Featured Customer: The MidKnight Inventors, a Competitive Robotics Team

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When most high school students were looking to join student council or cheerleading, Libby Kamen decided to start a competitive robotics team. The small team started out in her garage with four students and some extremely supportive parents. Kamen founded what is now called The MidKnight Inventors in 2006 and since then, despite graduating high school and college, she has maintained a pivotal role in mentoring students and helping the organization grow to 100 students from several local schools.

Kamen has enjoyed watching the team grow not only because she started it, but The MidKnight Inventors now features more students with diversified interests—not just engineers. This robotics team now includes business strategists, marketing specialists, and social media managers.

“This is the thing, if kids really care about something they can have a chance to exercise that—no matter what your interest is in. There is a place for you on a FIRST [robotic] team; with a hundred kids that’s something! We make sure that’s a really big focus of ours as we mentor the students. We want to make sure all of the kids have a task they’re engaged in that they love doing,” explained Kamen.

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At first, the students pulled together whatever funds they could find, but now they get a huge amount of support from the school district, local businesses, and corporations. While the school district provides buses for transportation, the community has really come through by continually becoming active sponsors to the team.

A corporate realty company has donated an empty storefront so the team has plenty of space to work and people passing by can see what they’re up to. Even local restaurants are eager to donate meals to feed the hungry robot engineers. The team always pays respect to their donors by showcasing their logos on the team tees.

The MidKnight  Inventors, named for Kamen ’s high school mascot and the many late hours, attends and competes in several events per year along with one they host at their own high school.  Kamen saw the t-shirt order for that particular competition as a great way to see how much they have grown.

Nine seasons ago, a very panicky Kamen called Rush Order Tees needing a few team uniforms with very little time to spare; now they order tees for event 100 volunteers and almost 1,200 attendees.  And they love the silver metallic ink.

They participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition, (usFIRST.org) which provides the team with provides the team with a new challenge each year and they have six weeks to build a robot that will go up against thousands of other high school teams.  As Kamen noted, the team isn’t just about robot building. They have students building business plans to gain funding and find the most effective sponsors for their organization.

Their budding marketing team helps promote the team, events, and even develop the branding. During the event, several students study the competitor’s robots to find the best battle strategy for their robots. And of course, there are plenty of engineers to build the robots. This all fits into FIRST’s and Kamen’s goals for the team—to find something for everyone.

“What we do is really cool, it’s not just about the robots—it’s about how the team presents themselves  and since it’s a huge community it’s about how you make your mark in something iconic and being recognized by other teams. [That] is really important to us.”

Follow the MidKnight Inventors on Facebook and Twitter.

Gildan G185 vs. Jerzees 996 Custom Hoodies

When trying to pick the perfect hooded sweatshirt, RushOrderTees.com provides a ton of styles and options. But sometimes too many options can get overwhelming, so we’re giving you the low down on our top two hoodies. These two sweatshirts are popular with colleges, sports teams, and businesses that work outdoors. The Gildan G185 and Jerzees 996 are both 8 ounces and made from 50/50 cotton/polyester blends so it’s a little hard to choose between the two.

Continue reading “Gildan G185 vs. Jerzees 996 Custom Hoodies”

3 Ways to Make Custom Photo Tees

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Special events call for unique party favors and custom tees are a popular option. One way of creating personal one-of-a-kind tees is by using photography for artwork.

You can make a funny birthday photo tee by using a baby picture of the guest of honor. Make it sentimental and use a wedding picture for a silver anniversary tee. Planning a class reunion, use the class picture for a fun retro tee that shows off those embarrassing hair styles from way back when.

Rush Order Tees offers three different services that can turn your photograph into a memorable and wearable party favor.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is one of the fastest and most affordable options for any customized tee, and it can be used to design a photo tee. Screen printing is commonly limited by the amount of colors used on a design, but our customers have found by using a black and white photographic images they have been able to keep costs down and still have a stylish photo tee.

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If your photo is in full color, our graphic department can make the adjustments for you. Our printers and designers can use half tones of the ink colors to give the image of various shades that will recreate a photographic image.

Print and Cut Vinyl

Print and cut vinyl is a little more expensive, but if you need a full color photograph put on a tee—this is your best option. Your picture is transferred onto durable vinyl and then pressed onto the t-shirt. The image is identical to your photograph and will last a long time.

Print and cut vinyl is ideal for designs that have a “structured” shape, so photos are perfect.

Direct to Garment Digital Printing

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DTG provides the highest quality image, but is the most expensive process.  With DTG, an image is printed directly onto the garment like with screen printing , but unlike screen printing, it is not limited to colors and layers because the image and all of its colors are placed on the shirt all at one time with a high-end printer.

Design Your Photo Shirt Now

5 Essential Screen Printing Tools

There are tons of supplies used to produce vibrant screen printed tees. We all know about artwork, but how does it get to a screen to be printed for a tee? We also know screen printing involves a variety of colored inks to create the design, but how do they get on the tee? Here are some of the other tools of the screen printing trade.

Film Positives
After the artwork has been finalized, the design needs to be separated into various of layers each with one color of the design. Each layer is converted to black to create a film positive, which is your design, in black, on a clear film. These are placed on the mesh screens to create the stencil for each layer or screen.

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Mesh Screens
Mesh Screens are probably one of the most important tools in screen printing, it is called screen printing after all. You place the film positive on the mesh screen and then degrease it and coat it with emulsion. The emulsion is light sensitive so after it is exposed with a UV light it creates the stencil.

Squeegee
You’ve got your ink, your press, and your screens—what next? Each layer of ink is pressed into the screen with a squeegee. The squeegee is pulled across the screen to make sure the ink is evenly distributed. While there are automatic machines that can do this, many companies, like Rush Order Tees, still use manual ink presses because it is faster for small batches and helps with control quality.

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Flash Cure Unit
Screen printed designs are commonly flash dried between each layer of ink. A flash cure unit is an infrared heater that the t-shirt is placed under for a few moments before the next layer of ink is pressed onto the garment. This prevents bleeding within the design and is especially important when working with dark garments.

Belt Dryer
The final stop on a screen printing tee’s journey is the belt dryer. They come in various sizes, but will all need to use the same temperature gauges for each tee. After a tee is flash cured, it rolls along a conveyer belt heated to 380 degrees to give the tee a final cure and will ensure the quality of the design.

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