The “DTG vs New Car” Analogy: Production Speed

NOTE: This article comes from KatanaDTG.

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
  • Redundancy considerations

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…

How to Print on Wood Using DTG (Direct to Garment) Printing

NOTE: This article comes from KatanaDTG.

Printing on wood is fun and easy with most direct to garment printers.  As long as you have the ability to adequately adjust the z-axis height (the relative distance between the print head and the substrate), the process is relatively simple!


  • Blank wood panels (the ones we used are available from Hobby Lobby and other craft stores)
  • Masking tape or painters tape
  • White gesso or water based primer
  • Paint brush
  • Acrylic finishing spray to protect the printed image

STEP ONE: Wipe down each piece of wood to remove residual sawdust and other debris.

STEP TWO: Mask the outside edges of the wood with tape.

Using a low-tack masking tape, tear off small pieces and work your way around the border of the wood.  This allows you to preserve the outer bark layer, which enhances the final appearance of the printed wood.  If you are using pieces of wood without bark, you can simply tape around the outside edges to prevent runoff from the primer layer or overspray from the printing process.

STEP THREE: Coat the wood in some sort of water based primer or white gesso.

The gesso (or primer) allows the inks to adhere properly to the wood, creating a beautiful print.  You can use any sort of white water based primer, white gesso (a common painting product artists use to coat their canvas prior to painting), or even a clear gesso if you want more of the wood grain to show through.  For this example, we used a Bob Ross brand white gesso, available from Hobby Lobby and other craft supply stores.  Allow the primer coat to fully dry, prior to moving on to the next step.

STEP FOUR: Measure the wood (we’re gonna gloss right over the myriad of joke opportunities) and set the general size of the artwork in the RIP.

Measure the width and height of each piece of wood, prior to attempting to print.  Set the width / height to ensure the printed image will cover the entire piece of wood.  This step can take some practice, as you want to ensure all critical parts of the image are printed within the boundaries of the odd-shaped wood – make sure you select each piece based on its general compatibility with the desired artwork.

STEP FIVE: Print a test image for alignment.

Tape a piece of paper (or paper towel, in our case) to the platen, lower the ink volume significantly to reduce potential bleeding, then print a test print directly on the paper.  Once the image is printed, tape the wood in the desired location, directly on top of the test print – make sure you adjust the z-axis at this point, to accommodate the thickness of the wood (once again, glossing right past that).

STEP SIX: Print your image!

SOME NOTES FOR ADJUSTING YOUR PRINT SETTINGS: We used Kothari RIP on a Katana PRO printer, so we made a series of specific adjustments to get the best results on each piece of wood:

  • Printed in high resolution, 1440 x 1440 mode

  • Changed to uni-directional printing rather than bi-directional, allowing for more flexibility on the print head height

  • Lowered the color volume to 35% to prevent bleeding

  • Added a 300 ms delay between each scan line pass, allowing more time for ink to dry

Once your image has been printed, you can remove the masking tape from around the edges of the wood – your incredible wood print is nearly done, at this point!

FINAL STEP: Apply a clear acrylic top coat to protect the printed image.

You can use almost any type of clear acrylic spray coat for this step – the point is to seal in the image, since we don’t actually heat set the ink at any point.  You can purchase various types of sealants at any art or craft store, or swing by your local hardware store and purchase a can of clear acrylic spray.


DTGPS Color Chart – Adobe RGB Color Profile

Use this awesome color chart to determine your full range of RGB printing range with your respective direct to garment printer.  Keep in mind, this image is profiled using the “Adobe RGB (1998)” color profile in Photoshop – if you wish to reproduce these colors in your artwork, please ensure you have converted your working color space to match the same profile.

NOTE: Within your RIP settings, you need to ensure you are actually taking the input profile into consideration.  If you have set your color management to discard embedded profiles, you will not be able to achieve the full range of colors.


Introducing new LOWER pricing for Kothari RIP!

We are excited to announce new LOWER pricing for all version of Kothari RIP for DTG!  Starting immediately, the base price for the Epson r3000 / p600 version has been reduced from $1,295 to $995!

All other driver prices have been adjusted accordingly – this means that the cost for the Epson F2000 version has gone from $1,395 to the new price of $1,195.

For information on purchasing your copy of Kothari RIP, click here!

Kothari RIP is by far the top RIP in the Direct to Garment printing industry, revolutionizing the print quality and efficiency across a broad range of printer platforms and brands.  Most people don’t realize how critical the RIP is to the overall output quality limitations you will face when printing on garments…  Make no mistake about it – the RIP is the brains of the whole operation, and a great RIP can easily turn an old, outdated DTG printer into a top quality printing beast!

You don’t have to take our word for it – ask around and go see what real users are doing in the field, and find out how Kothari has changed their printing business in a big way.  Visit the Kothari Users Facebook page today, to interact with real users from around the world.

