Private branding has become increasingly popular in the printing industry in general, and can sometimes include many aspects of the printing / decoration process – more often than not, this term is associated with the relabeling of stock garments to complete the transformation into a legitimate brand. Adding a custom logo or brand name in place of the stock garment tag not only provides a much more professional look to the finished item, but also increases the overall perceived value of the product. While more and more major garment companies are beginning to offer easy-tear removable tags in their primary product lines, you still need a way to add your customer’s custom logo to replace the former tag.
Private relabelling can be a huge benefit to any custom print business, so it is important to weigh all of your options and determine how serious you want to approach it. In the past there have always been three key methods for printing custom labels into garments. While these methods provide a significant value in certain areas, each one comes with its own caveats which prevent it from being the ideal solution:
Traditional Screen Printing
Although screen printing is not incredibly complicated, the cost for setting up each job can be significant since you are using large standard screens to create small logos which often fit within a 4″ x 4″ area. The amount of emulsion and resources that go into generating the larger screens can really add up, and at the end of the day who really wants to tie up their main screen printing press with trivial relabeling jobs? While the use of a standard screen printing press is viable, it is not the ideal method for the job.
Plastisol Heat Transfers
Transfers are an excellent option when it comes to relabeling garments, due to the fact that less equipment is needed to get the job done as well as their general cost effectiveness. Through Fusion Logistics Group, we found ourselves utilizing the transfer method for the majority of all private branded garments we produced – while they work well, it becomes quite a task when you are working your way through hundreds (if not thousands) of garments that all have to be out the door TODAY…. If you are outsourcing the manufacturing of the pastisol transfers, you must consider turnaround time and shipping costs in addition to everything else. If you are making the plastisol transfers in-house, you must consider the added cost of the transfer paper, glue powder, etc (and you still end up tying up your main screen printing press to manufacture the transfer sheets).
This method allows you to re-label your garments without the need to occupy your screen printing equipment, and the cost of the direct print is less than the cost of plastisol transfers. However, pad printing is not as common as other methods of printing and not all shops have chosen to invest in this particular variety of equipment. Additionally, the cost of creating the plates can be less cost-effective than traditional screens, and you still need to run the shirts through a curing system of some sort (tunnel dryer, etc) to permanently set the ink.
While any one of the aforementioned techniques would work well for private garment relabeling, there is now a solution available that makes it easier, faster and more cost effective than ever before!
We are pleased and excited to introduce the ASPE “LP” Label Printer, also known as the “RapidTag” printer (depending on where you buy it); much like the iPad and other recent innovations, this all-in-one system satisfies a need that most of us didn’t even know we had…. While some people might glance past it and wonder to themselves “why would I ever need a miniature automatic screen printing press, especially if I already have a full sized one”, most people will quickly recognize what makes this such a welcome development… This system allows any shop to quickly and cost-effectively relabel garments like never before, performing all necessary steps on-board so there is no need for additional equipment (such as a device for curing, etc). Rather than stopping or slowing down production on your screen printing equipment, you can now print all your labels (and for that matter, small sleeve prints, on-the-pocket prints, nape of neck prints, small odd print locations, etc) on a small, highly efficient setup that won’t interfere with any of your existing profit centers – after all, why should you stop printing the big jobs on your main press, just to knock out some little tag prints (especially since most people are charging a buck or a few bucks for a standard screen print, but much less for a small tag print)??
The ASPE “LP” Label Printer is capable of producing up to 2,000 prints per hour with very little effort, completely printing and curing each item before it is removed from the machine! This means that one person can load blank garments and unload fully cured garments in one rotation, stacking them as they go without the need for additional production steps. However, although the machine is certainly capable of producing such a large number of items in a single hour you still might need an additional helper to assist with keeping up with production…. Unless of course you can load and unload garments at the rate of 1.8 seconds per item, without help!
- Incredibly fast! Even at a conservative rate, it is easy to knock out 1,000+ prints per hour with a single employee. In full blown production mode, speeds up to 2,000 prints per hour are possible (printed and cured, although you’ll probably need two employees to keep up with that speed).
