T-Shirt Forums banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
:D
This is my fist post.

Got loads of questions so I hope you're all ready for me to pick your brains..?

I'm at work at the moment and my stomachs beginning to rumble, must be time for lunch, I’ll grab a sandwich and soak up some sun. if you haven't been to London, summer is the best time. so make sure you come down and sample our pubs, the history and some real fish and chips..

I’m a network analyst in the City.
I want to start a venture of my own so i can get away from the shackles of corporate life, I need your advice to achieve this.

I’ll be posting some questions in the relevant rooms and I look forward to your replies...


I better stop rambling...have a good one..

Nitin
:D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
badalou said:
Don't expect to remve the shackles right away. It takes time to build a business. What type of stuff are you going to do?
Hello,

i don’t expect it to be an over night success...but one can dream eh?

i would like to .

Sell unique/Custom/limited run designs that can be printed on to Tees, bags, hats etc.etc.. Mainly fashion items.

the main thing i wish to achieve is. To offer something different from the norm. Give people a sense of individuality.

Now the problem is. After reading the posts. There are arguments for and against all the methods used but they seem to be all over the forum, not in one place. Maybe this post can help answer as many question as possible that a startup/newbie may have, in one place??

What I would like to understand is:

What type of transfer should I use? Sublimation, Plastiol. Vinyl?? Or all of them? (screen printing is out of my budget)

-what would provide me with the highest quality?
-fast production time?
-what are the colour limitations?
-recommended apparel?
-what heat press?
-what printer and inks?
-Cutter/plotter?
-Software?

anyone user flock of Flex?

I’m in the process of sourcing the equipment and clothing. I haven’t spent any money yet and wont until I’m totally satisfied that I can provide the highest level of service/quality possible for the money.

Any helpful input is much appreciated.

Note to the Administrator: I know this is an Intro room, so I will place this post in the relevant forum.

Over and out
Nitin:D
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Nitin said:
(screen printing is out of my budget)
Screen printing isn't as out of reach as a lot of people think - if you can afford a $500 heat press, $200 printer, etc. you can easily afford to get a print run of shirts done.

Badalou will, quite reasonably, point out that this ties up your money in inventory instead of money generating equipment, and that is certainly something to consider.

But sometimes people overlook the fact that you can start with a print run or three and work your way up - you don't need to buy the equipment from the start.

Screen printing has pros and cons and isn't the right fit for everyone, but the budget limitations are, in my opinion, often overestimated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Hello Solmu,

Designs may not be a success. So due to the relatively low cost and flexibility of transfer printing be it sub, vinyl or plastiol it would give you a chance to test your designs, and then maybe move on to screen printing a run of designs that are in demand..

Screen printing is something I’ll definitely look into when I’m more established I guess.

Right now Plastiol and vinyl sound like methods that would provide the highest quality second to screen printing,right? Plus they work on dark and light colours and 100% cotton.

What are your thoughts??
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Fair enough - it certainly has its drawbacks, and those drawbacks would get in the way of your business.

As far as I know plastisol and vinyl is the next best thing to screen printing (well, plastisol is screen printing, just at a remove), and yes dark shirts, cotton printing, etc. is fine with those.

If you are planning on buying a heat press there's no reason you can't use a range of methods (i.e. vinyl and plastisol and digital transfer) depending on what the design requires. To use vinyl you'll need a cutter/plotter, so it is an additional expense, and for transfers you'll need a suitable printer; but those costs aren't unreasonable, and the equipment will either pay for itself over time, or have some resale value if you decide it was the wrong move for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,970 Posts
If you're heading into the "fashion" area as you said, you should also be aware that a very significant proportion of "fashion" buyers wouldn't touch heatpress items with a 10 foot stick.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
monkeylantern said:
If you're heading into the "fashion" area as you said, you should also be aware that a very significant proportion of "fashion" buyers wouldn't touch heatpress items with a 10 foot stick.
Are you referring to the quality?? After spending countless hours reading dozens of posts It is obvious that Screen printing is king.

i believe consumers are leaning towards individuality rather then mass produced items, even if it is a small number, there are enough to create a demand.

