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The Life of a Custom T-shirt Order
December 23, 2009

So, you just placed an order for 200 custom designed t-shirts. What happens now?
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Missy, our friendly CSR

Josie hard at work as well

Josie, hard at work



Well, your order starts at Customer Service. One of the Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) take your order and first determine whether or not you have ordered with us before.

If you have, the CSR will check to see if your previous artwork matches the new order you sent in. CSRs always check previous artwork for reorders.

If you have never ordered with us before, the CSR puts your information into the system, a step they call “setting up the rep.” They fill out all the information required for a work order that you have provided: colors for the artwork, the design, your name, address to ship the final product to, etc.

The work order is then printed. Three items come from CSR: an art ticket, a copy of the work order, and a packaging list. The art ticket goes to the art department. The copy of the work order and the packaging list goes directly to the production department. You receive an email with a copy of the work order as well!
Cory, one of our artists

Cory, one of our artists

Sisco, another artist

Sisco, another artist



In the art department, the artists check your work order over. They look for initial spelling errors, phone numbers, emails, and names. The artists will decide the urgency of an order by its received date. A work order received before yours is at a higher priority. Any order received after yours is at a lower priority.



The artists open our internal database to get all the information to start setting up your design. They proof the artwork, making sure designs match up and flow well together. Once the proofing is done, you receive another email which states your art is up on the web. Then, you proof what the artist has done to make sure its what you want your design to look like.

Essentially, you and the artist work together to come to a conclusion about your t-shirt order. Some designs just aren’t printable. Once you approve the artwork the artist takes the art ticket and sends it to the film department.

While this is happening in the art department, production has received the work order and packaging list. They take the work order and process it into the system. They order the blank shirts needed for printing well in advance for production.


Receiving

Eveie in Receiving

Terry, our Production Manager

Terry, our Production Manager


The receiving department, well, receives everything. From t-shirts to mail, they get it all. They go through the orders and make sure everything ordered is actually in the box received. The shirts are separated into boxes by work order number and labeled accordingly. The boxes are then brought back to production.

While the production manager is waiting on the shirts to come in, the film department is hard at work putting the final touches on your artwork. They check the spelling, sizing of the design and “bugs,” the ink colors, and make sure the design is centered. Bugs are the trademark symbols we put on the shirts. Film then sends their final product to the Production Manager for verification. Once it has been verified, they print the film sheet.

The film is cut down to size and measured out. The design on the film has to be able to fit the smallest garment in the order. Once the film is checked and finished, it is sent to production for printing.
Sara cutting film

Sara cutting film



The Production manager makes sure the artwork has been approved, the shirts have arrived, and you have paid for your order.

Once production has the film and blank shirts, they are ready for printing. The production manager schedules a print date for your order. Our production department uses a technique called screen printing to fill your order. Check out our blog entry about screen printing to learn all about it!

Once your order has been printed, the shirts are inspected, tagged, re-boxed, and sent to shipping.

The shipping department checks the boxes and the work order. If you’ve added shirts to the order, this is when we run your credit card for the balance due on those shirts.

The shipping department calculates how long it should take your order to reach you. We strive for all of our orders to arrive on the delivery commitment date. If your order is being shipped to your work, your order will arrive only on business days. If it is going to your home, it will arrive on all mailing days except Monday. There are several methods used to ship orders: FedEx ground, FedEx express, FedEx Next Day, and regular mail (which we further break up into first class or priority).
Ed in shipping

Eddie in Shipping



Shipping then takes your work order and verifies all the shipping information they have in their system to the ticket. Everything has to match, or there could be a problem with your order. If everything matches, shipping prints your shipping label and invoice. You receive an email with the tracking number for your order. A few days later, check your doorstep, you have a package!

Single T-shirt Orders Now Possible! Thanks, digital printing!
December 21, 2009

Customers have been asking for quite some time about single t-shirt orders. Thanks to digital printing, we can now fill those requests! What makes these t-shirt different from our other screen printed t-shirts? A lot of things are different! Depending on your preferences, some are good, others not so good:

With this new process the turnaround is much quicker, at least half the time of screen printed shirts. We want to decrease the turnaround time until we are printing and shipping in 24 hours (It’s one of our New Year’s Resolutions).

In comparison to screen printing, digital printing costs much less when ordering less than 10 shirts. Of course, we are always looking for ways to save our customers as much money as possible. With digital printing, we can also achieve a higher level of detail than with screen printing. This is great because we can now produce more complex designs!

As is in our screen printed shirts, the colors look great in digitally printed shirts. But, place the two side-by-side, one will look better than the other. These two processes differ so greatly from each other that getting identical results is impossible. The texture of a digital printed shirt is smoother and flatter than that of a screen printed shirt. This can be good or bad. When we print on white or very light shirts, we cannot use an under-base. This leaves the print sinking into the garment a bit. Its not a major issue, though.

