Applications, Pad PrintersJuly 9, 2018
Private Label T-Shirt Printing Methods; New and Old
Applications, Pad Printers
Throughout the history of attaching labels onto fabric, there have been various methods used over time. The process of applying labels in regards to private label t-shirt printing, has evolved. There are four approaches to attaching labels onto a substrate that include sewing labels directly onto the cloth, using heat transfer, using a screen printing press or using a more up to date method, pad printing. Whatever method you choose for your printing needs, we hope this article gives you an informative and objective view of these processes.
Sewn In Labels:
Sewing labels directly onto a substrate has been used for generations. From sewing the first United States flag in the 1700’s to sewing labels onto apparel, this method has been a staple for years. Although labels that are sewn are becoming less obsolete, they have their advantages. Typically, sewn (woven) labels will last long if they are woven carefully onto the fabric. If they are designed properly, they can also, look very professional when applied to a fabric. However, with sewn in labels, they tend to take the longest in terms of producing them compared to every other method. They are also more expensive to produce than printing labels.
Additionally, the level of comfort is greatly decreased. The constant itching of the tag proves to be a nuisance for most people and therefore, the tags are typically torn or cut out. For private label t-shirt printing, this proves to be the least beneficial as someone is quite literally ripping off your branding.
The procedure of heat (thermal) transfer is using heat applied materials to substrates with a heat press. The process starts with using heat applied materials surrounding a heat sensitive adhesive on one side. Once the heat press connects to the material, the material is then adhered to the substrate resulting in a decorated garment. There are three important factors to consider when using a heat press. These include time, temperature, and pressure. Typically heat transfer benefits longer run production time over short run due to having to buy in higher volumes.
- Time: The amount of time, in seconds, that heat must be applied to the design/garment.
- Temperature: The favorable degree at which the design will adhere to the garment.
- Pressure: The amount of downward force needed when heat applying. With heat transfer, some examples of applications that are used through this method include T-Shirts, team uniforms, bags, fashion and many other promotional items.
Observing the amount of space you have to work with, how much production you will be using, the size, the cost and the experience of your workers using a heat press will largely affect if using heat transfer is right for you.
Screen printing has been used widely by companies looking to print on items such as t-shirts among other garments, bags, promotional items and more for quite some time. Essentially, you have ink as well as a screen (mesh stencil) which will produce the screen print. The process starts with having one screen used for each color that will be printed on. The screens must line up and print on test sheets to guarantee that the colors are arranged accurately. Afterwards, one color at a time, they are then pushed through the screens and onto the substrate. After screen printing, the applications need to dry by being laid out, put in ovens, or using air guns.
The last printing method is utilizing a pad printing process. Pad printing is one of the most used printing methods in the industry. Like the other printing techniques before pad printing, this method allows the user to print on applications that include both tagless t-shirt labels and promotional products such as bags, balls, pens, and much more. The difference with using a pad printing process is that there are several benefits to choose from compared to previous methods.
A pad printed tag can be very soft, almost unnoticeable on touch. Compared to the traditional methods of printing (sewn labels, heat transfer, and screen printing), pad printing offers lower costs, time savings and flexibility in production, as well as higher quality. Below is a list of pad printing benefits that display savings compared with the other printing techniques.
- Average cost of supplies per print: $0.003
- Utility consumption: 0.0096 KW per printing machine
- 40% fewer printing machines needed
- 40% fewer operators needed
- 800 printed parts per hour, per machine (60% more pieces per hour than with heat transfer)
- Brand-new graphics (or adjusted graphics/colors) can be ready for printing in under 20 minutes
- No drying process or equipment necessary
The pad printing process starts with a pad printing machine. The machine utilizes a silicone print pad to pick up ink from an etched cliche plate. Then it is transferred onto the substrate. The pad printing machine lays down a thin layer of ink leaving the print soft to the touch. The etched plate is mounted onto the pad printing machine, then the ink cup (filled with ink) slides over the plate. This leaves only the ink in the etched area and removes the ink from the rest of the plate. Next, the print pad is pressed onto the etch, picking up the ink. The pad then moves over the part and is pressed onto the garment. This type of method is by far the most popular in terms of private label t-shirt printing. Your branding will stay on the longest without worry of removal.
Pad printing is also the most environmentally friendly method of printing compared to the others. The process uses less ink than other methods and produces less waste, especially compared to heat transfer which results in leftover paper from each label. All of our consumables including pads, plates, and ink cups are designed for reuse and longevity. Our laser plate makers utilize fiber or CO2 technology to quickly and safely etch high-quality plates without any harmful chemicals. Our in-house compliance team ensures that we are meeting and exceeding the strictest environmental and safety regulations. To learn more about eco-friendly label printing, read about Inkcups’ Commitment to Sustainability.
We hope this analysis of these four printing methods gives you an idea at which printing method is right for you. For example, does your company produce applications at low or high volumes of production? Or do you value more or less operators to man the printing machines? There are many thoughts to take into consideration when printing on applications and choosing the right printing method will accelerate your business.
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