Clog in the Machine

SOMETIMES YOU SLIP UP a little and sometimes you really blow it. We recently blew it on a simple print (which was of course printed on very expensive garments).

SOMETIMES YOU SLIP UP a little and sometimes you really blow it. We recently blew it on a simple print (which was of course printed on very expensive garments). The job was rejected by our customer because text elements “disappeared.” Upon internal investigation, I was told that the first print “looked great” and yet the customer received what you see in the picture.

Ignoring the obvious misregistration and focusing on the primary issue at hand – the “choppy” appearance and missing text elements in the silver jewel-tone ink – the clear culprit is a clogged screen.

The following steps could have been taken to mitigate or avoid the issue all together:

1. Use a lower mesh count of 86 (our standard practice for jewel-tone inks) instead of the 135 count used. We used a higher mesh count to hold the detail in the small text.
2. Tell the customer that 4 point text is not advisable with jewel-tone inks and suggest converting those graphic elements to a standard ink.
3. Underbase the silver jewel-tone ink with a soft white or gray. (This is our standard practice, I don’t know why we deviated.)
4. QC (duh!).

The sad thing is that these steps are all part of our standard practice and yet we still failed miserably. But that is an internal issue, not a customer issue. Yes, this was a costly mistake financially, but we were able to salvage customer good-will by owning up to the mistake, replacing the garments and reprinting. –TD

Premium PrintingPremium Printing
Most retail lines understand the value in premium garments over basics and will thusly charge accordingly (think hoodies over tees, etc.). Why is this not so with printing? We all know that it requires more work and costs more to produce a full-color print over a single-color print and most of us charge accordingly (I hope). That said, I typically see wholesalers selling their tees at a consistent price regardless of the printing/embellishment. I assume this is done in an effort to simplify things for the retailers. Fair enough. The problem, based on my experience working with wholesalers, is that they demand (or eventually will demand) some sort of flat rate pricing structure, ostensibly based on averages, from their decorators. Flat rate or program pricing structures are not intrinsically problematic — it’s the lack of data and/or false projections on which the averages and pricing are derived. Ultimately the flat rate pricing structure always seem to skew in favor of the wholesaler and cuts into the decorator’s margin. I personally do everything I can to stay away from flat rate or program pricing for this very reason.

One favorite customer of mine, whom has a rather sophisticated understanding of apparel decoration and operates with a very high level of integrity, opts not to squeeze their decorators and rather sells tees which incorporate high-end printing techniques at a premium and as a “premium.” They proudly label these tees with a sticker reading “Premium Print,” drawing attention to and defining the value in the embellishment. I love it. – TD

Clog in the Machine