OKI920WT T Shirt Transfer

Is Direct to Garment Printing Dead?

Is Direct to Garment Printing Dead?

[I’m not sure when we got obsessed with “dead” technology articles, but this is a follow up on our Is Screen Printing Dead article…]

Direct to Garment Printers (or DTG Printers) have been the backbone of the mass customization movement in custom t shirts and other apparel since it began some 10 years ago. The advent of or improvement in t shirt transfer technologies with similar results and lower price tags is causing us to ask:

Is Direct to Garment Printing Dead?

The answer isn’t what you’d expect, so you’ll have to read all the way to the end!

Direct to garment (DTG) printers arrived on the scene about 10 years ago with the promise of being able to print small quantities of high resolution, beautiful prints on demand without any set time or expense. This was at a time when the most common way to produce any custom printed shirt was screen printing or silk screening.

Screen printing required you to create multiple screens for multiple colors through a multi-step process, accumulating expenses along the way, before you print your first shirt.

DTG is means what is says; you basically load a blank shirt into the machine and print directly onto it using a water based ink in an ink-jet process.

If you order a single custom shirt online from a company like Zazzle or Café Press, it was probably printed on a DTG Printer. Until recently though, there wasn’t much reasonable competition in producing full color short run graphics onto garments. .but here is the “new” competition:

OKI 920WT White Toner Printer

OKI Data has been around for a generation, but their white toner printer technology is bringing them into the custom t shirt market for the first time. Known for its commercial laser printers, industrial printers and color LED, you’ll find office managers and graphics print houses all over the country with an OKI brand in their printing stables, and they’ve brought that quality and workhorse reputation into this new market.

The OKI 920WT (part of this Digital HeatFX System) is a color LED (like a laser) printer that uses toners instead of ink. The magic for custom t shirt businesses is in several different areas:

Instead of CMYK toner to make a color image it uses CMYW. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and BLACK vs. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and WHITE.

Why is that important? Because you can make a color t shirt transfer with any color printer, but you can only apply it onto a light colored garment. Without the white layer, if you put a red design on a black t shirt, the color will look pink, for example.

OKI920WT T Shirt Transfer

It uses Toner instead of Ink. When you list out any of the drawbacks of garment printing with DTG, the fact that it uses liquid ink is rarely brought up.. mostly because that’s what all DTG printer use, as does screen printing. Liquid inks travel through tubes and squirt out through the ink jets onto the t shirt.

Why is that important? Because ink system require daily maintenance, weekly maintenance and monthly maintenance. They have filters and lines that can clog and print heads that can clog. If the maintenance is ignored at all, then those clogs become costly.. thousands of dollars costly.

You Make MORE Things. The primary limitation of direct to garment printing has always been that the ink needs a natural fiber to adhere to. It needs something to bond with so the print lasts through washes and over time. Not so with the t shirt transfers made by the OKI 920WT White Toner Printer!

Why is that important? Because you can now sell customized polyester shirts, customized sportswear, jerseys, nylon jackets and a lot more promotional products than with direct to garment.

It’s Cheap. Compared to Direct to Garment printers at $15-$25K, the Digital HeatFX system, which is based on the OKI 920WT White Toner Printer, can be had for as little as $8,000 ( with shipping) and usually tops out at under $11K including a top of the line heat press

Why Use Direct to Garment Printing?  

So IS direct to garment printing really DEAD?

No. Of course not. There are a few differences that make direct to garment printers the obvious choice for some businesses.

Direct to Garment Hoodie Print XXL

  1. Print Size – If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of XL, XXL, XXXL and even larger t shirts, hoodies and other apparel items out there. The M2 direct to garment printer from ColDesi is one of the best dtg printers on the market and has one of the largest printing fields on the market as well at almost 18”x24” as compared to the suddenly small sounding 10”x16” printable area on a white toner printer. That’s 160 square inches vs 432 square inches of print! If you want to print big, direct to garment is the way to go. Learn more about DTG ROI here: http://www.dtgprintermachine.com/dtg-printer-roi
  2. “Hand” – That’s what people in the business call how the garment feels to the touch. On a light colored shirt, like a white cotton tee, it is virtually impossible to feel a good direct to garment print. On a dark shirt you can feel it more because of the white underbase, but it’s still much software to the touch than a t shirt transfer made with the OKI or the Digital HeatFX system.
  3. Cost per Print – One of the drawbacks AND advantages to using a t shirt transfer system is that you are using a single sheet of “paper”, so the cost of doing a print of a certain size is exactly the same every time. Easy to quote and track your profits. The down side is that is someone just wants a single 4×6” print you’ll need to charge them for an entire page, and your cost is the same for a light or a dark shirt. With direct to garment you have much more control; since you’re printing directly onto the shirt if you print a 4×6” graphic that’s no problem. AND if you print it on a light colored garment you use no white ink so your cost is about ½ of what it would be on a dark one. In this case, DTG Printers clearly win.
  4. Pretty, pretty prints – you can get some good looking prints with the OKI printer, especially using the combo that Digital HeatFX offers, but there’s nothing that will reproduce the quality, resolution and just plain beauty of a good direct to garment print. Fade to nothing, gradient colors and tones, it all looks superb on direct to garment.

