Product Development and Manufacturing Process
Depending on when Step 3 begins will provide a strong idea of production goods will be delivered.
Step 1: Talk with the Client
The client has a goal, requirements, and vision in mind.
Consulting company or manufacturer discusses the client's needs and what they would like to accomplish. Topics that may be brought up are goals they would like to achieve, timelines on when the final product is needed by, requirements of the product, and the general scope of work. The client typically has a general idea of what they want.
Step 2: Discuss Timelines and Product Requirements
Both parties should discuss the expectations, budget, and timelines they are working with to ensure anything that proceeds afterward can be scheduled and discussed accordingly. Issues that may arise include manufacture holidays, textile sourcing requirements (specific fabric), finalized requirements from the client, and if deliverables can be achieved within the timeline.
Based on the region the manufacturer is located, national holidays and seasons may impact their production calendar, like the Chinese New Year.
Step 3: Product Design and Development Requirements for Manufacturer
The company and client should work together to develop and determine artwork requirements and work together to finalize an end product. At the end of this, request a test print on the selected fabric.
When selecting a fabric, remember what its properties should retain for its use case, like textile durability, flexibility, antimicrobial, lightweight, and doesn't fray. Physical textile fabric swatch samples help determine consumers' comfort in wearing them. In addition, antimicrobial fabrics help with reducing odor smell after extended use. Keep in mind that each manufacturer has their sizing models for gender apparel, but typically have an industry reference.
When products are manufactured overseas, depending on the product type, it will reflect what US regulations and requirements the importer has to abide by, for example. Apparel requires product label information about the country of manufacturing origin, fabric percentage makeup, the company name that imported/ created the goods, and product care instructions. In addition, you have state laws that one must abide by if the apparel or gear uses regulated chemicals or materials.
Be cautious about using company knock-off products due to infringement issues.
Step 4: Sample Produced (2-3 Weeks)
Before starting your product's final manufacturing production run, it is best practice to have a physical sample produced and in the hand of the potential final product to validate and set expectations of the end product ordered. Having a final product sample will ensure everything is clear with fabric, artwork, stitch, color, size, fit, and custom modification verification. Sample pieces typically cost additional money and incur a shipment fee.
Step 5: Final Production Run (4-6 Weeks)
After the sample is approved, the manufacturer is notified to begin production. Shipment timelines are typically based on the season, like winter holidays. Timelines vary based on the manufacturer's season, like if seasonal items are being made for teams, leagues, and organizations.
General Design Artwork Guidelines
- Artwork should be in vector formats or extremely high-resolution and quality JPEG files to be used by the manufacturer.
- Artwork design should always use CMYK colors and not RGB/ RGBA, as CMYK is the color process used in manufacturing goods. RGB is a digital color spectrum and not physical.
- Variations in color combination gradients may not be achievable.
- Black gradients involving 100% K and color mixes are not feasible as color gaps exist in the sublimation spectrum.
- Metallic colors cannot be sublimated.
- Easy color references for a physical idea of color rendering use Pantone Solid Uncoated color swatches.
- Colors can appear different on fabrics due to the type of material and thickness of the material used, and ignore colors that don't apply, like metallics, etc.
- Seek proper guidance on using manufacturing templates, like bleed lines, sewn areas of graphics, artwork placement regions on body areas, and potentially problematic curvature or stretching areas.
- Full custom all-over design artwork most commonly use sublimation
- Silkscreening graphics is typically done for non-sublimated garments and is used for logos and simple designs
- Screen printing is performed in layers, where the base layer is typically white, and then screens are applied. So the artwork for screen printing has a particular artwork preparation process.
- A sublimated garment shouldn’t be sublimated again due to the risk of ink bleeding.
5 Things to remeber about Importing
1. When purchasing from a foreign manufacturer, the importer should make sure the commercial invoice on the shipment matches what you paid for accounting-wise. The importer should always remind and inform the manufacturer before proceeding that under-invoicing is not tolerated on customs paperwork and that it is illegal. If a paperwork mistake does happen to appear on a shipment, the person who is importing the shipment will need to have the US Customs paperwork for the package adjusted to ensure the correct taxes are paid for the goods. Typically your shipment carrier can update and correct customs paperwork documentation at a fee like DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc.
2. Airflight via DHL tends to be very favorable among purchasers of goods less than 60 lbs.
3. There are different shipment contract obligations to ensure the manufacturer is held responsible for properly shipping and ensuring the safety of the goods to the importer.
4. Breaking up shipments for an order to prevent paying taxes is illegal, and US Customs watches for this.