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Glossary of technical terms

Here are some of technical terms and jargon used in our trade. If you’re new to our industry this should help you.

Artwork the design/logo to be used on the garments.

As worn this refers to the position of the artwork on the garment. We say ‘as worn’ so there can be no confusion as to what side of the garment the design will be applied.

Adobe Illustrator is a vectored design computer program (for PC, MAC or Linux) that enables users to create and edit images built through geometrical shapes based upon mathematical equations such as points, lines, curves and polygons. They can be saved many formats such as .AI .EPS .PDF WMF. SVG. or .VML.

Blank Shirt a blank t-shirt is just a normal plain t-shirt or polo shirt without any decoration (print or embroidery).

Breast this is the position on the garment that most logos as put on.

Cad Cut Printing also referred to as ‘vinyl cut’. Cad cutting is a method of printing text or a logo onto t-shirts, polo shirts and other garments such as football and rugby shirts. The logo or text must first have an outline added (easily managed with a design program such as Adobe Illustrator). The design is then input direct into a digital cutter which electronically cuts the design on to a single colour sheet of flock, foil or vinyl material. After weeding the cut panels are applied to the garment using a commercial heatpress (also known as a transfer press) and releasepaper. Cad cut printing is ideal for small quantities as it is relatively cheap to set up and quick. It is not as durable as screen printing or embroidery. For similar results but with multiple print colours transferprinting is recommended.

Camera ready artwork a term used for artwork that is ready to be transferred to a screen for screen printing.

Corporate Clothing company purchased clothing for the staff to wear. Usually decorated with the company name and logo.

Decorate the industry term for applying a logo or text to a garment.

Digitising this is the process of taking a design and creating a computerised pattern which will be read by an embroidery machine. It used to be called ‘punching’ then ‘tape’, but as technology has moved on it’s now called digitising. A digitised pattern is different from a JPEG or GIF or a scanned image.

Direct to Garment Printing DTG printing is a relatively recent development in the world of customised garments. It describes a fully digital printing method that allows you to print literally anything you require directly onto your garments, including full colour photo printing. DTG printing offers far superior quality in comparison to full colour transfer printing and does not require time-consuming weeding. The process works in much the same manner as a modern inkjet printer you might have at home; instead of first printing your photo or design onto transfer paper and then applying it to the garment with a heatpress, DTG printing machines print directly onto the garment. This results in a fantastically high quality print and maximum detail, even on complex full colour designs. Until recently, DTG printers could only print effectively onto white garments but due to advances in technology they can now be used on any coloured garment, including very dark colours such as black and navy. DTG offers superb quality at low setup costs and delivery can be made within 24 hours.

Embroidery the method of decorating a garment using needles and thread. The decoration can be simple text or an elaborate design or both. The number of colours that a design can have is 15.

Flashing the process of drying/curing the ink in between printing different colours.

Foil and Flock transfer foil and flock effect vinyl are two materials often used as an alternative to regular vinyl in the heatpressing process. Each provides a different range of texture to vinyl and as such whether one uses flock, foil or vinyl very much depends on the design and final feel one requires.

Frame used to hold taut the garment that will be embroidered.

GIF a computerised image of your design in a .gif format.

Heat Press is used in applying a pattern to an object. Firstly a design must be printed onto transfer paper, either directly such as in the transferprinting method or via screenprinting. Both the printed transfer paper and t-shirt, polo shirt, cap or fleece onto which you want your pattern are then introduced to the heat press, which is used to imprint the design or logo with the application of both heat and pressure through a platen. While heat presses are often used to apply designs to garments, they can also be used on other imprintableproducts.

Hoop – Used to hold taut the garment that will be embroidered.

Image – your design, either a logo or text/drawing to promote your organisation or event.

Imprintable an imprintable product is one on which a design can be screen printed, transfer printed, DTG printedor cad cut printed. This can take the form of a garment such as a t-shirt, polo shirt, fleece jacket, sweatshirt, cap or another promotional product such as a mug, pen, mousemat or plate.

Jacquard the term is still used over 200 years from it’s invention even though it is a obsolete piece of equipment. The term today refers to the embroidery pattern. The Jacquard loom is a mechanical loom simplified the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns such as brocade, damask, and matelasse. The loom is controlled by punched cards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design. Multiple rows of holes are punched on each card and the many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung together in order.

JPEG – A computerised image of your design.

