Other Styles Besides Harry?!
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Other Styles Besides Harry?!

This article is for all those people out there interested in doing something different with apparel decoration. It is especially for all those people out there who NEED to do something different. Traditional left chest embroidery is dying out, sort of like light beer sales are for major beer brewers in the US. With the rising availability of hometown entrepreneurial breweries, why wouldn’t you want to branch out and try something a little different? Hometown entrepreneurs are appealing to people’s tastes and preferences throughout every region of the US. Apparel decoration now has the ability to do the same thing. Different types for different tastes. Don’t get me wrong, the traditional left chest embroidery will always be around. It’s clean, it’s simple and it gets the job done. But for those who are interested in a more tasteful experience, please read below to learn about what else is out there.

Embroidery – Needle and thread… You know this one. Cost factors are time and material required to complete the logo. Price is most commonly calculated by stitch count.

Screen Printing–   I’m sure you know this one too. It’s the second most common decoration method there is. Screen printing can be done on a variety of surfaces and materials. It requires color separated artwork and is achieved by pressing ink through a screen.

Tackle Twill with Embroidery & Applique – The style most commonly seen on a “collegiate hoodie.” This method requires sewing additional material to the surface of a garment. It’s usually done with tackle twill but it can be done with felt, pvc, or other miscellaneous materials that allow for a needle and thread to break through.

Digital Garment Printing or Direct to Garment Printing – This process is literally when you print directly on the garment itself by using a specialized printer. Imagine feeding t-shirts through your office copy/printer device. If you can imagine that, you’ll be able to picture what DGP is. This process works best when printed on 100% cotton material and full colors can be printed on any color garment.

Sublimation – This style has been around for a little while, but most recently manufacturers have made huge strides in perfecting the technique. Basically, special ink is printed on special paper from a special printer. It’s a very special process and one that probably has the largest number of rules. After the special paper is printed on, it is then pressed onto a garment using a heat press set at a high temperature. The heat causes the ink to chemically bond with the polyester threads creating a permanent logo to appear on the garment. This process produces the best results on 100% polyester garments and on light colors. You cannot use this method on black colored shirts at all.



Debossing – This process creates a tone on tone effect by pressing a portion of your logo to produce a sunken-in look. There are no coloring attributes to this style of decoration therefore the color of the design will end up being the same color of the garment you are printing on. Simply put, the end result appears as a sunken-in logo on the garment. (Image on the right)

Embossing – Produces the equal and opposite look of debossing. Has a similar tone on tone effect, but instead of a sunken-in logo, logo is raised off of the garment it is being printed on from the back. (Image on the left)

Laser Etching – Very similar to debossing except the material does not become sunken in by a press and instead is burned away by a laser. It creates the same tone on tone appearance yet will appear slightly darker as a result of the burning. This one can only be used on polyester garments since the material has to react a certain way to the laser.

Heat Transfer – This is a very versatile style even though it has been viewed as an inferior technique in the past. Like sublimation, this method is being perfected and the materials used are becoming much more superior to what they were in the past. In this method, pieces of colored film are cut out and then pressed onto the top layer of a garment using a heat press. You can also print on the material and then cut it out to create a full color, die cut image. As long as the process is done right, the appearance and wearability of this method is excellent.

Multimedia – Mixing two of above mentioned styles on the same area of the garment.

There are a ton of other details and techniques within each of these methods but I tried to keep it brief. Hopefully I provided enough information to help you feel more comfortable with the different styles. Want to know more about them? Just let us know! Hopefully you have and understand a little bit more of the print lingo now… Don’t be surprised if it all changes in another year though!

– Matt Oye

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