Thursday, July 10, 2014

The evolution of garment curing solutions.

We are going to take a trip back in time.  

Let's go back to the 80's when t-shirt printing began its meteoric rise to the behemoth the industry is today.  Before that time, very few people had screen printed shirts.  These shirts were printed with air-dry ink that did not have durability.  The development of the conveyor curing oven and plastisol inks changed everything.

Harco was and early leader in the new plastisol curing market.  Some of the first items were small, clever and efficient.  The Shuttle Flash was well received and handled the volume of many manual printers of that era.  However, conveyors were needed to speed things up.


Harco became the manufacturer of many brands of ovens.  The same oven was painted brown, blue and green.  It had at least 3 different logos that were printed on them.  These ovens offered unique features not found in others, such as cal-rod heaters, fan cooled temperature controls, thermocouples that read chamber temperature and variable temperature control.

All of these features are still used in current ovens.
The technology has advanced but the benefits of these basics has remained constant.

Moving into the future.

The t-shirt business morphed into a large industry that includes athletic printing, community printing and garments in every retail store in the world.  Volume is key.  The electric oven is the standard in most community printer shops and the electronics in these units has advanced into solid state controls.

Volume production has been set up around the world.  Shirts are printed in bulk in 2nd and 3rd world nations as the labor is less expensive and regulations are light.  The large production houses have added gas heated ovens to their print lines to increase volume.  Gas in many parts of the world is less expensive than electricity.

Harco never sold gas ovens in volume.  The ovens were created and sold but the majority of the company's time was spent helping community printers expand their business and understand the changing garment and ink technologies.

What happened next?

Yes, this is a history lesson.  But there is a point.  Hold on.

The TRX is now the top of the line textile dryer in the industry.  It still has all the features of the ovens from the early days but it offers much, much more.  Digital technology in a touch screen interface puts this model at the top of the game.  We could brag about this for another paragraph or so, but this is a history lesson.  So if you need more information, click here.

New industries create new challenges.

So the t-shirt printing world is ever changing.  The direct to garment printers were first introduced in the early 2000's.  We saw the first one at the ISS Long Beach show and knew that they would change the way garments are decorated.  It has taken a few years but this technology is the future.  So how has the curing of printed changed?

First transfer machines were used.  These garments have to be handled a lot before they can be shipped.  That problem is being resolved at an exponential rate.  The curing answer is the DragonAir series of dryers.  Again, we can tell you all about them here but it is faster if you visit the web site.

The future?

Ok, so why did you read this history lesson?  What was the point?  

The point is that this industry is ever changing.  We have engineers on staff that are constantly researching the changes in garment printing production and are creating solutions to new problems.
What does that really mean?  Visit us at SGIA to find out.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Expanding your business with on-site printing

All businesses, large or small, are looking to expand their market potential.  While repeat customers must be catered to and require constant attention, developing new business is how a business grows.  For many companies new business is created by the development of new products but another option is to expand into new markets.  At Brown, our engineers are always creating new and exciting products.  But additionally, we are now expanding into the global market and showing at new events.  This is expanding our product line and our customer base.

What are your expansion options?



One possibility is by offering products on-site at events.  These events can be festivals, markets, sporting tournaments or maybe your front side walk.  Summer offers this opportunity for those in colder climates and tourism feeds economic growth.  What are your options for printing on-site?

  • pre-print goods for the event.  In this way your are prepared and there is no initial on-site stress.  When you sell out, you go home.  The stress comes in 2 ways.  You either run out too soon, or you are stuck with inventory you cannot sell.  
  • Create or order heat transfers that you apply on site.  This is a great way to manage inventory.  You only press what you sell and the transfers are inexpensive to throw away.  There are two negatives.  One is that many people do not like the feel of heat transfers and, two, you do not generate a feeling of excitement within your booth.  You could have sold more.
  • The final option is to print on-site.  You only print what you need.  Customers receive a printed shirt, which many people feel is a higher quality than a transfer.  And you create an excitement within your booth that people want to watch the garments being printed and may buy more.

So what is involved in on-site direct printing?


First, if you think you should pull the equipment from your shop and set it up at a new location, think again.  That is a quick way to frustrate yourself and lose money.  The shop needs to be left alone to produce the work it was set up to do.

Second, if you think you can print on any used stuff you find cheap, then remember what it is like when your press doesn't hold register and your dryer breaks down.  Frustration and no money.

