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.
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”.
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?
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.
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: http://www.dtgprintermachine.com or http://www.coldesi.com
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.
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.
Here’s what the covered about the RIP software, which was RIPpro v6:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 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.
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?
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!
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
- Fitness 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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
- DTG Printers
- Direct to garment printer
- T shirt printing machines
- Garment printers
- Textile printers
Some of the brands are:
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Does the DTG printer have a re-purposed inkjet printing system, or is it designed for garment printing from the ground up?
- What are per t-shirt printing costs: ink, pretreatment, other supplies and maintenance?
- 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.
- 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.
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.