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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm from the UK and I am looking to start getting my own T-shirts printed for my brand Northport International.
I have spent hours and hours on the web trying to find manufacturers to print for me, to no avail. I simply cannot find anyone who fits what I need.
Ideally, I wanted a company to build a relationship with that would work with me with my designs, and to incorporate tagging and bagging. But this seemingly is impossible, so I have decided today that I am going to get myself a heat press and I'll do it myself.

So this is where I need some help, if you would :)
Ive seen a 15" x 15" press that I am looking at getting. Ive noted that the preferred printer on here is an Epson 1400 or 1800. But I dont understand the whole debate regarding inks. I understand that I would need pigment ink. Again, looking on the internet, Ive found this hard to find.
As regards to tagging, I have decided that I will just print the info on the inside, as this seems quite fashionable anyway now.
Allowing me to produce myself will enable me to work on demand, which working with a limited budget, will help massively.
So this also means that I will need to find good quality tagless tee's. Again, I found one company, but Im suspecting the quality will be terrible. So if anyone could point me in the direction of a good supplier for this, I would appreciate it.

Ive managed to source pretty much everything else. I have a budget ultimately of around £1500. But I would like a decent chunk of this to go on advertising/marketing.

If you need anymore info, ill reply as quick as I can :)

Thank you in advance
Paul
 

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you can remove any tag you want as long as you replace it with the proper legal information. 'tagless' may only mean what you're buying has the company's information printed. i would look into that, because i think what you really want are tear away tags. but, you can buy any shirt, remove the tag, and print your own information in its place (or sew in your own tag).

not sure why you have a problem finding pigment inks. search for 'pigment ink supplies.' i'm not sure which printer is preferred for this, but typically suppliers sell the printers best suited for the process. i would shop around, though, because suppliers often aren't the cheapest venues for equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your reply,

The only problem with relabelling is I really don't want to be using brands such as Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. I know they are ideal in a lot of circumstances, but I feel that they just aren't up to the quality that I need. Plus, it would be adding further expense by having someone remove the tags.

Ive searched for pigment inks, but I cant seem to find anything that would be suitable or compatible with any of the before mentioned machines. Also, I have read a lot about this clogging printers.

What also concerns me is that I dont want a rubbery feel to my T-shirts. I dont want that feel like the numbers on the back of a football shirt. Is this pretty much what I will get from a heat press?

I found some tagless T-shirts on Qtag. But as I say, I am not sure that they would be of good quality. I am also concerned whether they would be able to supply me consistently into the future, because if they couldnt, then this would present obvious continuity issues.

Am I looking for too much? Is it fair to say that normally, someone looking to achieve what I am looking to do (i.e, starting my own actual brand) would normally open their own factory? Obviously, I dont have the capital for this.
Another problem has arose. In the future, I would be looking to open an actual shop. I would then have to look at incorporating swingtags with barcodes. But as I say, I literally cannot source a factory that matches what I need.
 

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most of us here own our own factories, mostly in china, so that's really something we don't think too much about.

just kidding. :) not sure what kind of shirt you're looking for, but i'm guessing that if you're really, really picky then you're going to wind up tearing tags out and replacing them with your own and that's just going to be the way of it. you can have someone do this for you, but unless you start selling tons of them, i would just start off doing it myself to save money. or you can work the cost of the tags into the price of the shirt seeing as how it seems as if you're going for some high-end merchandise.

you just have to get a printer that best suits your process. these printers won't break the bank, they tend to be pretty affordable. i don't use pigment inks, but we do have a sublimation printer (it's just a lil ole epson workforce 30) that jams up. in fact, it's jammed up right now, which is common for sub ink. to help alleviate this maintenance issue, you run a maintenance routine at night which theoretically *helps* keep the heads from clogging. basically, it runs a daily test page that keeps the ink flowing. if pigment ink does this, too, well, that's life, sad to say, lol. with these printers, all you're doing is replacing the ink cartridges. often people get a CIS (continuous ink system, as i recall) that basically is a box that holds much more ink to supply to the printer. you can then buy in larger bulk. anyone that does sublimation in earnest should have this ~ it's a big upfront cost, but it would pay for itself in short order. (i assume pigment ink has the same kind of system. we got ours from sawgrass technologies.)

it sounds to me as if something more along the lines of shirt quality that you're looking for would be ring-spun 100% cotton? if you're looking for something like that in odd colours and different styles, then be prepared to remove some tags. :) the best way to know for sure if qtag meets your standards is get some samples. and if it happens that someday they go out of business, you can still get a comparable shirt with a tag and tear them out until you find a new supplier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for your reply again, really appreciated.

I have found some 100% cotton ringspun tee's that I think would be perfect. Is it hard to take the labels out? Or could I do this myself? Im considering finding on of my old t-shirts now and having a go at taking the label out. If I can do this, then that would be brilliant.

