ImagesMagUK_Digital_Edition_March_2018 40 images MARCH 2018 INDUSTRY EVENT Marshall Atkinson is a leading production and efficiency expert for the decorated apparel industry, and the owner of Atkinson Consulting, LLC. Marshall focuses on operational efficiency, continuous improvement and workflow strategy, business planning, employee motivation, management and sustainability. He is a frequent trade show speaker, article and blog author, and is the host of InkSoft’s The Big Idea podcast. High-end DTG – the OvalJet If you are interested in what’s new in high-end direct-to-garment printers, you need to get up to speed on the OvalJet. The CEO of OvalJet is Blair Dorsey of the US DTG print company Dream Junction, which was reported by Kornit to have, at one point, six of its Avalanche 1000 printers. In DTG printing, workflow is king. High production facilities don’t want to constantly ‘touch’ the shirt, so pretreating separately, drying the pretreatment and then loading the pretreated shirt onto the printer for decoration is a lot of steps. High volume DTG shops prefer to use Kornit’s systems because they have the patent on the inline pretreatment system. This means that every step of production is handled on the machine so there are less steps in production. To date, only the Kornit system has a built-in pretreatment system. Kornit’s models print ink on the wet pretreatment on the shirt, inline on the machine. The new OvalJet challenges that by offering pretreatment on the machine inline, but completely drying the pretreatment before printing. This doesn’t violate Kornit’s patent. Because OvalJet didn’t want to display the printer at the ISS Long Beach show (they were showing a video), I took a field trip to their facility on Sunday morning to see the printer in action. It was pretty impressive. I timed the work and they were printing over 270 shirts an hour, with multiple design changes. It never stopped. Part of the process was a great system of barcoding each shirt to queue up the design for the printer. The press operator just kept feeding shirts onto the press and putting decorated shirts onto the dryer belt. This was actual production work as the maker of the printer also handles contract work for Shopify stores. Another impressive element to the system was a unique platen where the neck label and front print could be printed simultaneously with one pass. I can see an incredible opportunity for shops to offer variable data, limited edition or personalisation in the neck tag area for designs. Things just got more interesting... Software discoveries Walking the show I was able to catch up with other attendees from around the world. It was fun to hear their stories and excitement for 2018. Two of those interactions stand out above the others, as other printers can use their services. The first is a new software app called Separo. If your art department struggles with separating art, you should give this program a try. They have a free, 30-day trial period. Take the most difficult image you struggled with and even some easier regular work and put the software to the test. What’s interesting is with a press of a button, the app seps the files for you. They have a great slider bar to view the ‘before and after’ effect on how the software works. If your art department is backlogged with jobs, this is definitely a way to expedite this work and lower your cost. Another fun tool was demonstrated for me by Promo Hunt. This is a Chrome extension that allows you to curate products and create quick custom catalogue-type links to send to your customers. If your shop is in the promotional marketing space, this is a great way to build product collections that are custom to your customers needs. You can create a lot of functionality with this tool, plus it has a great price... it’s free. Imagine gathering all of the T-shirts you recommend, or maybe a ‘good, better, best’ array of hoodies and sending them in one link to your customer. Or drop that into your MailChimp marketing campaign. Promo Hunt allows you to aggregate products, build them into saved collections and send them out to your users. For a free app, it’s a great tool. The new lightweight, seamless caps from Outdoor Cap Marshall had an exclusive after-show viewing of the OvalJet I timed the work and they were printing over 270 shirts an hour, with multiple design changes