by cash on delivery - most unclaimed orders are not re-sale, their cost is written off at a loss, which kills the business model of production of goods on demand.

Examples of such services abroad are Zazzle , Cafepress , Spreadshirt , in RuNet - ProstoPrint.com , Tees.ru , etc.

All technologies are suitable for printing on demand on T-shirts, which allow performing decoration in a single copy with a high degree of personalization with reasonable costs of labor and materials:

- film thermal transfer (thermoapplication);
- digital thermal transfer;
- direct printing on textiles (DoG, DTG);
- thermosublimation;
- personalized embroidery.

Film thermal transfer (thermoapplication) is perhaps the most popular technology of personalized printing. The essence of thermoapplication lies in the fact that the vector print layout is decomposed by color, each color is cut out of a special textile film on an automatic cutting device (cutter) and transferred to textiles under the influence of high temperature and pressure.

The advantages of film thermal transfer are high washing resistance (up to 400 washes in the usual, non-delicate mode), the image does not fade, does not lose the brightness of the color, does not crack for a very long time. In addition, there are textile films with special effects that allow to achieve visually unusual results: from flock (velvet) familiar to many, to neon films, glitters, imitation jeans, velveteen, etc.

The main disadvantages of thermoapplication are two. I already marked the first two paragraphs above: it is impossible to print raster images, for example, photos. The second is that prints applied by thermo-application cannot be ironed on the face, since this leads to the destruction of the adhesive (adhesive) layer, and the print will very soon lag behind the base. It is possible to iron products with thermoapplication from the seamy side or through the fabric.

Sometimes the weight of films is said to be a disadvantage of thermoapplication - they say, “put a pancake on the chest, pancake”. However, this is only partly true, and concerns not technology as a whole, but its interpretation by individual enterprising individuals. Firstly, as elsewhere, there are good textile films (Italian, German) and not very good (Korean and Chinese). Secondly, even in the assortment of "good" manufacturers, there are films for working clothes that are thicker ... and cheaper, and the materials for decorating T-shirts, shirts and other fine textiles are very thin, elastic and more expensive. "Correct" film, laid in 1-2 layers, will practically not be felt in the sock.
Digital thermal transfer is a simple technology, precisely because of its simplicity, which is the most “deceptive”. The principle of operation of digital thermal transfer is widely known: the image is displayed on a special paper by means of a jet or laser printer, after which it is cut along the contour and transferred to a fabric with a heat press (in artisanal conditions — a household iron). As a result, we get a full-color image on the fabric. On light products, this image is covered with a layer of protective film.

Digital thermal transfer allows you to print anything you can send to the printer - AS IS. Though a document from Wordʻa. The trouble is that the resulting print will be relatively short-lived: even when using a laser printer and the best transfer paper, the print will live without loss of quality, a maximum of 30-40 washes - in cold water, in delicate mode, without drum drying. If you use an inkjet printer, transfer paper from a supermarket and a cheap Chinese press to transfer the image, you will get a product for 5-10 washes.

In addition, the digital print will not fall normally on structural fabrics - say, on the canvas peak, from which t-shirts are sewn, or the eraser, which is used for sewing stretching T-shirts. In other words, to apply a normal result, you need a uniform, smooth and non-stretchable canvas.

Well, and finally: digital thermal transfer can not be printed on dark fabrics. More precisely, it is possible, and for this purpose, special materials are even produced, but such a print will certainly be “disposable”, its maximum lifespan is 8-10 washings. There is a technological explanation, which I will omit to save space and time. The important thing is that a serious service is unlikely to offer digital printing in full color in the dark to its customers - with the exception of some special needs, such as clothing design for photo shoots, shooting clips, etc.

Many of the problems inherent in digital thermal transfer are solved by thermal sublimation , while preserving the printing capabilities of full color. During thermal sublimation, the image is applied to an inkjet printer with special ink, after which it is transferred to the fabric with the help of a thermal press. At the same time, unlike digital thermal transfer, the toner does not fall on top of the fabric, but penetrates into the structure of the thread, which results in very high resistance to washing, fading and wear. And everything is good, but there is one “but”: only synthetic and semi-synthetic fabrics can be decorated in this way (and even that is not all). Therefore, the range of application of sublimation is narrow - often with its help they print on flags, mouse pads, etc.