KatanaDTG r3000 / p600 DTG Printer – User Reviews

The KatanaDTG printers are well built, with plenty of great features that make printing and maintenance easier.  The modular print system makes it easy to swap modules in seconds, and the threadable platens load just like a standard screen printing press.  Kothari RIP is included as the standard and ONLY option, because nothing else compares to the print quality available from this particular software.  Complete with easy-access maintenance panels and an electronic z-axis control, the Katana line of DTG printers is a competitive option for an incredibly low price.

The newest p600 series includes the ability to run a one-touch Purge, as well as one-touch access for the capping station and wiper blade.

Kothari RIP for DTG – User Reviews

Without a doubt, Kothari RIP is the highest quality DTG RIP I have ever used for my business in the 10+ years I have been doing Direct to Garment printing.  I did not fully understand how critical the RIP software was to determining print quality, until many years (and several DTG printers) into the game…..

I had owned multiple DTG printers (from Epson based to Brother to Kornit, then backed to Epson-based), and experienced a wide range of RIP software – up until that point, my assumption was that the printer hardware determined the ultimate print quality.  However, after using Kothari RIP on some obscure printers back in 2007 / 2008, then transitioning to a different  brand of hardware, I could not figure out how to reproduce the print quality I had become accustomed to with the Kothari RIP (both DTG printing systems were based on the Epson 4880 platform, so there should have been no difference in output).  I ended up putting the two new printers in a corner for about a month, while I waited for the company to provide me with their “new” RIP (which I immediately recognized as being Kothari-based) – once I put Kothari on the new machines, the output quality was IDENTICAL to what I had grown accustomed to.

At the end of the day, any DTG printer is capable of outstanding output quality, provided it is being driven by the proper RIP.  The RIP is the brains of the whole operation, and nothing has shown smarter results than Kothari RIP for DTG – heck,  it has won every major print competition in the industry for many years!  I myself was the very first DTG Battle Royale Champion on T-Shirt Forums, and I owe my success entirely to my choice of RIP software.

While it costs a little more and you have to buy additional licenses if you want to drive multiple printers (whether you want to do it from one computer or multiple computers, you still have to own a license for each printer you are simultaneously driving), the output quality absolutely speaks for itself.  Also, many users fail to dive into the myriad of automation options which are available within the software, which extend the usefulness and efficiency, considerably!  It is worth exploring some of the advanced options to see how you can truly put this software to work, for your business.

I would NEVER expect people to simply take my word for it!  Go look at the results from every major print competition in the history of our industry – regardless of which hardware was used, Kothari RIP was driving the process almost every single time.  Still need to be convinced?  Take your own artwork to companies and ask them to print you some samples – it doesn’t matter which hardware they use, make sure you find out what RIP they are running!  The best results will come from Kothari-based systems, 90% of the time.  Let the results speak for themselves!

Increasing White Underbase Under Black Ink – Kothari RIP with Epson F2000 DTG Printer

Traditionally speaking, printing white ink under black ink has been relatively undesirable.  In traditional screen printing, black ink is rarely given an underbase when printing on most garments.  Likewise, omitting the white ink underbase from the black ink in your Direct to Garment (DTG) print can yield a far more dynamic print, with greater depth and character.

However, the inherent ink chemistry of some DTG ink sets is relatively restrictive, in the sense that the CMYK inks do not adhere well directly to the pretreat – in these cases, it becomes necessary to add a small amount of white ink under any CMYK print (including black ink prints) to ensure optimal wash fastness.  The most notable case of this has been with the inks associated with the Epson F2000 DTG printer.

Some users have expressed an interest in learning how to increase the amount of white ink underbase generated beneath black ink, when printing with their Epson F2000 DTG Printer using the Kothari Print Pro RIP.  This simple graphic shows how simple this really is!


For those unfamiliar with manipulating white ink TRC curves, we will add instructions in the coming days to access this feature.

Kothari RIP Now Available for the Epson f2000 from DTG Print Solutions!

Kothari RIP for DTG printing has long been one of the most well respected and awarded RIP software on the market – thousands of end users have made the switch after seeing what a huge difference the proper RIP software has on the final output quality.  Kothari RIP has been at the top of every major print competition, across a broad range of DTG printers – the results speak for themselves, and we invite anyone to try comparing Kothari with any other RIP to see the difference, first hand.

After much anticipation, DTG Print Solutions is now officially able to offer the powerful Kothari RIP for the Epson f2000 DTG printer!  However, that isn’t the only platform we support – check out this partial list of printer models which can all benefit from the Kothari RIP:

  • Epson r1800/r1900
  • Epson r2000/r2200
  • Epson r3000
  • Epson p600
  • Epson PRO 4800/4880
  • Epson PRO 7800/7880
  • Epson f2000 !!!
  • DTG M2
  • … and MANY MORE!