Heat transfers provide an ideal solution to creating 'one offs' and low runs. The relatively low cost of startup can be passed on to the consumer. Many members of this forum are carving out their own niche with the use of heat transfers.

i believe the consumer gets exactly what they want, when they what it and at a reasonable price. This out ways the issue people may have about the quality of heat transfers..

you can't take on the fashion industry head on but you can nip away at it and claim some of it as you own.


What do you think?

Nitin :D
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Nitin said:
What do you think?
I'm with monkeylantern - buyers want quality, and though there are enough customers out there who put other factors first to create a niche in which you can run a small business (and make a living), it's not the path to large scale success and recognition (or a fan base who love your products and recommend them to all their friends - even if you're not in it for the money, it's nice to have fans).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Solmu said:
I'm with monkeylantern - buyers want quality, and though there are enough customers out there who put other factors first to create a niche in which you can run a small business (and make a living), it's not the path to large scale success and recognition (or a fan base who love your products and recommend them to all their friends - even if you're not in it for the money, it's nice to have fans).

So i guess the quality difference between screen and heat must be huge if one can’t make a big impact with it?

Ever since I’ve started to look into the idea of printing my own t-shirts, I’ve begun to notice the types of shirts I already own. Most are screen printed or Vinyl and if any other methods were used, i probably wouldn't know.
The truth is I’ve never really thought about it. It’s just a matter of, "i like it, it looks good, it fits and the price is reasonable"

i guess it's just a matter of, how educated consumers are in the methods used.

Any Thoughts???

Thanks,
Nitin:D
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Nitin said:
So i guess the quality difference between screen and heat must be huge if one can’t make a big impact with it?
It is with the examples I've seen, but to be fair I have not seen the latest technology that digital transfer has to offer - and that could make all the difference.

I've had some contact with dye sublimation recently, which has been interesting. I'm still doing test washes to see how that holds up, but it seems promising in certain areas (and weak in others).

Vinyl looks like it might offer pretty good quality, but it seems even more impractical than screen printing.

"Big impact" is certainly hard to define - Cafe Press used only heat press at first, and I certainly couldn't deny they made a big impact in the market.

On the other hand... I can't say I've ever seen a heat pressed shirt in a chain store, or in a trendy boutique, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Well there's obviously alto to consider before going out a spending a shead load of cash.

plastisol and vinyl sound promising. the jury's still out on Dye Sub., i'm still looking into it.

The Main thing is, i want to get 'my' designs anyone’s designs on to t-shirts and even some accessories. Uniqueness, quality and individuality is what I’m aiming for.

Have you ever thought about outsourcing screen printing to the east, (India, china) west if your in Australia :-D ?? do some screen runs over there for half the price maybe??

Thoughts?

Nitin
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Nitin said:
Well there's obviously alto to consider before going out a spending a shead load of cash.
Absolutely - since all print methods have advantages and disadvantages, none of them should be dismissed out of hand (and I'm by no means suggesting you're doing that - if anything that's more applicable to myself).

Nitin said:
Have you ever thought about outsourcing screen printing to the east, (India, china) west if your in Australia :-D ?? do some screen runs over there for half the price maybe??
I'm currently a student of screenprinting, so I'm more interested in "in"sourcing so to speak ;)

It's not something I personally would be interested in. I don't think it's necessary to make the business profitable, and it does raise ethical questions (it can be done ethically, but not easily). There's also practical concerns - it's a lot easier to drive to a printer and deal with them, than either have to fly or not be able to have face to face contact, the potential language barriers, etc.

I think it can work financially speaking if that's something a person wanted to pursue, but I personally wouldn't do it (I suppose one should never say never, but it currently holds no interest for now or the foreseeable future).