Samples were sent out to customers to find out what people thought of the new process. Customers received a screen printed t-shirt and a digital printed t-shirt of the same design. This was done, primarily, to answer the question: “Is it as good as screen printing?” Most people liked the digital print, but felt it was not quite as good as screen printing. Less than 10% felt the digital print was bad.

digital-print-highlight1

Some ink colors cannot be reproduced: glow-in-the-dark, metallic inks, suede texture, fluorescent inks. For now, the online ordering system is not aware of this limitation. Don’t worry, we are working on fixing this issue. We will call you if there is a concern. Also, digital prints do not launder as well as screen printing. Washing and drying your shirt with hot water and high heat with rough texture cloths, like jeans, will tear up the image a bit. Doing that multiple times will result in the print looking horribly peeled after about 10 washings.

We are happy with being able to offer something that comes this close to screen printing. As technology improves, we hope to get the process so perfect no one can tell the difference.

To ramp up production we are limiting the single t-shirt orders to S110 (100% cotton t-shirts only).

You want to order? Make your design, and then click the ‘order t-shirts with this design’. Click the left hand ‘pick garment sizes’ button. Prices are $18.95 for a one-sided print and 26.95 for a two-sided print. Both come with unlimited ink colors. Shipping is free if you order over $50.

National BSA 100th Anniversary Events: What you may have missed, and what’s to come
December 17, 2009

Of course, you’ve probably already heard all about the Boy Scouts of America celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary! But just in case you missed out, here are a few of the many BSA 100th Anniversary programs:
  • The Generations Connection program was launched in April 2009. Striving to illustrate the influence of scouting across the generations, the Generations Connection program invites families to share their stories and experiences with a free BSA 100th Anniversary Generational Scouting Family Certificate.
  • The A Year of Celebration program kicked off September 1, 2009 and will run until December 31st, 2010. Through this program, participants will earn recognition with each of the five award ribbons from the BSA 100th Anniversary commemorative patch for making a difference in their community.
  • In conjunction with the Generations Connection program, the Arbor Day Foundation has official BSA 100th Anniversary trees for everyone to enjoy. For every tree purchased, another will be planted at the newly created BSA Centennial Forest in Montana. The Centennial Forest will aid in the replanting of the Flathead National Forest following recent fires.
  • On New Year’s Day, Adventure Base 100 is taking the Scouting experience across America. Starting in Pasadena, California at the Tournament of Roses Parade, the 10,000 sq. foot campus will travel to over 40 key cities, ending its journey at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York.
Units are also being encouraged to celebrate the 100th anniversary in their own way. What better way to show up to events than with a custom 100th Anniversary unit t-shirt? Check out the 22 BSA 100th Anniversary stock designs! 133779380squarefront Is your pack, troop or crew doing something spectacular in your local community? Let us know in the comments! We’re planning a special entry to highlight the most impressive unit-level centennial events and your unit could be featured!

Photo Caption Contest!!
December 16, 2009

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Post a short caption for this photo. Captions should be funny and entertaining. Friday, at 5:00PM, a winning caption will be chosen. Winners will receive a $50 coupon good for custom designed shirts for a group, or a digitally printed shirt. Have fun! We look forward to the captions!
**If you have a photo you would like to see in one of our contests, please submit them to simone.williams@classb.com

…and the winner is:

By a margin of just one vote, the winning caption is from Jack from Troop 108, in Wayne, New Jersey!

“You guys are going to Photoshop out those ropes before publishing this, right?”


Congratulations, Jack! You’ve won a $50 coupon. :)

How Does Screen Printing Work?
December 14, 2009

Here at ClassB, the majority of our custom t-shirts are created using the screen printing technique. Screen printing involves the passing of ink through a mesh screen onto which a film image has been applied. Screen printing allows for large, bulk quantities of shirts to be produced at a single time.
The first step in the screen printing process is preparing a screen by applying emulsion. Emulsion is a light sensitive gel which will harden on the screen when exposed to light. The number of screens used for a shirt depends on the number of colors on a shirt. For example, a shirt with red, green, and yellow requires three separate screens prepared.
Grunig Machine

The Grunig Machine

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Emulsion being applied to a screen

Using the Grunig machine, the screens are placed in carriages, and a single layer of emulsion is poured onto either side at once. The screens are then set on a rack to dry. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the temperature.

A screen

A screen



The dried screens then move onto the second step: exposure.The screen is place on top of a film on which the image has been printed to block light from passing through certain areas of the screen in the Tri-Light. The Tri-Light is a shuttered-light screen exposure system. The light exposure hardens the emulsion and brings out the image on the screen.

Drying screens

Drying screens



Depending on the mesh size, the screen will stay in the Tri-Light for approximately 3 minutes. The screens are then taken into the wash room where the excess emulsion is washed off. The image can now be seen! The screens are set on a rack to dry once again.

Once the screens have fully dried, they are prepared for the press machine. The borders are taped off to prevent ink from being applied to anywhere other than its designated area on the shirt. The screen is set securely in the press so the appropriate colors will line up according to the registration on the film. We use an automatic press capable of applying 8 colors.

Tri-Light with film

Tri-Light with film

Tri-Light with Screens

Tri-Light with Screens

The Press Machine

The Press Machine


The ink is squeegeed through the mesh and onto each shirt. In between each application of color, the shirt is flashed, or dried. After all the colors have been applied, the shirt is cured in the Radicure (kind of like a giant pizza oven!).

Color 1: Red

Color 1: Red

Red ink application

Red ink application

Color 2: Blue

Color 2: Blue

Blue ink application

Blue ink application



Final Color: Green

Final Color: Green

Green ink application and the curing process

Green ink application and the curing process

The Radicure

The Radicure


Ta-da! The shirt is complete, as is the screen printing process.
The Final Product

The Final Product

New Digital Printing: Single T-shirt orders now possible!
December 11, 2009

We are happy to announce the completion of a new process that allows for single t-shirts to be printed: Digital Printing. Customers have been asking for this for a long time now and, well…
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One of our first digitally printed shirts!


-The turnaround is much faster, at least half the time of screen printed shirts. We will be able to make that even faster as time goes by. Our goal is to print and ship in 24 hours!
-If an order is less than 10 pieces, the cost per shirt is dramatically lower in comparison to screen printing. We are always looking for ways to save our customers as much money as possible.
-We can achieve a much higher level of detail. This is great because we can now do more complex designs.
-Colors look great, just like screen printing but when the two are next to each other, one will look better than the other.  The two processes differ enough that getting identical results is impossible.
-Texture is smoother and flatter than screen printing. This can be good or bad.
-When we print on white or very light shirts, we cannot use an under-base. This leaves the print sinking into the garment a bit. Its not a major issue, though.

-Digital Prints do not launder as well as screen printing. Washing and drying your shirt with hot water and high heat with rough texture cloths, like jeans, will tear up the image a bit. Doing that multiple times will result in the print looking horribly peeled after about 10 washings.
pc070002

The Digital Print Machine


-Some ink colors cannot be reproduced: glow-in-the-dark, metallic inks, suede texture, fluorescent inks. For now, the online ordering system is not aware of this limitation. Don’t worry, we are working on fixing this issue. We will call you if there is a concern.
We sent out some samples to customers to find out what people thought of the new process. Customers received a screen printed t-shirt and a digital printed t-shirt of the same design. This was done, primarily, to answer the question: “Is it as good as screen printing?”  The results of the survey are in! Most people liked the digital print, but felt it was not quite as good as screen printing. Less than 10% felt the digital print was bad.
We are happy with being able to offer something that comes this close to screen printing. As technology improves, we hope to get the process so perfect no one can tell the difference.
digital-print-highlight

Click here!


To ramp up production we are limiting the single t-shirt orders to S110 (100% cotton t-shirts only).
You want to order? Make your design, and then click the ‘order t-shirts with this design’. Click the left hand ‘pick garment sizes’ button. Prices are $18.95 for a one-sided print and 26.95 for a two-sided print. Both come with unlimited ink colors. Shipping is free if you order over $50.
**Edited 12/15/09: Price for two-sided print is 26.95, not 27.95.

All Work and No Play Makes Us Duck & Cover!
December 8, 2009

Duck & Cover (front)

Amanda

ClassB.com attended the 1st Annual Tampa Corporate Dodge ball Tournament. The tournament, accurately named Dodge, Duck, Dip, and Dive, was held on Saturday, November 14 at the Temple Terrace Family Recreation Complex. Registration was $400, and all of the proceeds benefitted the Boy Scouts of America and Learning for Life, Gulf Ridge Council. As you might’ve guessed, ClassB dominated…in the team name department that is…

“Everyone was involved with trying to figure out the perfect ClassB.com team name. We needed a name that could fully describe our brutal playing style while at the same time showed our goofy sense of humor. A name that used dodge ball specific terminology so we would get to make different custom t-shirts for our next sports event… ClassB softball anyone? We most definitely needed a name better than our plan B name – ClassB All Stars. (yawn). After much debate, and with the added pressure of increasingly tighter deadline looming over our heads, the winning name was decided: Duck and Cover!

Thanks to our Sales Manager Robert and one of our talented artists Cory, they came up with the name and the design after a collective brainstorm.

Duck & Cover (back)

Amanda came up with the idea of "Duck, Duck, Ouch!"



