Sleeves: to print or not to print? And how to turn those knobbly balls into a smooth profit

Sleeves on pre-treatment
Sleeves on pre-treatment

Colin Marsh, managing director of Resolute DTG, shares tips and tricks on how to smooth out printing this month’s direct to topics.

Printing sleeves with DTG has always been a tricky subject. It’s one of those things you should offer but don’t really want to do. They are fiddly, low profit and take almost as long as printing the front or back of a T shirt, so why do we do them?

Taking into consideration most high-end retail shirts will have at least one sleeve decorated, in order to get the most for your DTG process a sleeve print will normally be all you need to win a sale over a similarly priced garment without a sleeve print. That said the work involved can be tedious without the right kind of platens or equipment.

Sleeves ready for pre-treatment
Sleeves ready for pre-treatment

Here are a few tips on how to successfully apply pre-treatment to sleeves as quick and painless as possible. Make sure you have a large box to use if you are hand spraying the sleeves. If using a pre-treatment machine make or buy a wipe/washable jig.

  1. Cover the areas that do not require pre-treatment with plastic or an old T shirt. 
  2. Use card inserts or similar when drying the pre-treated sleeves.
  3. Check if your machine supplier has a specific platen for printing sleeves, this is sure to be the best option and well worth the cost of an extra platen.
  4. Aim to print sleeves first as they will use the least ink in the event of a spoiled shirt.
  5. Keep print areas to around 90mm maximum or they will disappear around the curve of the arm.
Resolute sleeve platen

Charging extra for sleeve printing is a must but keep it realistic, you are going the extra mile in order to make your printing service or design look more attractive. Adding a few pounds for a sleeve will definitely be seen as added value to most purchasers and should be enough to gain the business.

Make a smooth profit from printing golf balls with LED UV
Direct to substrate printing is big business and growing at a similar rate to direct to garment. Taking a simple everyday item and offering to decorate it is nothing new, but take a leisure item and offer to decorate it and you have the attention of sports enthusiasts and a high value personalised gift.

Individuals and companies love to see their personal message printed on low and high value golf balls. The rise in use of flat bed LED UV printers through 2015 was massive. These printers normally used to decorate anything from a simple pencil or USB drive are also ideal for printing directly onto golf balls. A quick look online and you will see the average price of a dozen printed golf balls can be as much as three times the original cost when personalised in single dozens or relatively small volumes.

The average sized UV flat bed printer should be able to hold up to four dozen golf balls, the ink used is approx 50p to print all 48 balls with an image of around 25mm in diameter. As long as your UV printer has a depth of around 120mm you can fit a suitable jig in to carry the golf balls you could be clearing a handsome profit of as much as £75 per job. This is in no doubt a high margin product and should be on anyone’s radar who is already using or thinking of investing in UV printing for promotional products. I think it is safe to say evidence of this will be present at Printwear & Promotion LIVE! 2016.

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