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Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 10:31:50 AM -   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

If you fall into one of the 2 following categories please read the rest of my posting before you spend thousands of pounds on a DTG printer.

1, An existing screen printer who sells T Shirts.
2. Someone thinking they can make a living from selling a couple of T Shirts every day on E Bay or Gumtree.

a. They are phenomenally expensive for what they actually are which is basically a repackaged A3 ink jet printer. The equivalent price for that A3 printer would be in the region of £200. Where the whole 10 grand bit comes from escapes me. (It's not difficult to see who really makes the money out of DTG)

b. The guys who sell DTG printers are brilliant at convincing you that you will make a living and they all know someone who is so busy who now needs three...... hmmmm. oookay.... All of their examples are purely anecdotal.

c. The quality of DTG is absolutely nowhere near that of a screen printed one. NO amount of waffle in here will ever change that. I have screen printed T shirts that are still being washed and worn from over a decade ago. My DTG ones are crap in compariosn.

d. The colours on DTG are NOT as good as screen print. Not even a bit. They are wishy washy, take ages and the white on black is very often grey (unless you put so much down it's like cardboard).

e. Inks are ABSURDLY expensive. I worked with dyes and titanium dioxides for years so please don't try to tell me that your mark up isn't through the roof at the prices you charge. I used to buy it in by the ton it was so cheap.

f. Wait until you need a new print head! Get your wallet out. Think of the profit on 100 T shirts puts it into perspective!
(Plus labour)

g. The suppliers of these machines purposely make them obsolete by constantly bringing out new 'models' which are basically the old one in a new casing but which automatically devalues your model.

h. You will need to print and sell HUGE numbers of T Shirts to even cover the purchase and running costs of these ink jet printers. Forget all that nonsense you hear about making £10 on each T shirt. You won't. You'll make around a fiver and probably have to pay for the postage, packaging and inks out of that as well.

i. If you intend selling DTG T shirts on E Bay the number you will have to print, sell and post will have to be in the hundreds per week to cover the cost of the machine, the inks, the packaging, the post, the maintenance of the machine etc etc. You will see some of the BIG players doing this and their margins are tiny. The one man one DTG printer businesses appear briefly, start to sell their shirts for under £6 in desperation and then fold.

j. You will rarely get a day where there isn't a 'problem' with them. They are doing what they are not designed to do so expect it.

k. People want printed T shirts for next to nothing. And I mean next to nothing. Forget all the drivvle you will hear about 15 and 20 quid. Where are they selling these cotton T shirts that they bought for £1.50 and printed a picture on the front for that? Knightsbridge? A quick search on E Bay will find you thousands of funny T bespoke T Shirts for under 8 quid.

l. Vinyl is easier, cheaper and lasts for ever. You can pick a cutter up for £300 and a heat press for £200. There - get going for £500 and try it before you give a salesman 10 grand.

m. It is not straight out of the box despite what they say. It will take you ages to get to grips with it.

I hope this helps. It's a LOT of money and hard work and only a tiny percent make it pay let alone cover itself.

If you work on the basis of advertising, printing, selling and posting approximately 5 T-shirts a day just to cover your costs you won't be far wrong. You will be working hours a week just to keep the DTG salesmen and ink sellers in work. Don't forget you've got to source your T Shirts which is all time and money.

Are you ready for all the ink suppliers and DTG printer salesmen to try to convince you that this is written by a screen printer (I'm not) a seller of Vinyl equipment (I'm not) or an importer of pre-printed T shirts (I'm not).

Ask them why there's ALWAYS at least 10 second hand DTG printers for sale on E Bay and elsewhere. If they were such a money spinner you wouldn't get hold of them for love or money.

Last edited by bertie2000; November 9th, 2014 at 10:38 AM..
 
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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 10:51:06 AM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

A lot of truth there bertie2000.

You really need to print 5,000 shirts a year to make it
profitable and to keep the ink flowing.

It is not a part time business.
 
Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 11:02:38 AM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

All very good points although I know some that are making money with it. The truth is that for every 1 that is making money with it, there are 5 that are not.

Which DTG printer did you get burned with?
 
 
Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 11:54:04 AM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

Disagree on the whole quality thing. Yes DTG will EXCEED the quality of scree printing both in detail and durability. The only draw back is you cannot reproduce certain spot colors (but their are not that many).

And you can make money with it. I know a lot of people who do. Both big print houses and small businesses run out of the room. In fact most of the neflexes belong to small busineses.
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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 12:08:41 PM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

Not me personally but someone very close to me - it was was an R Jet.

They lost about £7 grand plus inks plus spares that ran into hundreds plus about 10 hours a day for 12 months of their lives. I thought about doing a specific historical cash flow to highlight the absurdly low gross profit / net profit ratios of buying into DTG printing. It would be shocking.

