I went to the ISA Sign Expo in Orlando, FL yesterday. What an amazing event to attend!
Trade shows are one of the top ways to connect with other professionals in your industry, learn amazing techniques, and experience what new equipment is hitting the market. Wide format prints were everywhere – flatbeds, which I’ve never seen before, rollers of all sizes, makes and models, fabric and canvas printers, printers that go direct onto a substrate or 3D object, such as a lunch box, and so much more!
Roland makes this incredible wide format printer that I watched print onto white, aluminum lunch boxes. There was a row of 5 boxes and the printer did a different, full color design on each one all at the same time. It was incredibly cool!
There were all kinds of direct-to-substrate printers at the show, ones that went directly onto PVC boards, plastic coroplast signage, etc. There were engraving machines, machines that cut out 3D shapes and pieces from a large piece of wood or plastic. I mean, I saw things that I didn’t even know existed!
One such company had a booth set up with an artistic sign competition! Clients used their substrate printers to cut and print a variety of shapes, then pieced together some incredible sign displays. There was voting for the best in show. I couldn’t believe that people made these signs this way – I mean the work was stunning, out of this world.
There was this octopus display with the arms shooting up from the ground and faucets and pirate trinkets, a tank display that was sharp beyond compare, and so many others.
Moving on from the actual printers, there were also all kinds of cool cars with graphics being wrapped right in front of us. Of course some cars were already wrapped, but it was fun to watch other professionals do their work. This baby was beautiful! I wish my car looked half as good as the vehicles at ISA.
I think the most exciting thing that I came across was the direct-to-garment printers. These are full color printers that print images and colors directly onto t-shirts. How cool is that? I mean, I knew that these types of printers were out, that there was dye sub and direct-to-garment, etc but I guess I didn’t quite understand the differences between the two.
Direct-to-garment printers have size restrictions, and print full color images onto already sewn/made t-shirts.
Dye sublimation printers print images and designs on to big sheets of fabric. The fabric is then sewn together to make the garment.
I got to watch these types of printers in action and see how the shirts came out. You really can’t beat that! This epson direct-to-garment printer is exactly the kind that I want.
At my current job I’m the Art Director, so I deal with the artwork for all orders coming in, for the sign, embroidery and screen printing departments. My main strengths lie in the t-shirt portion of our business, which is why this direct-to-garment printer made me so ecstatic. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the useful ways my boss could use one of these printers. We could make so much money!
Traditional screen printing takes a lot of set up, and like with my company, if you want to print even 4 colors on your t-shirt, you have to buy a minimum of 72 shirts. That’s a lot of shirts… and there are a lot of logos and designs that people want to put onto a shirt, but they don’t need 72 of them. With a direct-to-garment printer you can output a shirt in as little as 40 seconds, with full color graphics, and not have to spend 5 hours prepping and setting the job up.
YES! On a white shirt with just the colors being printed this Epson printer (pictured above) can take as little as 40 seconds to output the design on the shirt. And this is full color artwork, full color process artwork even! No spot colors, no heavy ink on the shirts, no separations, no films, no burning screens, no registration, no dryers – just one printer!
It seems like an incredible option to have, and man if I could afford one of these direct-to-garment printers on my own I would so get one. I could start my own t-shirt business!
I know that I want to get into writing for my career, but going to a trade show to learn about the industry I’m currently in was extremely helpful. And who knows, maybe I can get into the sign and graphics industry for my writing niche? Since I already know so much about it I bet I could put all of this knowledge to use!
It is my goal to continue learning, in whatever I do. You are never to old to learn! I know that this trade show was an amazing opportunity for me, and I could not be more excited that I had the chance to attend.
Keep your eyes and ears open folks and never stick your nose up to knowledge.