The future is digital! Or at least some of it is.
DTG has been a long time coming for the custom apparel industry. Seems like every year there’s a new wave of technology promising to solve every problem in the print shop. Up until now the price of a DTG printer and the difficulty associated with running and maintaining them just didn’t pencil out for us. Now that the printers have been on the market for a while we thought it was time to give one a try.
We chose the Poly Print Eco2, it seemed like the right fit for us for several reasons. The first being that it can print on garments containing poly fibers and secondly it has an affordable white ink system. Both of these attributes were rare in the early days of DTG printers. So without getting to tech on your guys what this means is that you can pretty much stick any tee shirt in the thing. Dark or light colored, poly blend or 100% cotton and print away. Pretty cool.
The software thee runs the printer is very user friendly, you still need to do some setup work on the art file. Converting it into PNG with transparent background, maybe brightening it up a little. It’s all pretty straightforward provided the native file is at a good usable resolution.
Unlike screen printing where you have to separate the art, create the screens, register the screens and mix the inks, DTG is more like your desktop office printer. You just push print and go. The inks set consists of CMYK inks and white. When printing dark garment the printer would put down a white baseplate similar to screen printing then add the colors and highlight white on top. This all sounds like a print miracle and it kinda is with a few major downfalls.
The first of the cons that comes to mind is production time. Depending on the print size and whether the art needs a baseplate DTG printers take about 8 minutes each to print a tee. You also have to pretreat the fabric with a priming solution that is basically like a water, salt and glue. All this in comparison to the conventional auto screen printing presses that has a 250 unit an hour capability.
So where does DTG fit into the gamet? We would say with low minimum projects where the cost of producing the screens doesn’t fit into how few tees are being produced. Let’s do some math on that, say your art is a 3 color and a single front location. The screen printing price in this equation reflects the setup fee of 3 screens at $30 per divided over the units produced. So obviously the setup fee in screen printing is diluted by how many units you produce. Both DTG and screen printing figures include a the price of a basic tee blank.
|Units Produced||DTG Printing 3 color tee||Screen Printing 3 color tee|
This is without mentioning that we have a 50 unit minimum on screen printing projects. But as you can you see after 48 units the screen costs per unit are low enough that screen printing becomes more economical. We also try and take the environmental aspects into account because creating and reclaiming screen creates a decent amount of waste.
We want to be a one stop shop for our customers. DTG is a great addition to our tool box because it allows us to deliver Foundry quality and service to customers looking for short run project.
Thanks for reading!