We often hear that when customers touch our products, they can feel the difference. But what really makes our products so different? That’s an important question we want to answer, because transparency is a big part of who we are at BELLA+CANVAS. One way we’ve done that is through launching a series called “Making of a T-shirt.” We started at the beginning with our design process, and now this post will go into T-shirt cutting. It’s the next, very important, stage in our USA-strong manufacturing process that we want to share with you.
See this process visually in our video below!
Since the beginning, our founders Danny and Marco have been focused on using the most state-of-the-art technology to make every step of our production process more efficient. That has been a huge defining factor in making BELLA+CANVAS standout, and more importantly, stand above the rest. Our T-shirt cutting stage is the perfect example of that. Our cutters as well as spreaders are the most technologically advanced machines on the market. That means, here at our Los Angeles headquarters, we are able to cut on a massive scale, which is about 3 million units per week. We have the largest cutting facilities in North America, right here in our backyard.
The process begins with the plotters. We use super computers, which enable us to get solutions in about a 30-minute time frame. These computers give solutions that enable us to cut these large amount of units in a much more efficient manner. The system allows us to put together a puzzle of all the sizes, from XS to XL. This allows us to consume the most amount of fabric with the least amount of waste.
Once those solutions are done, they become markers. There will be printouts that vary from 10 to 35 yards, which are spread out on the table by an automatic spreading machine. The spreader than checks it for what we call splices, which is essentially where the fabric begins and ends. Once that is set, the markers are rolled up, and the information is given to the cutter, who inputs it into the computer system. That system will load all the perimeters of the job, from where the cuts will take place, the amount of units it will cut, the amount of plies of fabric that it’s cutting, etc. Then it’s time to lay down the fabric!
The automatic spreading machines we use to lay down the fabric are more innovative, because they are able to count the number of plies of fabric that is going on the table. Compare that to the old way, where a person manually would walk with the spreader back and forth for 35 yards. The technologically advanced spreaders we use allow us to increase our productivity by 30%.
Once the fabric is on the table, which will be about 150 plies layered, it’s time for the cutting process. The cutters that we have can cut over 7,000 units in less than a 25-minute span, versus the older way where that many cuts would take up to four to five hours! We use a precision cutter, which can repeat the cuts time after time.
After the units are cut, they are loaded on a conveyor system that brings them to an automatic wrapping system. Then they are packaged for shipping, and either moved across the street to our local sewing facility in Los Angeles or sent to one of our Central American facilities to be assembled there.
One part of our cutting process that we are most proud of is the lack of waste we produce. After the units are cut, there’s only about a 10% waste of fabric. But that percentage doesn’t go in the trash! We work with two recycling companies that come and pick up the excess fabric every day. They then recycle that material and reuse it for a variety of new products, such as couches, punching bags, pillow stuffing, baby bibs and more!