Due to the inherently high cost of most Direct to Garment printers, the comparison is often made to the automotive industry. For this comparison, we will be using the analogy of a delivery company needing to cover as many miles as possible, in the shortest amount of time (relative to a DTG print shop hoping to produce as many shirts per hour, as quickly as possible).
SCENARIO 1: Buy one high-end supercar for $30,000 – Maintenance costs are 5 times as high and gas is a special blend which costs twice as much. However, you never have to change your own oil or work on your own brakes – a special technician will come to you, whenever needed, to work on your car. If you try to change your own oil, your warranty may be cancelled. All replacement parts must come from the manufacturer. Top cruising speed is 200 mph.
SCENARIO 2: Buy 3 low-cost cars (at $10,000 a piece) for $30,000 – Maintenance costs are very low and gas is standard unleaded at 1/2 the cost of the special blend. However, you have to change your own oil and replace your own brakes when they wear out. Parts wear out faster, but when they do you can purchase them at a variety of auto-parts stores for 1/5 the cost of the supercar. Top cruising speed is 80 MPH.
With the first scenario, a business could easily cover 1,600 miles in a standard 8-hour shift, ensuring reliable operation at a significant cost. Assuming $2 per gallon for special-blend gas (let’s pretend standard Unleaded is a reasonable $1 per gallon and for the sake of simplicity, both vehicles get the same 20 mpg mileage) they would spend around $160 in gas (or around $0.10 per mile). Over the course of 30 working days, the fuel cost would amount to approximately $4.800 for 1,600 miles traveled.
With the second scenario, a business could easily cover 1,920 miles in a standard 8-hour shift, although more parts may need to be replaced in the process (for a fraction of the cost for similar parts of the hypothetical supercar). Assuming $1 per gallon for special-blend gas (let’s pretend standard Unleaded is a reasonable $1 per gallon and for the sake of simplicity, both vehicles get the same 20 mpg mileage) they would spend around $96 in gas (or around $0.05 per mile). Over the course of 30 working days, the fuel cost would amount to approximately $2,800 for 1,920 miles traveled.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer – each hypothetical delivery company is going to have to weigh the factors which are most important to them, which may include (but are not limited to):
Investment / Maintenance costs
Cost of fuel, per mile travelled
Amount of “hands on” work required
Availability of parts
When determining which model is right for your Direct to Garment printing business, be sure to properly evaluate all relevant factors – rest assured, there are options out there for virtually any business model! Finding the RIGHT machine is far more important than finding the BEST machine…
The Katana MIST is a highly affordable and industrial built pretreatment machine for automatic pretreat application in DTG. The open design makes the process fast and easy, and all replacement parts are incredibly affordable!
Consistent pretreatment application and incredible speeds make this a highly useful tool for direct to garment production.
Have you been involved in DTG printing for some length of time, and want to provide your feedback for a specific DTG printer model? We have now introduced the new Product Reviews function for DTG Print Solutions, allowing for full length, in-depth equipment reviews as well as associated follow-up rankings by the general community!
Once a review has been placed, any logged-in user can add a Comment (complete with their unique rankings for each of the provided categories) and the total product review will reflect the subsequent ratings calculation. By adding your rating, you are contributing to a global community of DTG users with the intention of providing valuable insight and information for any potential buyers.
Whether your particular experience was good or bad, your feedback can help other users make a more informed decision in this process. Be honest about your experiences and include any comments which could provide potentially useful information for someone contemplating the purchase of a particular piece of equipment.
Don’t see your particular printer listed? Consider being the first to review your DTG printer (or equipment accessory) by contacting us at email@example.com – we would love to receive additional feedback from the general community, regarding DTG printers we have not been able to personally review!
We are working hard to improve DTG Print Solutions, with the intentions of providing the best tips, tricks and resources for the DTG printing industry. With this in mind, we have created an area on our website called the Community Marketplace, which we hope to build into the premier marketplace for used (and possibly new) DTG printers, pretreat machines, supplies and lots more!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Anyone with a used DTG printer, accessory or assorted supplies can post ads in the Community Marketplace. The system works similar to the popular Craigslist platform in terms of self-moderation and management; you create your own ads, upload photos and a detailed description of what you are selling, then post the ad – buyers contact you directly (you can mask your e-mail address when posting) and all transactions are handled privately.
