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I'm sure most of you know that I work for a company called Imprintables Warehouse. My company specializes in heat printing medias and machines for doing t-shirts. I currently have a number of customers that are sign shops and have expanded into doing garments as well as signs. With this natural expansion in mind, I was invited to the sign show to help work the Roland booth, Roland is one of the manufacturers that we distribute vinyl cutters for. While working the booth for three days I sold some heat presses vinyl cutters etc. but I found something much more interesting that relates back to doing shirts. What I found out was that the sign industry is rapidly advancing with bigger, better, more versatile printing & cutting equipment for making signs, banners & even vehicle wraps (very cool stuff). This same equipment can also be used to print on heat transfer vinyl for doing garments. Now keep in mind, this isn't for your everyday start up t-shirt shop, but it does have its place.

Here's how the basic process works and I'm assuming most of you have experience with either a vinyl cutter or an inkjet printer:
  • There is a printer/cutter that is called the Versacamm (About A $13,000 investment)
  • There is a media that my company carries, that I wasn't to familiar with until this show, called Spectra Color Print. This material comes 15' wide by the yard long.
  • You can layout full color, photo quality graphics in your software program on a sheet size of 15" by however long you want to go. Keep in mind the graphics need to be vector art for outputting to a vinyl cutter.
  • Now instead of printing these graphics out on an 11 x 17 transfer paper and hand trimming them. You can output your file to the Versacamm and it will do the printing and the cutting/trimming for you
  • The result is a graphic that needs to be weeded, just like when you cut a design out of vinyl. Weeding is the process of pulling the unwanted material away from a design.
  • After weeding, the graphic needs to be masked. Masking consists of taking a low tack transfer tape (a sticky clear plastic type material) and placing it over the design to pick it up from its carrier sheet. A similar process can be used on your Inkjet transfer papers for dark garments.
  • After the image is masked, you can stick it down to any color of shirt and just heat press it.
The result is a soft to the hand, full color graphic, that has been precision cut. The reason I'm posting this isn't to sell you guys on the technology, but just to let you guys know what is out there for higher volume heat transfer shops. I know from past experience, that the advancements that happen in the sign industry usually trickle down in some form or another to the heat transfer industry. Thats where our standard vinyl cutter came from...I can see print & cut technology & digital heat transfer medias being the next big wave. I hope this keeps the creative juices flowing
 

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Hello Josh
A question I am trying to figure out. Is this spectra graphics a vinyl ? And can it be used in any printer? I am wondering if the versacamm can print full color ink transfers (not vinyl) like an epson or other ink jet printer? Not sure but your post seems to say it may be able to do this. Because I am not sure I would want to limit myself to only vinyl printing for a $13,000 machine.
Thanks
 

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The Versacamm is a solvent based printer, which can print onto special sign vinyls, garment vinyls, and gloss papers. The media has to be capable of accepting solvent inks, otherwise there is no guarantee of durability and longevity. Sign shops are the primary interest of the Versacamm printers, but with the printable garment vinyl it gives them more options to utilize their printer. If you're a clothing company looking to purchase a Versacamm for the sole purpose of doing garments, then you're approaching it from the wrong paradigm.
 

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The Versacamm is a solvent based printer, which can print onto special sign vinyls, garment vinyls, and gloss papers. The media has to be capable of accepting solvent inks, otherwise there is no guarantee of durability and longevity. Sign shops are the primary interest of the Versacamm printers, but with the printable garment vinyl it gives them more options to utilize their printer. If you're a clothing company looking to purchase a Versacamm for the sole purpose of doing garments, then you're approaching it from the wrong paradigm.
Thanks for reply. so it cannot print onto I think it is called JPSS transfer paper? If it can print onto transfer paper it makes the machine more versatile, and I would like it even more. I am thinking some t-shirt designs will look good on vinyl, and some are better suited for ink print soft hand transfers. So for $13,000 I would not want to be limited to only vinyl.
 
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