Here’s a great video showing the quality of DTG Prints

Printing on Canvas | Direct to Garment Printers from ColDesi from ColDesi, Inc. on Vimeo.

 

Conclusion

Direct to Garment is alive and well. In fact, if you read the trade magazines and attend the trade shows, it’s just getting better! Direct to Garment is coming down in price and up in capabilities. At a recent show they were demonstrating printing on dark colored 100% polyester shirts, which would add a whole dimension to the DTG business for small shops. For larger ones, DTG Digital has announced the new M3 model direct to garment printer which will let you print up to SIX shirts at once (even 6 different designs) or one HUUUUUGGGEEEEE print. AND the M2 is coming out with a network modular approach where you can run more than one printer from a single computer – great for production.

The Good News? As t shirt transfer technology improves, so does direct to garment printing – and so do our options as apparel decorators!

 

Here Lies

Is Screen Printing Dead?

Do Direct to Garment Printing and T Shirt Transfer Systems Spell the End of the Screen Printer?

Recently I’ve seen a couple of product demonstrations that made me give some real thought to whether screen printing, or silk screen, for making custom t shirts might be on its last legs. Or at the very least no longer a real, viable option for the entrepreneur or especially the home based business that wants to print t shirts – or bags, or pillow cases or jackets, you get the idea.

Here is my thinking about Screen Printing and Custom T Shirt Business

If you are starting from scratch and looking into what you want to use to make custom t shirts you’re probably going to start small. After work, weekends or if you’re jumping in with both feet you might just quit what you’re doing now to pursue it full time. BUT a very small percentage of custom apparel businesses start out in retail shops or in office space, so it’s very likely you’re going to be in a bedroom, dining room, 2 car garage or maybe an outbuilding.

One of the demonstrations I watched recently was a webinar by Don Copeland at ColDesi that walked through the steps and requirements of screen printing with the same process for DTG (usually called “garment printing or direct to garment). There were pictures, examples of each step and he did a good job talking about costs and some of the other attendees were actual screen printers and it sounded like his estimates were, even though they sell DTG Printers / Direct to Garment Printers mostly underestimates of how much time and money screen printing cost.

Screen Printing vs. DTG Printing | Whats the Best Way to Make Custom T Shirts from ColDesi, Inc. on Vimeo.

The other presentation was one that Pantograms, also in Tampa, FL put on about their t shirt transfer system called DigitalHeatFX, which is based on the OKI920 White Toner Printer. A COMPLETELY different process that direct to garment printing, but you still end up with a full color custom shirt in the end. Lots of pros and cons there with DTG that we’ll get to as well.

More about the history of screen printing

With these 2 systems in mind, let’s take the Viper2 DTG Printer from ColDesi and the DigitalHeatFX T Shirt Transfer system from Pantograms – is screen printing dead for startups? Why would anyone buy a screen printing setup?

If you’ve never looked at screen printing equipment as the best way to start a custom t shirt business, let me layout the problems with it for the typical startup.

Problem #1:

Wow it’s BIG – by big I mean that it takes a lot of space to house everything you need to run a screen printing operation (I’m using a 4 color setup as an example). Not only is the Press itself big but you need a Dryer, FLASH Cure unit and a place to Wash out your screens – with a hose. Your bedroom, small office space will definitely not work just because of the size.