Light Reactive Chemicals a light reactive chemical is one that will disintegrate when exposed to light. When used in the screen printingprocess it is usually placed in strategic areas of a fine mesh screen consists and then the whole screen is exposed to light, leaving the chemical to break down and wash off, fashioning spaces in the mesh. The chemical can be arranged so that any desired pattern is created.

Logo a symbol or design that is used to represent your company.

Left breast as worn – this refers to the position of the design on the garment.

Man-pack the process of packing a complete set of garments for one employee. This package may be delivered directly to the employee at home or via his work place.

Organic some manufacturers offer the option to purchase organic workwear and corporate clothing. The garment on which your logo/text is printed will have been confirmed as organic by one of the independent certifiers.

Origination the process of taking your ideas and creating an image suitable for application onto a garment.

Platen a platen (or platten) is a flat solid board, typically made of a metal plate, that is pressed against something to cause an impression in printing.

PPE is short for Personal Protective Equipment. The safety equipment/clothing supplied by the employer to the employee to protect the worker whilst carrying out his duties for the company.

Printing this is a general term for laying down permanent ink onto a surface.

Promotion (promo) any method used to make your company or product or service known to a wider audience.

Promotional item any item that is given-away (or sold at a discount) to customers or prospective customers to help promote a product or service.

Punching an old name used to describe the method of creating an embroidery pattern.

Release Paper this material is most commonly made out of silicone and serves as a thin, heat resistant paper used between a printed sheet and material in a heat press to prevent the two sticking together.

Sample a single item produced before the main batch to check that the specification is correct.

Scan a computerised image of a design or picture.

Screen Printing is the traditional method of transferring colour to a t-shirt or polo shirt by applying colour with ink. In order to screen print an item the design has to be separated into the component colours (nowadays achieved by design programs such as AdobeIllustrator) and then each colour has a separate screen produced using lightreactivechemicals. The ink can then be screen printed onto the t-shirts directly or via transfer paper and a heatpress. If the direct printing method is used, the t-shirts are placed on a platen and the colours are then applied individually by placing the screen on top of the t-shirt and forcing the printers ink through the relevant screen onto the t-shirt. Screen printing is ideal for large quantities of printed garments but can be expensive for smaller orders requiring more than one colour.

Screen the perforated fabric used to squeeze the ink through onto a garment when screen printing. The screen is held taut in a frame made of either wood or aluminum.

Set-up costs these are the charges applied for originating your design.

Stitch count the number of embroidery stitches used in a design. Often embroiderers will use the stitch count to determine the cost of the job.

Stitches each stitch is the thread sewn into the garment to create a design.

Sublimation the transfer of printed images to a synthetic substrate by the application of heat.

Tape an term (no used much these days) to describe the method of creating an embroidery pattern.

Transfer the method of applying a design or text onto a garment using heat.

Transfer Printing this involves taking a high resolution image and printing the image onto commercial quality transfer paper. One can print multi-coloured images in most formats including BMP,TIF, GIF, AI and JPEG. The quality of the image produced is directly related to the quality of the image supplied so it is important to supply a quality image. Once the image is on the transfer paper it is then taken and applied using a commercial heat press and release paper to the item of clothing. Transfer printing is ideal for small quantities as it is relatively cheap to set up and can be dispatched on the same day but the appearance is not as popular as screenprinted. For a similar result but with single colours cad cut printing is recommended.

Uniform also called customising clothing provides the perfect union between promotion and safety. Select garments stylish enough for the employees to wear yet professional enough for a demanding boss.

Vinyl film is a sheet of vinyl that can come in many colours and may be cut to any shape or size, such as a name, logo, number or some simple text. Once this is done the vinyl can be simply and easily imprinted onto a garment with a heat press and release paper. You might even recognise a heat transfer using vinyl if you look carefully at the number printed on the back of your replica football kit.

Vinyl a material cut to shape and then used with a heat transfer machine to apply lettering onto garments.

Weeding is the term for when the leftover uncut areas from a digital cutting of printed vinyl, flock or foil sheet are removed by hand.

Workwear clothing supplied to protect the worker and promote the company.

Zones refers to areas, or ’zones’, of a t-shirt or polo shirt that can be decorated. Before deciding on what logo or text you require it is a good idea to think about where on the garment you would like it to appear. For instance, the most popular choice for a company logo is above the left breast, but the zones on either sleeve make a great place to include a sponsor’s name for an event.