I have been with this individual when they have looked at imported printed T shirts being sold at a fiver in a local market and they commented they would barely break even at that figure. I once did '*** packet' maths and timed the whole set up and print $ post exercise based upon a tenner retail for the T shirt (which was a generous figure!) and I worked out they weren't even making minimum wage even if the machine was running 8 hours a day (which would be a miracle).

It would be bad enough some poor s0d working all hours (setting up web sites / selling on E Bay/ working on the laptop / wrapping T Shirts going to the Post Office / talking with suppliers etc) just to watch them make about 3 quid an hour but then to take ten grand off them and charge them absolute stupid money for the inks and any labour costs is just taking the P.

I cannot believe these DTG guys are still in business. I've yet to meet anyone who, hand on heart, can stand up and say; " I bought a dtg printer for ten grand, pay 5 grand a year for consumables and inks, work around 8 hours a day and earn around £15k a year from it".

If you can't do that sort of money buy a burger van. It's easier.

A guy has set up in the indoor market a few miles up the road from me. He's got his laptop , his dtg printer, his stall all set up. I bet he ain't there in 6 months just like the small shop in the arcade that was there last year doing the same.

If you are in two minds about what route to go down and are reading this. Listen carefully -

1. Learn to screen print. The quality is unsurpassed. Go on a course. Put a big shed in the garden and do it in there. It's dirty and a new skill but a screen print T shirt is in a league of its own.

2. Learn how to do sub printing and buy a printer that can do sublimation confidently for about 500 quid. Buy a GOOD swing away heat press (300 quid), You can only do light garments but the print quality is very good and it is a low risk venture to start. If you don't carry on and you flog it all for about £250 what you lost about 4 or 5 hundred? You can also sub print other goodies like mats, flags, lighters, phone cases - all sorts of things to add to your portfolio.

3. Buy a vinyl cutter to go with the heat press - it will cost you about 300 quid and will pay for itself quite quickly if you have to start selling cheap (5 quid) T shirts to compete.


Ask yourself why they don't rent DTG printers out. I can rent numerous printers for example lasers running up to 30 thousand quid at retail but when it comes to DTG they will only enter into a 'lease'. No mention is ever made of renting one to you. Could it be that after a few weeks into it most people realise it's a bum steer and that a minimum lease term and charges makes them a tidy profit even when you realise the whole set up is expensive and crap.
 
Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 12:17:39 PM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

Smalzstein

Wow! perhaps you could clarify and provide us all with a list of these 'lots' of people making all this money out of DTG printing?



Do you have specific turnover / profit figures to run against their overheads or are we all just wasting time reading yet more anecdotal waffle about the sums that can be made on DTG forums? Could you even provide how many shirts a day they turn out of their machines and what they pay for the blanks. Do that and I'll provide the net figures for you. I can assure you unless they run 24/7 it will not be 'a lot'.

As for the quality comparison. You reveal to us all that you are not a screen printer that you must sub it out to someone else.
If you were you wouldn't even consider saying that the quality is the same.

It's not. It's a mile off.

Last edited by bertie2000; November 9th, 2014 at 12:29 PM..
 
Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 12:19:59 PM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

Oh my God I just read where you said DTG print is more durable than screen printed garments!!!!

How ridiculous.

To anybody reading this forum PLEASE ignore that statement - it is absurd.

It' s as ridiculous as saying a smart car is as good off road as a Land Rover.

I also read you are based in Poland - do you have any idea what overheads we pay in Western Europe for just about anything???? And that these overheads come out of profits??
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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 1:54:36 PM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bertie2000
Oh my God I just read where you said DTG print is more durable than screen printed garments!!!!

How ridiculous.

To anybody reading this forum PLEASE ignore that statement - it is absurd.

It' s as ridiculous as saying a smart car is as good off road as a Land Rover.

I also read you are based in Poland - do you have any idea what overheads we pay in Western Europe for just about anything???? And that these overheads come out of profits??
Yes I know because I have both political science and economy degree and I travel a lot through Europe.

And yes I have also automatic screen printing machine.

I see that you are under informed. Please read other sections of the forums. Read the sucess stories. Read about the new advances in ink and pretreatment technologies. Printer and ink prices dropped also significantly. Our current avarage cost per print is about 1.00 - 1.50 $. Cheapper then vinyl.

And I will say it again DTG is as durable as screen printing now. And screen printing quality will always be lower then DTG resolution and detail wise.

