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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

Tourism is another market where variable data can be effectively used. You can represent large and small tourist markets with the same cost structure, tailoring runs to specific needs and reducing excess inventory. Name drops can contain actual image data relating to a specific location. Attractions can order multiple versions of a shirt highlighting the many aspects of the experience. For example, a local zoo could produce youth T-shirts with specific animals from the zoo, add a glow-in-the-dark effect for the nocturnal animals, and a UV effect for the diurnal. All of the zoo’s shirts could be produced in a single setup using a shared, screen-printed underbase with two special-effect screens (for the glow-in-the-dark and UV effects).

Music T-shirts produced for a specific concert or event are another example. Traditionally, official band merchandise depended on the popularity of a particular act, and producing location-specific designs was costly. Typically, designs incorporated the dates of the entire tour and were screen printed in volume. With digital hybrid technology, you can add 5 to 400 customized pieces for each location on the tour and sell them for a premium.

Finally, hybrid printing and variable data introduce a mass customization opportunity that has never existed before. It is now possible to produce hundreds of thousands of individualized shirts. Designs can carry a universal brand story with distinct image data, making them all singular to each market. You can go to a store in Los Angeles and find a shirt you love, fly to Chicago and find another; and not only will those two shirts be different, but every shirt, everywhere, will be an individual – just like the person wearing it. 

Five Factors to Consider Before Adding Hybrid


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