Problem #2:

It’s a MESS – back to someone starting small and doing it somewhere around your home or retail space – it’s a no. Buckets of ink, washing screens, squeegeeing the ink into the screens. If you’re the kind of person that likes to get your hands dirty, this the way you’re going to want to print custom t-shirts, if not, then no.

screen printing example

Problem #3:

No small orders – by small I mean under 12 for sure, but many screen printers won’t take orders under 44 or so. You can watch the webinar recoding on the whole DTG Printer vs Screen Printing from this video below, but here is the gist:

In order to screen print a single t shirt you need to make one or more “screens”. A screen is kind of like a transparency that has been printed on. If you want one color, you print and make one screen, if you want 4 colors you need to make 4. These are about $25 each your cost and each one takes about an hour to make.

Just IMAGINE how much you need to charge to make a profit on printing 10 4-color shirts when just setting up takes 4 hours and costs you a hundred bucks!

So now if I’m a small businessperson and will be creating custom shirts for the local market and the VAST majority of my orders are going to be ONE (Like a Happy Birthday Grandad shirt) or 6 ( Bridesmaids Party shirts) or 25 (Smith Family Reunion shirts), and I want to do that from home – is Screen Printing really an option?

Let’s take a look at what’s BETTER.

What is better than Screen Printing about Direct to Garment Printing?

Direct to Garment Printing is better than screen printing in several pretty obvious ways, especially if you’re comparing to the DTG Viper2 machine from ColDesi

  1. It fits through a door I know it seems like a small thing (get it?) but even with other DTG Printers it’s a hassle to get it inside a home office or any regular sized doorway. The rest of them you have to turn then on their sides – don’t spill the ink please – so this makes it perfect for custom t shirt business startups.
  2. Ink CARTRIDGES = no mess – remember that whole “messy” problem with screen printing? Well, there’s still a very small amount – you have to empty a waste ink bottle occasionally – but it’s pristine clean compared to screen printing equipment. Oh – and those 2 things also make it VERY PORTABLE so you can take it to a show or a mall shop. Can’t do that with screens!
  3. Size matters – the printer is sized right, yes, but so is the rest of the equipment you’re going to use – a heat press and a pretreat machine. Everything you need fits in a 10×10 space easily.
Direct to Garment Printing Set Up

Picture links to dtg printer website

What makes the whole process of direct to garment printing better than screen printing for a start up especially? That’s pretty simple to point out:

  • Print as many colors as your customer wants – if you’re a screen printer the number of colors someone wants REALLY impacts how long it will take you to do and how complicated the job will be. With garment printing you just open up the image and print it – # of colors makes no difference.
  • Zero setup time – okay, maybe not ZERO, but you don’t have to make screens, develop them, clean them out after. You have to pretreat a shirt if it’s dark colored which takes a minute or 2 – and then you’re ready to go.
  • Make money on 1 shirt, 20 shirts, 50 shirts! You can sell 50 full color custom shirts for at least $20 (depending of course), and you can probably sell a one-off order for upwards of $30. You don’t have to talk to them about set up fees, reorder fees – none of that.
  • Print while you wait! – this was so impressive when it happened from me a few years ago. I went in to get a new logo printed on a polo shirt – just 2 shirts I could wear to business mixers, etc. I gave the vendor the logo and he printed the shirts. Walked out happy in about 20 minutes and back then I was happy to bay $25 each.

You can get a Viper2 DTG Printer a pretreat machine and a heat press for under or around $20K when this is being written. Not too bad considering you’re not renting warehouse or garage space for your screen print shop AND your clean up at the end of the day is about 10 minutes.

But direct to garment printing isn’t the only thing I think is putting the nail in the coffin of screen printing. There is also T Shirt Transfer Printing

The OTHER Thing that might be making Screen Printing Obsolete

T Shirt transfers have been around for a long time. You could buy a special paper for your home color inkjet printer and iron it right on to a t shirt way back in the ‘90s, but just like DTG, it’s come a LONG WAY and makes it a great option for people starting a custom t shirt business.

2 or 3 years ago Okidata came out with this idea of creating a printer ( like a laser printer style) that used CYMW instead of CYMK. The latter is what most color laser printers use – one toner for each color of Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black. That CYMK set works well for printing on a white t-shirt but when you try to make a full color t shirt transfer for a black shirt you get subpar results – whites look gray, colors don’t pop – meh. So OKI substituted White toner for the Black and now it puts a layer of white down first and that makes all the difference. Now you can print on just about anything!

