Build Your Business:

The Innovation Era = Now

Check out these new developments that can help take your shop to the next level.

By Marshall Atkinson, Contributing Writer

May 30, 2019

This is an exciting time for the decorated-apparel industry. So many new things are happening not only in our market, but also in surrounding ones, so it may be hard to keep up.

This article will tackle a few things, in no particular order, that will have a direct impact on the industry we all know and love.

Let’s dive right in!

Not much has happened with commercial embroidery during the past few years that could make as dramatic of an impact on its landscape as the Coloreel breakthrough.

Embroiderers stack a limited number of thread cones on top of their machines to use for production. In any design, the colors used are governed by how many thread colors can be fed into the machine at a time.

The Coloreel innovation works by instantly coloring the thread during production — one thread, but limitless colors. The unit is an add-on to any existing commercial embroidery machine as a head attachment. This means better efficiency for shops, as they don’t have to switch out thread colors or even keep stock of threads for production.

Instant and true color gradations are a piece of cake with the Coloreel unit. In the hands of an embroidery designer, the use of color in production will change completely. Can you imagine the subtle variations that could produce better effects and dimension? New textures, shapes and designs could be built in background fill areas. An outline, traditionally only one color, could have several color shifts as it progresses around a shape.

Think about how puff embroidery could change as the color shifts not just on a flat surface, but also around the raised shape. It’ll be interesting to see how this technology influences commercial embroidery designs and production.

With the advent of online stores, shops may be searching for the right workflow system that can help them push out large numbers of smaller-quantity orders.

Enter Smake. Don’t let the funny-sounding name fool you; the Smake Value Production Workflow (VPW) is set up to organize production and keep you on track. These guys are the masters of lean technology and workflow.

The folks at Smake have a lot of experience in textile finishing and, coupled with their IT knowledge, have built a solid workflow-tracking system. Orders can start with an online store. For each step along the way, Smake tracks and controls the process. Mistakes are prevented and the process is highly interactive.

If you’re not a production house, no worries. Smake has an application programming interface (API) that can be used on your website to completely outsource production. Plus, you can outsource the work to a group of decorators that use Smake, ensuring a closed loop.

Smake is available in ten languages and supports 24 currencies.

SAATI LTS 6080 and LTS 1015
In 2018, SAATI created a lot of industry buzz with its high-resolution, direct laser image and exposure unit: the LTS 6080. With zero consumables, the machine can image and expose a screen in a single step.

But for this year, the company has made some new changes. While the LTS 6080 could handle screens up to 25″ x 36″, the new LTS 1015 can image up to a maximum size of 53″x 65″. The company also increased the laser power from 96 laser arrays to 160. What does this mean? Now, you can image and expose two 25″ x 36″ screens simultaneously. It even has enough firepower to work on high-density capillary film.

The speed is based on which of the five resolutions you prefer: 2,540, 1,693, 1,270, 1,016 or 847 dpi. The higher the resolution, the longer it will take to complete the process.

For shops that churn through a high volume of screens each day, this could be an ideal solution because of the system’s speed and lack of consumables.

‘Live Printing’ Ryonet Gig Cart
One of the most popular trends in the industry is live printing. This is where the print shop goes to an event — be it a sporting event, festival, business opening or any other non-traditional venue — and prints in front of a crowd.

However, lugging all the equipment, screens, ink and accessories needed to do the job is cumbersome and
doesn’t work well. But if rock bands can do it, then so can screen printers. Ryonet has solved that with its new “Live Printing” Ryonet Gig Cart.

Here’s how it works: There are three things to consider when transporting gear to an event — something you can drive with, get shipped or taken on an airplane. Since most shops get to a location by driving, it makes things easier logistically. But this mode of transportation requires solid construction, casters and the mobility to move in and out of a truck or trailer and across a variety of surfaces at any event.

The Ryonet Gig Cart uses heavy-duty road casters that can move up and around nearly anything. But for flying or shipping, you must protect the system with a custom crate or a modified touring road case to contain it during transit. These carts need to stay upright.