The answer is an inexpensive and portable set up that is designed to roll in and out with easy power hook up and real printing capabilities.  The size of machine you decide on is determined by your budget and your vehicle size.  

There are many options.  Just remember that you need the basics.  A multi-color printer, a tunnel oven and a flash dryer.  Unless you own a generator, then plan on all these items needing 120V power that you can "borrow" from the event.  You can start with table top machines that are small enough to load in a hatch back, or scale up to a PonyXprs that loads into a pick up or a small trailer.  With either of these options, there are profits to be made.

Your only final decision is where to start.  


If you have a business in an area with heavy foot traffic, how about starting in your parking lot.  Like a tent sale, only with new stuff.  The next option is to find the next street fair in your town.  The cost to show is minimal and you will pick up long term customers there as well.  Once you have tried on-site you will see the benefits and the increased customer base.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our machinery and our warranty are long term.

After seeing the number of vintage Harco and Brown machines that are still in production we thought we would review our warranty statement.  We are most concerned with customer satisfaction, long term customer relations and helping our customers grow their businesses.

With machines from the 1980's still producing goods we are confident in our long term solutions.




But, for those who would like to know, our warranty is this for the original owners of Brown machinery:

  • 1 year full warranty
  • 3 year warranty on all cal-rod style heaters
  • 15 year warranty on all product chassis
  • 7 year warranty on printer registration gate systems
  • 2 year software upgrades
It is our belief that customers expect a solid investment in Brown products and we agree that machinery should be designed to provide consistent, maintainable production for many years.  
This is why our warranty is written with long term goals.

Brown has been a part of the screen print machine manufacturing world since 1979.  We choose design features that are durable and reliable.  As examples, the registration gate systems in our presses are hardened steel.  These are integral parts of the long term performance of the press.  These are not wear parts that re changed or adjusted.  It is thinking like this that has driven our design for over 30 years.

When considering expanding your business with new screen printing equipment, plan on your future.  Plan on printing on your machinery, not spending days repairing it.  Plan on Brown to help build your business future.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The test of time

We asked customers to submit photos of Brown and Harco machinery that they owned for years and are still using in production.  The response was amazing.  We also started collecting some photos of machines that we know are in production because they are from service calls within the last 6 weeks.  Again, we are pleased and surprised at the age and durability of our products.

We think this is an indication that our products are excellent investments.

Some of our favorite photos came from customers who showed old and new in production together.  The oldest combo is this SuperPrinter from 1983 and the ElectraPrint Jr. from 2012.

Side by side they deliver results every day.
Courtesy of Clay Tees Printing
We also noticed that a clean shop means machinery that lasts.  Notice how clean these are?

These are vintage in great condition.  Both are circa 1987.
Courtesy of O'Callahans

Courtesy of Custom 31 Graphics
We received many other photos.  Some looked old, but they were not quite as antique as the customer thought.  They were all in working condition and it was a bit of a walk down memory lane for our staff.

So, what is the oldest machine that we saw?  Well, the photo of the complete unit was never sent, but close-ups were.  Also sent, was the original sales material from when they purchased the unit.

Vintage 1979.  

Courtesy of DeMans Team Sports
We thank all the people who sent in photos.  If you have some, please send.  We are working on a video montage of these.  So the more the merrier.



Friday, March 21, 2014

Vintage machinery. How old it too old?

How old are the machines in your shop?

Every day our service technicians talk to people who are running vintage, museum quality, Harco printing machines.  We still have parts to fix most of these machines and are often amazed that they are still in production.  And, as we since earn our living by selling new equipment, we are dismayed that they are still functioning perfectly.  We do comment to Wes, our founder, that maybe he should not have made them so durable.

It does tell something about what we do and who we are.  We appreciate that shirt decorators want machines that last for years with durability and dependability.  Printers use their machines every day and these machines take quite a pounding.  Often, customers are so busy printing that maintenance is delayed but they still need the machines to perform at optimum levels.  Again, we have Wes to thank for designing printers and dryers that can do this.

We have dug through the archives and found photos of some of the original products that were produced.  Many of the products still look similar to what we produce today.

Machine history video.



The question for you:  

Are you still running machinery that is vintage?  Is it still productive or does it have capacity for what you are producing today?  If you wonder about either of those questions, then you should consider new.  We take trade-ins for what you have and understand how needs change.


Looking to trade up?

