T Shirt and Sons introduce Epson t-shirt printing technology
Cutting-Edge Digital printing
Promotional clothing print company, T Shirt and Sons, uses Epson SureColor SC-F2000 direct to garment printer to offer print on-demand service to its customersBackground
When leading printing firm T Shirt and Sons Ltd was chosen to put Epson’s new SureColor SC-F2000 direct to garment printer through its paces they were hugely impressed.
Based in Westbury, Wiltshire, the company was set up in the late 1980s by brothers Jonathan and Andrew Lunt. It produces high quality printed and embroidered promotional clothing and accessories for a broad range of high profile clients, specialising in t-shirts and cotton bags made from Fairtrade and organic certified cotton. The company has gradually expanded over the years and now employs almost 40 people and produces around 40,000 t-shirts a week.
Digital printing is a relatively new venture for T Shirt and Sons. Adding another string to its bow means that it can now produce short print runs quickly, and at the exact time they are needed – something it wasn’t able to do before. “With digital every t-shirt can be different,” says Andy Lunt, MD, T Shirt and Sons. “For example, we can have one design printed on six different sizes of shirt which wasn’t feasible with screen printing, as every shirt would have to be set up individually - a long and costly process.”Solution
“We’ve worked the printer pretty hard. We’ve done all the things we shouldn’t do and it’s continued to work beautifully,” says Andy. “The quality of print and colour brightness are very impressive - by far the best I’ve seen from any textile desktop printer - but then Epson has had quite a few years of experience in this.”
The Epson SureColor SC-F2000 DTG printer is entirely designed and built by Epson – unique to this industry. It delivers maximum quality, superb productivity, ultimate flexibility and exceptional reliability. Online t-shirt shops, production t-shirt printers and even corporate users can print directly onto material made of 100% cotton or blended materials with a minimum of 50% cotton. Combined with high performance, low maintenance and running costs, it enables businesses to offer a high quality t-shirt design and print service that is fast and cost-effective.
Garment Creator software by Epson comes as standard with the SC-F2000 and enables designers to unleash their creativity and easily produce customised, eye-catching designs on t-shirts, caps and bags up to 25mm thick. “The software is straightforward,” says Andy. “We simply upload an image, click on it, set the parameters depending on whether it’s a white or black shirt, select the size, set the position and off you go". Garment Creator allows you to save predefined colour management and layout control pre-sets, making it easy to deliver consistent results. It also includes a cost calculation function, a useful tool which enables businesses to estimate the print cost by calculating the amount and cost of the ink used for each print job.
The SureColor SC-F2000 features Epson’s durable new TFP printhead and offers a resolution of 1440 x 1440 dpi for accurate dot shape and placement, its wide colour gamut produces vibrant colours, sharp contours and smooth gradations. The SC-F2000 uses Epson’s UltraChrome DG inks which are the perfect solution for t-shirt applications as they are hard wearing, crack resistant and feel soft against the skin. Users can also configure the system to suit their needs by choosing from two sets of CMYK ink for white garments or CMYK with up to four white inks for coloured garments. The SC-F2000 is capable of printing a single white t-shirt in 27 seconds when using dual colour mode and a dark coloured t-shirt in under two minutes, using white ink as a base colour, so production is quick without sacrificing print quality.
“Epson have really succeeded with its ink and its understanding of CMYK and the gamuts that go with that, “says Andy. “The quality of colour is so much better than any other ink system and the brightness is second to none. I can honestly say that the quality is as bright as a screen print, which is unusual for a digital print. The print feels soft and doesn’t crack – in fact, you’ll probably find that the shirt falls apart or you get fed up with the design before the print comes off the shirt.”
The t-shirt environment is never a good place for any technical piece of equipment because it’s hot and dusty - printers and printheads have to be robust. The automatic printhead cleaning and white ink circulation system reduces clogging and allows for excellent and consistent print output every time and its automated maintenance function means the SureColor SC-F2000 requires minimum daily maintenance, which increases productivity.
“There’s no doubt that anyone installing one of these printers is going to be very pleased with it,” says Andy. “It produces super quality, bright prints that are clean and precise. Although initially sceptical, it didn’t take long for my head printer to ask: ‘Can I have five of these please?’ If anyone is thinking of setting up a t-shirt printing business then this is the printer to buy".
T Shirt and Sons uses mainly water-based inks, along with PVC Free inks, in its quest to help reduce any negative impact on the environment. They continue to work with Fair Wear, Soil Association and Global Organic Textile Standars (GOTS) accredited suppliers and more recently, successfully completed the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA).
Epson’s UltraChrome DG ink fits in perfectly with the company’s ethos. Despite its ability to create a lasting visual impact, the ink is kind to those it comes into contact with. The eco-friendly ink has been awarded a part certification from Oeko-Tex® Standard 100, which means it doesn’t contain any harmful substances.