SELL YOUR DTG PRINTER!
Guidelines for Posting Ads:
Be Honest and Transparent – Don’t Skimp on the Descriptions: Make sure you describe what your are selling honestly and accurately. Describe the condition of the equipment, and don’t leave out any flaws or broken parts. Buyers of used DTG printers often understand what they are looking for, and any information they can get about what might need replacing will not only allow them to make an informed buying decision that is compatible with their specific business model, but also help ensure a more successful and enjoyable experience for both parties. Any ads with false or misleading information will be removed.
Be Tidy: Please be sure you delete your ad once your equipment is sold. This will prevent a bunch of follow up leads trying to contact you after your printer has been sold, and it will allow potential buyers to focus on the most current and relevant listings.
Use High Quality Photos: Small, grainy photos don’t show anything and do little to help enable a more informed decision for the buyer. Make sure all photos are of decent size and quality, and try to highlight the important aspects of whatever you are selling. Photos sell products, so please take this step seriously.
Offer Your Buyers a Great Deal: We all know the used DTG printer market is tough – these products tend to lose value quickly in this industry and it breaks our heart to take a major loss after (often) such a short period of time. However, make sure you are pricing your equipment realistically, understanding that the main reason most people buy used is to save money. Offer your potential buyers a great bargain and your listing won’t last long – the better the bargain, the faster your stuff will sell! Also don’t forget to describe any additional supplies, equipment or replacement parts you are including in your listing (if any).
BUY A DTG PRINTER!
For buyers, this will create a concentrated supply of options to make the buying process easier, while hopefully providing for the best possible deals and the fastest way to compare printers and accessories! Keep the following points in mind, when considering used equipment:
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!DTG printing is not easy, whether you buy new or used. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and find out everything you can about your potential purchase. Ask about any parts that might need replacing and ask why the user is selling their equipment (don’t necessarily take it at face value when they say “they machine is great, I just don’t have the clients to support it”). Go online and research any brand or model prior to making a decision, and whenever possible, try to see the machine printing in person, before you make any commitments! This is a major decision, so take your time and be smart about the process. Caveat Emptor (“buyer beware”).
Try to See the Equipment in Action, Prior to Purchasing: Although this was mentioned above, it merits repeating. Nothing will tell you more than actually watching a machine print, while evaluating the actual print speeds, ink costs, output quality, etc (preferably with artwork of your own choosing). If there are any major issues, or if it takes a long time to finally get a decent print, you can understand these before you actually take the printer home. Many people tend to remove the ink from their machines, once they decide they don’t want to do DTG printing anymore – it isn’t always feasible to ask them to re-ink their machine, but someone who wants to make the sale and who is supremely confident with the condition of the printer should be able to accommodate such a request… After all, this is usually not a small purchase.
Any Deals Made are Strictly Between the Buyer and the Seller: DTG Print Solutions is not involved in any way with any specific transaction, and we do not warrant or guarantee anything that is bought or sold through the Community Marketplace! Just like Craigslist, we provide an open marketplace for users to buy and sell, and it is up to you to do so responsibly. Unlike Craigslist, we provide a highly targeted stream of traffic and a very refined type of products and equipment, tailored specifically to this industry!
CAN I POST AN AD FOR FREE?
Absolutely! The basic ad model is always free, which includes one photo and a short (200 characters) description of what you are selling. However, we also offer additional ad models which allow for more photos and considerably longer descriptions, which would effectively improve your response ratio to any given ad. Photos sell products! Take a look at our various listing options, below:
NOTE:In lieu of paying directly for your ad listings (for premium style ads), you can also purchase Credit Packs which can then be used to pay for your ads. Credits remain on your account until you decide to use them, and packs are available for bulk sellers for as low as .50 per credit! This means your cost for each listing would be half of what you see in the image above! Click here to learn view Credit Pack options.
DOES IT HAVE TO BE USED EQUIPMENT?
No! You can post ads for new equipment and supplies as well.
CAN MANUFACTURERS AND SUPPLIERS POST ADS?
Sure! In fact, we encourage it. However, unless you provide some sort of special offer, package deal or discount to incentive potential buyers to purchase new (rather than used), you might find it difficult to compete against the great deals on used equipment.