You are making all this fuss with history of only guy as an argument.
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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 2:04:15 PM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

I really like the posts by bertie2000. One tid bit I would like to add is that most of the DTG printers do use a good quality Epson (or equivalent) print heads. The print head alone is very expensive. Whether it is for a DTG printer or for a solvent ink printer the head is usually in the $1000 range as an OEM cost. Epson (or equivalent brand) ends up making the money here. For a while, in China, they were disassembling cheaper Epson printers that cost less than 1k to just get the printer heads out of them for use in larger printers. The printer needs to be modified to adapt to printing on a shirt which requires some special parts. These special parts will be procured in much lower volumes than parts for say a standard inkjet printer. I agree that DTG printers are more expensive than they should be however, there are reasons that they can't be as inexpensive as say a Ricoh sublimation printer which can use standard inkjet heads. If there is an issue with the printer and for some reason a new Epson print head is required to correct the problem then that warranty cost (1k per occurrence) also needs to be added into the mix. I think eventually we will see good quality DTG printers in the 3.5 - 4k range.
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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 2:10:33 PM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianHahn
I really like the posts by bertie2000. One tid bit I would like to add is that most of the DTG printers do use a good quality Epson (or equivalent) print heads. The print head alone is very expensive. Whether it is for a DTG printer or for a solvent ink printer the head is usually in the $1000 range as an OEM cost. Epson (or equivalent brand) ends up making the money here. For a while, in China, they were disassembling cheaper Epson printers that cost less than 1k to just get the printer heads out of them for use in larger printers. The printer needs to be modified to adapt to printing on a shirt which requires some special parts. These special parts will be procured in much lower volumes than parts for say a standard inkjet printer. I agree that DTG printers are more expensive than they should be however, there are reasons that they can't be as inexpensive as say a Ricoh sublimation printer which can use standard inkjet heads. If there is an issue with the printer and for some reason a new Epson print head is required to correct the problem then that warranty cost (1k per occurrence) also needs to be added into the mix. I think eventually we will see good quality DTG printers in the 3.5 - 4k range.
Well this is the main problem. People see DTG printers as plug and play like desktops. They are not. They requre maintance. Most of the horror stories came from user error and lack of maintance.

And the avarage Epson head cost is not 1000 it's 500 - 600 USD.
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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 2:39:25 PM -   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

I'm informed enough to realise you're trying to tell everyone in here that those of us that live in Western Europe can make as much money out of a dtg machine as you can in a country where the minimum wage is £2 an hour, income tax runs at 18% ;where the average wage for someone working in legal is under 5 quid an hour and you can buy a 2 bedroomed apartment in the capital for £50k.

Good luck bringing your dtg printer over here and trying to make a profit.......

By the way my Economics hons degree was from Manchester. I'm shocked you didn't factor in disparate fixed and variable costs - where did you say you got yours from?

I repeat (as will 99%) of others who have tried dtg -

1. The result is NOT as durable (Don't listen to Smalzstein- he's a silly man). Screen printings is, has always been and will always be FAR better. That's why the big industrial manufacturers of printed products use it (and thermal foils) and not dtg.

2. Unless you churn out about 200 shirts a week (or live in a country like Poland where your overheads are virtually non existent) you will NOT make money worth talking about.

You will hear all sorts of tosh from people who have connections to the suppliers or who know someone who knows someone who knows someone who is making lots of money from a dtg..... yeah sure.....

Smalzstein - do us a favour and let us know what you think 'good' money is will you?

The following figures are based on 20 shirts a day which is going pretty flat out for one man one machine (if they were lucky enough to be that busy!!) to pre-spray, print, organise and post.

Let's do some sums for our well travelled Polish Economics 'graduate' shall we?

Fixed cost - £12000 (call it £18000 with interest)
Variable costs on machine - £1000 (conservative estimate)
Costs of inks (estimated over 3 years) - £6000
Total thus far £25000 over a 3 year pay back term.

T Shirt blanks @ approx £1.20 each = £34 per day = £170 per week = £8500 per annum = £25500 over the 3 years.

Total fixed + variable costs so far = £50,500.

That equates to total costs of £16800 pa (approx)

Thats £323 per week total costs to include pretty much everything including the interest charges on the purchase price.

20 shirts a day @ £5 profit each - £500 profit a week

After overheads of £323 a week = £170 a week profit (approx)

Conclusion?

£170 a week is just shy of UK national minimum wage for all the stress and hassle of trying to build a business. It is also based upon doing 20 shirts a day which, trust me, you won't do. I haven't even factored in waste. If I did that you would barely make as much as a paperboy.
Like I said earlier the only people making money out of DTG are dtg resellers, dtg consumable sellers and companies who produce vast quantities at tiny margins and who only pay sub minimum level wages (as in Eastern Europe or Asia)


I have no doubt there are some simplistic flaws in my 5 minute beermat maths but we all get the gist.

