Screen Printing Chemicals – My tip of the week is about properly applying chemicals in the screen print shop. This is a very simple but very effective tip. By effective I mean both easier and saving dollars. And I must credit 2RG’s friend Dave Gehrich from Atlas Screen Supply with this suggestion. Dave is a chemical guy and he knows his stuff, so pay attention! When applying chemicals such as press wash, most users will fill a shop rag with chemical and wipe the screen. By spraying the chemical directly on the screen, squeegee onto a rag shirt or pellon, and then wiping, you’ll use a fraction of the chemical.
Email Marketing – My tip is to make sure you have a good plan for email marketing. I suggest using a service as this is a cost that will pay for itself in no time. Some of the best services out there are Mail Chimp, Topica, Constant Contacts and iContact. Give them a test drive to see what one is easiest for you to use. Things to look for are the ability to easily create emails with logos and templates with no design experience needed. Ability to manages your email list and clean duplicates and manage bounces. Ability to grow your email list by creating Opt In lists and product interest groups and capture emails from your website or SM pages. The program needs to have good social media linking and scheduling to make Social Media and Email Marketing Work together. Finally it need to have stats and tracking. This allows you to do A/B testing easier and you can see what moves your customers.
Business Cards – Your business card says who you are, and beyond your vital information. A crisp, professional look will give the customer the impression that you will also be professional.
Today, there is absolutely no reason to have a low-end business card, though I see them all the time. Online companies offer full color business cards for around $25.00. Every business person today can and should have a professional looking card.
Many of your customers will never see your shop, so that card is their only physical evidence of your business. Keep your cards handy and ready to pass out at a moment’s notice. Remember, everyone is a potential customer, so don’t be stingy with those business cards. They’re cheap!
Figure Out Your Market – This is the first step and is much neglected. Take some time and figure who your market is and where they are located. Really put some time and effort into this, not just a quick 5 minutes. Talk to your customers and look at your competitors. Really form a good picture of your market as that will tell you where your marketing efforts should be put. Figure your market out first and then everything else falls into place.
Exposure Calculator An exposure calculator is basically a film positive that comes with five or more identical images including fine lines and dots. Using our best guess starting point exposure times, we double that time and expose the film onto a screen, and wash out as normal. After the screen is complete, hold it up to a light and compare the different images. The one that is exposed the best, where the image looks the most crisp, is our target. A formula under that image will tell us our ideal exposure time.
Exposure calculators are available from all emulsion manufacturers and your local supplier might give you this exposure film for free.
Using Spray Tack Adhesive – when sublimating, I recommend that you only use spray adhesive on soft goods like mouse pads, can coolies and garments. There are some hard surfaces items where you must use spray adhesive like awards plaques where tape could damage the edges. For those items and your soft goods, it is very important that you spray the adhesive correctly. You must spray the printed side of the transfer paper, not the substrate with a very light and fine mist. To do this you should spray the transfer paper from about 2 feet away in firm quick spray over the transfer paper. If you get any splotches or excessively wet areas you will have trouble with the ink transferring correctly in that area. Make sure the transfers only gets a light fine mist of the correct tack adhesive. I suggest this Product.
Check out the video showing how this is done!
New aerosol pretreat spray from Image Armor – At $25 per can, it is rather expensive for day-to-day pretreating, but a student in one of my seminars had a great idea for the product. While this student used an automatic pretreat machine for most of his work, he planned to use the aerosol spray for small images such as a left chest design. Pretreating caps would be another great use of this new product.
Saving Money on Sublimation Ink – Don’t let the initial investment or the words wide format deter you from taking a good hard look at jumping in and saving yourself some real money. If you do the math on the sublimation ink options available in the US, you will see the small format desktop printers cost about $2,100 a liter for the ink, while the mid size 24 and 36” printers cost about $460 per liter. Those are some pretty big numbers compared to the $115 a liter for wide format printers. It doesn’t take much ink to make up for the difference on initial investment, so make sure you really look at the wide format option before investing in your next sublimation printer.
The “Going on Vacation Method” of finishing projects – clearing your desk, and tying up loose ends. I was scheduling a vacation for the end of the month to visit my daughter and her husband and of course my grandson, Baby Henry, and at the same time looking at some lingering, pushed back emails, a couple projects, etc. I started thinking about that point where you’re leaving town and need to wrap things up. I’ve talked here before about being your own consultant and looking at your business. We often know what needs to be done to improve our businesses, but choose to ignore or put off that decision. I’ll take that a step further on a personal business level and recommend you pick a day, next Friday for instance, and pretend you’re going on a two week vacation after that. Treat every project, every email, every decision as if you won’t be able to look at it again for two weeks. Wrap it all up, make a decision, clear your archives by using my “Going on Vacation Method” of personal management.
Heat Press Pressure Settings – Lots of questions about what light, medium or heavy pressure is when talking about heat presses. If your press has a digital read out of 1 to 10 typically those numbers are equal to about 10 psi each. So 10 would be 100psi and that would be heavy pressure. 5 to 6 would be medium and 7 to 8 would be medium heavy. If you have a cheap heat press then I’d advise upgrading, but the best advice I can give you is if you can close it with one arm that is light pressure, if you can close it with 2 arms that is medium pressure, and if you have to grunt to close it or give it some elbow grease so to speak that is heavy pressure. Fortunate most substrates and methods don’t require exact pressure, but ideally having a digital read out is best.