HOW DO PEOPLE FIND THE COMMUNITY MARKETPLACE ADS?
We have dedicated an entire portion of the website to the Community Marketplace, which visitors to our website can access by clicking the new link at the top of any page:
Additionally, we have integrated widgets into various portions of the website, which will constantly showing random and Featured ads while users are browsing the DTG Print Solutions website – viewers can even search listings with our powerful search interface, from any page on the site!
Our website is a niche specialty site, focusing on a very specific portion of the market – our readers are exactly the people you are looking for to sell your used DTG printer to! With over 20,000 page views in the last 30 days, we continue to grow our traffic to give you the greatest possibly exposure. Remember, our viewers are highly targeted to this niche, so with your participation we can build the Community Marketplace to a thriving equipment listing in a short period of time.
For a limited time only, we are offering a FREE 30-Day “Enhanced” Listing credit to anyone with a new or used DTG printer to sell! To receive your free credit, simply send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your website account name and we will apply your credit within 24 hours!
Please make sure you have created an account on DTG Print Solutions (see link, below) and include your account name in the e-mail so we know where to apply your free credits! Remember this offer is only for a limited time, so take advantage today and let us help you sell your printer!
Private branding has become increasingly popular in the printing industry in general, and can sometimes include many aspects of the printing / decoration process – more often than not, this term is associated with the relabeling of stock garments to complete the transformation into a legitimate brand. Adding a custom logo or brand name in place of the stock garment tag not only provides a much more professional look to the finished item, but also increases the overall perceived value of the product. While more and more major garment companies are beginning to offer easy-tear removable tags in their primary product lines, you still need a way to add your customer’s custom logo to replace the former tag.
Private relabelling can be a huge benefit to any custom print business, so it is important to weigh all of your options and determine how serious you want to approach it. In the past there have always been three key methods for printing custom labels into garments. While these methods provide a significant value in certain areas, each one comes with its own caveats which prevent it from being the ideal solution:
Traditional Screen Printing
Although screen printing is not incredibly complicated, the cost for setting up each job can be significant since you are using large standard screens to create small logos which often fit within a 4″ x 4″ area. The amount of emulsion and resources that go into generating the larger screens can really add up, and at the end of the day who really wants to tie up their main screen printing press with trivial relabeling jobs? While the use of a standard screen printing press is viable, it is not the ideal method for the job.
Plastisol Heat Transfers
Transfers are an excellent option when it comes to relabeling garments, due to the fact that less equipment is needed to get the job done as well as their general cost effectiveness. Through Fusion Logistics Group, we found ourselves utilizing the transfer method for the majority of all private branded garments we produced – while they work well, it becomes quite a task when you are working your way through hundreds (if not thousands) of garments that all have to be out the door TODAY…. If you are outsourcing the manufacturing of the pastisol transfers, you must consider turnaround time and shipping costs in addition to everything else. If you are making the plastisol transfers in-house, you must consider the added cost of the transfer paper, glue powder, etc (and you still end up tying up your main screen printing press to manufacture the transfer sheets).
This method allows you to re-label your garments without the need to occupy your screen printing equipment, and the cost of the direct print is less than the cost of plastisol transfers. However, pad printing is not as common as other methods of printing and not all shops have chosen to invest in this particular variety of equipment. Additionally, the cost of creating the plates can be less cost-effective than traditional screens, and you still need to run the shirts through a curing system of some sort (tunnel dryer, etc) to permanently set the ink.
While any one of the aforementioned techniques would work well for private garment relabeling, there is now a solution available that makes it easier, faster and more cost effective than ever before!
We are pleased and excited to introduce the ASPE “LP” Label Printer, also known as the “RapidTag” printer (depending on where you buy it); much like the iPad and other recent innovations, this all-in-one system satisfies a need that most of us didn’t even know we had…. While some people might glance past it and wonder to themselves “why would I ever need a miniature automatic screen printing press, especially if I already have a full sized one”, most people will quickly recognize what makes this such a welcome development… This system allows any shop to quickly and cost-effectively relabel garments like never before, performing all necessary steps on-board so there is no need for additional equipment (such as a device for curing, etc). Rather than stopping or slowing down production on your screen printing equipment, you can now print all your labels (and for that matter, small sleeve prints, on-the-pocket prints, nape of neck prints, small odd print locations, etc) on a small, highly efficient setup that won’t interfere with any of your existing profit centers – after all, why should you stop printing the big jobs on your main press, just to knock out some little tag prints (especially since most people are charging a buck or a few bucks for a standard screen print, but much less for a small tag print)??
