How To: Have A Smoother Ordering Process

Sometimes in life there are opportunities to make things a whole lot easier on yourself (and others). Placing an order with us is no exception to that rule.

When you are ready, there are few simple steps you can take to guarantee a smooth and pain-free order process. Your Customer Service Rep may also want to hug you.

1. Details, Details, Details.

The more details you provide when you submit your quote request, the faster you’ll get your prints! Give us any and all details you have. There’s rarely such a thing as too much information in this case. The more we have the easier it is for our Customer Service Reps to quickly and accurately build your estimate with minimal back and forth and revisions.

What kind of details are we talking about?
  • Print location – Where do you want your design printed (Front, Back, Sleeve, etc)? Will you have more than one print location on the same shirt?

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  • Pantone colors – If you have any specific colors that you would like to print, you will need to provide us with a color from the Pantone Coated Swatch Book. If you don’t have a book, we will do our best to match the color we see on our screen to the one in your artwork, but be aware that oftentimes colors can appear differently from monitor to monitor.
  • Any special printing details – Does your print need to be a specific size? Does it need to be off-center? Remember, be specific if you need to!
  • Ink type – This will largely depend on the garment type you are using, however, let us know if you have a preference and we can tell you if it will work. You can learn more about your options here. You can also check out more about our ink printing styles in this blog post

2. Give Us the Breakdown.

We also need to know all the details about the garments you would like to print on. Which garments? Which garment colors? What is the size breakdown?  The more details, the merrier. Not sure which garments to print on? Don’t worry, just ask! One of our CSR’s can help you determine which garment(s) will be best for your particular project. You can also browse our garments here.

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When you’re figuring your number of garments, make sure you keep our minimums in mind! For example, all 1-2 color prints require a minimum of 24 pieces. You can get all the details about our minimums here.

3. Not Just Any File Type…

To create a mock that will result in the best end result for your print job, our Art & Mocks team will need a high resolution vector file. Not sure if your file is what we need? Check out our File Prep page or this blog post for more details about what we’re looking for.

Before submitting your artwork, make sure your file is:
  • High Resolution
  • 300 dpi (dots per inch)
  • The desired size you want it printed
  • NOT: a photo, sketch, Paint or Word file, etc.

It’s as simple as that! Once you’ve submitted your Quote Request Form, one of our lovely Customer Sales Reps will build your estimate and before you know it your order and mocks will be approved, we’ll work our printing magic and your order will be on it’s way to your door.

Have questions? We’ll gladly answer them! Just shoot us an email at printing@threadbird.com.


Printing Minimums: What Are They and Why Do They Exist?

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“Can I order just one shirt?”

Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to ask. This is an incredibly common question in the screen printing world. At Threadbird, the short answer is “no”. We have a minimum of 24 pieces on every order of up to 2 colors.

“But why? I don’t need 24 shirts.”

Great question. It all comes down to time. Screen Printing is a mechanical process that involves machines, manual labor and time. It takes the same amount of time to setup a job with 1 shirt as it does a job with 100 shirts. When the costs involved are averaged over 100 shirts, the order is affordable for the customer. But, when the same costs are averaged over 1 or 2 shirts, the order is no longer affordable.

At Threadbird, our minimum is 24 pieces per design because that is the lowest point at which your order is still economically feasible.

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“Makes sense. But I’ve seen places that will print just 1 shirt.”

Indeed you have. There are many places out there where you can have just 1 shirt printed. These places use a completely different printing process called Direct-to-Garment (DTG). DTG printing is digital printing. It’s like running your t-shirt through a color printer, rather than dyeing and painting each t-shirt.

“Why doesn’t Threadbird print Direct-to-Garment?”

Another great question. Quality has always been one of our highest priorities at Threadbird. And while DTG printing can meet peoples needs, it does not hold the same quality as traditional screen printing. Colors are not as vibrant and printing typically needs to be done on light colored garments.

“Are there any other factors that affect the minimum order amount?”

Yes, as we mentioned above, 24 pieces is the minimum for all orders of up to 2 ink colors. The following minimums are based on the # of ink colors in your design:

  • 3 Ink Colors – Requires a 36 piece minimum
  • 4-6 Ink Colors – Requires a 50 piece minimum
  • 7-10 Ink Colors – Requires a 100 piece minimum

And lastly, there are a few other situations where minimums are a little bit higher.

  • Tag Printing – Requires a 50 piece minimum
  • Sewing Hem Tags – Requires a 50 piece minimum

“Makes sense. I’m ready to place an order! Now what?”

If you have your order and design ready for us, you can start here. Our team of all-stars will help you figure out pricing and answer any other questions you may have along the way. You can also always shoot your questions to printing@threadbird.com.


Your Threadbird Order is Being Processed: What Now?

