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Best of Both Worlds: Digital Hybrid and Variable Data Printing

(April/May 2019) posted on Fri May 24, 2019

Combining digital and analog garment printing techniques opens up a plethora of possibilities.

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By Michelle Moxley

Hybrid printing is up to four times faster than traditional DTG. Using a screen-printed white underbase is faster and less than a quarter the cost of digital white. Hybrid is also versatile enough to handle any fabric that can be printed via traditional screen printing. Using migration blockers in the screen-printed underbase ink inhibits dye migration on polyester, allowing for a digital print on the surface. These are all direct advantages over standard DTG. Compared to conventional screen printing, setups involve fewer and simpler tweaks to match customer specifications. This is because there are fewer screens to manage and the digital file can be updated with any changes instantly, creating less friction and allowing the printer to instantly resume printing. 

One factor that makes digital hybrid printing so unique is its versatility with variable data orders. Variable data is a form of digital printing, including on-demand printing, in which elements such as text, graphics, and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next without stopping or slowing down production. New business models across the market actively use social media, analytics, and cloud-based management systems to collect in-depth data. Harnessing this information through a variable data strategy allows you to create customizations, get product to market faster, localize the supply chain, and lower the need for excess embellished inventory.

Four Business Models that Leverage Hybrid Printing

T-shirt subscription services are a perfect example of a variable data business model that can benefit from hybrid technology. A user signs up and receives an embellished garment every month. For example, a Chicago-themed service might deliver a different shirt each month decorated with a graphic or logo about the city. In a traditional model, most subscribers being of a similar demographic (i.e., from Chicago) would receive the same shirt. Add variable data into the mix and each patron could receive something unique. One subscriber may receive a shirt highlighting their favorite Chicago sports team, while another receives a garment focusing on the Great Lakes and fishing. Variable data draws from deep analytics on each individual member to allow for highly relevant customizations to be created.


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