MEASURING – It’s easy to miss what’s unique about the screen printing room at Nomadic Stars.
The room in the College Road building is screen printed like any other professional screen. a robotic screen printing machine, stacks of inks, a conveyor belt dryer, and boxes of blank shirts. If the company’s printers – Alex Joseph and Alex Erlich – are up to date, they can print nearly 300 shirts an hour.
Odin Peter-Raboff, the company’s owner, points out when he was overseeing the two prints of a new Nomadic Stars shirt Thursday.
“It doesn’t smell,” he said. “That’s a great thing.”
Nomadic Stars, which Peter-Raboff founded in 2006, prides itself on its environmentally friendly approach to printing and looks for ways to reduce its impact on the environment where possible.
The pressure room has a heat recovery pump, the roof has solar panels, there is a communal garden in the back yard and the inks they use are based on water.
“I was a strong advocate for the environment,” he said. “When I was interested in starting a screen printing company, I wanted it to be environmentally friendly. That brought us to water-based inks, but little did I know then that this was going to be a huge challenge compared to plastisol, which is oil-based inks. “
Water-based inks can be more difficult to use because the ink dries much faster than plastisol, which gives printers a narrower window for printing clothes. But he said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Our inks do not contain any toxic chemicals,” he said, later adding that he had tried the alternative.
“I’ve tried (plastisol) once and the chemicals I used to clean it gave me a headache and I said, ‘OK, this is definitely not something I want to do again. “
Nomadic Stars is one of the largest buyers of water-based inks on the west coast, said Peter-Raboff. While other companies offer water-based inks for printing, many use a discharge process that bleaches the dye from the fabric for more vivid colors, which Peter-Raboff says also produces too much worrying chemical residue.
“The beauty of green activities is that it is usually very easy for you to make decisions, since there are usually 100 non-green options and only one green option,” he said.
However, the options Nomadic Stars offer its customers are extensive.
The shirts that come off the press can range from simple monochrome designs to complex full-color artwork that can be printed on a wide variety of clothing items. Peter-Raboff also employs in-house graphic designer Mario Fong to work on designs with clients.
“There are no two shops that are alike in terms of the artwork we develop,” said Peter-Raboff. “We don’t use templates. We don’t do that here. Every work of art that we bring out and develop is original. “
Although the company mainly makes custom orders from just 10 to more than a thousand shirts, Peter-Raboff hopes to expand the company’s own clothing line.
There are currently a handful of Alaska-inspired designs available, including a monochrome print that recalls the official naming of North America’s tallest mountain, Denali, last year.
Under the draft is “The Tall One”, Denali ‘s Koyukon translation.
The shirt that the crew had made on Friday was printed on a heather gray American Apparel tri-blend shirt – Peter Raboff’s favorite shirt – with a not-completely-black ink labeled “Nomadic Stars” under the motto “Eco of the company “-Friendly mission:” Inspired by nature. “
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.