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Equipement Advice

954 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  PatWibble
I am after a bit of varied advice to be honest

I currently make clothing and lanyards and a few gifts using HTV and a press
It was more of a sideline but I am being made redundant and am planning on going full time
I have been accepted for a grant that will allow me to get some new equipment, i can spend up to 15K claiming a 3rd of it back so it seems like a good time to invest

But i am struggling with what to invest in

I have been looking at the following options but have issues or queries regarding them and would welcome some advice on each one if possible

Screen printing: I really like this idea and the results, but space is limited and the starter kits for it do look bulky, I do not know enough about it to buy what i need individually and would welcome advice on this
I would like to do multiple colours so something that is easy to line up would be perfect
I also think i understand that there are different ways of making the screens and wondered the best process for this?

Embroidery machine: A few of my customers want shirts and hats embroidered, will one machine do both or would i have to get different attachments for it? how easy are the softwares that come with these? and what is a reasonable price as they seem to vary greatly - any other advice would be appreciated too

DTG Printers: these look easy and very clean, but I am advised the results fade over time and they are best on light fabrics, would they be suitable for hoodies or just tees? Also the inks look very costly and its hard to judge how long they will last

Sublimation printers: I really like the idea of printing on to other things like cerabics so this was on my list, but again its like a minefield when looking at them and i just feel totally overwhelmed by it all

Is there anything else you would consider if you were in my position with some money to invest?and if you have been there, would you do anything differently and invest in something else?

Thanks in advance :)
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With out knowing what your customerbase is it is hard to be specific.

Screen printing has a massive learning curve, and in the UK there are various legal considerations. You will need a 'trade effluent licence' before you are allowed to put any waste water whatsoever into the sewage system It 'only' costs about £400 per year, but you will probably need some modifications to the sewage system of your premises before you can get one. All of the other wastage is classified as hazardous and you will need to have a hazardous waste contract in place.
Unless you have a lot of ready contacts among small fashion brands or bands then it is a difficult market to break into.

Single head embroidery machines run from about £7k upwards. There is a learning curve, but possibly not as steep as screen printing. designs need to be 'digitised' before they are embroidered, which has another learning curve + cost of the digitising software. Most small shops tend to outsource the digitising, which only costs a few pounds.
Embroidery is most suitable for workwear and clubs/teams, so it's suitability would depend on what your current customer base is.

If you have a base of workwear customers then a Solvent/Eco Solvent printer would be a good alternative to an embroidery machine. You can print full colour onto printable htv vinyl, which has good wash resistance. You will have the added bonus of being able to use the same machine to print posters, signs, banners and stickers. All lucrative add ons to a workwear business. A printer ranges from about £5k upwards. At £8k the 42" (110cm) wide Mimaki cjv150 will be more than big enough for garment use and cover most sign/banner applications.

DTG is the future, they are getting better and cheaper. They need to be used almost daily to stop any head blockages, and would take up most of your budget. It is something to aim for, when business increases but I wouldn't recomend it to a virtual start-up.

A laser printer for transfers would be a reasonable alternative to DTG, but would still cost £6k+.

Sublimation is an obvious choice. The versatility it offers ( in terms of variety of product ) far outways the cost. A good A3+ printer and ink costs from £300. It is cheap enough to buy one and spend a while learning from your mistakes. A mug press costs about £300 and a cap press about £500.

As you already have a press and cutter I would prioritise the various methods as follows
1 Sublimation
2 Solvent
3 Embroidery
5 Screenprinting
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