image of girl and dog displaying their htv heat transfer vinyl

What is the Best HTV

What is the Best HTV

When it comes to custom t-shirt HTV, many today are asking: “What is the Best Heat Transfer Vinyl to use”?

You probably think like I did, that all heat transfer vinyl or HTV or t-shirt vinyl is the same. Or perhaps you’ve just always bought the cheapest possible.  By the way, how different can they be?

What is HTV Anyway?

HTV stands for Heat Transfer Vinyl.

Basically, you load vinyl into your cutter, whether it’s a small Circuit cutter or a big Roland or Graphtec professional cutter, then cut out lettering or graphics into the vinyl.

Peel the unwanted vinyl away from your design, then apply it to a t-shirt and heat press it on (not iron it, use a heat press).

HTV most often comes in rolls for professional cutters. Usually, the smallest pro roll you can get is about 15” by 5 Yards. It sometimes comes in sheets of 12” x 12” for hobby cutters like the Circuit.

It’s quite the same as the stuff you use to put designs into scrapbooks. It’ needs heat to make it stick permanently.

Let me say there that HTV is not the same as using a direct to garment printer or a white toner printer for t-shirt transfers. You can do full color with both of those AND you never have to “weed” your designs. It’s like magic.😊 But there are a few cool options for HTV:

Check out -Triton HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl)

Don’t take our word for it here at MomImprovement, call them and check it out yourself.  maybe order some samples?

Let me tell you, then call it “Rapid Peel” for a reason!

More about Triton Vinyl in a bit, first…

If you’re like most people (and ME), you’ve just been buying HTV from Sister or Cad Cut or FDC or one of the other heat transfer vinyl’s you can find on the internet, or that came with your new cutter. (Okay, actually, FDC IS pretty good!)



Glitter HTV

Heat Transfer Vinyl isn’t limited to just solid colors, although that’s what you’ll see on sports jerseys and for MOST of the custom t-shirt made with it. It’s also used for BLING!

If you’re like me and LIKE a little bling in your life, there are some great glitter vinyl colors available. Very sparkly. Perfect HTV for cheer mom shirts for example.

Pattern HTV

There s also some very cool patterns available, like camo and animal prints. You can get very creative with HTV!

if you’re a Cricut or Cameo user like about 10 million other people, you probably have been limited by the choices you have anyway – stuck with (pun intended) literally the world’s most expensive cost and cheapest feel vinyl on the market.

Have you ever tried weeding that stuff you can get from Michael’s or Hobby Lobby?  Wow  That’s a job.

But whether you’re a pro making custom shirts with HTV or trying to start a real business based on your Circuit or Cameo cutters with HTV, there IS a difference in brands – at least I realized that after trying Triton Heat Transfer Vinyl.

Triton Heat Transfer Vinyl

Now we get down to why I’m writing this – I’ve tried Triton Rapid Peel – and am a huge fan!

Triton came out a few months ago, sold by Colman and Company, the same people that sell the digital heat fx printers and the ink for the M2, Viper2, and M6 DTG Printers.

And it is VERY different from Siser and Cad Cut for example.

First of all, if you haven’t made a complicated vinyl design on Heat Transfer Vinyl and then tried to peel It or weed it, you’re just not going to understand. Stop-go do that.😊 You need to understand the level of frustration after you’ve waited 20 minutes for a design to get cut with a Circuit and then rip the vinyl when you peel it – or just take FOR-EV-ER to do it.

Triton HTV is just a breeze to work with:

  • It’s EASY to PEEL – they say the digital heat fx color t-shirt transfer system they sell is “no weed”, and that’s true -but Triton is SO CLOSE TO THAT. So easy to peel.
  • Cuts great – very consistent cut
  • Looks great – colors wash really well
  • Feels GREAT – it’s very thin. Not sure what the thickness measurement is, but in the shirts I’ve seen it’s almost like it’s not even there.

As for PEELING or WEEDING – just watch this video Colman and Company did:

So.. What IS the Best HTV today?

I think you know my answer.

Check out Triton Heat Transfer Vinyl here: I think you can even get a sample package!

ColDesi and Pantograms Merge

The following is right from a notification email sent out by Pantograms today!

ColDesi and Pantograms Merge

Achieving Dreams Together | Two Market Leaders Combine to Serve You Better

Great things are happening here at Pantograms, and we wanted to let you know first!

As a very appreciated customer, we are proud to announce to you that Pantograms along with the Digital HeatFX and EmbSupplies brands, are joining forces as part of the ColDesi, Inc
Both companies have a long history of helping customers Achieve their Dreams while providing the best support and service in the industry.  Our joining forces will mean some great things for your business going forward.  It will give you access to new expertise and even more opportunities for your business growth.