Contact us today to find out how we can help step up your DTG game with this powerful piece of software!


Kothari Basic Documentation Package – v1.0.0

Want to learn more about the powerful Kothari Print PRO RIP for DTG?  Look no further than this comprehensive documentation package, covering all aspects of use from the basic Quick Start guide, to the advanced User Manual, to layer alignment and Passive Queues.  Find out how to get the most out of your software by downloading this incredible documentation package!

Kothari Quick Start Guide: [download id=”1111″]

The quintessential Quick Start Guide for Kothari Print PRO – jumpstart your DTG experience with this informative and in-disposable starting point reference.  Learn the insides of your RIP with relative ease and begin producing high quality DTG prints, TODAY!

Kothari User Manual: [download id=”1098″]

The comprehensive source for answers regarding the Kothari Print PRO RIP for DTG – learn about benefits, features, specific use and lots more!

Layer Alignment in Kothari: [download id=”1103″]

Basic guidelines for registering the CMYK layer with the white layer when printing with Kothari Print PRO.

Passive Queues Documentation: [download id=”1107″]

How to utilize the power of Passive Queues in the Kothari RIP for DTG printers….  This feature is useful for streamlining DTG production while maintaining the highest quality standards during the image processing phase.  Learn the basics, and advanced techniques in this useful manual.

What Should I Charge? Pricing DTG Printing Services

We often get asked “what should we charge for our printed shirts?”  This is a tough question to answer, due to the extraordinary number of variables involved.  Each business owner will be operating on different fixed monthly expenses (rent, electricity, phone, etc), and production capabilities will be vary depending on factors such as:

