What's involved in printing your garments?
STEP 1: ONLINE QUOTATION SUBMISSION
The first step in the process is simply to tell us what you want. There is an online submission engine on this site (you can see it here) which will gather the information that we need to create a mockup and a discounted quotation for you. Try to provide us with as much information that you can. Especially around what you will be using the shirts for. Outreach event etc. We also need to take a look at the artwork to be able to quote for it. So if you have your artwork ready just click on the UPLOAD YOUR ARTWORK link and upload your file. Or you can email it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
If your don't have artwork we can usually create something for you for free (dependant upon the complexity and the size of the order!). So let us have your ideas or best of all a little scribble on a piece of paper then take a photo and send it to us or upload it here. We design graphics all the time and are pretty quick at it. There is no obligation to use our artwork but the copyright is retained by us unless you purchase your order.
STEP 2: MOCKUP & QUOTATION CREATION
Once we have all your information we will create the digital mockups required for your order and email them over. We will also create a quotation for your order based upon your submission and email it over too. This stage normally requires a bit of emailing back and forth to understand any final requirements and delivery deadlines etc.
STEP 3: ORDER APPROVAL, SIZES, INVOICE AND PAYMENT
Before we can invoice you and get your print job started we will need to know sizes and numbers of sizes and any colour variants in your garments. Once we have the sizes we will send an invoice to you by email, this can be paid online directly using Credit Card, or using EFT into our Company bank account. The latter understandably slows the process down a little. Once payment has been made we are set to order stock and drop the print job in the production queue.
Please note that we cannot gauge traditional ladies sizes (4, 6, 10, 12, 14, 16, etc) as these vary across the manufacturers. There is no clear way to cross-match these sizes. When ordering we can only accept S, M, L etc.
STEP 4: FILM POSITIVE & SCREEN CREATION
Your artwork has to be turned into Screens to be able to print. This means that each colour in your artwork has to be output on as a print positive film. This enable us to produce a light block against the screen. The screen is coated in a photo-light sensitive emulsion which is exposed to UV light in an exposure unit. With the film positive pushed tightly against the screen the emulsion is exposed and the film positive prevents the images of your artwork being exposed. Its a super cool part of the process! The screen is washed out after that and dried and hardened before it can be used for printing. If you are interested then have a look at this video which shows the process off well.
STEP 5: PRINTING
This is the most obvious part of the process. But basically we use the traditional manual presses where the printer gets the most amount of control over the press and print process. The screens are taped up and clamped down into the press. Test prints are run on pellons and the screens are registered using micro-registration controls on each print head. We use a Vastex HD2000 Press which is top of the range. When the print heads are all fully registered the garments can be printed. There are lots of different techniques with printing. In most cases printing onto a dark colour with a light ink requires what is called a Print / Flash / Print. That just means that a first coat is printed on to the garment and runs on the carousel where it goes under a heater which dries the top coat so that it can have a second coat of ink when it comes back around. Multiple colours require a white underbase on a dark garment. So when you see for example a red ink on a black t-shirt you should be aware that the red has a white print underneath it to make the red 'pop' or standout on the garment. have a look at this helpful video which shows-off the process quite well.
STEP 6: CURING
Final stage before spot cleaning or packing the garments is to cure the ink. This is done by placing the freshly printed garment on a 3m conveyor where it passes under 2 ovens at 160 degrees. This process cures the ink and makes it bond together and with the garment. This makes the print last longer and stops it from dropping off in the wash cycle!
STEP 7: PACKAGING & DESPATCH
All our shirts are folded in sizes for easier sorting when the customer unpacks. In most cases they are boxed and protected by a wrap around bag. Some smaller orders (25 or less) are rolled and sent in plastic bags. We courier primarily with TNT who provide the best value for money and end to end delivery cycles. Customers are notified of the despatch details and the tracking ID link and number.