How to Know When It’s Time to Trade In Your Heat Press Machines for Silk Screen Presses
I know that the title of this blog post probably threw you off. You probably took a second look after seeing the ending of the title. Your eyes did not deceive you. You read the title correctly. If you’re confused, let me clear it up.
Normally, when T-shirt making companies upgrade their machinery, they usually go from silk screen presses to heat press machines. Whether they are completely replacing their silk screen equipment with heat presses or doing a partial upgrade, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that this upgrade usually goes in one direction: from silk screens to heat presses.
Now, the whole idea behind the migration to heat presses is to of course boost productivity. Make no mistake about it, if you are looking for a minimal level of quality and you want to crank out a huge amount of T-shirts in no time flat, heat press machines are the way to go. However, if you’ve been running a T-shirt printing business for quite some time, you also know that this type of machinery also has its drawbacks.
If you’re looking for a high level of quality, as well as a high level of attention to detail, there really is no other option except silk screening. Silk screen, of course, tends to be more expensive, both in terms of time as well as labor. While you can get away with employing staffers with a lower skill level if they operate a heat machine, the quality of T-shirts that you get is probably not going to be very good if you use that strategy on silk screen presses.
These presses require a higher skill level. They also require more attention to detail and time. Put all these factors together and it’s no surprise that the technology progression, if you will, tends to go one way: from silk screen equipment to heat presses.
With that said, there are certain situations where you might want to trade in your heat press equipment for silk screens. I know that sounds crazy, I know that sounds like I’m going backwards, but I’m not. Here are just some of the situations where this type of a downgrade, if you will, makes a lot of sense.
Your Clientele are Looking for a Higher Degree of Customization
The great thing about T-shirt printing is that you can accommodate many different segments of the market. The most common segment, of course, is the bulk T-shirt printing segment.
I’m talking about the insurance company in your city or town that is having a big event that they need a thousand T-shirts printed. I’m talking about the family reunion where 500 family members need T-shirts. I’m talking about the Boy Scout event where participants and their parents need several hundred T-shirts printed.
This is all well and good if we’re talking about volume and a low level of average quality. The great thing about volume is that, for the most part, people don’t really care about the quality. As long as it can “pass for good enough,” people are more than happy. Why? They’re looking for volume. They’re looking for shirts that would just commemorate an event. They just want to see a shirt that says, “Smith Family Reunion 2017.” That’s good enough for them.
Now, the other segment of the T-shirt market is the highly customized segment. These are people who are looking for T-shirts in limited runs. We’re looking at maybe less than 100 shirts. Also, they’re looking for a high degree of customization because the events that they’re commemorating or the design that they’re looking for is really very detailed.
If this type of customer forms the bulk of your client base, then it makes sense for you to “downgrade” from heat press machines to silk screen presses. As long as you can sustain a healthy flow of this type of clientele, the return on investment would be there. Not only would this type of customer pay more for silk screened T-shirts, they probably would keep coming back to you because there is a shortage of T-shirt companies that use older technology.
As the industry, by and large, migrates to newer technology, there may be a golden opportunity for companies who have a steady flow of “high touch” or custom printing clients. As you probably already can tell, these types of clients are few and far between. Still, if you have a great marketing department and you are assured of attracting this type of customer on a consistent basis, you might want to seriously consider making your T-shirt production outfit a purely silk screen workplace.