 

BUT – the paper you use is a BIG deal, which is why I mentioned Pantograms and DigitalHeatFX. Normally you need a special paper to make your transfers for different things; one for light shirts, one for darks, one for this, one for that – but DigitalHeat FX paper is one for all, and the shirts look great! (I’ve got my sample right here)

Here’s why you might want the Digital HeatFX system instead of screen printing:

  • The cleanest one yet – no ink at all, just like a big laser printer.
  • Small footprint – it’s a LOT heavier than the Viper2 DTG Printer, so not portable at all, but you don’t need all that stuff that you need for screen printing; no spray booth, no belt dryer (just a heat press), no darkroom, etc.
  • Print on Anything – this system is AWESOME for making custom t shirt transfers, but those same transfers using the same papers can be used to put images on coolers, bags, umbrellas, hats, wood and tons of other things. Take that screen printing!
  • All the other advantages that direct to garment printing has over screen printing, printing t shirt transfers does too – no setup time, full digital color, small runs are profitable, the whole thing.

Best of all you can get one of these complete systems for under $10K. Pretty great for startups right?

Watch this video then if you want to learn more about it go to their website: http://pantograms.com/t-shirt-printing/

The downside to the Oki system vs. DTG is that the full color t shirt transfer when it’s applied to a t shirt has a little bit of a “plasticky” feel an is a little heavier than DTG – which you can sometimes not even tell wasn’t originally part of the shirt.  

Conclusion: Is Screen Printing DEAD?

No, of course not. The advantage of screen printing t shirts is that once you get it set up and running it is ridiculously fast and cheap on a per shirt basis. Doing 500 or 1,000 custom printed t shirts with direct to garment printing or using a white toner printer based t shirt transfer system would take a lot more hours and, while it would still be profitable it would not be as profitable as screen printing.

BUT – is Screen Printing DEAD for Startups? I think so. Unless you’re starting with clients that will be ordering a few hundred shirts at a time and have some spare industrial space available there is just no reason to buy screen printing equipment.

Both direct to garment printing and the Digital Heat FX OKI920WT combo system produce great quality custom t shirts, are appropriate for home, office or retail environments, are cleaner, take up less space and give you LOTS of opportunity to be just incredibly profitable!

 

 

Viper2 DTG Printer Review

DTG Printer Review – Viper vs. Viper2 vs. Viper2

DTG Printer Comparison – Viper vs. Viper2 vs. Viper2

In the United States we’ve been waiting for almost a year for the release of the new Viper2 from Impressions Technology through their dealer in the Western Hemisphere, ColDesi, Inc.

 

Introducting Viper2 DTG Printer – Vimeo from Mark Stephenson on Vimeo.

 

Impressions, also known as DTG Digital, is the manufacturer of the DTG Brand of direct to garment printers, but has been partnered with ColDesi from the beginning of the line, so DTG and ColDesi are basically the same thing here in the US.

Viper2 DTG Printer Review

Viper2

Impressions, an Australian company, is quicker to market with new products, so their Viper2 has been selling in Asia, Australia and parts of Europe for some time – we’re just starting to get our first look here! There are a few differences in the products that Impressions sells and the ones that are available in the Americas, mostly because of some market differences between the 2, according to ColDesi, but also because they will occasionally request changes, upgrades or additions for the American versions. That’s why you see ads online for the M6, for example, but that product just isn’t sold here, and now why you’ll see a difference between the Viper2 Digital Garment Printer USA and Viper2 International.

See what ColDesi has to say about its DTG Printers here.

Viper DTG Printer vs. Viper 2 DTG Printer

The original Viper has been around for many years and is a very good machine, delivering some outstanding quality and solid reliability. It’s best features have always been the HUGE print size, quality prints (using Dupont or Genuine DTG Inks) and that multi-platen system that all of the DTG digital garment printers have.

Viper

The original Viper, like all of the other DTG brand printers so far, has the bulk ink system and WIMS filter for white ink. Bulk ink just means that you fill up bottles of ink that are attached to the back of the printer that are pumped into the print head.

The original Viper also is a large device and LOOKS like a professional piece of equipment. You’ll see the measurements on the chart below, but let’s just say that it’s big enough, heavy enough and awkward enough to make you want a lot of help to move it.. and leave it where you put it! All the DTG line up so far, and all of the other printers on the market I can think of, also will not fit through a standard doorway – no fun if you want to run your business from home or a small office.

Print engine is a big deal for these systems and the Viper uses the Epson 4880, just like several other brands. The 4880 delivers a great image and is reliable when you take care of it but is being phased out by Epson, so it’s time to change!

Enter the Viper2

The new Viper2 is a BIG change. Or a smaller one when you think about it. The first thing you’ll notice that’s different about the new Viper2 is the size and footprint. The Viper 2 is actually under 36” wide, so can fit through a standard doorway – AND it’s light enough for 2 people to carry comfortably.

