New technology always brings new processes and with the advancement in printing and ink technology in recent years, the way T-shirts are produced is now being challenged. Not only is technology driving change in the industry, the designers, influencers and also the customers are changing what to expect in a T-shirt these days.
As part of the NEXT Exhibition, one of the biggest T-shirt exhibitions in the world that looks into the heart and soul of T-Shirt culture, curator Eddie Zammit asked over 50 of world’s leading T-shirt designers and influencers what they think is in store for the future of T-shirt industry. Many of the artists commented on the changing printing techniques, the move to more digital print, and also the imminent rise of customised and short-run T-shirts. Here are a few quotes from these designers:

  • “The future will have more to do with the technology in inks and screen-printing than any particular graphic style” - Joshy D - REBEL8, (San Francisco, USA)
  • “Consumers are moving away from the mass-produced ‘Made in China’ tees and are moving towards a personalised product.” - Jimmy Baxter, King Of Nothing, (Sydney, Australia)
  • “The future will see every cultured man and woman designing their own personal wardrobe of hipster T-shirts. The DIY ethic can thrive when it is cheap and easy to do small runs of a unique graphic.” - Ben Brown, (Sydney Australia)
  • “If I had the equipment I’d print a new one whenever I felt like it.” - Brett Chan, (Sydney, Australia)
  • “Clean designs applied with more advanced printing techniques. I think we’ll see more specialised printing methods. The printers are constantly evolving and mastering the craft now, which will elevate the industry.” – Dave Gee, (NY, USA)
  • “T-Shirts will become easier to design and make…” Nima Neems, (LA, USA)
  • “…we may see some innovative new printing techniques…” – Nick Joblin, (Melbourne, Australia)
  • “The future will be based on quality materials, advanced printing methods and smaller editions.” – Numbskull, (Sydney, Australia)
  • “The production of tees will get more sophisticated and people will demand to have a one-off item.” – Vince Frost, (Sydney, Australia)

When it comes to advancements in printing technology and the ability to deliver quality short-run personalised T-shirts, Roland DG has a range of solutions to deliver exactly that, in order to equip these artists with the tools to adapt to change and shape the future of the industry.

Roland Solutions for the T-shirt and Custom Apparel Market

With all the versatility and advanced features of Roland’s latest inkjet printing technologies, the VersaSTUDIO BN-20 is a compact, affordable device designed for both experienced professionals and those just getting started BN-20in the digital printing business. It is a 500mm wide printer/cutter with CMYK + metallic + white colour eco solvent inks, ideal for a wide range of applications but, more specifically, the BN-20 is the perfect tool for producing one-off, customised or short-run T-shirt graphics. With a the BN-20, a standard heat press and a quality heat transfer material you can produce small custom T-shirt jobs or even large run orders for garment decoration on a variety of substrates including special effects such as adding white or metallic colours to your designs.
One of the key advantages of the BN-20 is diversification. With a minimum price tag of around $20,000, Direct To Garment (DTG) devices can produce fantastic T-shirts and apparel, but beyond this their application is limited. On the other hand, the low cost BN-20 allows you to add many products to your offering from durable outdoor graphics to photography, labels, decals, POPs, magnets and more. For example, a print shop is using BN-20 for producing T-shirts for the local high school football team and they use the left chest logo that is already all setup, to produce a few decals. The decals are then put in the box with the order, including a flyer outlining the various other products/services that the print shop offers. This little creative marketing activity could bring additional business and allows the print shop to bring the customer back again for many other products that the customer may have been getting somewhere else.
The BN-20 is certainly a moneymaking partner, well suited for use in a small or home office, design agency, print shop or kiosk. It is perfect for on-demand production, and can serve as either a primary printer or secondary device to support a growing business.

Real World Experiences

When EmbroidMe Mona Vale were looking to add another “in-house” option to their decoration methods, the Roland BN-20 was a smart choice for this growing franchise. “The size of the BN-20 was perfect for us and allows us to service our customers more efficiently,” says Peter Robertson of EmbroidMe Mona Vale. “It gives us a lot more freedom and confidence when approaching team wear or sporting clubs, and allows us to have greater control of the job and not rely on outsourcing. We are able to produce our heat transfers quicker and most importantly control the jobs ourselves.”

Peter Robertson of EmbroidMe Mona Vale with the VersaSTUDIO BN-20
EmbroidMe Mona Vale will be using the BN-20 primarily for garment decoration and stickers in the short term, but plan on expanding their offering in the future. “I look forward to increasing business and giving our customers more branding options combined with better service,” said Peter.

Peter is not the only EmbroidMe franchisee who thinks that the BN-20 is a perfect machine for their apparel and embroidery businesses. Since it’s release in mid 2011, the BN-20 has been installed in a number of EmbroidMe stores throughout Australia, and was nominated as the ‘Best New Product’ by EmbriodMe Franchisees at the United Franchise Group Australasian trade show in late 2011.

The BN-20 is also making noise all over the world in the T-shirt and apparel industry. It was recently a hot topic on the popular

“I will admit that when I first heard about the VersaSTUDIO, I did not think it would do well and it would not meet the needs of most shops. After getting some time with both the machine and a couple of shops, I can honestly say that I have to eat a bit of crow on my stance. There is a very large need for this type of technology in the apparel industry and the shops that are using right now have had great results.

Both shops were looking at the VersaSTUDIO as a way to get into the market on these projects and stop outsourcing while having better control on production times, colour control and most importantly, profit margin! … both shops have produced several jobs for customers and are very pleased with the machinery and the results they have gotten.

I will say that I feel this new printer cutter has a great spot in our industry. I am hearing from DTG users that want to add this to their shop to make up for the gaps there and to bring a larger list of products they can offer to their customers in shop. I am very impressed with the VersaSTUDIO and am happy to recommend it to anyone that has been considering it for their shop.” Steven Jackson from

Custom T-shirt’s for Leading T-shirt Designers

Roland DG recently produced a special batch of T-shirts for T-World Journal with custom designed ‘NEXT’ logos. As part of the NEXT Exhibition, T-World commissioned a select group of leading T-shirt designers from around the world to create a logo based on their interpretation of ‘NEXT’ – As official print partner for NEXT, Roland DG then produced a T-shirt for each of these logos using Roland Print & Cut technology, a heat press and Siser heat transfer material.

Custom_Ts_1 Custom_Ts_2 Custom_Ts_3
These T-shirt’s are currently being sent out to the designers to showcase the Roland DG custom apparel solutions and help to promote the ability to produce custom short-run T-shirt jobs and demonstrate the advancements in printing technology.

For more information on Roland DG Custom Apparel and T-shirt solutions visit
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