In a more objective sense... it's not necessary, but it could still be profitable/fruitful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Solmu said:
It's not something I personally would be interested in. I don't think it's necessary to make the business profitable, and it does raise ethical questions (it can be done ethically, but not easily). There's also practical concerns - it's a lot easier to drive to a printer and deal with them, than either have to fly or not be able to have face to face contact, the potential language barriers, etc.
i agree it's not essential in making the business profitable, but its defiantly an avenue worth exploring. Especially that both India and china are improving the way they work including their ethics, India more so then china. for example, take the boom of call centers, being outsourced from the UK to the East, to mention one of many.

i think if the correct contacts/contracts are in place and you monitor the working conditions and the level of pay, it would be like creating a fair trade environment then i don’t see it not working..

in this case, i could concentrate on learning the software packages thoroughly, creating the designs and managing the website and sales. While the items are printed abroad.

so we get high quality, screen printed Tee's and still create some level of profit.

Thoughts??

Nitin
:D
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Nitin said:
for example, take the boom of call centers, being outsourced from the UK to the East, to mention one of many.
Common practice in Australia and the US as well.

I think it's also the perfect example of why you should think twice before you outsource to India, since Indian call centres are pretty much universally loathed for their terrible customer service (I've heard their IT is better though :)).

Nitin said:
in this case, i could concentrate on learning the software packages thoroughly, creating the designs and managing the website and sales. While the items are printed abroad.


This is of course the beauty of outsourcing, whether it's done locally or overseas. A lot of us don't do things like this because we try and do as much as we can ourselves to cut costs, but for a larger business it's the only way to keep up with the volume. Even for a smaller business it can work, since as you said it allows you more time to concentrate on your strengths.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Solmu said:
Common practice in Australia and the US as well.

I think it's also the perfect example of why you should think twice before you outsource to India, since Indian call centres are pretty much universally loathed for their terrible customer service
i would have agreed with you completely about a year or so ago, but there has been a dramatic improvement of recent, ( mainly because they've acknowledged that we know where they are and we're not that gullible)
:rolleyes:.

Now back to the tees.

You’re a screen printing pro and you obviously know buckets loads about the whole area of printing.

So what would be your advice to me?

I’m new to this, I’m creative, enthusiastic and cant wait to start learning a new trade. But like everything in life there are pro's and con's and i don't want to end up with "Paralysis by over analysis" if you know what mean?

What I’ve learnt over these few days is,

“To heat press or not to heat press??.. that is the question”

Guidance from you and the rest of the members of this brilliant forum is much appreciated.

Nitin:D



 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Nitin said:
You’re a screen printing pro and you obviously know buckets loads about the whole area of printing.


I'm not a pro. I absorb a lot of information and I'm actively trying to learn, but I don't have years of experience to back it up as some here do. I wouldn't offer advice if I didn't think it could be helpful, but at the same time don't give too much weight to anything I say.


Nitin said:
I’m new to this, I’m creative, enthusiastic and cant wait to start learning a new trade. But like everything in life there are pro's and con's and i don't want to end up with "Paralysis by over analysis" if you know what mean?
I definitely know exactly what you mean - I've been there plenty of times myself, and I'm sure a lot of others here know exactly what that's like.

Nitin said:
What I’ve learnt over these few days is,

“To heat press or not to heat press??.. that is the question"
It is certainly the question, and the answer is, of course, an individual one.

I chose screenprinting for a variety of reasons - I guess I'll talk about that in the hope it sparks a few ideas in one direction or another. I actually got into all of this pretty recently, so the technology hasn't changed significantly in that time.

For starters I had hang-ups over the quality of all the transfers I'd seen over the years - the stuff I had seen I would never wear. Quality matters a lot to me - I may print a design that's not to my taste, but I'd never make a product I wouldn't wear for quality reasons. Simply put I had a prejudice against digital transfer which is still with me - sometimes I give it the benefit of the doubt and say "It's come a long way, it has its strengths", other times I'm quite mean spirited ("atrocious quality", "undiscerning buyers", etc.). I feel that, whether these generalisations are fair or not, they're held by a lot of people (by no means everyone). For that reason, heat pressed shirts aren't going to have the same customerbase. I've never heard of anyone not buying a t-shirt because it was screenprinted (poor printing, bad design - but not the printing method), but you do hear about that with heat press.