The Ryonet Gig Cart becomes the stand and the press sits on top for production. Inside the cart, locking doors contain drawers for inks, screens and other items. It’s a self-contained shop on wheels. Ryonet recommends a Vastex D-100 dryer for location printing, which also can sit on top of one of these carts for easy setup and extra storage underneath.

The Gig Cart is available this month.

ThreadFast RFID-Enabled T-Shirt
Let’s say you market to gyms, event planners or businesses that need to know if someone is present. Do you have an apparel blank that could impact those companies?

The ThreadFast 100A RFID Enabled T-shirt could. RFID, or radio frequency identification, refers to digital data-encoded tags that capture information by a reader via radio waves. So when that gym member or factory worker walks through the door wearing this shirt, he instantly gets tagged, which means he can be logged or clocked in without any action taken by the staff. Imagine a T-shirt in a 5K race that could be used to start and stop runner times. It’s an instant, frictionless way to provide more value for your clients. All you have to do is decorate the shirt.

The ThreadFast 100A RFID T-shirt is made of a 4.8-ounce, 60/40 cotton/poly blend. It combines sustainable cotton and REPREVE recycled polyester. Colors are limited to black, white and heather gray. When sales expand, other colors will be added.

The RFID technology is built into a patent-pending, small woven label on the shirt’s bottom hem. So for that next gym-membership drive, 5K race or manufacturer that needs employee uniforms, this could be just the thing that differentiates your shop.

‘Profit First’
How is this book, written by Michael Michalowicz, considered an innovation for the decorated apparel industry?

Well, it’s simple: Shops are businesses, and not many shops decorate shirts when they go out of business. Using the techniques in “Profit First,” many shops now are in better control of their cash flow than ever before.

The traditional approach to running a business is with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This states that if you sell something, you then subtract your costs and are left with a profit. However, for many shops, that profit never materializes, as they have too many expenses and financial challenges that creep up and bite into it.

“Profit First” flips the script, asserting that when the company sells something, the profit is subtracted first and allocated directly to the owner. The business then must survive on what is left. More shops are adopting this principle and securing more cash. This is an innovation that truly is making a difference.

You can read about how this book has impacted companies in the decorated apparel industry by reading a two-part series in the May 2018 and June/July 2018 issues of Impressions.

Gilbert, Arizona-based Marshall Atkinson owns Atkinson Consulting LLC. He focuses on operational efficiency; continuous improvement and workflow strategy; business planning; employee motivation; management; and sustainability. He also co-founded a decorated-apparel industry sales and marketing education company called Shirt Lab. For more information or to comment on this article, email Marshall at

The Game Changer

At Kornit Digital’s recent Discover event, held at the company’s North American headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey, it unveiled Kornit NeoPoly technology, which is the industry’s first digital, industrial process for high-quality DTG printing on polyester. Impressions was honored to be a part of the event, with editor-in-chief Marcia Derryberry speaking on a panel about direct-to-garment (DTG) trends.

Polyester is the second-largest category in the overall T-shirt market, is key in the sports segment, and is growing in the athleisure and functional-apparel segments. The fabric currently is printed predominantly by analog solutions, which creates major technological, cost and sustainability challenges.

Kornit’s NeoPoly technology is achieved by an innovative ink set, and a physical and chemical process specifically developed for low-temperature curing, and polyester-enhancing functionalities developed to maintain fabric characteristics and provide superior fastness, according to the company. This unique process prevents dye migration on polyester. The inks are Oeko-Tex and Eco-Passport certified and do not contain PVCs or other toxic ingredients.

The first system equipped with the NeoPoly technology is the new Kornit Avalanche Poly Pro, a member of the company’s highly productive industrial platform. The single-step Poly Pro allows for easy and cost-effective short runs and on-demand printing on polyester garments.

“Kornit is on a mission to reinvent the garment and textile printing industry with game-changing technologies for growing market segments,” says Omer Kulka, Kornit’s vice president of marketing and product strategy. “We continually work to break technology boundaries so that our customers can innovate and open new markets and new business opportunities while being more operationally efficient. The new NeoPoly technology is further proof of this innovation and reinvention mission.”

For more information, visit — M.D.