Why does size matter?

Most of us in the custom t shirt biz start from home or a small office so not only is space is at a premium, but double doors aren’t necessarily installed. There’s no loading dock either, so getting the 37” wide Viper inside is a real construction project. So the first big change between the Viper and Viper2 is the width – going from a 37” door buster down to a comfy 31.3”.

DTG Printer Review Viper2 Size

Next is transportability. The Viper2 weighs in at about 183lbs vs. the Viper’s 230.. wouldn’t you like to lose 50lbs? 😉 But really, being 50lbs lighter and much more narrow too makes the Viper2 easier to transport. That doesn’t mean just lower freight costs and easier installation in your home or office, but also that it’s reasonable to take on the road with you! You and a partner can move the Viper2 into the back of an SUV easily and put it into a mall kiosk, take it to a fair or big event, etc. The lower weight means you can take your show on the road.

Of course there is a drawback to the smaller size. Even though the Viper2 DTG printer keeps the 4-2-1 platen system that all the other DTG brand machines have, your largest print area is smaller on the Viper2.

The Viper could print up to 16.5” x 29”, the new one can only do 24”x 16”. I’m saying only but frankly it’s STILL bigger than its closest competitor, the Epson SureColor F2000. (See a comparison here: http://www.coldesi.com/epson-dtg-vs-viper2-dtg-printer)

So far we’ve seen that the size of the Viper2 is different than the original Viper, but what else is different?

Print Engine

This is the part of the dtg printer that makes it run, and the Viper, as I mentioned at the top of this article, uses the Epson 4880. The Viper2 uses the new Epson 3880, which Epson developed in part to use in its own SureColor F2000 model t shirt printing machine.

Print Head

Just to get a little more technical, the Print Head is different as well. The Viper, like many other printers, uses the Epson DX 5 while the Viper2 uses a TFP print head like the SureColor.

While both the print engine and the print head do make a difference, if you thought about them both as just an upgraded technology that improves printer performance you would not be wrong. The best thing about these 2 mechanical changes is that they combine to give you a great quality printer. You also get the knowledge that since these items are both newly developed as compared to the prior models that you’re at the start of the parts availability cycle.

Price

It’s cheaper! At the time I’m writing this the price isn’t really published yet, but you can expect it to be $2,000 or $3000 less expensive than the Viper. This puts it much more in the reasonable range for someone just starting in the digital garment printing / custom t shirt business.

 

Viper2 vs. Viper2

Remember we discussed how Impressions Technology is the maker of these systems and that ColDesi is their sole reseller in the US? Well this time they actually are releasing a slightly different model product, made just for this market.

What’s the difference between the Viper2 America and the Viper2 International?

CARTRIDGES! This is the DTG brands first product that uses cartridges, in the US version anyway, rather than bulk ink.

wims

Using cartridges has some real advantages, which is why most of the new printers on the market are using them. One of the big advantages for home/office users and mall kiosk users is that it is SO MUCH QUIETER. The WIMS system is awesome, but it really does make some noise. Is that a problem for a screen printing shop? No. Is it better for someone in a back bedroom or next to where people are on the phone taking orders? Absolutely.

The other advantage for the home style user is the lack of mess. There’s no way around it, pouting ink from your big bottle into the printer gets MESSY. Not only will your floor get the occasional spill, but your printer’s electronics may as well. With cartridges, mess is as a minimum.

Theoretically, cartridges are also supposed to provide more of a closed ink system, helping to prevent dust, debris and air getting into the ink lines and causing issues. I’ve never heard of any particular issues with the DTG M2 or the older Viper model, so for me that’s just theory.

Conclusion

The Viper2 US version looks like a great machine, and offers some real advantages over not only the old Viper, but also its biggest anticipated competition, the Epson SureColor F2000. This isn’t a comparison article, but I can at least tell you that the single platen of the Epson makes it far less attractive than the multi platen arrangement of DTG brand – printing more than one shirt at a time is a MUST!

You can do your own research at: http://www.dtgprintermachine.com or http://www.coldesi.com

 

 

 

rip pro dtg printer software

Your DTG Printer Questions Answered

I attended a live online demonstration of the M2 DTG Printer from ColDesi (my favorite) late last week and thought that I would share their recorded video demonstration and some of the things I learned from the presentation.