Changes will be made over the next several months to help you take advantage of the new products, resources and expertise. In the meantime, we wanted to give you the advantage of combining support and service first.

Soon, there will be new voices when you call in to support. There will be new smiling faces when you come in for training as well. You may meet or talk with current members of either team. However, you can rest assured that you will be getting the same HIGH level of service and support as ever. Even Better!
Did you know ColDesi was born from Pantograms?

John Colman founded Pantograms over 48 years ago and his son Scott Colman grew up in that business, then branched out on his own in 1999. Now, over 20,000 customers later, Pantograms and ColDesi combined make up one of the largest businesses in the industry.

Our combined team of over 60 people are better suited than any other in our industry to help you achieve your dreams.
We do all of this to make your business as awesome as it can be. We believe our success depends on your success so please let us know what else we can do to make that happen for you!


Pantograms and Digital HeatFX

PS. All the same great Support and Supply people can be reached at (1-800-872-1555). If you want to start exploring everything our combined company can do you can visit or http://colmanandcompany too!



image of the new oki pro8432wt reviewed

Comparing the NEW Oki8432wt and Oki 920wt Printer

Introducing the Oki Pro8432wt White Toner Printer!

The custom t-shirt business has BOOMED in the past 3 years and the Oki Pro8432wt has been a big part of it for our readers.

What’s the Big Deal with these white toner laser printers anway?

A big part of that is now it’s so much easier to print great transfers with the with white toner printers like the Okidata 920wt.  Just this year the OKI 920WT’s biggest seller in the US – Digital HeatFX TRIPPLED their monthly sales.

And now, with the new T-Shirt Design Software from Digital Heat FX making images that pop off the shirt is easy.

They’re pumping a lot of information about making universal t shirt transfers with their combination of Laser EZ Peel paper and the OKI printer.

Digital HeatFX has made it so easy to start a t-shirt business making transfers that OKI has sharpened their pencils to make a product that helps even more people get started in the business.


Just a quick update – Now that Digital HeatFX is part of the brands sold by ColDesi, Inc. you can learn more about it right on their main website:

OKI Pro8432wt | What’s Better

What could OKI do to make the OKI920WT better? What would make it more attractive for who they’re really after – home-based custom t-shirt businesses, crafters that want to make promotional products or the weekend warriors that sell custom t-shirts at markets?

The OKI Pro8432WT White Toner Printer is BIG.

Delivered in a huge box big. Hard to get through a door big. Somebody get me an INDUSTRIAL table to put this on big. No way I can put that in my SUV big.

The Okidata 8432wt is also known as the “Okidata PRO8432”.  The new Okidata white toner printer takes up about 25% less counter space than the 920WT.

It’s also LIGHTER!

Smaller and lighter is a big deal for office use because, honestly, it just looks like a beefy office desktop color printer. So it will fit on a desk and won’t stress the MDF that desk is made of.

Smaller dimensions AND lighter mean you can put it on a cart and in the back of your SUV for mobile, on site printing at events.

OKI Pro8432wt vs OKI920wt | Here are the Specifications

Ready for the “Geeky” side of the product differences?

Both white toner transfer printers are part of OKI’s proColor™ series.  The proColor™ series of printers are designed for the professional graphic arts markets where high production output is important.

The machines focus on high speed as well as faithful representation of the color quality.  Also, the series is known for extra strong feeders, embedded EFI Fiery® and PANTONE® support on select models.  When color is critical and speed is important, either one of these proColor™ printers makes a good choice.


Here’s the numbers:

OKI Pro920wt printerOKI Pro8432wt printer (smaller size)
Paper SizeUp to 12” by 18” (Tabloid Extra)Up to 11.7” x 16.5” (ISO A3 size)


Similar Output and Features | Only Minor Internal Differences

When comparing the 2017 Okidata Pro8432wt to the existing 920wt (white toner) the internal differences and output are about the same.


To start, both machines come equipped with an 800 MHz Power PC processor with 512MB RAM standard on the OKI 920wt and only 256MB RAM standard on the OKI 8432wt.  Both machines require and work with the same style transfer papers.


Each laser printer with white toner requires the two-step A and B papers to generate a high contrast white print on dark garments or dark items.  The power consumption is similar to both printers as well as the overall output.  They have an output that is enviable when compared to any other process in the decorated apparel industry.


Each can reasonably pump out over 500 transfer sheets a day.  However, any mom would be exhausted trying to heat press that many infant or baby clothes in a day.  So, developing a wholesale transfer business is a great part-time business model for moms with one of these printers.




