digital2you

Digitally Educated: A Visit to Digital2You

Mike Clark is the associate editor for Printwear and Sign & Digital Graphics magazines. Contact him at mclark@nbm.com

The evolution of technology has a major impact on how businesses offer their products to customers. In the textile and garment world, printing technologies like direct-to-garment and sublimation have prompted some business owners to invest in new equipment to meet the demands of a customer base interested in faster turnaround, and consistent printing methods. While adding new machinery to a shop can improve a business’ chance of standing out and generating more business, the other part of this expansion is equipping staff members with the knowledge on how to run the equipment. For training and education, this is where companies like Colorado-based Digital2You come into place.

Situated just south of the Denver metro area, the Digital2You Learning Center is a multi-purpose business founded by Dennis Halley and his wife Susan. Beginning in 1991, the couple started Digital2You after working in the photo equipment distribution industry. The center is a large, sprawling space boasting wide-format printers, heat transfer, and dye-sublimation equipment. 

Initially, Dennis Halley’s venture into fields like dye sublimation and heat transfers had nothing to do with apparel, he explains.

“We originally started with things like snowboards,” Halley continues, displaying a custom-printed board hanging in the front conference area of the space. As all sports demand specific branded apparel, though, Halley says he saw the natural progression towards adding clothing as a product offering. Providing sublimated sports apparel that coordinated with equipment like skis and snowboards, became a large initial step for the company, Halley notes.

Since then, Digital2You has grown into printing specialists but also a valuable resource hub for others just entering the industry, or companies who might be interested in expanding their lines. What the company primarily does now, Halley clarifies, is help other companies learn different methods of digital and heat printing, and determine what fits their business model best. The front conference area of the building features a projector where Halley holds training seminars, which attendees can opt in through distance learning. This way, he explains, professionals in the industry from places like Los Angeles and Seattle, can attend his sessions without having to arrange time-consuming and expensive travel.

“What we really do is help people incubate ideas,” Halley adds. “With a lot of this machinery, there’s usually a 12–18-week learning curve and that’s where we come in.”

Since many smaller shops have a limited budget, it's important they know what their overhead is going to be like before they start writing checks.

In addition to helping shops decide what kind of equipment will benefit their customers, the Digital2You learning center provides clients with spaces to “field test” designs. The back section of the shop operates almost like a commercial kitchen for printers, with heat presses and direct-to-fabric printers running for designers to experiment with their ideas.

For training modules, the facility provides instructional content in various forms, and multiple skill levels. Halley displays two different computer workstation areas where attendees can take part in seminars. Color management training and monitor calibration are key subjects the modules touch upon, he notes.

A set of workstations upstairs also allows for attendees to take part in training modules in small increments so they realistically learn while balancing a busy outside schedule. 

“Some of these (modules) are 30-minute lessons,” Halley explains. “So if someone has a demanding schedule, they can grab parts of the seminar here and there when they have time.”

YouTube has been a windfall for online and distance training. For future digital content, Halley says he hopes to offer more package-based programs, possibly subscription-based so users can easily opt-in on custom content.

Outside of the education courses, Halley also sees opportunities ahead with non-apparel fabric outlets such as soft signage. On display the day of Printwear’s visit, a set of extruded aluminum frames with LEDs with cloth for a signage display were prominently featured in the education workstation area. The construct, Halley notes, is a versatile fixture for various applications including retail and mobile fixtures.

For more information on Digital2You and to see their class schedule, visit: http://www.digital2you.cc/