Direct printing on textiles, DoG or DTG - is gaining rapid popularity in the world. This is how Zazzle and Cafepress work, in RuNet direct printing service is offered by a print shop on maryjane.ru (not to be confused with designer T-shirts from MJ, which are printed with screen printing) and some other services. Here’s how meridijane people themselves write about it: “ We use digital printing on T-shirts. No thermal transfer, applications or other stuff. Only the latest printing technologies ... ” From the point of view of production organization, everything seems to be also honey-chocolate: DoG-printer is in fact, a USB device, stuck it in a port, put a T-shirt on the holder and print what you want, even from Illustrator, even from Photoshop.

What then is the catch? Why still T-shirt printers of all cities and weights have not switched to direct printing on textiles, but continue to suffer with films and cutting plotters?

The reason is the new technology. Here, as in most new consumer technologies, good innovative devices are very expensive at first, and only with the passage of time does good cheap equipment appear - and until that time, its place is poor.

Today, machines that allow you to print a really high-quality and wear-resistant t-shirt by direct printing on textiles cost hundreds of thousands of euros from a manufacturing plant, without customs clearance or installation. For example, the Israeli firm Kornit produces them - it is on such machines that CafePress works. In order for this equipment to be cost-effective, a market of a certain size and penetration of the Internet is needed - for example, the American one.

The spaces of the former USSR are flooded with equipment of several other types. These are devices costing from 5 to 20 thousand dollars, collected on the basis of Epson-ovsky chassis in unnamed Chinese (sometimes - Eastern European) workshops. There are exceptions like T-Jet printers of the American assembly, which are installed in maryjane.ru, however, their fate is sad (I will tell you in the paragraph below). So, the brand name of such printers are now dull matte images, fuzzy lines and fast washability (after about 10 washings).

What did I forget? Oh yeah, about the T-Jet. On the website mentioned by me in the previous paragraph, you can read: " Our production uses three digital machines T-jet Blazer Pro, for professional application of images using DTG technology ." The piquancy of the situation lies in the fact that the manufacturer of T-jet machines ... came to light and closed, because the project of creating inexpensive DoG-printers was a failure - the Americans complained about the quality and refused to buy new cars and consumables.

Well, and for the completeness of sensations - “control to the head” of the current state of affairs in direct printing: for applying stable images to textiles by this method, a chemical pre-processor (primer) is necessary. It would be naive to believe that the owner of a cheap printing device will use an expensive certified primer, right? Moreover, the result of the print is still almost no effect. The difference in this case is that 9 out of 10 cheap primers are toxic, so this T-shirt can be literally harmful to health .

The summary will be somewhat paradoxical: I personally MUCH believe in direct printing technology and will definitely implement it in my company - but not today and not tomorrow, but in 3-5 years, when good equipment will drop in price, and consumables will "turn green" sufficiently so that the result of the work should not be ashamed in front of oneself and others.

Well, and personalized embroidery , which we all know and love since time immemorial. For some reason, it is considered that embroidery is great and cool regardless of what we will decorate - but this is not at all the case. Embroidery has several significant flaws that limit its scope:

- the thread has a weight , so trying to embroider a large image on a light product (T-shirt, pants, etc.) can lead to disastrous results - embroidery pulls and deforms the surface of the base;

- with the help of embroidery it is difficult to convey fine details of the image , other technologies cope with this task better;

- embroidery is a separate technological process, its own field of knowledge , for the preparation of embroidery programs there is no longer enough a wide-profile designer who owns Korel, Illustrator and Photoshop. To achieve a normal result, the original design must be taken in some familiar graphic format and “handles-pens,” stitch by stitch translated into a specific look required by the embroidery machine.

In general, embroidery is still good, but not for all items. Plus - it is the most expensive technology mentioned in this part of the article. I think this technology is most suitable for decorating caps, thick raglans, fleece jackets, towels, rugs - but not T-shirts.

Fuf, enough for today, perhaps. Ask questions. In the next publication I will try to talk about design competitions as a type of business, their pros and cons, and the technologies used.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/102562/

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