  • Number and type(s) of DTG printers you are using
  • Efficiency of the person operating the machine(s)
  • The specific RIP settings, print resolutions, etc used for production
  • Your business model / specific production process setup
Since everyone likes to do things slightly different, it is important to tailor your pricing to your business model rather than simply trying to copy someone else’s prices.  It never hurts to price check in your local market to find out where other printers stand for similar products, but remember that you are selling much more than just a simple printed t-shirt; you are offering your expertise, artistic skill and creativity, as well your customer service that cannot always be easily compared when simply “price shopping” around.  While some of your competition may be selling the “same product” for less, you may come to find out that they are using inferior print settings to save money on ink, or perhaps their level of quality control isn’t to the same standards that you adhere to.  The bottom line is that while it is important to know and understand what your competition is charging, it is more important to charge appropriately for the quality product and customer service that you deliver to your clients.
The first step in creating a viable price list for your DTG printing service is to make a list of all of your regular monthly expenses, or recurring bills.   For this list, you should not include things such as labor, ink cost, etc, as these items can vary each month based on other factors.  The things that belong on this list would include:
  • Shop Rent
  • Electricity
  • Phone and Internet
  • Equipment Finance Payment
  • Any other fixed monthly expense
Once you have determined your total “fixed expenses” for the month, you want to break that number down to figure out an approximate “hourly operating cost”, which represents the cost to simply keep the doors open at your shop – this does not include labor, nor does it include consumables expenses such as ink and pretreatment.  For example, let’s assume your total fixed expenses for the month are $3,000 – if your shop is open 8 hours per day, 5 days per week then your estimated hourly operating cost would be about $18.75.  The breakdown is simple:
  1. 8 hours per day x 5 days per week = 40 work hours per week
  2. 40 work hours per week x 4 weeks per month = 160 work hours per month
  3. $3,000 monthly operating cost / 160 work hours = $18.75 per hour
Understanding what it costs to simply own your business is a very important part of being a successful entrepreneur, yet you would be amazed to find out how many people are not watching their own bottom line; make sure you are well informed going into this venture so you can make smart choices moving forward.  If you are running your DTG printing operation from home, some of these expenses might not apply to you…  However, if you ever plan to expand outside of your home it might be helpful to structure your pricing in such a way as to allow for ample growth in your business; without accounting for these expenses before hand, you might risk become cash starved as your business rapidly grows.
If you are already running a successful business and DTG printing is just one more addition to the shop, then you are ahead of the game!  Many of the regular monthly expenses are already covered by other decoration techniques or products that you offer, and you will simply need to account for the added expenses that DTG entails.
Now that you know how much it costs you to keep the lights on and the doors open, you need to account for your additional operating expenses such as labor and ink.  Labor is easy, since you just have to figure out how much you want to pay your crew, as well as how many crew members you need to be working at any given time.  For this example, we will assume that you want two employees working and you are going to pay each of them $10 per hour (not bad for loading and unloading shirts) – this will put our hourly labor cost at $20, which we then add to the fixed hourly overhead cost ($18.75 + $20 = $38.75 per hour to keep the lights on, the doors open and two guys standing around waiting for instructions).
NOTE: Prior to continuing, keep in mind the prices indicated are from 2011, so please make sure you plug in overhead costs according to your particular business model and capacity.
 Ink and pretreatment can be slightly more tricky, since you have to figure out what your average ink cost per print is going to be (that is a whole other subject we will get into at a later time).  Since we use the Neoflex DTG printers in our sister shop (Fusion Logistics Group) we know that our average ink cost “per print” for a standard size print on a dark garment is $1-3; since we want to be sure we account for the “worst case scenario” print, let’s assume a $3 per print ink cost for our dark garment price list calculations – that way, even if the design has a lot of coverage we have already accounted it (since we are limiting the “standard print size” to 12″ x 12″, we are confident that most standard sized prints won’t exceed $3 in ink).  In addition to the ink cost, you must also remember to factor in the pretreatment that was used to prepare the garment for printing; we will plug in .50 for a standard size print, which we have found to be accurate.
Knowing what you pay “per print” in ink and pretreatment is vital, but how do we convert that into an hourly number that we can work with?  Easy!  By figuring out how many prints you can realistically do per hour on your machine (using your specific RIP settings, print resolutions, etc), you can multiply this by your “per print” cost and get an hourly estimate.  At this point, we are entering into the grey area when it comes to set pricing because every image is going to take a different length of time to print, and the ink cost will certainly fluctuate.  Since we are trying to figure out a set of pricing guidelines, an educated estimate is a good place to start.  We have found that (using our high resolution print settings) we can expect to produce about 9 dark garment prints per hour, at a standard size (which we have determined to be up to 12″ x 12″) – $3.50 x 9 = $31.50 per hour in ink and pretreatment.  Add this to the $38.50 you are already paying for your shop overhead and labor, and you’re in business!  Your hourly operating expense at this point is $70, which includes every needed to run your shop……..  Or at least to pay the bills.  Since the purpose of running our own business is not simply to pay the bills, we need to add one more thing to this equation – HOURLY PROFIT!  If we forget to factor in some pocket money on top of all the expenses, we are going to find ourselves in the unenviable position of working day in and day out and having nothing to show for it.  This can be easily rectified by simply determining how much NET PROFIT you want to make per hour on this segment of your business, and adding that number to the total.
As with everything else, each individual business owner will need to determine how much their time and effort is worth – we did not buy these machines to simply “get by” each month, so don’t be afraid to pay yourself well.  I once heard on a screen printing forum many years ago that “Profit is NOT a dirty word” – that phrase has stuck with me ever since (if I could remember who said it first I would give them credit right now).  Personally, I don’t roll out of bed in the morning for less than $60 per hour net profit, so let’s start with that – our final hourly total would look something like this:
  • $18.75 to keep the lights on and the doors open + $20 to pay two employees to stand around + $31.50 for ink and pretreatment + $60 PROFIT and a partridge in a pear treeeeeeee = $130.25
  • $130.25 divided by 9 prints per hour = $14.47 / per print ($6.67 of which is actually NET profit)
Of course, this figure does not include the blank garment – this is simply a determination of your actual print cost, including profit.  Using this number as a starting point, you can apply small price breaks at set quantities to attract larger orders – if someone is going to order 100 prints, most print shops don’t mind taking a slightly lower “profit per hour” just to keep the machines busy.  As long as the price you are charging is HIGHER than your root manufacturing cost, then you can at least be confident that you will stay in business.
Don’t let the figure above shell-shock you – for the purpose of this article I have intentionally chosen numbers on the high end to demonstrate just how expensive it can be to pursue this method of printing.  Realistically, a small shop with a single DTG printer will not require two paid operators to be standing around working the machine.  Also, the ink cost for most standard size prints on dark garments will be much less than the $3 we plugged in to our example.  For light garments, the numbers would be way different as a result of different production capabilities on lights, considerably lower ink costs, etc; depending on how it is done, DTG printing can be incredibly profitable for a keen business owner.  Some shops might have multiple printers, which will change their production capabilities as well as hourly profit expectations.
To make this process easier to understand, we have created a simple yet powerful spreadsheet that can quickly and automatically create a projected price list for your business model.  By plugging in some basic information about your business variables and production capabilities, our spreadsheet will tell you what your running manufacturing cost will be, how much you should sell your printing services for and how much profit you will make on each print.  Additionally, you can easily adjust the price breaks that are given at specific quantity levels, which allows you to create price list estimations across the entire quantity spectrum, automatically.  As you adjust variables throughout the document, the rest of the information dynamically updates to reflect your changes.  If you happen to apply a quantity discount that reduces the cost below your actual root manufacturing cost, the individual cells will turn red to show you where you need to increase your prices.
Don’t sell yourself short on your DTG printing business!  Make sure you are charging enough to stay in business, and print smarter not harder.