Here’s a link to the entire dtg printer presentation: http://youtu.be/fy3wABSA6YA

Just in case you’ve ever attended a webinar..you can rest assured this was NOT that! A webinar is an online presentation that you can watch on your computer or iPad. Normally they are Power Point slide presentations with either a voice over or, if you’re lucky, maybe a talking head video in the corner. They’re usually free too, which is great, but it’s usually pretty tough to sit and watch words on  slides go by for more than 10 minutes or so.

The DTG Printer demonstration that ColDesi did was completely different! There was no slideshow, only a very knowledgeable person actually demonstrating the direct to garment live – it was like being at a trade show.

Of course, the other side of seeing things live is that you get to see them make mistakes – watch the frog printing the wrong way :)

The only time they moved from the printer to just showing a computer screen was to show the RIP software, which is where you prep your image for printing.

dtg printer timeline showing history of DTG brand

History of the DTG product line

Here’s what the covered about the RIP software, which was RIPpro v6:

rip pro dtg printer software

  • RIP stands for “Raster Image Processor” – it’s the RIPS job to take the image and adjust it so it looks good on a t shirt
  • In RIP Pro 6 you can get very accurate job costing. It will tell you exactly how much CYMK and White ink is in your design and how much that image will cost you to print BEFORE you quote the job.
  • You can do “fluid mask”, which means that you can pretty easily edit out a complex background. So if your customer gives you an image of a car in front of a house, you can more easily just pick out the car image.
  • If you are using an operator that’s not a software guy to run your equipment, you can just set up a queue of jobs for him/her to just hit print

The 4 Best Things about the M2 DTG Printer

Here’s what I learned that I was most impressed with:

  1. You can print 4 shirts at a time! If you want to compare DTG printers, this is where you should start. They actually showed the printer, in real time, printing on 4 black shirts at once. It took about 14 minutes, but you don’t have to stand there and take one shirt off, put another on 4 times, you can go do something productive. The Brother DTG Printer, Anajet, even the Epson garment printer can only do one at a time.
  2. They have a platen for sleeves and pant legs. That’s just cool. The idea that you can offer such a different service should help make you stand out.
  3. You can do HUGE prints. Most of the time they show the M2 printing 2 adult tees at the same time. This time they showed it printing one large white tee with the possibility of printing twice the size of the competition. Big images are IN!
  4. Training Options and Support. Okay, not the sexiest part, but the guy giving the presentation, Don Copeland, has been in the business for decades and so has their support techs. If you read any of the trade magazines you’ll find and article by Don at least a few times a year. As far as training goes, it’s free and they have lots of videos, online trainings and seem to really know what they’re doing. I checked out their support site and it’s pretty good: www.support.coldesi.com

 

 

 

 

3 direct to garment printer or screen printer business ideas

Niche Market Ideas for the Screen Printer and DTG Printer

3 UNIQUE Markets for your Custom T Shirt business

 

Once thing every small business person needs, especially ones going into the custom t-shirt business, is a list of hot niche markets to go after. While the screen printing business is a little different that the direct to garment, the customers are going to be the same. So once you’ve picked the best DTG printer for your business, like we’ve discussed from www.dtgprintermachine.com, or before you’ve even started a screen print shop, jot these down as part of your business plan.

Wedding Businesses

Most new printers start out with sports teams and leave the wedding wear to bling machine or rhinestone machine owners. The obvious markets for weddings are in those sparkly, funny rhinestone tees that the bridal parties wear, after all.

BUT this can be a hot market for you too! You can offer the following:

  • Tees for the bridal party – funny, raunchy or with the bride/grooms photos on them
  • Wedding invitations – people do screen or DTG printing onto wood for unique invitations like this store.
  • Custom chair sashes with sayings or family names
  • Groom tee shirts

Those are just a few ideas! Why not sit down with a local wedding planner or bridal shop and work out a referral exchange deal?

New Businesses

The trend online is to serve up LOCAL information. More and more search engine tools and phone apps are designed to tell you what’s nearby – and you should be doing the same!

tampa bay boat trailer rental

Brand new businesses are the perfect customer for a dtg printer or screen printing business because they usually need everything. Here are a few examples of new brand businesses and what they might need:

  • American Boat Trailer Rental – no question what this company does, they rent boat trailers in Florida. What might they need from you?
    • Company logo tees
    • Promotional t-shirts to give away to customers
    • Javita weight loss coffee tampaFitness and Weight loss companies – even a national online business, like this one called Javita that just started selling weight loss coffee, has ample opportunity for promotional product sales. Company like these have lots of resellers, so each one is a prospect for:
      • Personalized promotional tees – for their local franchise only
      • Coasters, banners and hats for giveaways
      • Restaurants and Coffee Shops – the smaller the better! These companies are great markets for company uniform tees and polos, giveaway items and employee motivational clothing for employee of the month tees, etc.

