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Krowmark moving away from screen printing to direct-to-garment

Direct-to garment machines are a great addition to the work wear marketplace because they enable the production of samples and fulfill high-volume demand production at the touch of a button and without inefficient set up costs.

Krowmark Limited, the UK’s leading embroidered workwear company, based in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, supplies work wearing uniform and printed t-shirts across the UK and Europe. Since 2005 Krowmark has grown to be the UK’s leading supplier of working uniform, doing their own embroidery in-house and screen print.

Krowmark moving away from screen printing to direct-to-garment

“We needed more flexibility in our printing so when we looked in the marketplace, we either could do screen print, small batch direct-to-garment printing, or change everything and go to large batch direct-to-garment printing”, company founder and managing director Mark Ponsford explains his reasons to move away from screen printing.

While Krowmark had the set up for producing around 2.000 garments a day, company director Mark Ponsford was seeing some challenges using screen printing in order to achieve 4.000 garments a day. “Screen printing had challenges because there was a set up (a set up cost), we couldn’t do one on batches or small batches, but with direct-to-garment, what we can do 1 to 10.000 and anything in between.”

Introducing the Kornit Avalanche HD6

Mark talks about how he took the plunge and decided to replace his screen print area “I’d like to say that I had a lot of market research, but I didn’t. What I did was I spoke to somebody who’s already been supplying our embroidery machines and had just taken on the Kornit dealership and I asked him the question, “What can I do to replace my screen print area?” and his answer was, he was just about to call me, he’s got a machine that now can produce direct-to-garment printing at 30 pence per garment.”

As well as higher production speed, Mark was looking to reduce ink costs, which were becoming increasingly expensive. The Kornit Avalanche HD6 caught his eye, not only because of its ability to deliver his initial spec but also because of the additional benefit of a built-in pretreat system. “Now, in the past, we looked at direct-to-garment printing, but it was such an involved process. It involved a pretreatment, a drying, a printing, another drying, and it was all mismatched parts and pieces, whereas with the Avalanche, we can literally put a shirt on to the machine, push 2 buttons, it goes in, it pretreats, it prints, it comes out, and it goes on the dryer. It’s as simple as that.”

The cost benefits of direct-to-garment printing versus screen printing or embroidery

“The Kornit Avalanche HD6 is a superb printer, and every day now, we’re printing all of our garments through it and we’re greatly transitioning everything that we do through print through the machine. The absolute beauty of it is very, very low setup costs and there’s no weeding”, says Mark Ponsford.  It’s very labor un-intensive, which is fantastic about it. So, if someone wants 50 shirts, we can do it in the same day rather than have to wait for something to be weeded.

“Typically for work wear, the majority of the front logos are embroidery. Embroidery tends to last much longer on a garment, in fact, it will outlast the garment. Now, a lot of customers then want print as well because I have very large back prints or t-shirt printing, and, for that, we can’t use embroidery because it’s an exponential growth. If you double the size of a logo it quadruples the number of stitches, so that’s when people start to ask for print. Now, most of our customers have no idea what printed is, they got… they just want something printed on the garment, so for us, it’s us to select. And whereas before, we used to select vinyl or screen print, now it’s direct-to-garment because it just produces the results every time.”

Living up to expectations

With the Kornit Avalanche HD6 installed since a few months, Krowmark are seeing the effect it is having on their own business. Is it living up to expectations? “Having the Kornit HD6 here has been absolutely superb. We had some challenges, but we’ve overcome those and we’re producing some really good work now. We reduced our staff count, increased our profitability, and I’ll thoroughly recommend the machine to anybody in the work wear or t-shirt business.”

Reliability was another factor for Krowmark. “Since we’ve installed the Avalanche HD6, we’ve realized that not everything is straightforward. There’s forms we can use, there’s online support, 24-hour support which is absolutely superb. My guys love it. Whenever we have had a problem, they’re very quick to respond to those problems and come out see us and get everything sorted very quickly.”

Simplicity behind Kornit Avalanche HD6

Company founder and managing director Mark Ponsford.

With production now able to meet demand – having the capacity to do up to 4.000 garments a day –  Mark can see this side of the business growing further. “We exist within the work wear marketplace, which  is an unusual marketplace for Kornit to exist within, but I would thoroughly recommend anybody to go and talk to them because the Machine the output is superb. It’s absolutely stunning and makes everything so much simpler.”

“The Kornit HD6 is a very simple machine to use. You upload a file, a PNG file in a good quality, you see that far on the screen, you can place it on the shirt on the screen, you simply then push 2 buttons, the shirt goes in, sprays, prints, comes back out again. It’s so easy, even I could use it”, he concludes.