- Screens are considerably smaller than traditional screen printing equipment – this means setup is far less costly than traditional screen printing (and much faster). Use less emulsion and spend less time masking screens!
- Fastest relabeling method we have seen so far, especially when you consider that the garments are printed and cured on the same machine.
- By far the least expensive process for printing tag prints and other small images (no need for additional equipment for curing, no need for transfer paper, glue powder, etc).
- Small footprint allows the machine to be placed almost anywhere – minimal air and power requirements make it incredibly flexible in terms of placement.
- Automatic laser sensors determine if an item is loaded onto the platen as it passes under the screen; if no item is detected, the system will skip the platen and move to the next one. This means if the machine is moving too fast for you to load, it won’t arbitrarily print directly onto the platen! Smart.
- Flexible design – available in various configurations from single color all the way up to 6 color!
- Small platens are perfect for other small print items, such as can coozies!
- This machine is so fast, you really need to pay attention when you are loading the garments – otherwise, you might risk loading some off-center during the process.
- You need to buy multiple sets of platens to accommodate various substrates (can coozies, for instance) – plan ahead and make sure you get any necessary accessories before you start taking orders!
- Screens are expensive to purchase, relative to their size – expect to pay around $15 for each screen; that’s pretty close to the cost of standard, full size screens! Once you own the screens, actually burning images onto them is far less costly than traditional-sized screens.
- No direct “off contact” control – while this is not a feature that all screen printers take advantage of during the printing process, those that are used to using it on other printing presses will likely miss the ability to fine-tune this setting.
The construction of the ASPE “Label Printer” is incredibly sturdy, given its relatively small size – every part on the machine is obviously built with the highest quality parts, and the machine is quite heavy overall. When you are moving this thing around your shop, you will know you are moving a heavy-duty industrial piece of equipment! The specific model we have been using in our sister shop is a single color, 5-platen system with two halogen flash units to cure the ink – however, when ordering your system you can actually select custom configurations that can include up to six colors.
When our machine arrived, it was only a matter of minutes before my production manager had everything set up and ready to go; although he did have to ask a few questions to make sure he did everything correctly, his prior experience with automatic screen printing presses made the transition quite natural. Once the machine is assembled, you have an entire host of options available to determine the actual printing behavior – here are just some of the available adjustments:
- The number of passes that the squeegee will make on each item, before moving on to the next.
- The speed of the squeegee as it pulls the ink across the screen.
- The speed of the platen rotation as it moves from one station to the next.
- The dwell time for the curing units.
Since many of these adjustments are made via a small touch screen interface, changing the settings between jobs is incredibly fast and easy; you can set up one job and make adjustments in moments, prior to moving on to the next job – this results in very little downtime between print jobs. At the end of the day, the most notable thing about the “Rapid Tag” is the ability to create a strong, reliable profit center around one piece of equipment – coming from a DTG background, many of us are used to slow production speeds and high overhead (with a fair amount of maintenance and troubleshooting throughout the process); this printer allows us to produce high volumes of product with relatively low overhead, enabling us to add new products and services to our roster while maximizing the efficiency of existing products (coozies and tag labels, for instance). Check out the following video of the machine in action at Fusion Logistics Group (www.fusionlogisticsgroup.com) and see just how much money you can make with this thing in a VERY short period of time: Make Over $100 in Under 9 Minutes with the ASPE LP / Rapid Tag Printer!
The manufacturer of this machine, ASPE, is based out of Temecula, CA and has a long history developing high quality printing equipment (you can check out their website here to learn more about the company). Alex Szyszko (the main man over at ASPE) is a master of motion control systems and has developed a sturdy, reliable machine that is designed to make money all day long. While visiting their facility, I was taken for a quick tour that included a look at the manufacturing area; there were certainly no shortage of machines on the floor, evidence of the popularity of this unit – the shop is filled with built machines then they are all shipped out and a new batch is built… These guys are certainly not operating on a small scale, and that gives me a great deal of confidence in their future in this industry, and I look forward to new innovations and developments coming out of their shop!
If you are interested in additional information about this unit, please contact us today or view the item in our online store.