When you place an order with Threadbird, our team immediately begins moving it through the system. You can help that process go smoothly and as quickly as possible by making sure your customer service rep has all artwork, sizing, due date (if specific) and shipping address with your order. We’ll handle the rest!

What exactly do we mean by “your order is being processed“? We’re glad you asked!

Once you’ve accepted and paid your invoice, here’s what’s next:

Your digital mocks are created. You should receive the mock for approval within 48 hours (usually faster).

  • Once you get the mock, double (maybe even triple) check the following:
    • Your Ship To address – This might seem obvious, but it prevents headaches down the road.
    • Finishing Options (printed tags, hang tags, fold and bag, etc.) – Do you have any? Are they shown on the mock?
    • Garment count for each size – Are all sizes and counts accurate?

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Our Purchasing department orders your blank garments.

  • We order your blanks right away to speed up your turnaround time. If you want to change your blanks, please let your customer service rep know as soon as possible to prevent additional delays and/or fees.

Your order goes into production.

  • Average production time after mock approval is 5-7 business days.
  • Any finishings and/or complex jobs may require additional time. Turnaround time is an estimate and not guaranteed.
  • If you have a specific due date, please be sure to let your customer service rep know when placing your order.
  • Questions or concerns about your order in the meantime? Contact printing@threadbird.com.

Your order is on the way!

  • You can expect an email with tracking information as soon as your order has shipped.
  • As much as we cross our fingers that it won’t be an issue, we can’t be held responsible for any shipping exceptions, i.e. inclement weather, lost packages, etc.

We understand you’re excited to get your order, so you can count on us doing everything we can to make that happen as soon as possible while delivering the best quality!


How To: Getting the Best Screen Print from Your Design Files

So you’re ready to place a garment order. What’s next, you ask? There will be a number of steps to make sure we have everything you need, one being “high resolution or vectorized artwork”. What the heck does that mean? Well, allow us to explain.

High quality artwork is crucial in the screen printing process. The design you print is a major selling point for any clothing brand, band or retail company. It’s the reason your customers want to buy it from you, and we want all of our customers to succeed. Below we’ll answer some of the top questions that our customers have about artwork files.

“What’s a vector file?”

A vector file is a scalable art format that is most commonly associated with Adobe Illustrator. It’s a file that can be sized small enough to print on a baby onesie or large enough to fit on a billboard without any degradation or loss of clarity. It’s the favored file format of screen printers because it can be easily resized should the artwork require it.

“What does ‘high resolution artwork’ mean?”

It means that when zoomed in at 100% on an image, it has well defined, crisp lines. The two images below help illustrate that. On the top you see two seemingly identical images, but when you zoom in on the two images you’ll see the contrast between the two. The left image is muddy and not well defined. The image on the right, however, is clean without any blurriness or distortion.

  • Low Resolution Artwork File
  • High Resolution Artwork File

In order for a design to be printable it absolutely has to have sharp, clean edges. If it is even a little blurry the screen that the image is burned onto won’t pick up on the fine details and the final product won’t look right. For more information on the process of screen printing and more specifically burning a screen read our previous blog.

All vector artwork is high resolution, which we covered. But let’s say you created your artwork in Photoshop, Gimp or another design program. What then? What steps can you take to prevent your artwork created in those programs from being unusable?

  • Design everything in 300dpi. Dots Per Inch, or dpi, is literally a measurement of how many dots of color are in every square inch of a design. It’s the industry standard for almost any kind of graphic art as it produces a very crisp edge and is easily translated to print.
  • Create your project at the desired size you want it printed. When creating a new photoshop document with the intention of designing a new shirt, always favor a larger canvas than a small one. You can always shrink it down to work on the garment but you can’t ever stretch it out to make it larger without pixelating the artwork.

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These rules definitely are not common practice for even graphic designers, but when dealing with screen printing they make all the difference. Taking these steps will help to not only make your artwork printable, but the best quality you can get. They will make everybody’s job easier and guarantee the best final product!

Ready to order? You can go here or contact us at printing@threadbird.com with any additional questions! You can also find answers to some other file prep questions here.


Turnaround Time: What’s Really Happening?

So you’ve placed an order with us and are wondering, “What’s next?” or “How long is all this production stuff going to take?” Well, we can assure you that the Threadbird team is hard at work to keep your order moving and to get the best final product possible to your door.

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Here’s what happens once you submit and pay for your order.

Your digital mocks are created. Our Art & Mocks team immediately starts working to put together your designs and all necessary details for your approval before handing the final mock off to the printing team. You should receive it within 24 hours and the faster you approve the faster we can keep your order moving.

Our purchasing department orders your blank garments. We order your blanks right away to speed up your turnaround time. If you want to change your blanks, please let your customer service rep know as soon as possible to prevent additional delays and/or fees.

