Like most screen printing shops, your business thrives on custom t-shirt prints. You’ve embraced sweatshirts, caps and even jackets as a way to cross sell existing customers and attract new customers. You’re looking for new products to appeal to customers so you can continue to expand your sales. That might lead you to the perfect new product: Umbrellas.
Not all screen printing shops are quick to embrace customizing umbrellas, but they should be. Umbrellas appeal to nearly any client. They are perfect for corporate clients looking to gift branded items to customers. Many businesses, from car dealerships to hair salons, benefit from having custom umbrellas on hand for customers to use. Umbrellas with team logos are perfect for fans who might be sitting on sidelines in rainy weather. And not only do umbrellas have a broad-based appeal, they are versatile both in their types and their printing options. Umbrellas come in a variety of price points and sizes, and they can be customized with a variety of printing techniques. With a few tips, your screen printing shop can be selling your customers custom umbrellas in no time.
Screen printing on umbrellas might seem cumbersome, but it’s actually quite simple when you employ a few tricks and get a little practice. Some tricks for screen printing custom umbrellas include:
▪ Use a custom pallet. A smaller, triangular pallet can allow you to print on one panel of an umbrella without needing to open the entire umbrella during printing. Depending on the design you want to print, you can use a pallet meant for printing on sleeves, purchase a pallet specially made for umbrellas, or even build your own custom pallet if you plan to make custom umbrellas an integral part of your business.
Anatol manufactures umbrella hold-down pallets
to make umbrella screen printing quick and easy.
▪ Use nylon ink or an ink additive. Most umbrellas are made from nylon, or perhaps a smooth polyester. That means plastisol ink will sit on top of the fabric and won’t easily bond with it. You can use an ink meant for printing only on nylon, or you can use a plastisol additive that will help plastisol ink bond with the umbrella fabric.
▪ Preheat the fabric. The synthetic fabric used for umbrellas will shrink when hit with heat. This can cause registration or smearing problems when screen printing on umbrellas. To avoid this, hit the portion of the umbrella you plan to customize with heat from your flash cure unit or heat gun before you lay down your ink.
▪ Use an adhesive. The slick material of an umbrella will shift under the pressure of a squeegee. Use an adhesive to keep umbrellas still during printing. Fortunately, the lack of lint that comes with umbrella’s fabric means you will get a lot of mileage out of your adhesive when printing on umbrellas.
▪ Flash your ink before moving your umbrellas. It can be difficult to transport umbrellas from the screen printing press to the conveyor dryer without smearing the ink. To avoid ruining prints before they’re cured, gel the ink under the flash cure unit or with a heat gun before removing them from the press. You’ll know the ink is adequately gelled because it will turn from glossy to matte.
▪ Use cardboard backing when curing. You can use your flash cure unit or heat gun to entirely cure your custom umbrella, but it is possible to cure umbrellas in a conveyor dryer to speed up the process. Place a flat piece of cardboard behind the printed panel to keep the image flat while the folded umbrella travels through the conveyor dryer.
▪ Give the ink time to set. Resist the urge to call your client as soon as your umbrellas have finished printing. Allowing the finished product to rest for 24 to 48 hours gives the ink further time to bond with umbrellas fabric, meaning the image will be less likely to wear away for your customer.
If your shop also does heat transfers, your heat press can provide you with a quick and easy way to customize umbrellas. To successfully heat transfer onto an umbrella:
▪ Use a smaller pallet. Like screen printing on an umbrella, using a smaller pallet when putting a heat transfer on an umbrella will make the job easier. You can use a sleeve-sized pallet, or if your shop has a heat press that’s designed for printing on caps, that will work perfectly for transferring onto umbrella panels. You also can purchase pallets specifically for heat transferring onto umbrellas.
▪ Don’t preheat. Some substrates will bond better with heat transfers when the substrate is preheated before the transfer is applied. This isn’t the case with umbrellas. It’s best to place the transfer on a cold umbrella and press the transfer on as you normally would.
▪ Use a pad. If you’re transferring onto a smaller umbrella, or if you’re transferring a larger image, the ribs of the umbrella can get in the way of your press. To avoid this problem, place a rubber pad or soft surface under the portion of the umbrella to be logoed. Not much pressure is needed for transferring images onto umbrellas, so the give of the pad won’t impact your transfer, but it will allow the ribs of the umbrella to sink down under the press to allow the press and image to come completely into contact with the surface of the umbrella.
▪ Use tape. As with screen printing, the smooth surface of an umbrella will shift easily under the pressure of a heat press. Use heat-resistant tape to hold the umbrella to the pallet so that it won’t shift and disrupt the image transfer.
Whether you’re customizing umbrellas on your screen printing press or heat transfer unit, you’ll find the process quick and easy once you get the hang of it. Practicing will help; fortunately cheap umbrellas are easy to find at discount stores, which means you can try your hand at customizing umbrellas inexpensively so you’ll be well skilled when it comes to customizing umbrellas for your clients.
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