Smalzstein - £170 a week might get you a bijou residence in Warsaw and an enviable lifestyle but over here mate it will barely pay for a weekend in a YMCA.
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Old November 9th, 2014 Nov 9, 2014 6:10:39 PM -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

DTG printing is a different business model than silk screening. DTG equipment does have a unique set of problems that you don't find with other imprint options.
That being said, I am one of those who over the years has made a lot of money printing and selling DTG prints. Its not for every application or customer, but I have found it served a significant need in my customer base.
I have had as many as five DTG printers in my shop at one time.
The DTG market is growing and will continue to grow as new and larger companies enter the market. Epson is in the market with their own printer. During SGIA I was fortunate enough to see Belquttes new printer based on the Gen 5 head. Many if not all the printer companies are hard at work making improvements to their platforms or new models.
DTG isn't for everyone. Dtg is growing, getting better everyday, and its here to stay.
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Old November 10th, 2014 Nov 10, 2014 1:12:00 AM -   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

I'm sorry but I can't agree with a lot of this.

- Yes most DTG printers around the £10k mark will use Epson print components but to think they are simply Epson printers with a different casing around them is wrong. The print engine is different as you are not just laying CYMK down to paper. These printers are also not mass produced for the home market therefore there are more costs involved in aftercare sales etc, when you buy an A3 printer from PC World do they come out and install it and then come out and fix it under warranty should anything go wrong - no.

DTG prints are not as good as screen prints - not true. Whilst screen print will always have an advantage in terms of production times, spot colours and ink costs, no screen printer not running from their shed is really going to be interested in producing a 10+ colour print for an order of 2 t shirts without charging set-up for the screens etc. There are some crappy DTG printers out there and it's up to any buyer to really do their homework.

I am now on my third brand of DTG printer to find a company that actually know what's what, back up their products. I had a previous dtg supplier tell me to clean out a damper with tap water! I have many customers that are very happy with the printed results from DTG.

The price tag of ink may look expensive and if you're looking to knock out shirts for a fiver then I guess it is, but that's not the printers fault - that's running a business where you're not making a mark-up that will put you in profit. I have sold shirts on Ebay for a number of years using DTG each one has a tidy mark-up after all costs are considered. The cost of CYMK prints on shirts with DTG is pence rather than pounds. I may spend £175 on a litre of white but with that litre I'm making a minimum of three times that amount off it and more.

Vinyl is not cheaper, if someone comes in with a vector with a lot of intricate detail, am I going to spend all my time hunched over the vinyl weeding it out - no.

Let's be honest here. A decent screenprinting operation is going to set you back £15k minimum for the carousel, the screen set-up materials and the curing etc.

I could waffle on and on but there is a learning curve to any print method and for every person that has been burned by DTG there will be 10 who are happy with their machines and make a healthy living from it. I currently use an R-Jet and yes there have been a few issues with it but everyone of those issues has been dealt with promptly and beyond my expectations.
 
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Old November 10th, 2014 Nov 10, 2014 2:03:25 AM -   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

This just looks like a flaming thread.

You have the attitude in your typing of a person that has just bought a DTG printer, didn't look after it and just came here to rage about it when he had to pay for fixing.

You said, go into the garden blah blah. I live in Central London (Shoreditch). Maybe you should visit, there are like 1/1,000 homes that have a garden. Please rethink your garden idea.

A lot of people use DTG in conjunction with other methods, as was said earlier it is not for every customers needs, but neither is any of the printing methods.

I have not even set up my business yet, I am still researching properly, but you my friend seem a little bit hostile towards a method that you claim not to have even tried!!!

This thread can inform people, (not much though). As I said, this is just a flaming thread!
I encourage people to see through the rage and to not listen to just one person. If you do your research properly then you will see what is best for you and your business plan. Not all businesses cater to all audiences/the same audiences.

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Old November 10th, 2014 Nov 10, 2014 6:25:16 AM -   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking of buying a DTG printer. Read first!

Someone on here has been EXTREMELY misinformed on the current state of DTG. A lot of screen printer's have blinders on when it comes to DTG. I always refer back to how the paper printing industry went digital many years ago. A lot of offset printers thought that digital would never take market share from analog (offset). Guess what?!?! I was at one of the largest printing shows in the country (not apparel) and can you imagine how many manufacturers where showing off their new offset printer? Zero. Zip. Nadda. It's not a matter of if this change will happen with the t-shirt printing business it's a matter of when.

With machines like the Aeoon and Kornit Avalanche, DTG is right on the heals of production speed for many screenprinters but the output quality is WAY better. Can your screen printing equipment print 2500 different full color prints in one 8 hour shift? Trying to compare screen printing to DTG is like trying to explain why someone would buy a Bentley over a Vauxhaull...both have 4 wheels, brakes, steering wheels right? Both do the same thing but are in totally different leagues.

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