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.