Our lovely screen maker Amanda came up with the hilariously silly “Duck Duck OUCH!” for the back of the shirts. Even though it’s a reference to a completely different elementary school game, it somehow worked to make our shirts complete. They got printed and passed out – everyone loved them.” –Rachel K., ClassB

There were more than 16 teams competing, and more than 170 people in attendance. Competition was stiff, and we didn’t win. But, the entire event was fun, and we enjoyed supporting our local boy scouts.

Baby Duck

One of the most adorable members of our cheering section!

Missy says: I have to start by saying that I didn’t know quite what to expect when I heard that ClassB would be participating in a Dodge Ball Tournament. I mean, I haven’t watched or played dodgeball since the 6th grade. I soon realized that it was just as much fun as an adult as it had been when I was a kid. It was also just as competitive. When we arrived, it became very clear that these teams had come to play. I suddenly felt very nervous, and I wasn’t even going to be playing! These teams were serious, even though many were wearing colored tube socks and matching head bands. Even the referees had afros! Meanwhile, on the court, the ClassB team put up a serious fight. Some of their moves were very impressive. It’s no wonder that a few of them said they were sore the next day despite the fact that many of them play other sports on the weekends. Even though we didn’t not win, we still left the game feeling proud that ClassB played with a lot of heart. We were also there to help support a great organization, and at the end of the day, that was all that mattered.

Team Duck & Cover

Team Duck and Cover!

Busy time is over! New Capacity
August 18, 2009

Summer was an amazing time for us! Things have been so busy, its kind of nice to have it slow down to normal again. We are very sorry that we had to scale back 6 day rush and 9 day priority service during the busy season. Faster turnaround could have helped many of our customers out of a bad situation. We know you cannot control the kids and parents that wait until the last minute. :(

To address the busy time for this fall and next summer, we are adding a lot more capacity. Enough to cover the increase in business we had this summer. Plus a little more. ;) We are hoping that we can even cut back our standard turnaround by a day. We will know after this fall if we can pull it off and this blog is where we’ll make that announcement!

CPSIA Labeling
August 18, 2009

Customers receiving orders in the past few days will notice a small change to the t-shirts. The line identifying the manufacturer (us) now has a /12345 after it. The new text reads ClassB.com/12345. The 12345 is the work order number. “What’s this?” you ask. :)

According to CPSIA, all products that can potentially be used by a child (12 yrs or younger) need to have manufacturer information and include testing information. We are including the URL to allow any end user of the t-shirts to see the required testing information. When you get your t-shirts, just type in that url and all the relevant testing data will be displayed. Cool, huh? This new law effects all screen printers of t-shirts that carry sizes that a 12 year old or younger might wear. (In other words, adult medium or smaller.)

This is starting with orders taken on August 1st to comply with the CPSIA deadline of August 14th. We had wanted to start even earlier but we were still working on the inside part of it. All data going back thru 2009 was added to the system. We made it with just a few days leeway, whew!

The great thing is that this system will later support any other CPSIA requirements for screen printed t-shirts.

We will be adding the url to ALL orders to protect you, the purchaser, the end recipients of the t-shirt’s and ourselves as the manufacturer. We feel its important to test products and make those test results public. The CPSIA is doing a great thing protecting all of us. Lead poisoning is not fun!

I am sure this will come up: Some people may not want the labeling on your t-shirts. It is a federal requirement, regardless of whether you are certain that a 12 year old will never wear the t-shirt. In the event that one does end up on a child, this labeling is the best thing to protect yourself and give peace of mind to the people that wear the garments.

New Equipment!
August 7, 2009

As I mentioned in our last post, this summer has been our busiest ever. We blew away every record we ever held week after week. It was more than we expected and we experienced some bottlenecks as our quantity of orders exploded. Some of those bottlenecks were because our equipment can only run so fast.

M&R Sportsman on back of flat bed wrecker We promised you that we would work on increasing our capacity during busy seasons. This week we took our first steps toward improving our equipment! We took shipment of a brand new M&R Sportsman screen printing press. We already had one of these amazing presses and wanted more. Now we have two of these fast presses feeding into our largest capacity dryer.

M&R Sportsman Print Heads Crate You might wonder how we got this 3,300 pound servo-driven t-shirt printing machine off the semi truck and into our building. We have a flat bed wrecker truck back up to the semi, then we use a pallet jack to load the crates onto the wrecker, then the wrecker drops it in place. After that, we uncrate it as much as necessary to get it inside the building.

Of course, this equipment is huge and we end up moving everything out of the way between the door and it’s final location. So new equipment throws the entire building into a state of disarray as we rearrange to clear paths to move everything.

In addition to this new press, we have also ordered another new dryer, some Kool-Mist stations, and a few pieces of equipment we’ll save as a surprise for a future post. ;)

This is an exciting time for us, as we get to increase our capabilities in many different ways. Keep watching this space for more announcements. :)
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