Welcome to Printwear Pauses: Five Minutes with... where one-on-one discussions with industry professionals are featured in a Q&A format. These Q&A's share the practices and insights of some of the industry’s most knowledgeable individuals.
In these conversations, we’ll pause to discuss the industry’s growth, as well as what the future holds, and various ways industry professionals can stay educated. For this installment, we are pleased to interview Taylor Landesman, direct-to-garment expert of Lawson Screen & Digital Products.
Q: How has direct-to-garment changed in the last year? In the last 12 years, since its introduction into the apparel decorating industry?
A: Like any technology, each year brings exciting innovations to the D2 industry. Those of us who have been in the D2 space since the beginning are constantly refining the entire process. The biggest changes are currently happening as businesses scale-up D2 production. The first major change has been a move away from heat presses to conveyor drying. Using a conveyor dryer to dry D2 ink not only provides a softer-hand but exponentially increases production rates. The second change is happening in pre-treat application systems. Integrated pod manufacturing allows for dual-touch garment handling, which greatly reduces the time and labor needed during pretreatment application. D2 printers can now apply pretreat and dry it without having to touch the garment.
Q: What does the future of D2 look like?
A: The future of D2 looks strong. Not only are the ancillary production requirements vastly improving as briefly discussed above, but developments are constantly occurring with the D2 print heads and white ink, which, until a few years ago was one of the main causes of problems for printers. More screen printers and embroiderers are realizing that it makes financial sense to add D2 printing to their services.
Q: What aspects of D2 have seen growth in 2017?
A: Two major aspects of D2 growth in 2017 have been in conveyor dryers and pretreat sprayers. Electric and gas conveyor dryers specifically designed for curing pretreatment solution and D2 ink differs from traditional screen printing dryers that were designed for plastisol ink. D2 ink is water-based and cures as moisture is removed. This is unlike plastisol ink which cures when reaching a certain temperature point. Therefore, a great amount of airflow and moment, a minimum amount of 1,500 CFM, is required for anyone looking to use a conveyor dryer in their D2 production. Secondly, pretreat sprayers are more popular with first-time D2 buyers. The majority of “print quality” issues are actually just inconsistent pretreat application. With commercial grade sprayers, lower entry cost sprayers are an investment that all serious D2 printers are making.
Q: Should continuing education be offered for a D2 shop’s employees? If so, why?
A: Employees must continuously learn and grow. As more businesses enter the D2 space, printers must distinguish themselves. Classes focusing on artwork improvement, improving shop conditions, and proper maintenance would be a benefit.
Q: What are some shop tools and add-ons D2 practitioners should think about purchasing? Why?
A: Along with a pre-treat sprayer, D2 printers need to have a gram scale to measure the amount of pretreat applied to each garment. The proper amount of pretreat makes a world of difference in the quality and wash-fastness of the final print. A good starting point is 1.5–1.7 grams per linear inch (based on a width of 16" X 20" area, the amount of applied pretreat will be 30–34 grams for an average weight garment.