There’s a difference between how easy or hard it is to business done with the white toner printers.

The folks at Digital HeatFX have that figure out, so everything below is based on the way THEY do OKI + Paper + Heat Press

Making Money on More Things with Transfers

Here’s the BEST part, the Okidata proColor® printers like the 8432WT can create transfers for just about anything!  After you print with your Okidata 920wt or the new Oki Pro8432wt you can press these transfers on virtually any fabric combination.

You can do this all with just one set of papers too.  If making a little side money to help the family is where your heart is, either one of these printers fits the need.

Check out all the garments these printers can print on:

BagsDinner JacketsKnickersScarfsT-Shirts
BootsHoody’sPolo ShirtsSkirtsTrainers
BriefsJogging SuitsRobesSuitsVests


Your Steps to Printing Money with Either Machine

That’s Right, you can even print on UNUSUAL items that are not garment related.  For instance, here’s a great video on how to heat press koozies.

The cost of material for printing on these items works out to about 3 cents per square inch.  The smaller the logo, the lower the cost per print out.

Here’s a video on printing Koozies:


Dozens of logos can be printed on a single sheet, or you can combine multiple logos together on a single garment.  The process is easy and breaks down into just 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Design

Here is where Moms everywhere can bring their designs to life.  No matter which software you like to use for graphics, the Oki data920wt or the Oki Pro8432wt can handle the file format.

You can use graphics applications like; Photoshop®, Illustrator®, CorelDraw®, Paint®, or any of the dozens of free online editors.  Literally, anything that you can get on your screen can be brought into the software.  Pictures, Logos, Text, Lists, in either pixel form or vector art.

Step 2: Print

Yes, just print.   The beauty of the Oki proColor® laser printers with white toner is that there are no screens to create, no inks to load, no messes to clean, and no harsh chemicals.

That’s right, there is no separate RIP (raster image processor) software applications to go through. You simply open your design in your favorite software and choose “Print” to create your beautiful transfer.

Step 3: Press

Here’s where the magic happens! You take the image that came out of the Oki 920wt or the Oki Pro8432wt and simply brings it over to the heat press. An Iron will not work for this step of the process. The ability to hold temperature and pressure constant over the whole image area prevents irons from working.

You match up the image you printed (The “A” Paper) with the emulsion sheet (The “B” paper) using your heat press.

Once you peel the sheets apart and trim the edges you are ready to press your fully prepared transfer sheet on to your item.

You then simply heat press the image directly onto the garment, or bag, or jacket, etc. Or, for less hassle, you can simply sell your transfer sheets (wholesale) to any other business owner that has their own heat press but doesn’t have their own Okidata 920wt or Okidata pro8432wt machine.

LED UV Printer Sample Texture Print

LED UV Printer | Best Option for Your Business

LED UV Printer | Best Option for Your Business

LED UV Printer what it is and what it does. I don’t have the time or experience to go into too much detail, but I’ve been looking into UV Printers lately and am finding a thousand uses and lots of ideas for product applications, etc.

This is the company I’m looking into: They’re located in Tampa, FL and have 2 LED UV Printers set up in their showroom. The iUV600s has some great specs compared to the Mimaki and direct color systems uv printers I’ve been looking at. A 24″ x 17.7″ x 11″ print area is what really catches my attention

Here’s a video on the UV Printers that I saw:


LED UV Printer Best Features

Most of the LED UV Printers I found have really small print areas of around 14×16 like a DTG Printer. The bigger print area on these means that you can actually print on bigger things, obviously, but also set up more small things to be printed at the same time.

Plus the ability to print TEXTURES is amazing. You use their RIP software to create layers that actually build up texture. It’s like a regular printer that will do just enough 3D.

LED UV Printer Sample Texture Print

You can’t tell, but that amazing picture was printed with this UV printer, dried instantly and it FEELS textured.

UV Printing Applications

So what can you do with a UV Printer?

  • Print signs
  • Print on Awards
  • Print on Metal – Awards
  • Print on Acrylic – photos and signage
  • Add color to engravings in wood or metal
  • Create custom packaging
  • Print on Boxes
  • Print on the tops of acrylic trophies
  • Print on bottle tops
  • Print on Pickle Ball Paddles
  • Print on almost anyting

Why NOT use a UV Printer

The only reason I can see not to add this to a business is that it does have an odor. Some people may get a headache – about 1 in 50-100 as far as I can tell.

The machines are pretty big, like a DTG M2 size exactly. BUT the great thing is that there is no heat press or dryer needed.

But it’s not for printing t shirts. It feels bad, doesn’t do a good job at all on darks.