The ASPE “LP” Label Printer is capable of producing up to 2,000 prints per hour with very little effort, completely printing and curing each item before it is removed from the machine! This means that one person can load blank garments and unload fully cured garments in one rotation, stacking them as they go without the need for additional production steps. However, although the machine is certainly capable of producing such a large number of items in a single hour you still might need an additional helper to assist with keeping up with production…. Unless of course you can load and unload garments at the rate of 1.8 seconds per item, without help!
Incredibly fast! Even at a conservative rate, it is easy to knock out 1,000+ prints per hour with a single employee. In full blown production mode, speeds up to 2,000 prints per hour are possible (printed and cured, although you’ll probably need two employees to keep up with that speed).
Screens are considerably smaller than traditional screen printing equipment – this means setup is far less costly than traditional screen printing (and much faster). Use less emulsion and spend less time masking screens!
Fastest relabeling method we have seen so far, especially when you consider that the garments are printed and cured on the same machine.
By far the least expensive process for printing tag prints and other small images (no need for additional equipment for curing, no need for transfer paper, glue powder, etc).
Small footprint allows the machine to be placed almost anywhere – minimal air and power requirements make it incredibly flexible in terms of placement.
Automatic laser sensors determine if an item is loaded onto the platen as it passes under the screen; if no item is detected, the system will skip the platen and move to the next one. This means if the machine is moving too fast for you to load, it won’t arbitrarily print directly onto the platen! Smart.
Flexible design – available in various configurations from single color all the way up to 6 color!
Small platens are perfect for other small print items, such as can coozies!
This machine is so fast, you really need to pay attention when you are loading the garments – otherwise, you might risk loading some off-center during the process.
You need to buy multiple sets of platens to accommodate various substrates (can coozies, for instance) – plan ahead and make sure you get any necessary accessories before you start taking orders!
Screens are expensive to purchase, relative to their size – expect to pay around $15 for each screen; that’s pretty close to the cost of standard, full size screens! Once you own the screens, actually burning images onto them is far less costly than traditional-sized screens.
No direct “off contact” control – while this is not a feature that all screen printers take advantage of during the printing process, those that are used to using it on other printing presses will likely miss the ability to fine-tune this setting.
The construction of the ASPE “Label Printer” is incredibly sturdy, given its relatively small size – every part on the machine is obviously built with the highest quality parts, and the machine is quite heavy overall. When you are moving this thing around your shop, you will know you are moving a heavy-duty industrial piece of equipment! The specific model we have been using in our sister shop is a single color, 5-platen system with two halogen flash units to cure the ink – however, when ordering your system you can actually select custom configurations that can include up to six colors.
When our machine arrived, it was only a matter of minutes before my production manager had everything set up and ready to go; although he did have to ask a few questions to make sure he did everything correctly, his prior experience with automatic screen printing presses made the transition quite natural. Once the machine is assembled, you have an entire host of options available to determine the actual printing behavior – here are just some of the available adjustments:
The number of passes that the squeegee will make on each item, before moving on to the next.
The speed of the squeegee as it pulls the ink across the screen.
The speed of the platen rotation as it moves from one station to the next.
The dwell time for the curing units.
Since many of these adjustments are made via a small touch screen interface, changing the settings between jobs is incredibly fast and easy; you can set up one job and make adjustments in moments, prior to moving on to the next job – this results in very little downtime between print jobs. At the end of the day, the most notable thing about the “Rapid Tag” is the ability to create a strong, reliable profit center around one piece of equipment – coming from a DTG background, many of us are used to slow production speeds and high overhead (with a fair amount of maintenance and troubleshooting throughout the process); this printer allows us to produce high volumes of product with relatively low overhead, enabling us to add new products and services to our roster while maximizing the efficiency of existing products (coozies and tag labels, for instance). Check out the following video of the machine in action at Fusion Logistics Group (www.fusionlogisticsgroup.com) and see just how much money you can make with this thing in a VERY short period of time: Make Over $100 in Under 9 Minutes with the ASPE LP / Rapid Tag Printer!
