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A webinar not to be missed — Textile printing crosses the floor

A webinar not to be missed — Textile printing crosses the floor

For at least the past two years I’ve been writing about an accelerating trend in the sign industry — adopting textile printing. I’ve mostly mentioned this in the context of sign shops printing garments on direct-to-garment printers and also heat-pressing vinyl onto garments. But now textiles have apparently caught the attention of wide-format printers too. Coming up on the 25th of this month,

WhatTheyTh!nk (the influential information source on all things printed), is offering a free webinar titled; “All Things Big and Soft—The Latest in Display Graphics and Textile Printing.”

Here’s part of their description of the purpose of the webinar: ” . . . digital textile printing is a hot new area—and in fact display graphics printers are starting to add textile printing. What are the top trends in both these areas, and how do they complement each other?” In this instance the textiles in question are apparently yardage, and even if you’re not a wide-format printer it doesn’t mean that you can ignore the migration of fabric into sign and graphics shops because it’s happening in garments as well.

Regardless of whether yours is a textile shop or a sign shop, attending this webinar may just give you a peek into a future that may require a rethink of your business model. You can register here.

Clean up the shop!

Clean up the shop!

It’s true that not all textile shops are messy. And I suppose “messy” is relative and depends upon your definition of the word. But I think we all know a messy textile screen shop when we see one.

I visited many textile screen shops over many years, and of those quite a few were what I think most people would rate as messy. As a result I included a janitor as one of the thirty-nine characters in my book, Characters Who Can Make or Break Your Small Business.

The worst example that comes to mind is the the ink room of a large shop in Toronto that’s no longer in business. It’s hard to know how to describe it other than to say that it always looked like a rainbow had exploded in there. I can see how you’d get ink all over the buckets, the shelves, and even the floor. But how do you get ink all over the walls?

And ink is not the only issue. What about spray adhesive? Simon Clifford of Tekmar once told me about servicing an item of equipment in a shop in California where there was so much overspray on the floor that the company dog that had been lying watching him work, couldn’t get up. Then there’s lint that can accumulate until it becomes a fire hazard. It actually happened in a shop in Vancouver where they had a lint fire that ran through the place like one of those gunpowder trails they lit in old cowboy movies.

If your shop sounds a bit like what I’ve just described, consider this excerpt from the Janitor chapter in my book: “I can’t think of a single circumstance in which janitor-free premises would boost staff morale or give a small business an edge over the competition. I wouldn’t have thought that anyone else could think of one either, but unfortunately cleanliness and orderliness remain concepts not fully grasped by many small business owners, who may never know the positive effects a janitor can have on their business.”



Mahatma Gandhi apparently had something to say about customers, though I for one would never have guessed that he had any interest in business generally or customers specifically, at all. He was much better known for being an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist who had once laboured in the sugar plantations of South Africa.

Anyway, what he is purported to have said is: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work, he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider on our business, he is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him, he is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Wise words. The only exception I would add is that if a customer turns out to be such a pain in the neck that it’s not worth keeping him or her, “firing” them is in order. Life is too short.

Share this with all staff members.

A garment decorator’s conundrum

A garment decorator’s conundrum

Garment decorators (screen printers and direct-to-garment printers) concerned about their impact on the environment face a conundrum in three questions. And those are: “Aside from obviously not putting chemicals and ink into the sewer system, what can I do to minimize my impact on the environment by being discerning about the type of fabric I print on? And do I have any choice at all considering that I don’t control the manufacturing process or the fabric choices that my customers make? And even if I did have some control, which fabrics are worse for the environment than other fabrics?”

For example, I have in front of me an article with the title, “You polyester sweater is destroying the environment.” It discusses how all fabrics release microfibers but polyester’s microfibers are the worst because they’re essentially plastic and so add to the microplastic problem in our waterways and oceans. But I also have a file full of articles on how natural fabrics, like cotton in particular, are bad for the environment because of the water it consumes and contaminates. So, unfortunately, it’s a case of six of one and a half dozen of the other.

This then brings us to having to figure out what an environmentally-responsible garment decorator can do? Well, aside from the things that are within your control, like not using glitter (nasty microplastic) and not dumping contaminants into the sewer system, there’s not much you can do about the substrates you’re asked to print on. But if you’re aware of these issues you can at least advise customers if the topic comes up and do what you can to be ecologically responsible when you have the option.

3D printed clothing a threat to textile screen printing?

3D printed clothing a threat to textile screen printing?

I had an interesting email from a reader about something I hadn’t considered before, and I’m guessing that you might not have either. But now that it has been brought to our notice, it would be foolish to not keep an eye it. So what is it? Well, why don’t I just let this excerpt from his email explain . . .

“While I got depressed about glitter/microplastics in our seafood, it made me think about an episode of “The Future of Fashion” on Netflix and the impact of 3D printed clothing and how this will affect textiles and textile printing in the not too far off future. The tech is already here with unbelievable developments in material sciences to support a variety of creations. Anyway, I think 3D printing/additive manufacturing is going to be a household solution to nearly everything we need in a couple of decades—with a printer in every home. Maybe ink and textile manufacturers should be thinking about ‘material’ development for this technology to avoid extinction.

It would be ideal, because there is massively reduced waste and if the printed material is biodegradable then all the better. We”ll just compost our old clothes and shoes (shredder to garden)”

This is something to think about and definitely not far-fetched, particularly for those of us old enough to remember how a coloured ink-jet printer on every desk disrupted the printing industry by ushering in desktop publishing. And if you need another example of industry disruption, just consider what a digital camera in every phone did to the photographic industry generally and the one-hour photo-development industry specifically.

Statistics to support the benefits of attending shows

Statistics to support the benefits of attending shows

As posted last month, the September Imprint Canada shows in Montreal and Calgary are scheduled for  the 7th and 8th and 28th and 29th respectively.

I don’t have to remind you that attending shows is an essential part of staying up to date on developments in the industry. Just to underscore that point, here are some statistics from Imprint Canada that should interest exhibitors and attendees alike:

  • 95.4% of attendees reported that live events are critical to sourcing new products.
  • 96.2% of attendees declared shows to be positive networking events.
  • 97.1% of attendees stated that they already plan to attend the 2023 shows.
  • 93.8% of attendees have buying authority within their company.
  • 92.9% of attendees reported that they discovered at least one new supplier at the shows.

Mark your calendar.