Spyder3D® Apparel Specialist Michael Garcia assists Printed Works students Julian and Moller with the software used for their new vinyl cutter. 

Now that the holidays and New Year have come and gone, it’s back to school and back to work for the students of Diamond Bar High School, especially so for the members of the campus graphic media production club, Printed Works.

Since having gained campus-wide recognition as the school’s one-stop shop for all things graphic media, the club has seen a steady flow of orders coming in and out during their first semester. Now that the second semester is off to a running start, the club has gained a new versatile piece of equipment for their Spyder Lab™ that allows for a wide array of high-quality vinyl apparel graphics: A Roland plotter/vinyl cutter.

This compact model is perfect for a school setting and can cut a variety of vinyl materials for custom apparel.

The plotter works by reading files from its companion software that essentially converts images into lines and cuts each design into a roll of vinyl using a small blade. The newly cut vinyl is then cut out from the rest of the roll, and each design is removed from the backing, or weeded out using a specialized hook tool, much like a dentist would use. The last step is to position the isolated decal on the desired garment and press it into the fabric with a heat press.

Along with the new machine and new semester came two new orders, both from on-campus organizations. The first is a whopping 100-quantity order of white pocket-graphic t-shirts for another campus club called Best Buddies. Named after the non-profit organization of the same name, their mission is to create opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These decals are to be made on the bigger eco-solvent Roland digital printer/cutter using a special type of clear-backed vinyl material.

A decal of the organization’s logo is applied to a prototype t-shirt.

A close-up of the first sample shirt to be shown to the Best Buddies club.

The club’s second big order of the semester? Twenty custom hoodies for the school marching band’s saxophone section. Thanks to the help of their new vinyl cutter (and their trusty heat press), creating and applying each decal will be a breeze.

Printed Works club member Maddie uses a special hooked tool to separate the finished cut decal from its vinyl backing in a process called weeding.

Each decal needs to be lined up exactly as requested by the customer and sealed into the fabric with a heat press.

However, creating all their clients’ custom clothing items come with their own set of hurdles for these young entrepreneurs: “The quantity and deadlines of each order can be a challenge,” club member Moller explained, “and if we mess up on a garment, we have to order a new one, which also takes time”.

Spyder3D® team member Michael Garcia shows Printed Works club advisor, Ms. Ann Tran how the roll of vinyl feeds into the back of the plotter.

General time constraints are something the members of the club have had to overcome, as they only meet twice a week for just two hours, which can make scheduling around every member and project a bit more challenging. Not only that, outside of the club, the students have to balance their regularly scheduled classes, homework, and extracurricular activities, which makes their dedication and attention to detail all the more impressive.

Despite these challenges, the club is still flourishing, continually creating and delivering high-quality items to happy customers. It’s clear that each and every one of the members are hard-working students that go above and beyond in all that they do, and now with their new plotter, they have another innovative piece of equipment in their arsenal of tools used to dream, design, and deliver.

©2020  Spyder3D® LLC.

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