Selecting uniforms for a medical environment is matched only by the importance of the garments’ decoration, whether for identification or brand awareness. “Although there are various industry standard placements for this market, on lab coats in particular, you will most likely find embellishments on either the right or left chest,”says Michelle Serrano, marketing coordinator for World Emblem. Decorating lab coats isn’t that much different from the way you would decorate any other uniform, except for one small exception: organizations want two forms of identification, the first being the company name or logo and the second being the wearer’s name.
There are a wide variety of decoration methods to choose from, including appliqués, embroidered emblems, direct embroidery, transfers, sublimation etc. Serrano highlights World Emblem’s Perfect Print emblems as a good choice. These are sublimated, allowing for a full-color, digitally printed photorealistic image.
Penn Emblem Company offers the entire menu of possibilities as well. Liz Hathaway, creative manager for the company, says the key is to match the decoration to the fabric. “Health care and uniform fabrics are changing,”she says. “As decorators, we are seeing lighter-weight, moisture-management,antimicrobial materials on the rise. PennTrans Heat Transfers are a perfect partner for these new materials because of the excellent stretch and recovery. They are manufactured for either lower temperature commercial wash standards or industrial laundering.”PennTrans Heat Transfers are a new option for health-care garments that has grown in popularity as a flexible, low-profile alternative to traditional emblems and embroidery. They don’t crack or peel, and are light and soft for maximum comfort. However, for the traditional cotton scrubs and lab coats, Hathaway notes that direct embroidery and custom embroidered emblems remain the top picks.
Consider the garment’s purpose and audience when determining the decoration method. For example, many medical professionals and businesses will rent lab coats. In those cases, removable patches and emblems make a lot of sense. “This feature is useful for when the lab coats are returned and rented to another client,”says Serrano. “The patch can be removed and the lab coat can be reused. If necessary, the patch can also be reused as well.”
Keane Hoffman, sales manager at Penn Emblem, highlights inkjet emblems for rentals, “but if it’s a direct sale, I suggest direct embroidery or transfers for a less costly alternative and one that offers higher image enhancements,”he says. “Consider the customer’s end-users’ need and their design requirements as well as how the garment may be laundered.”
Choosing decoration for uniforms can be more complicated than for a promotional garment. “For this particular segment of clientele, we offer apparel decorations that are industrially washable,”says Michelle Serrano of World Emblem. “Companies that rent uniforms to medical personnel will usually have some sort of maintenance plan in which they will wash their uniforms with certain wash processes. These processes contain a higher degree of chemicals and detergents than your normal domestic or ‘at-home’ washing machine. As such, when making apparel decorations for this particular market, we have to make sure that our decorations stand up to these washes. Within this industry, this is known as being ‘industrial-wash capable.’”
This article first appeared in the June issue of Wearables Magazine and appears courtesy of the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI)