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The Realities of Implementing Computer-to-Screen Imaging

(September 2006) posted on Sun Sep 10, 2006

Coudray reveals his own experiences with a CTS system, and how he restructured his garment-pritning business around the technology.

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By Mark A. Coudray

The technology that has emerged in the past couple years for direct digital garment decorating could eventually influence traditional garment screen printing. Even though inkjet printing on T-shirts is the topic of a lot of hot conversation among medium to large textile printers, the number of functioning, productive, high-volume machines is still very low. But just as graphics screen printers have learned, our clients will, at some point, have multiple imaging options from which to choose.

To further complicate things, average order sizes have declined over the last few years. This is not unique to garment screen printing. The trend has infiltrated virtually all areas of the graphic-imaging community, including offset and the other printing processes. Many reasons for the decline exist, but the fact remains that turnaround times are shorter and jobs come in more frequently but are smaller. This spells economic chaos for the old-school printing model where order sizes are determined based on amortizing prepress and set-up costs.

Larger printers have been forced to move into the midsize market to replace the really huge orders they lost as more and more business has moved offshore. The number of print runs that exceed 1000 pieces has steadily declined as the competition for these orders has increased under the influence of the more aggressive, larger printers.

The only way to remain profitable in light of these changing conditions is to change the way we do business. In November 2005, I began the redesign of my shop's business plan and the model on which it has operated for the past 33 years. Everything was on the line. Every process, method, and practice was put under the microscope and judged on its own merit. "That's the way we've always done it" no longer served as justification.


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