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Screen printing is a printing technique where a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with ink, and a reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact. This causes the ink to wet the substrate and be pulled out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed. One colour is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multi-coloured image or design.
Contemporary embroidery is stitched with a computerized embroidery machine using patterns digitized with embroidery software. In machine embroidery, different types of "fills" add texture and design to the finished work. Machine embroidery is used to add logos and monograms to business shirts or jackets, gifts, and team apparel as well as to decorate household linens, draperies, and decorator fabrics that mimic the elaborate hand embroidery of the past. Machine embroidery is most typically done with rayon thread, although polyester thread can also be used. Cotton thread, on the other hand, is prone to breaking and should be avoided if under 30 wt.
There has also been a development in free hand machine embroidery, new machines have been designed that allow for the user to create free-motion embroidery which has its place in textile arts, quilting, dressmaking, home furnishings and more. Users can use the embroidery software to digitize the digital embroidery designs. These digitized design are then transferred to the embroidery machine with the help of a flash drive and then the embroidery machine embroiders the selected design onto the fabric.
A vinyl cutter is a type of computer-controlled machine. Small vinyl cutters look like a desktop printer. Like a printer controls a nozzle, the computer controls the movement of a sharp blade over the surface of the material. This blade is used to cut out shapes and letters from sheets of thin self-adhesive plastic (vinyl). The vinyl can then be stuck to a variety of surfaces depending on the adhesive and type of material.
To cut out a design, a vector-based image must be created using vector drawing software. The design is then sent to the cutter where it cuts along the vector paths laid out in the design. The cutter is capable of moving the blade on an X and Y axis over the material, cutting it into any shape imaginable. Since the vinyl material comes in long rolls, projects with significant length like banners or billboards can be easily cut as well.
A laser engraving machine consists of three main parts: a laser, a controller, and a surface. The laser is a drawing tool: the beam emitted from it allows the controller to trace patterns onto the surface. The controller determines the direction, intensity, speed of movement, and spread of the laser beam aimed at the surface. The surface is chosen to match the type of material the laser can act on.
There are three main genres of engraving machines. The most common is the X–Y table where, usually, the workpiece (surface) is stationary and the laser optics move around in two dimensions, directing the laser beam to draw vectors. Sometimes the laser is stationary and the workpiece moves. Sometimes the workpiece moves in one axis and the laser in the other. A second genre is for cylindrical workpieces (or flat workpieces mounted around a cylinder) where the laser effectively traverses a fine helix while on–off laser pulsing produces the desired raster image. In the third genre, both the laser and workpiece are stationary and galvo mirrors move the laser beam over the workpiece surface. Laser engravers using this technology can work in either raster or vector mode.