If you walk into a big chain store (Walmart, Target, Levis, etc.) all of the shirts will be screenprinted. All of the large casual fashion labels (Mambo, Mooks, Nike, etc.) use screenprinting. Artists use screenprinting. It has a history. That meant something to me (it won't to everyone, and it doesn't have to).

At the stage of my life I was at, I didn't like what I was doing and I wanted to be doing something physical. This was a way to make money, but I also wanted to learn a trade. I wanted to be using my hands. That was a large part of why I chose to learn screenprinting. You may laugh at this (others won't be surprised), but when I decided to go back to school I was facing two choices - law or screenprinting. I could have done either, and I decided on screenprinting (life isn't always about the money). For a while I had considered outsourcing the printing (a perfectly sensible business approach), but in the end I decided I wanted to be a printer. It also means I have a skill I can use to gain employment - you always need a fallback if t-shirt selling doesn't work out for you.

Digital technologies were (and are) on the rise, and that did (and does) concern me. I actually considered not picking up the trade, because I figured by the time I mastered it (which is still a ways off) my skillset would be obsolete. I decided to press on anyway, partly because nothing better was on my immediate horizon, and partly because I figured there has been a long history of pessimism in the screenprinting industry, and yet it has continued to survive. There will come a day, whether it's soon or not remains to be seen, that that is no longer the case. If you think about the kinds of fields manual printing was used in once upon a time, and where it is now... it's quickly apparent that manual printing is a concept with a definite shelf date. Screenprinting will be obsolete. That's not necessarily a problem (especially if you're outsourcing the printing - use what's good now, and change when it reaches obsolescence), but it might matter if you're planning on learning to print yourself rather than outsource.

Screenprinting is nowhere near as difficult as some people convince themselves. If you want to master it there's a lot to learn, but it's not like that comes at you all at once.

The fact is though that there are options options options. Some people here use various forms of heat pressing (vinyl, sublimation, digital transfer), some use screenprinting - and of those who screenprint only some print themselves, and others contract out the printing.

What you do depends more than anything on what you want to do. We could sit here and discuss the business pros and cons, but my attitude when I was getting into this was pretty much "**** money, I'm doing this for myself". Others will find that attitude very alien. I chose something I would enjoy that could be profitable. So the question is, what do you want to do? What would be enjoyable for you?

If you are primarily a designer/graphic artist, etc. then you should probably concentrate on that and either heat press (because it's easy), or outsource the printing to a screenprinter (even easier ;)). If you are a business person and want to maximise profit and minimise risk, you should probably start with heat press, then move on to outsourced screenprinting, then buy your own equipment and hire staff to move it in-house. If you are looking for something to do beyond just the art and business (you enjoy being hands on, or want a part in every stage of your business), you may want to consider taking up screenprinting itself.

The main thing to remember is that all of these methods are accessible to the everyman. When someone says its too expensive they're being impatient, or scared, or short-sighted, or trying to convince themselves, or any of a hundred other excuses - but they're wrong.

A full heat press setup (vinyl cutter, press, printer, etc.) is going to cost you $500-2500 (the lower end if you don't want to do vinyl). A full screenprinting setup (press, dryer, squeegees, screens, exposure unit) is going to cost you anything from $500-$15,000 depending on what options you go for, but is definitely attainable on a $5,000 budget. As far as starting a business goes, these are tiny sums of money.

Too many people focus on what's easy right now (if you want equipment and not to be tied up in inventory, that means heat press), instead of looking to the future. That goes both ways - there's no point in spending $10,000 on screenprinting equipment you don't know how to use if a heat press would have done the job just as well. But if you're going to make a success of yourself... what's $10,000 in equipment? What's $1000 in printed inventory? You should be turning that over in a week! Okay that's not going to happen from the start, but there's no reason you can't invest in yourself. Maybe a share portfolio would have paid higher dividends, but if you end up doing this for the next ten or twenty years as an enjoyable career, do you really care?

But I think the most important question is What do you want to do?. It can all be made profitable, so you might as well be happy with whatever method you are using to make that money.
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top