The manufacturer of this machine, ASPE, is based out of Temecula, CA and has a long history developing high quality printing equipment (you can check out their website here to learn more about the company). Alex Szyszko (the main man over at ASPE) is a master of motion control systems and has developed a sturdy, reliable machine that is designed to make money all day long. While visiting their facility, I was taken for a quick tour that included a look at the manufacturing area; there were certainly no shortage of machines on the floor, evidence of the popularity of this unit – the shop is filled with built machines then they are all shipped out and a new batch is built… These guys are certainly not operating on a small scale, and that gives me a great deal of confidence in their future in this industry, and I look forward to new innovations and developments coming out of their shop!
This video shows the ASPE LP “Rapid Tag” printer in action – watch as Fusion Logistics Group (www.fusionlogisticsgroup.com) uses this machine to print 109 custom tag prints for a customer…. In under 9 minutes. Keep in mind we are not running the machine at full speed! In fact, the machine can actually go much faster than this, but it takes some practice to be able to keep up with it…. You will notice one misprint during the entire run, which is a direct result of not being able to load the machine fast enough.
The cost for custom tag printing in this quantity at Fusion Logistics Group is .85 per print (plus a $15 setup fee) – the gross profit from this one job amounted to $108.50, and the job was done in mere minutes. Obviously the screen was already made and the job set up prior to this video being filmed, but due to the small size the time and cost involved is minimal when compared to traditional sized screens. If you are already set up to do screen printing, this is an excellent addition to any shop!
Shortly after the guys get started on the job, I let them know how to stop the recording and I went up the street to pick up drinks for them; at the end of the video you see one of the guys text me to say “Job done” – at that point I was still in the drive-thru line at the McDonalds up the street. This machine is FAST!
– Justin Walker
With this machine any small shop can easily manufacture 700-1,000 units per hour, and with some serious practice you can push that number all the way up to 1,800-2,000 units per hour. At .85 per unit, this represents $595-850 per hour in gross revenue at modest speeds, and up to $1,530-1,700 per hour when pushing the envelope; remember this is all with a single machine and no external curing!
In addition to tag prints, this machine can do gloves, sleeve prints, can coozies and more – since you can charge more for some of these items, we have made the following chart to help you visualize how much money one Rapid Tag printer can make for your business:
The days of simplifying your artwork to meet your budget are over! No longer do the general masses have to settle for “dumbed down” versions of their incredibly crafted designs, and no longer do they need to order a hundred shirts (or more) to be taken seriously! DTG printing arrived on the scene in its infant stages over 6 years ago, and has spent the last several years being tweaked, prodded and modified until it was finally manifested in a form that offered top level competitive quality, excellent durability and reliable manufacturing practices.
If you thought you knew all about DTG printing, check again! There have been plenty of advances and improvements that have made the process not only viable, but also highly sought after by major clothing brands and online retailers all across the globe. Our team is proud to have been actively involved as pioneers in this industry for the last 6+ years, pushing for ever increasing quality and reliability, while lobbying for lower consumables costs and delivering the highest quality products to our clients. Now, after all those years of being actively engaged in printing for clients, we are proud to bring the tools and information you need to make this a viable option for your business.
DTG printing stands for “Direct To Garment” printing, which refers to the process of jetting water based ink directly onto the surface of a printable substrate, rather than printing a transfer which would then be heat pressed onto the substrate. DTG printing equipment is similar in many ways to the type of desktop ink jet printers which can be found in most homes and offices; utilizing a small selection on ink colors (typically Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and White), the printer is able to dynamically mix the process inks “on the fly” as it prints, recreating a myriad of colors and effects as it goes!
The printers are generally much larger than most home or office printing systems, and the drive mechanism has been modified to feed blank t-shirts rather than paper or other flat substrates. By eliminating the need for expensive and time consuming screen setup, as well as the mess and the costs that go along with the traditional screen printing process used by most print shops, we are able to use the process of DTG printing to create beautiful, full color designs with almost no setup, allowing us to offer full color custom garment printing with NO MINIMUM ORDERS and NO SETUP FEES! Essentially, if you can create it on the computer, it can be reproduced on a t-shirt.