High Volume Direct to Garment Printing | A Look at the Kornit Breeze vs DTG

High Volume Direct to Garment Printing

Is the Kornit Breeze Direct to Garment Printer worth $110K or is it the Best Direct to Garment Printer for the Money?


The Kornit Breeze if the entry level direct to garment printer for that company. The Kornit Storm, the Kornit Avalanche are even higher production, higher end printers.. and frankly they are amazing machines. During a trip through the SGIA show a few months ago I got the chance to drool over Kornit’s line up and it started me thinking.


For those of you who are new to the direct to garment printing business, or have been away from it for a while or just spend 100% of your time making and washing out screens for your screen print shop (J) Kornit is a premium player in the market. If you order a 1 off custom shirt from a LOT of the big names in the online custom tee business, there’s a good chance it was made on a Kornit (pronounced “corneet”).

The Breeze is actually at the low end of these workhorses and can be had for the low low price of – let’s just say somewhere in the $80ks. But the bundle number, because you’re going to need that big air dryer they put with it, is really around $110,000.  The Kornit Breeze is also a lot less expensive than they’re other direct to garment machines.

So the question posed in the sub title is:

Is the Kornit Breeze WORTH it?

That completely depends on you and your business. If you are running a 24/7 operation and using it to its full capacity of about 40 light colored shirts an hour or 25 darks, then you’re probably not reading this article because you’re too busy printing shirts. But if you are, then there are things about the Breeze you’re going to want to take advantage of:

  • Training – it’s not cheap, but Kornit will send people to your shop to set up the machine, spend a week tweaking it to just what your business requires. They’ll literally hold your hand through the start up.
  • 3 Shift operations – no machine is perfect, and no company is perfect, but Kornit has the reputation for minimum downtime. That minimum downtime is vital if you’re running that kind of business.
  • Workflow and ecommerce tools – once again, are you in that large – single shirt order direct to garment online ecommerce order space? Spend some time looking at Kornit’s productivity tools and you’ll be impressed.

BUT.. how many of us are there? How many businesses actually have the capacity to spend that $110K and the volume to keep that direct to garment printer fed?

Kornit Breeze Comparison to M2 Direct to Garment Printer


All of the readers here know how much I like the M2 and the whole DTG brand direct to garment printer line up, sold in the US by The comparison between the DTG M2 and the Kornit Breeze might seem like a stretch perpetrated by a fan, but bear with me because there are some numbers to look at:

Cost of the Kornit Breeze with Dryer, etc: about $110,000

Production Speed: 25 light garments, 40 dark garments – so an “average” of 32.5 per hour This includes drying, etc.


Cost of an M2 with 2 Heat Presses: about $25,000

Production Speed even with having to pre treat separately (the Kornit has a built in pretreater): an average of light and dark garments = about 16 shirts per hour from prepress to finished shirts.

That would seem like a clear difference and easy disqualifier until you find out that, very quietly, the people at DTG Digital who make the M2 have worked out a network cable interface , and the RIP Pro C6 software can handle sending graphics to more than one machine, one right after the other.

Now TWO M2 Direct to Garment Printers and 4 heat presses cost: $50,000 (it’s less, but this is good for our purposes)

So you’re $110K Kornit Breeze can produce that average of about 32.5 shirts per hour and your $5K M2 networked or USB’d together can produce 32 shirts per hour.

And you can add another M2 and 2 heat presses and get to 48 shirts/hour for $75K, and ANOTHER M2 to get to 64 shirts/hour for $100K.

Which is the Best DTG Printer set up?

There’s another advantage to the kind of multi-head printer set up with the M2s – one day, even with the Kornit Breeze, you WILL have an issue. The machine will go down, get hit by lightning, someone spills ink into the guts of it.. something will happen. When it does, your shop is closed!

With this multi-head networked DTG Printer set up if that happens you’re still 75% IN BUSINESS.

AND if your business grows even more you can just add another M2 into the mix for that $25K or less and increase your output by 16 or more shirts an hour – with the Kornit and machines like it you are basically upgrading your outut $100K at a time!

In Conclusion

So is the Kornit Breeze worth the $110K? It’s a great machine. It’s a capable machine. And there’s a lot of good things said about the company. And maybe if you’re running that 24/7 shop and want that level of product and support it IS the best dtg printer for you.

That’s not me or most of you – and I think there’s a compelling alternative here with the networked DTG M2 printers.

Find out more about Kornit at

Read about the M2 Direct to garment printer at:






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.

Read this article about printing black with the OKI920WT White Toner Printer

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:
  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.



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!


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:

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


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.


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:

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.


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.


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.


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: or




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:

Just in case you’ve ever attended a 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: