By Cassandra Balentine
Print service providers (PSPs) of all shapes and sizes have proved their essential status in the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Many PSPs that regularly work with textiles were able to shift gears to produce facemasks and other personal protective equipment.
One example of this is 5Kount. The sports apparel company was formed in 2011, today operating with 15 employees out of a single 6,500 square foot location in West New York, NJ. The company uses dye-sublimation (dye-sub) for textile printing, which accounts for approximately 75 percent of its product lineup. It is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, sales, and marketing of high-performance athletic apparel.
At its start, the company focused on clothing for wrestling. However, it has since developed into a multi-sport product manufacturer, including football, cheerleading, lacrosse, baseball, soccer, and general sports apparel. All of its sublimated apparel is manufactured in the U.S.
The company also offers on demand printing with digital printing technology, eliminating the minimum order requirement. Through team webstores, customers are able to order online anytime.
The company is well adept at manufacturing customized performance and leisure apparel for sports through an on demand technology platform. Bin Chen, managing member, 5Kount LLC., sees cost, flexibility, and creative benefits associated with digital dye-sub printing.
It utilizes five wide format textile printers purchased through DigiFab, including a Mimaki JV33, installed in 2011 and another in 2017, and a Mimaki JV300, which was added in 2019. It also uses DigiFab inks and RIP. Chen says the DigiFab team helped 5Kount create color matching profiles to best suit their specific needs.
DigiFab manufactures and distributes pre- and post-treatment digital printing equipment, inks, and fabrics. The Mimaki JV33 series printers offers reliable print technologies in a compact design. It is compatible with solvent and dye-sub inks. The JV33 printers are available in 53.5-, 63.3- and 103.6-inch print widths. The Mimaki JV300 is available in 54- and 64-inch widths, featuring print speeds of up to 1,140 square feet per hour. Users choose eco-solvent or dye-sub ink sets. The dye-sub configuration includes six color options, CMYK and light blue and light magenta.
The Evolution RIP from DigiFab supports a variety of file formats; builds repeats on the fly; no limits in size or yardage to be printed; dynamically rotates, flips, and scales files; offers multi-queued and multi-process print server; includes do-undo functions, enables saving changes made in the original or new file format; layout capability for presentation boards; edit and tweak color feature; color picker tool; sRGB, CYMK, Lab, HSV, and HSL color modes; standard ICC color proofing; and profile to profile transfer.
According to Chen, DigiFab supplies their printers, but also presents them will full service and support that is one of a kind. “From the ink, paper, to maintenance, their staff are intimately involved with 5Kount’s business needs on a daily basis.
Recently, 5Kount used its expertise in textile printing to adapt to rapidly changing marketing demands during the COVID-19 pandemic. They began to manufacture cloth facemasks, even before the CDC announced its recommendations. “Our unique offering is that we can print logos, colors, and whatever the pattern the client desires—from supermarkets to law enforcement. We have completed jobs for Homeland Security, police forces, nursing homes, supermarket chains, and more,” he shares.
American-made products were certainly a customer priority as the crisis unfolded. “Always made in America goal from the start. We navigate through an environment where we have to manufacture apparel and compete with overseas pricing. We prevailed through our service, flexibility, and delivery,” shares Chen. “Our job is to support all the facemasks needed by our emergency responders in our communities—our police officers and firefighters on the front lines every day.”
5Kount was able to use its existing infrastructure in NJ to support and help where needed during a global pandemic that hit its state particularly hard at the onset. “I hope when the economy starts up again, we’ll start it with made in the U.S.,” he offers.
Up and Coming
The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 forced many companies to change business practices overnight. Some took the challenge head on, finding ways to not only keep presses going, but help national and local shortages of critical protective gear—and do it with limited staff and ever-changing government restrictions and regulations.
While 5Kount is busy fulfilling facemasks orders, it plans to resume regular operations as demand for facemasks wanes and people and businesses conform to the “new normal.”
The company has no intentions of slowing down, and looks forward to expanding and growing. “Once sports are resumed, we will reengage with our clients. We know that the friendships we made through this period will also come back to us for more business,” he concludes.
Oct2020, Digital Output