Transfer media printing: the best approach for garment customisation?

Rob Brown, senior manager business development, Oki Europe, weighs up the pros of transfer media printing compared to more traditional garment customisation methods.

The global custom T shirt printing market is forecast to reach $3.1 billion by 2025, presenting exciting opportunities for print service providers to grow their business by adding short run personalised and customised garment decoration to their service portfolio.

From work uniforms to the latest slogan T shirts and eye-catching custom designs, with the right technology in place tapping into this lucrative market can be relatively quick and easy.

Traditionally direct to garment (DTG) printing has been used for T shirt printing, but this process along with screen printing and embroidery has many drawbacks from a space, time, cost perspective as well as requiring a minimum print volume. Now, innovative transfer media printing technology can make this service offering far more accessible, affordable and profitable even for short runs.

What is transfer media printing?

Transfer media printing is a great option for any print service provider looking to increase its revenues through customised garments as well as a wide range of other promotional merchandise, whether made from acrylic, ceramic, glass, metal or wood.

The transfer printing process is a lot more straightforward than other processes that involve printing onto different items. The process simply involves printing the design onto transfer media which is then heat pressed onto the desired garment.

The advantages of transfer media printing

There are various benefits to choosing transfer printing over DTG, screen printing and embroidery. For example, using transfer printing, designs can be placed onto almost any material or substrate, presenting additional revenue generating opportunities. However, the biggest benefits for print service providers are the speed and cost compared to other methods. It can be both time consuming and costly to set up a DTG printer, embroidery machine or screen printing equipment, often making these financially unviable options when it comes to fulfilling short run orders. Yet many customers will only want a small number of customised or personalised items.

This leaves print service providers with a difficult choice – turn down the business or accept the job and make little or no profit. A transfer printer can print any number of transfers, from one transfer upwards, and can do so affordably fulfilling a job of any size, whether the customer requires one item or many. Further cost and time can be saved by the fact that there is no cutting or weeding required.

Accessing new revenue streams in the print industry can sometimes require specialist training to ensure the business has the right skillset and this is especially true with DTG, embroidery and screen printing, whereas transfer printing does not require any specialist skills. A transfer printer is also relatively inexpensive compared to the equipment required for other methods of garment customisation.

Reducing complexity while maximising profitability

Creating intricate and complex garment designs is made easy when printed onto transfer media rather than creating directly onto fabric. Embroidery and screen printing can be notoriously fiddly and jobs that use these processes can also take a long time to set up and are slow to process. A transfer printer is a fast, effective way of professionally printing quality designs and applying them to substrates quickly and easily with minimal fuss.

Geared Up Solutions and Sweet Tees & More are examples of print service providers that are leveraging the benefits of transfer media printing. Specialising in custom branded products, the companies were previously reliant on traditional production methods such as embroidery and screen printing. However, with customers increasingly asking for products to be delivered quicker, they needed a faster solution to produce customised merchandise or would have to risk turning customers away. By switching to transfer media printing the businesses have been able to speed up short run printing profitably by branding garments quickly, easily and cost-effectively.

Unlocking colourful innovations

Innovative colour technology is helping print service providers to improve flexibility and deliver stand out results through transfer media printing. Devices that provide high quality CMYK plus high-density solid white (CMYK+W) under single pass printing allow vibrant results to be transferred onto a diverse range of light, dark and transparent materials, delivering professional quality results.

The obvious choice for print service providers

Transfer media printing has many benefits over more traditional garment printing methods and considering media transfers can also be applied to an extensive range of other materials and items, it is clearly a winning option when it comes to helping print service providers profit from customisation and personalisation. And with innovative toner technology that helps to ensure that designs truly pop, transfer media printing is the most effective method for exceeding customer expectations.

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