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What is Water-Based ink and why do you say its "freaking awesome?"

Screen Ink recently upgraded its conveyor dryer (big expensive machine that cures ink on shirts) for many reasons, but one being that we wanted to more frequently print water-based inks on shirts.

Water-based printing isn't for every job, but we would like you to give it a try if it suits your job.  I'll try to keep this brief.

Most shops use exclusively plastisol ink for all their garment printing.  Plastisol ink is basically liquid plastic that stays in liquid form until its heated to 320° and BAM! it turns into a solid.  How 'bout it science! For printers, its easy to use, never dries out on the shelves or in our screens and should last the duration of the shirt as long as it was printed and cured properly.

Water-based ink is a more environmentally safe ink that isn't a whole lot different from the inks you used in Mrs. Smith's art class as a kid to paint that horrible rendition of Van Gogh's "Starry Night."  It also has to be heated, but what makes it stay on the shirt is heating that ink enough to remove all the moisture (water) from the ink.  At the end of the day, if cured properly, the print should also last the duration of the shirt, but some light fading will occur.

So, why choose water-based over plastisol?  All the...not feels?  The best prints are the ones you can barely feel on the shirt.  Its almost as if the color was dyed into the fabric.  If you are layering several layers of plastisol (plastic ink) it can start to get a little bulky, especially with a big print area. 

By now you're probably bored out of your gourd.  If however, you are dying to know more, here's another article to check out from our friends at RYONET.

http://www.screenprinting.com/plastisol-vs-water-based-ink-for-textile-printing-1

Screenink 2.0 Upgrades

Its been two years now since we've moved into our new location at 1827 "O" street.  We couldn't be happier.  Not only do we have more space...lots more space...seriously a ridiculous amount of space compared to our old location, but we've been able to flex our muscles a bit and upgrade some key pieces of equipment.

#1: A New Conveyor Dryer

  • Double the space on the belt allows us to use both our auto press and manual press at the same time.
  • A longer dryer helps us key in our curing temps to eliminate color bleeding in polyester printing and allows for us to venture into waterbased ink printing (more on this in a later post).
  • Vented heat chamber has helped keep our shop temp at 82° compared to 106°

#2: A New Manual Press

  • Works in tandem with our auto press as they are both from the same manufacturer.
  • Increases production efficiency with multi-press compatibility of our shirt and sleeve print boards.
  • Small but perfect footprint. Our shop space has opened up and allows for improved foot traffic of our hard working crew.

#3 A Six-head Embroidery Machine

  • This is big.  From our humble beginnings doing embroidery, we've been using a machine that only stitches 1 item at a time.  Sometimes a design can take 15-20 minutes to stitch per piece. Now we can do 6 at a time exponentially decreasing the time it takes to complete a job.

#4 A New Two-Head Hat Press Machine

  • Now we can more efficiently process screen printed hat orders as well as heat pressed patches.
  • Digital timing and temperature control decreases potential errors in decoration application.

These upgrades are essential to us keeping our turnaround times as quick as possible while providing the quality work Screen Ink is known for in the Lincoln/Omaha area. 

How to Become a Merch Guru for your Band

You've come so, so far from your humble beginnings.  It started with a spark of teenage angst mixed with just the right amounts of Pink Floyd and 90’s Grunge (this would be my dream band).  Then, after years of fumbling through haphazard guitar licks and off-tempo drumming, you and your mates finally scrounged together a handful of originals topped off with an encore cover of “Stairway to Heaven” that lasts twenty-three minutes.

Now, you want some shirts, and so I offer this bit of advice that could possibly make or break your band’s future…START SIMPLE.

When I say “simple” I am suggesting a 1-color screen print on a budget t-shirt.  Too often, bands request 50 shirts with a 4-color design on a premium garment the first time they walk in the door.  That is not simple.  Let’s look at a price breakdown.

SIMPLE:

50 Shirts Printed on Budget Tees

Setup Fee: FREE (we waive a screen fee for each 36 shirts you buy)

Cost Per Shirt: $6.45

Total with Tax: $345.88

Let’s check your profit:

If you sell the shirts for $15 and sell out, you rake in a whopping $750.  Minus your initial investment, you've made $404.12 for your band!

Now, don’t get too ahead of yourself.  Set aside some money to buy more shirts.  You’ve started a snowball of financial genius that knows no bounds.  Also, buy a new mic, and replace the bassist Mike.  His negative vibe is killing the creativity of the band.  

NOT SIMPLE:

50 Shirts Printed on Premium Tees

Cost Per Shirt: $13.50

Total with Tax: $723.94

Let’s check your profit:

If you sell the shirts for $15 (because no one will probably pay $25 for a t-shirt at this point in your band’s career.  Face it, your not Nirvana…yet) and sell out, you’ve scraped together $750.  

Minus your initial investment of $721.26, and you've made a staggering $26.06 for your band.  Fail.

You’ve got no money to buy more shirts and a terrible microphone.  Either you’ll use this increased angst to write some new killer songs…or you’ll break up, move back in with your parents, and resort to giving guitar lessons for $8 a pop to your neighbor Billy who worships Nickelback.