Do you have machinery in your shop that is vintage?  Send us a photo of what you have and earn a 25% discount in the month of March.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Friends and Family Social Media Connections

Connecting with our customers is our primary business.
We focus most of our sales time on getting in touch with our customers.  We prefer direct interaction on trade show floors and being in our customer's locations.  We spend most every day on the telephone with our customers discussing printing problems and suggesting ways to improve their businesses.  After all this time together, we consider most of our customers to be our friends and many of them feel like family.

In this era of social media and online connection we have added many ways for our customers to keep up with our new products, product specials and technical advice.  All of these social connections have their own unique value.  Some, like this one, allow us to explore technical issues in depth.  Others give us the opportunity to shout out special offers and quick tips.

Additionally, as this is a connection between friends, we share, retweet, tag and repost any event or happening our customers post.  So if you are trying to expand your web presence, connect with us.

Here is a list of ways our customers can find us on the web.


Facebook

On Facebook we have 2 pages.  Our main Brown Facebook page has daily specials and information about upcoming events.  Our BrownDigital Facebook page offers insight and product information on the DragonAir product line.  We also share what other members in our industry has posted.  This is a great way to keep up on  some interesting magazine articles and blogs.

Twitter

Twitter has the specials of the day and additional information on what is happening at events as they happen.  #ISS, #NMB, #DAX, #SGIA, and #PPAI are just some of the hashtags you will see on our twitter feed.

Brown Blog

We also write a blog each month, as you are reading.  We use this space to provide technical direction, new product information and highlight trade show information.  This is a space that gives more than tidbits and sound bites and provides details on how new products and technology can increase your productivity and profitability.


E-blast Newsletter

Monthly we send out our specials and our event information to our Friends and Family customers.  By signing up for our monthly e-blast you will be the first to hear news.  Just send us your email address and we will add it to our list of subscribers.  And do not worry we do not share this list with anyone.  Remember, we think of you as Friends and Family and we treat you that way.

YouTube Channel

If you are looking for detailed product information and instructions on products you own, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.  In addition to having instructional and product information videos available, we had a #YouTubeChallenge for our customers that asked for product endorsements and cool stuff printed on Brown machines.  There are some great videos that came from some very creative people.  If you have one, tag BrownMfg with your video and we will add it to our playlist.


Vine

We are just beginning to play with Vine.  Yo may see some fun stuff and some of our people working hard.  Only 6 seconds?  We think they are worth watching.

If you have a vine video that shows what you print with Brown Equipment, then tag us, BrownMfg.  We will share it with our followers.


LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is an interesting way to connect with people professionally.  Though many of our employees have accounts, we have created a company page that should keep people better informed as to what we do and what new items we are offering.  Make a connection with our company page.  It is a great resource for new ideas.



eBay

Our store lists some smaller items that can be purchased directly online.  Flash cure units and small printers that are easy to UPS can be purchased directly through Ebay and there are some shipping specials that are applied to those purchases.  Additional items will be added as time allows.



Skype, LiveChat, eMail

There are also other ways that we are available for contact.  You can use Skype, brownmfg, or LiveChat from our web site.

Call us!  We like talking directly to people.

The easiest connection to us is by phone.  We are here from 7:30am to 6:00pm EST and our cell phones are always on (unless we are flying).  You will not find an automated attendant at the other end of the call.  Our people, the Brown Family, are here to serve our customers.  So call 616-249-0200 with any questions you have.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trade Show season begins

The 2014 show season kicked off with a new event.  The NBM Printwear show was held last weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  This event was small but we are excited by any chance we get to talk face to face with our customers.








This was the premier event for this year's show specials.  We want to heat things up a bit with free flash cure units and screen dryers.


The next show opens today in Las Vegas.  This is the PPAI Show.  We are exhibiting in the Decorate Pavilion with our ElectraPrint Junior and TRXi Curing System.  This event gives us the opportunity to talk with a wide range of specialty producers.  This sparks our creativity.


The final event for January is one of our favorite.  The Imprinted Sportswear Show held at the Long Beach Convention Center.  We have a row of booths to present our full line of production machines.  The DragonAir will be on display as well as some old favorites like the MasterPrinter and NumberPrinter lines.






We look forward to seeing all of our friends on the West Coast and any others who use these events to escape the cold of winter.  If you are looking to expand your printing capacity now is the time to get a great deal.  Stop in to any of the upcoming events and ask for details.