By Digital Output Staff
Part 2 of 2
Direct to garment (DTG) printing enables organizations to offer low-quantity runs of customized apparel. The technology continues to advance to enable more color options for both textiles and inks. Further, workflow tools help improve productivity and efficiency.
Shirtworks is an established apparel printer in the U.K. The company began in 1986 by selling t-shirts and sweatshirts to Oxford University students and the public out of a stall in the Jam Factory market.
Since its humble start, the company has grown to offer a range of clothing from the traditional t-shirts and hoodies to trousers, knitwear, hats, and other accessories. Its business strategy revolves around taking plain garments for its customers, and adding a logo, image, name, or message to it for a fully personalized, high-quality advertisement. Its target base is companies, schools, and clubs. All of its services are produced out of its Oxford workshops where it is able to fully control the production process.
The apparel printer services brands and consumers on five continents, delivering quality solutions in rapid time. It prides itself on being one the first European print shops accredited organic by the Soil Association for both embroidery and screen printing, using fair trade materials.
Shirtworks utilizes several textile printing technologies, including screen, DTG, and transfer printing, each of which have pros and cons for its customers.
The company notes that screen printing provides a long-lasting print and is the most affordable way to produce high volumes. However, the downside is that it is not suitable for smaller orders due to the time it takes to prepare and run the screens. DTG is the preferred method for producing low-volume personalized garments with complex colors. However, there is no significant savings when the volume increases.
It also produces items with vinyl cut printing, where the plotter cuts letters and numbers that are heat applied to a garment, and color copy transfer, where the image is printed using a color copier onto special paper and then heat applied to the garment.
In December 2020, the custom clothing provider announced implementation of a Kornit Digital. DTG production system to produce sustainable, on demand fulfillment. It also invested in the Kornit Workflow software solution, which provides end-to-end management capabilities of the production process—from online store to shipping logistics. Automating production, it helps brands and fulfillers streamline their operations for increased efficiency, accountability, control, and visibility. These features are essential to optimize the speed, versatility, and retail quality demands of Shirtworks operations.
“Shirtworks supplies decorated garments to all industries,” says Arron Harnden, managing director, Shirtworks. “We have a very diverse customer base, from consumers ordering one-offs to small brands and ethical-conscious business-to-business organizations that need up to a 1,000 pieces or more.”
Having supplemented its screen printing capabilities with embroidery, Shirtworks believes the Kornit system enables production of lower volumes of garments in a manner that meets its quality standards and is profitable. Harnden says the Kornit system helps reduce wage costs while meeting the high-quality control standards necessary to maintain strong customer service.
Kornit’s DTG technology uses a proprietary single-step print process and eco-friendly pigment inks that produce no waste water, imprint a variety of fabrics at the push of a button, and deliver vibrant, photorealistic digital impressions with a durability for wash, rub, and light fastness. As the system requires virtually no setup time or labor, print costs are low and consistent, making runs profitable from the first piece, simplifying the production of samples, and making any design specifications repeatable with precision. A piece can be imprinted, dried, and ready to ship or wear in minutes.
“We turned to Kornit because it offered a one-process solution, and its inks are Global Organic Textile Standard-approved, which is very important to us,” says Harnden.
The ability to match Pantone colors is also critical to Shirtworks, and a feature that it feels is essential to moving its screen print clients over to DTG. Further, DTG provides a retail-ready product that enables the company to expand into drop shipping.
With DTG production capabilities, Shirtworks offers a range of apparel printing services to meet every client need. This includes complex designs in short orders.
Jun2021, Digital Output