New businesses are simple to find too. Whenever a company is formed the owners must register the company name with the state and advertise it in the newspaper. There are also several publications, like the Business Journal, see bizjournals.com and find your area, that publish new and growing businesses in a leads section.

Event Venues

You may or may not be able to sell custom tees to the local fair grounds or concert venue, but they can still be an EXCELLENT source of business. After all, are there ANY events that you’ve been to that don’t sell event based custom tees? Or that wouldn’t want special event employee t-shirts?

The salespeople or booking agents that work for event venues can be a gold mine of leads for your business. Just call up your local venue and ask for sales, tell them what you do, bring them a free t-shirt and let them bring you new business every time a group comes to town!

So when you’re thinking about your custom t shirt business, think about these 3 unique markets and go get ’em!

 

Brother DTG Printer

New DTG Printer Comparison and Review Article

Here’s a new comparison of the best dtg printers on the market.

It compares the Brother DTG Printers that start with GT-3 with the Viper.

The Viper is $20K, and so is the cheapest of the Brother t-shirt printing machines, but they go up to almost $25K

 

The cheapest Brother doesn’t print on dark t-shirts. No white ink capabilities included, so it’s really out of the picture. The next two models up both do print on darks, but still don’t do the same image sizes or multiple shirts like the Viper will.

Brother DTG Printer

Brother GT-341

The only things that some people may like about the Brother dtg printers is that they use cartridges instead of bottles, which makes them look neater, and that they don’t use a RIP software. There are some pros and cons to a RIP. For Professionals, you have a LOT more control of your image and the amounts of ink you use. For beginners it’s a little more complicated to print. But the results are worth it and you get used to the software quickly.

Both machines require that you know and use a graphics application, like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or Corel Draw, just to name the most popular ones. You’ll also still need to get a Heat Press, do pre treatment of darks and maybe even light colored tees for best results.

Both manufacturers have good reputations for technical support and warranty service, though it is much easier to get a hold of someone at ColDesi for questions about their DTG printers – Brother is a huge organization and it’s easy to get lost among the crowd of products.

best t shirt printing machine comparison

The Best T Shirt Printing Machines

What is the best t shirt printing machine?

There are several products on the market today that you can call a T Shirt Printing Machine, or T-Shirt Printer, we’ll take a look at which one is the best t shirt printing machine.

If you want to get into the custom t-shirt business and are serious about it, there’s really only 2 reasonable choices for under $30,000. One is the heat transfer, which just uses a good quality printer (usually about $12K that has white toner) and really limits you to what you can “print”. None of the big online custom t shirt businesses use this because it’s too slow and may wash off the shirt.

The other method, and our favorite, is Direct to Garment Printer – these are ink jet printers that have been adapted to printing directly onto a t shirt. These custom t shirt machines are also called:

  1. DTG Printers
  2. Direct to garment printer
  3. T shirt printing machines
  4. Garment printers
  5. Textile printers

Some of the brands are:

  1. DTG
  2. Anajet
  3. Brother

The particular brand of printer, which we think is the best t shirt printing machine available today. The DTG brand.

DTG has 3 printer models:

  1. The DTG Viper – it’s the cheapest t shirt printing machine from DTG, but still prints great. The big difference with this whole brand is how well they print on black t shirts. They use a white ink management system that makes this easy.
  2. The DTG M2 – more expensive, but we really think this is the best t shirt printing machine or best dtg printer on the market. It’s got 2 platens, so you can print 2 custom t shirts at the same time. And it’s really fast!
  3. The DTG M4 – same thing as the M2, but bigger and with 4 platens, so you can print 4 shirts at a time. It’s an expensive machine, but is probably the best t shirt printing machine if you have a screen printing business and you’re used to high volume printers.
best t shirt printing machine comparison

This is the DTG M2

This is a comparison that company did between the M2, the Brother Grafittee and the Anajet t shirt printing machines.

 

This company has 2 websites. One is http://www.dtgPrintermachine.com, the other is http://www.coldesi.com

As an alternative, here’s a link to more information on screen printing.