In summation:  Keep it Simple, or you might as well start downloading Nickelback guitar tabs today.

The real cost of screen printing

I’m going to get real with you.  We have accounts with shirt vendors which allows us to order shirts on the cheap.  Compared to retail prices, our wholesale prices would probably make your jaw drop.  So you may be asking yourself, “Well then why the heck do I have to pay so much for my screen printed shirt?”  Good question.  Just for fun (well, fun for me) I thought I’d try and list the time and costs that go into the price of screen printed shirts.  From beginning to end, let the “Great experiment begin!”

1.  Quoting the job

  • Email/phone call correspondence
  • Locating the perfect shirt style and fit.
  • Calculating cost per shirt based on printing variables.
  • COSTS: Labor, Internet and phone service, electricity, printer paper

 2.  Taking the order

  • Filling out the order form
  • Inputing order into invoice software
  • Sending invoice/printout order for the shop
    • COSTS: Labor, Internet and phone service, invoice software, electricity, printer paper

 3.  Ordering the goods

  • COSTS: Labor, Internet and phone service

4.  Artwork

  • COSTS: Labor, Internet service, Adobe products service

5.  Receiving the goods

  • Checking in and counting each piece received
    • COSTS: Labor

 6.  Screen Prep

  • Emulsion Screens
  • Print off transparancies 
  • Line up artwork to be burned
  • Burn screens
  • Allow for dry time
  • Prepping screen
    • COSTS: Labor, emulsion, transparencies, electricity, water, tape

  

 

7.  Presstime

  • Setting up the job
    • COSTS: Labor, pallet tape, spray adhesive, on-press cleaner, sharpies, cleaning rags, scotch tape

 

8.  Cleanup

  • Take down the screens
  • Clean out ink
  • Remove tape
  • Remove emulsion from screen
  • Dehaze screen
  • Degrease screen
  • Rinse screen
    • COSTS: Labor, press cleaner, emulsion remover, dehazer, degreaser, electricty, water.

 

Now for the other costs:

Rent, payroll costs, equipment, maintenance, advertising, security system, refuse and recycling service, paper towels, toilet paper, pencils and pens, ink, batteries…

Okay,  I know I’ve left some things out, but hopefully this paints a better picture of the work, time, and money that goes into screen printing even one shirt, let alone 5000.  We’ll always do our best to find a happy balance of low cost shirts and well-paid employees.  

Inspiration: DKNG

We've been following the work of DKNG for quite awhile now.  They keep creating work seemingly at ease that on one hand makes us strive to get better at what we do, and on the other hand makes us want to "chuck it all" and give up on life.  Its a love/hate relationship.  Mostly we try and focus on the love.  Seriously though, these guys are fantastic. Thanks DKNG for inspiring us with your beautiful work.  Below are some of our favorites.





Brand Spotlight: Next Level Apparel

It wasn't long ago that American Apparel stood alone in providing shirts and apparel that set them apart in not only softness of fabric, but also a more "fashion" fit.  The problem was that it was hard to justify paying upwards of $5-$10/garment, especially when budgets are tight.

Now, however, there are handful of viable companies that provide superior softness at budget pricing.  Next Level Apparel is one of our favorites and they have certainly taken things to the...wait for it...NEXT LEVEL.  Yes, that just happened.

Next Level Apparel delivers the latest fashions with superb quality incorporating innovative fabrics that are heavenly soft at a value that is second to none. Our outstanding color palette, up to date styles and fit continue to define us as one of the leading suppliers of fashion blanks in the US market.
— http://www.nextlevelapparel.com/40/about-us.htm

LINCOLN Spotlight: Lied Center Presents "Puddin' and the Grumble"

At Screen Ink, we believe shirts are more than shirts.  Shirts are wearable pieces of art that speak identity, humor, style, brand, cause, and awareness.  When the Lied Center approached us about a recent project supporting an upcoming musical that brings awareness to child hunger here in Lincoln, it was an honor and a pleasure to get right to work.  Lincoln continues to prove itself to be a caring community full of people that work endlessly to help their neighbors.  We love LNK!

Puddin' and the Grumble is a creative musical with original screenplay crafted by Becky Boesen.  We are proud of the awareness Becky and her cast have created as they spotlight the daily struggles of children suffering in school from chronic hunger.  

Told through the eyes of a plucky 5th grader, PUDDIN’ AND THE GRUMBLE takes an unconventional approach to addressing childhood hunger...join Puddin’ and her trusty purple llama Wuzzlebutt on their heartbreaking and hilarious journey.
— http://www.beckyboesen.com

If you act fast, there are still tickets available that can be purchased here:

http://www.liedcenter.org/event/puddin-and-grumble

Meet Wuzzlebutt.  He looks majestic on this Next Level 100% Ringspun cotton t-shirt.  

Printing for: The Hub Cafe in Lincoln, NE

It is certainly an honor to partner with The Hub Cafe.  Within walking distance of Screen Ink, we've already enjoyed its fabulous food and drink.  The setup inside is cozy and beautiful.  Below are some pics we took on our first visit and we are excited to take many more trips for its fantastic locally sourced food and drink.  Here's a link to their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/HubCafeLincoln/