Its just the printing that I have confusion with. I dont know the difference between sublimation and other methods. I dont understand the vinyl cutting parts or anything. My way of looking at it was, print of the designs onto transfer paper and press it on. I know now obviously it isn't that simple. Ive had a look on ebay and found an epson 1400 for a few hundred pound and a CIS system for around 20 pound that would fit that printer. I just need to be able to find a reliable supplier for the pigment ink. I did find pigment inks on ebay, but I read somewhere not to trust the ink suppliers on ebay.

Also, with me working with a fairly limited budget, I dont want to be buying a expensive printer and buying ink that will screw it up.. So I need to get more info regarding this.
Another quick question, how many sheets will I get out of a batch of ink, as a rough estimate?

Thanks again
 

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is pigment ink a transfer like a heat transfer? or is it more like sublimation, where there is no film left on the shirt?

barring a real reason to do otherwise based on your research, i would get the cheapest printer i could that's compatible, which will probably be an epson.

i don't know exactly how many prints you get out of a cartridge, it just varies by the designs you do. it's not enough, though, i can tell you that! lol. that's why people who do a lot of this stuff quickly find a CIS a bargain. but for 20 pounds? i would question that price. i don't know how much my wife paid for ours, but i wouldn't be surprised if it was around $300-350. check out the price of them new, and always be wary of what you get from ebay.

you can do a search about the different printing methods using this board's search function at the top of the page. while you're at it, check out plastisol transfers. that may be exactly what you're looking for. all you need is a heat press and shirts to do that, but as with any method caveats apply.

you can absolutely remove your own tags. i think you'd need some scissors and tweezers to pull out the fine tag strands. with practice it's probably something you wouldn't think twice about, just a minour chore. i believe there's a forum here about retagging/relabeling. hop on youtube and search for how to remove tags, i know i've seen stuff there about it, some lady just popping these out like she was snapping beans.

why screen printing is still even around is because of its low long-term cost, reasonable entry cost, quality of the prints and its versatility. as of yet, nothing i know of can accomplish everything that screen printing can. some methods are better suited for specific things, but not be nearly as versatile overall. you may decide that a DTG (direct-to-garment) machine is ideal for your needs once you can afford it, but even then that's not nearly as versatile as screen printing in terms of quality of the print, price structures, specialty inks, vibrancy and detail.

you have options. generally speaking, those are; screen printing (plastisol ink, water-based, discharge), vinyl, heat transfers (sublimation, laser transfers, pigment ink, plastisol transfers), airbrush (yeah, like that's much of an option for most of us), and dtg. unless someone uses spray paint and a stencil, within that scope that's essentially how every shirt is printed on a practical scale where one shirt has to look exactly like the last and the next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah I saw that video with the woman taking out labels. I might order a couple of samples and see how they are, and see how I go about removing the labels.

Im sorry, I really don't seem to be able to grasp the difference between a normal pigment ink transfer and a sublimation transfer.. As I say, I am really new to this as I was planning on getting someone else to produce my garments.

Aren't screen printing machines massively expensive? I never really thought of that option because I assumed it was way out of my budget, and it was some huge machine that takes up an entire room. Plus, I know even less about that.
I think the tradition heat transfer method would be good for me. But I need to find someone of testing before I invest in my own equipment. So this is something I need to look at.

And with regards to the CIS system I saw, it was an empty system. I saw a brand new system, with ink for around £90. Which is affordable. Ive looked at a video on youtube on setting up a CIS system on a Epson 1400. Are there any ther printers anyone would recommend?

By the way, massive thank you for your persistence and help, youve been a great help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ive been having a think overnight, and I think that actually, I would prefer a rubbery feel. I cant describe it, but sort of the 3d feel? Im sure Ive had T-shirts like this before. If you know what I mean, could this be done through a conventional heat press?
 

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i don't know if pigment ink transfers are like the kind of laser/toner transfers i use in that they leave film that most people try to trim down. sublimation doesn't leave a film and is a great process, the problem is the ink is expensive and the shirts have to be polyester, or at least mostly polyester. there are hundreds of things you can sublimate on, too.

the downside to both of these methods is there is no white ink, so if white is needed in the design then you're stuck using a white substrate.

sure, you can swing screen printing on your budget. if you have some handy equipment already and/or have some carpenter/building skillz, so much the better, but not required. some of the things you can build yourself, and there's usually a substitute for the commercial equipment (e.g., using a garden hose instead of a power washer, building your own exposure unit and even building your own screen printing press). it does takes some room up, but not massive amounts, necessarily. it kind of depends: i could break my set-up down into a one-car garage fairly comfortably if i conserved space. the cost is what you want to spend on it. after the initial start-up cost, ink and chemicals are your biggest expense.

i'm not quite sure what 'rubbery' means to anyone else, but that's probably screen printing or vinyl, which is another process you may be interested in if your designs aren't too complex and require a lot of colour.

what i recommend is taking a couple of hours and researching the various methods of putting a design on a shirt and see if something strikes you. :)
 
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