When compared to traditional decoration techniques, such as screen printing, the quality of a DTG printed garment is unrivaled – the print details, gradients and print accuracy will beat out almost any other garment decoration technique available (sublimation is another “digitally printed” option which offers a fairly competitive option for decorating garments with beautiful full color designs, however sublimation is limited to polyester garments and there is no white ink, meaning it can only be used on white or light colored garments – it cannot really compete with DTG printing when dark garments or 100% cotton is concerned).
The process of DTG printing involves several steps, which can be loosely summed up as follows:
1. PREPARING THE GARMENT FOR PRINTING:
Before any ink can actually be printed on the garment, the fabric must be prepared with a liquid pre-treatment chemical, designed to create a bond between the ink and the garment itself. Without this pre-treatment fluid, the ink would simply absorb into the porous cotton material and appear very poorly (if at all). Pre-treatment is absolutely required for any dark garment printing (any time white ink is involved, either as an under base or a highlight layer), although it is entirely optional when printing on light colored garments. If pre-treatment fluid is applied to the light garment prior to printing, the ink will remain on top of the fabric (rather than soaking in) and will appear more vibrant, while providing superior wash-fastness over the life of the garment. If no pre-treatment is used on light colored garments, the print will still look good but you will notice that it simply doesn’t “POP” like it would have with the pre-treatment. The pre-treatment is applied either manually or via an automated pre-treatment unit, depending on the situation – after the spray is applied, the garment is then brushed with a fine Wooster brush to press the fibers down (reducing the effects of fibrillation, especially on non-ringspun garments) and then heat pressed to seal the pre-treatment to the garment – once this is completed, the garment is ready for printing!
2. PREPARING THE ARTWORK FOR PRINTING:
Although we can certainly load up any artwork file and press the print button, it is important to understand that proper artwork preparation is vital to the successful recreation of complex DTG prints – there is no magic involved in the printing process that will turn “adequate” artwork into “amazing” artwork…. The better the initial artwork file is in terms of quality, color saturation and vibrancy, the better the final printed t-shirt is going to look. You can read more about artwork prep and file format options by visiting the Artwork Information page at Fusion Logistics Group.
3. LOADING THE GARMENT ON THE DTG PRINTER:
While this may seem like one of the easiest steps, it can actually become quite tricky when trying to reproduce complex specialty prints that cross over seams or collars, as well as when trying to print odd shaped or odd sized garments (such as onesies, or printing on sleeves and whatnot). We use a series of “loading boards” called Platens to keep the garments pulled flat and smooth for the printing process, and we will often set up custom spacers to allow us to print on a variety of alternative substrates and print locations.
4. PRINT THE GARMENT:
Once everything is prepped and ready to go, we simply load up the artwork file in the specialized RIP software we use (RIP stands for Raster Image Processor, by the way) and press the print button! The printer will travel the entire length of the garment print area, spraying ink as it goes – when it is done we are left with an incredibly detailed, vibrant print that will impress even the toughest critics. For dark colored garments, the machine will first print a full pass of white ink (as an under base to the colors), then it will return for a second pass that will complete the image with the color layer.
5. CURE THE INK:
Since water based inks remain “water soluble” until they are permanently heat-set, it is important to press the garments after printing to ensure that the design does not come off in the wash! For light garments, this generally involves direct exposure to high pressure and heat for around 90 seconds, while dark garments get the same treatment for at least 180 seconds; it is important to select garments for printing that are able to withstand the arduous manufacturing conditions involved with DTG printing water based inks.
While this may seem like a lot of steps, most people would be blown away to find out everything that goes into the process of traditional screen printing – relatively speaking, DTG printing involves far fewer steps. In addition to taking less time for the overall setup / print cycle when compared to traditional decoration methods, DTG printing also involves far fewer chemicals and consumables, none of which contain the level of harsh and abrasive chemicals found in many screen printing products.
DTG printing is perfect for short run or full color printing – with a little creativity, you can recreate some incredible effects that will leave most screen printers in the dust, without breaking the bank in the process! Check out our website for more information on the DTG printing process, as well as reviews on various equipment that is actually being used at our sister company (www.fusionlogisticsgroup.com) – many of these products are being made available directly through this website, and we will be here every step of the way to ensure you have an opportunity to succeed in this difficult market.