 

DTG T-Shirt Printer

DTG Printer Quality: 4 Questions to Ask

The choice of a DTG printer for your t-shirt business should not be difficult, you just have to ask the right questions.

This demonstration of the M2 Direct to Garment Printer at a trade show will give you a quick idea of the parts you’ll be asking questions about.

Your DTG printer will be the heart of your direct to garment custom tee shirt printing business. Take your time with selecting the right one and use the guidelines below.

More than anything else, the best DTG printer systems features a design specifically for digital garment printing. At a minimum, printers should include: good white ink management (such as the “DTG” printer brand with the WIMS White Ink Management System), pressurized CMYK ink feed re-circulation system, extended print areas, automated head cleaning, and ink mist removal.

DTG T-Shirt Printer

 

Direct to garment printers, also called DTG printers must be engineered specifically to print on garments and fully address the shortcomings of first and second generation machines or inkjet printers repurposed for textile printing.

4 Questions about DTG Printer Specifications

When shopping for a DTG printer for your direct to garment business, you will find yourself facing a huge variety of technical specifications. Four essential things you should ask when comparing printers:

  1. Does the DTG printer have a re-purposed inkjet printing system, or is it designed for garment printing from the ground up?
  2. What are per t-shirt printing costs: ink, pretreatment, other supplies and maintenance?
  3. What are reasonable estimates of print times and productivity? If the RIP software of a DTG printer requires constant tweaking to get a customer’s face ready for printing, you must remember that in estimating turnaround times.
  4. Can it do high quality dark garment printing? or Will it print on black tees?

Knowing the Needs of Your Business

Deciding on a DTG printer can be complicated, but asking the right questions can make the process a lot easier. The four questions above are non-negotiable, but your search for a DTG printer should also start by answering a few things about your own business goals:

  • Who are your target customers?
  • What do you want to be your daily amount of prints?
  • Will you be using the printer for “while-you-wait” clients or will you be taking orders for delivery?
  • Which is more urgent, speed or equipment cost?
  • Are you looking for a niche market, such as oversize prints, beach towels, collared or sleeve prints, artwork on canvas, and so on?
  • How often will you be using the DTG printer?

If your feel your direct to garment business will be primarily one-offs or single runs, with the occasional multiple quantity, you may want to consider DTG printers like the DTG Viper or the M-Series DTG Printers which are suitable for fast production of 1-8 garments at a time.

A business model geared toward larger production needs a DTG printer that is engineered exclusively for high volume production.

DTG Printer Features Important To Garment Decorators

Quantity is a significant concern when deciding on a DTG printer, but it is not the only one. There are some features that all garment decorators should look at:

  • Features that are for the specific challenges of printing on garments with textile inks (like white ink management systems, RIP software and flexibility of the platen systems).
  • Support and training provided by the distributor or retailer. Will they remain available to respond to your questions, give advice or troubleshoot if problems occur?
  • Performance of the DTG printer. This is the bottom line for your direct to garment printing business; do the prints that come from the DTG printer look good, wash well and last long.

Welcome to the “Dark” Side of Garment Printing

In a competitive marketplace, direct to garment printers have to meet the needs of today’s customer. To have the best products available means you will be printing on all types of shirts, in a variety of styles and colors. This means your DTG printer should be ready for all garments, including dark t-shirts.

Direct to Garment Printer Black T-shirt

There are certain challenges to dark garment printing, which can limit the products a shop can ultimately provide. Your success on darks rests on white ink; a base coat of white is what makes images stand out on dark garments, without wading.

Many machines (like Brother Brand Printers) have difficulty printing the white ink needed for direct to garment printing on darks. Businesses with the right DTG printer to handle white ink and can master the art of dark garment printing may reach up to three-quarters of their orders on darks. That is a lot of traffic to turn down, just because you don’t have the proper equipment!

DTG Brand printers are designed with WIMS, to deliver the best results on both light and dark garments.

With The Right Help, Your Decision Can Be Easy!

Like any significant business decision, the search for the right DTG printer might take some time. You will also need to budget a period to learn to use the printer you finally get. Not surprisingly, the best DTG printers are often the easiest to master, sometimes only taking a day or two to learn. With the right information and advice, purchasing the right printer can be a decision that you will never regret.

The specific DTG Printers we used as examples, and our favorites, are made by ColDesi Inc. They have everything you need to get a direct to garment printing company started, from DTG printers and accessories and tools like heat presses and pretreatment machines.