How Corporate Apparel and Printing Streamlined Screen Printing with Inkjet

Oberon Printing, based in River Falls, Wis., recently acquired a local screen printing shop to expand the company’s capabilities and product offerings. Adding the new division, Corporate Apparel and Printing, gives the company’s customers a full range of print and promotional products from which to choose.

LexJet Instant Dry Clear Polyester
Corporate Apparel and Printing, a division of Oberon Printing, River Falls, Wis., found a large-format inkjet solution to boost the quality of its acetates used for burning screens for screen printing with crisp renditions on LexJet Instant Dry Clear Polyester.

“When the corporate apparel business came up for sale it really fit well with everything else we do. We were missing that piece, so it helps us fill out our portfolio and provide our customers with more options, like printed apparel,” says owner Rob Payne.

The trick was to bring the screen printing process up to the level of print quality Oberon has built for its inkjet applications, which includes everything from commercial graphics to fine art and photo printing.

The answer was simple: find a better way to make film negatives and positives so that the screens created in the four-color screen-print process would burn clean and true.

“The old way of doing photo negatives and positives was using laser technology. The screens weren’t very dense and black and the exposures were low-quality, plus a lot of the emulsion would stay in the screens after we washed them out,” explains Payne. “We tried clear acetates on our Epson Stylus Pro 9900 to create color separations, but the optical sensors on the printer would not read the presence of the film.”

Carey Masera, Payne’s printing specialist at LexJet, recommended LexJet Instant Dry Clear Polyester as a possible solution.

“With the Instant Dry Clear Polyester the printer picks up the slight blue tint of the film right away; it doesn’t have any issue seeing it. The clarity of the ink deposition is just beautiful; the blacks are super dense. It’s instant-dry, so we don’t we have to worry about smudging or streaking like we would with other inkjet acetates we tried in the past,” says Payne. “The quality of our final product has improved tremendously because everything is so crisp and black. It has really impacted our process, not only in our quality, but in our speed out the door. We couldn’t be happier.”

Payne adds that they often had to print two or three acetates for one color separation and line them up to get the density needed to burn the screen. With Instant Dry Clear Polyester, Payne says they only have to print it once and it’s ready.

“Carey helped us a lot with just this product recommendation. He’s the only one who really follows up and seems interested in our business. We don’t get that level of service from other vendors, and we’ve been very happy with LexJet in general,” adds Payne.

The majority of the screen printing at Corporate Apparel and Printing is done on t-shirts, hats, jackets and other apparel, with a smattering of high-volume banner and poster printing, as well as the more industrial application of printed circuit boards.

Promotional Production with Sunset Production Matte Canvas

Printing photos on canvas

Always looking for an edge, Dan Johnson, owner of Dan Johnson Photography in Grand Rapids, Mich., has found one with LexJet’s new Sunset Production Matte Canvas.

A longtime proponent of the Sunset canvas line, particularly Sunset Select Matte Canvas, Johnson was looking for a canvas that would split the difference between consistent quality and economy for his “mass market” work.

When it comes to custom canvas projects, Johnson generally sticks with the more high-end Sunset Select Matte Canvas, but he also prints what he calls a “promotional” product: consumers find Johnson through an online promotional site and send Johnson a photo they want on canvas. It’s quick and easy for Johnson to produce and provides a consistent cash flow, he says.

The Sunset Production Matte Canvas helps boost margins a bit and those on the receiving end are quite happy with what they’re getting.

“We got our first roll of the canvas recently and printed 10 to 12 pieces from it right off the bat. Within a couple of days, clients who received their canvases left really positive comments on Facebook or directly through email,” says Johnson. “My first impression of the canvas was that it lets light through, but once you coat it, paper the back and hang it on the wall it doesn’t matter. No one hangs it with light purposely showing from the back. Ultimately, I was impressed: the color comes off just right and it works perfectly with Sunset Satin Coating. And, because it’s not as thick, it’s easier to stretch and make the corners look really nice.”

When Johnson fulfills the order he includes a coupon that sends these customers to his website for more.

“We hope we get them back and that they’ll want more canvas or other types of prints. We can provide a fairly consistent cash flow with these promotional offers. The cost savings with the Sunset Production Matte Canvas is fantastic and is very helpful for us with these promotional products,” says Johnson.