On October 19th, the SGIA Expo will open in New Orleans. Garment decorators from around the world will have the opportunity to take their businesses forward by identifying new solutions, attending educational functions, and networking with their colleagues. They’ll be inspired with what they observe, learn, and take away from the exposition. I know this because I’ve been putting together information on what garment decorators will see this year for a free presentation which is scheduled just prior to the SGIA Expo opening. I’m really impressed with what I’m seeing as I prepare for the audience warm-up. I think you will be too.
Of course, there are plenty of frame suppliers, mesh manufacturers, stencil manufacturers, and stretching equipment vendors, but you’ll also see top-end exposure units designed for fast exposure and unbelievable results. The latest computer-to-screen technologies will also be demonstrated as well as a variety of vendors for inkjet film positives. These, coupled with enhanced design and RIP software only mean one thing for garment decorators: solutions. Automatic screen processing equipment will showcase the newest features to improve workflow efficiency whether you need an automatic coater, screen cleaner, or stencil reclaim machine. But if you’re not ready to go automatic, that’s OK, because there will be plenty of washout booths and screen processing chemicals to do the job.
Who doesn’t need new artwork and design templates? And there will be plenty of opportunities to refresh your artwork inventory so you can spend more time getting printed shirts out the back door instead of pulling your hair out trying to get that perfect “feel” for a design. Several exhibitors will be showing the latest designs you can use to impress your customers, and templates for almost every occasion will surely speed your workflow.
Press exhibitors will be showing equipment advancements that include faster cycle times in addition to improved durability and better efficiency with the parts they use. Presses are now offered with enhanced controls and features to improve productivity and yield. I must say that new presses I’m seeing allow for better quality that’s achievable in a shorter time period, and the use of unique design opportunities never before seen. And because they’re faster, margins get a desperately needed boost. There will also be plenty of opportunities to bring in tagless capabilities for upselling a value-add service to your customers…all at the SGIA Expo.
You’ll see the latest ink advancements hitting the market that feature non-phthalate, non-pvc, and non-phthalate/non-pvc formulations from manufacturers whose products are well positioned for the new CPSIA regulations taking effect soon. Of course, you’ve got to cure the ink, right? New all-in-one dryers hitting the SGIA Expo aisles include enhanced features to handle several ink systems like plastisol, water-based, and even direct to garment inkjet all with one machine! Talk about diversity!!
Of course, I can’t forget the hardest working items in the screen printing process: chemicals and squeegees. You’ll see the major chemical manufacturers with all the latest environmentally friendly chemistries to do the dirty work for you so you can focus on results and not laborious cleaning motions a la “wax on, wax off.”
I can’t say enough about squeegees; we love them dearly for, without them, our prints are nothing. So be sure not to miss the new material compounds manufacturer’s are incorporating for better wear and longevity, offered in multiple durometers to fit every need, and results that will help you keep scrap rates low and profits high.
There will be no less than ten direct to garment inkjet manufacturers on the SGIA Expo floor. I know of several new product launches that will take place, each bringing faster speeds, higher resolutions and the capability of doing both at the same time. I am seeing much work being done in the way of new heads being used so that speed and/or resolution do not have to be sacrificed to achieve the other. You can also see the newest advancements in automatic pretreatment equipment which is helping users achieve much better consistency in their results with white ink on darks.
One of the fastest growing technologies being adopted by printers (that will be all over the SGIA Expo floor) is dye sublimation. There will be plenty of opportunity to talk with dye sub transfer paper and ink suppliers, test drive the latest wide format printers and take a look at large format heat presses and rotary transfer equipment. You’ll also find suppliers for polyester blanks to satisfy your inventory needs.
Heat applied films and print-and-cut materials have fast become a popular decorating option. Material advancements have brought user friendliness, reduced hand, fuzzy, glitter, shiny…the list goes on and on. Digital cutters around every corner will illustrate speed and accuracy advancements that will continue to propel this technology which is seeing prominent penetration into shops across the globe. Inkjet and laser transfer have also seen some tremendous advancements in recent memory. These aren’t the stiff transfers with muted colors from the past. Paper developments are generating a much softer, more durable image with better and brighter colors. New printer technology is keeping pace with material developments. Bottom line, things are moving too fast for you to fall behind your competitors.
Certainly the rhinestone and sequin bling (with their entrancing twinkle) will catch your eye. Looking closer, you’ll see pick-and-place machinery that will allow you to generate custom rhinestone and sequin transfers to broaden product lines you offer to customers. And let’s not forget embroidery machines and digitizing software. The embroidery machines on display will range from single to multi heads, using a single needle up to fifteen. Talk about multi-color capability! Software options will easily allow you to bring digitizing in-house instead of paying someone else to do it for you.
Be sure to visit both of the educational zones for garment decorators at the SGIA Expo! The Digital Apparel Production Zone (Booth #3125) will showcase the newest technologies in digital decoration. You’ll see demonstrations of direct to garment inkjet, dye sublimation, heat applied films, print and cut materials, inkjet and laser transfer, sequin motifs, and an all new cut-n-sew workflow that will be using all digital equipment! The Screen Printed Apparel Training Zone (Booth #3319) features daily educational sessions covering the entire scope of screen printed garments: art, screens, inks, printing presses, special effects, and heat transfers. Seven free sessions are scheduled daily! Both zones are non-sales, education oriented so be sure to stop by.
The Golden Image Competition showcases the industry’s best printing and imaging skills in 50 product categories and the Product of the Year Competition recognizes products offered by manufacturers that are moving the industry forward. Both competitions offer attendees an opportunity to stroll through the gallery and put their creative thinking caps on to imagine what is possible.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the educational seminars at the SGIA Expo. For many years (and still today), the SGIA Expo is where you come to attend top-notch, cutting edge seminars that are captivating and inspiring, and this year is no exception. Attend the Pre-Expo Business Development Conference to get the tools you need to take your company to a new level by learning to discover the core competencies of your business and increase your competitiveness through value-added services. The seminars scheduled for garment decorators during the SGIA Expo cover topics ranging from preparing images for printing onto apparel, to maximizing profitability. There’s even a representative from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission who is participating in a session on CPSIA! All are “can’t miss” opportunities to move your business forward.
Of course, this is New Orleans so garment decorators can attend the one and only SGIA Garment Reception on the evening of October 19th to get the first night started off on the right foot and in the right mood! Come have a drink or two on us and network with industry brethren! Then plan to attend the Keynote Breakfast with Gene Marks and enjoy a light meal while listening to a nationally recognized speaker and columnist who will present tactical solutions about how small businesses can stay profitable during the Obama Administration. Wrap up the evening at the Thursday Night Awards Party where you can relax over drinks with your fellow colleagues or network with new acquaintances.
Running a business is tough, especially today. Opportunities that help make your business more profitable do not come around that often. Don’t be left behind, it’s too risky in the market right now to let your competition move ahead of you. I’ll bet I see them there. Will I see you? I hope so, for the success of your business!
Submitted by Johnny Shell, SGIA