Your order goes into production. The average production time from mock approval is 5-7 business days. Any finishings or complex jobs may require additional time, which means turnaround time is an estimate and not guaranteed. If you have a specific due date, please be sure to let your customer service rep know when placing your order. If you have any questions or concerns about your order in the meantime, please contact us at printing@threadbird.com.

 And finally, your order is on the way! We’re big fans of this part. We love when our customers finally get to see their finished product in person. Once you receive your order let us know what you think! Share some pictures and tag us on Twitter or Instagram or let us know if we can do anything else. We want to know how your experience was.

And that’s it! Not too bad, huh? If you’re ready to start the process, you can go here, or you can contact us at printing@threadbird.com.


Best Printing Styles for Screen Printing

There is an ongoing debate over the best way to screen print. Threadbird Printing has been working to develop an answer so that we can continue to deliver the best possible product to our customers. What we’ve found is that each style has its pros and cons and there is not one perfect process. It also comes down to who is doing the actual printing (there are good printers and bad printers) and what the customer is looking for. Personally, I like my prints to be soft, either no-feel or with a slight hand (barely any feel). However, some customers associate a thicker print with higher quality.

One of the things I love about screen printing is the science behind it. The ink, as well as the shirt itself, have such an effect on the end result. The shirt color and fabric can affect the outcome of the print. An experienced printer knows this and can help you better understand what results you will get. For example, some people believe you can only use discharge on 100% cotton shirts. This is not true; however, discharge does work “best” on 100% Cotton. On tri-blends or 50/50 blends, a discharge print will come out looking faded and vintage which may be the look you are going for. If you are not looking for a vintage print and want to use discharge ink, 100% cotton is the only option.

So, let’s take a look at the 4 most popular print styles today: plastisol, waterbase, discharge and hybrid.

Plastisol

Plastisol is the traditional style of screen printing that has been around forever. It is the most commonly used ink for screen printing because it is the cheapest and most user-friendly. It works on all types of fabrics, produces bright colors and is perfect for color matching. Like the name implies, plastisol inks are essentially plastic. The major downside to using plastisol inks is that the thickness of the ink can make the final print a bit on the rough side, which can feel heavy and less breathable. Colors can also bleed together when they touch and you do not get as much detail. Very detailed prints with small dots or lines may not print well.
Plastisol

Waterbase

Waterbase inks are as they sound, water-based. This makes them eco-friendly and easy to clean up. The water is mixed with a dye or pigment and then evaporated during the drying stage of printing. You have a slight hand (soft feel) after printing with waterbase inks, but it becomes no-feel after its first wash. Waterbase ink blends into the shirt instead of sitting on top of it. One downside of using waterbase inks is that they are less opaque, so the color of the shirt will influence the print itself. For example, a bright red ink on a black shirt will come out as a very dark red. Waterbase delivers the best results on white or very light colored shirts with dark colored inks. When printing lighter colored inks on dark colored shirts, the ink colors will change resulting in a more vintage look. Because of this we can’t guarantee color matching when using waterbase inks.
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Discharge

Discharge is waterbase ink with an added bleaching agent. This allows us to print waterbase ink on dark garments by bleaching out the color of the shirt and replacing it with a new color. Discharge inks are also no-feel once washed. Discharge produces the best results on 100% cotton shirts because cotton is the “only” fabric that will bleach. You can use discharge on other fabrics, but you will see the texture of the polyester (and other threads) through the print. This could result in a very cool “distressed” looking print. There are exceptions to the rules, for example, if you are printing on a poly-cotton heather shirt and the poly is white, you will see great results using discharge. Unfortunately, certain colors like royal, red, kelly green and purple do not discharge completely. Like waterbase, the ink color will be affected by how well the shirt will discharge, so we cannot guarantee color matching. Print colors are also usually more muted when printing with discharge.
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Hybrid (Discharge Underbase/Premium Standard)

Premium Standard is a name we created. This is our standard ink which is used on 80% of the jobs we print. It’s a hybrid between discharge printing and plastisol. We use discharge as the underbase (bottom layer) with a soft style plastisol on top. The end result is a really soft print with brighter and more accurate colors – the best of both worlds! You may be thinking, “That sounds great! Why don’t you use it all the time?” Premium Standard may sound like your best option, but it isn’t perfect. As we mentioned above, using discharge requires a garment that discharges well. If we can use the discharge to make the underbase white or as white as possible, the top coat will print much better. If the underbase does not discharge well, the top colors will not look as good, however they will be brighter and more accurate than using discharge alone.
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So which printing style is the best? Personally, I would go with the hybrid (Premium Standard), our most popular printing style. There is no additional charge for Premium Standard because the best quality printing is what matters the most. In the end, the best style comes down to personal preference and what will work best with your garments and final design. Each design is different and we are here to make sure yours look amazing! Reach out to one of our printing experts today and lets make something amazing together!