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Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

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Old 5 Days Ago May 14, 2019 6:36:11 PM -   #1 (permalink)
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Default Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

Hello,

I'm new here. I run an e-commerce website and sell around 30,000 apparel items per year. We currently outsource the printing. It costs around $8.00 to print a unisex t-shirt, and $3.50 to ship.

I was thinking of maybe getting a DTG printer to save money and have the ability to brand our t-shirts. We have 0 experience printing t-shirts, so if we go this route, we would need one that's easy to learn, makes a good print, and doesn't break down very often.

My rough calculations for printing the unisex t-shirt in-house is around $6.50 + shipping or so with labor included plus the cost of the machines.

We currently don't have the ability to brand the t-shirts, so they ship with tags. I was thinking of maybe relabeling the tags with heat transfer labels which shouldn't cost much.

Do you guys feel it's a big hassle to print in-house and not worth it? My team is very small (just me and 2 VAs), so I would have to hire someone to do the printing in-house.


Also, any DTG printer recommendations? I was looking at the Epson F2100. The current company printing our t-shirts uses Kornit machines, so I'm not sure if there's a huge difference in quality since the Kornit is much more expensive.
 
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Old 5 Days Ago May 15, 2019 9:01:09 AM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haywood
Do you guys feel it's a big hassle to print in-house and not worth it?
Since the vast majority of members here are printers, I'm going to go with "NO."
 
Old 4 Days Ago May 15, 2019 1:28:13 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

Are you doing custom orders and one offs? 30,000 prints a year is going to be much more of a screen print number unless you do mainly small runs. And at $8.50 a pop you might just want to get last year's invoices together and shop other suppliers, again depending on what you print and how much.
 
 
Old 4 Days Ago May 15, 2019 3:20:57 PM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

Thanks for the responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FBNick
Are you doing custom orders and one offs? 30,000 prints a year is going to be much more of a screen print number unless you do mainly small runs. And at $8.50 a pop you might just want to get last year's invoices together and shop other suppliers, again depending on what you print and how much.
So the thing is that because of sizes, styles, and colors offered, we have close to 10,000 SKUs, so that's why I was thinking of going with DTG and just print as the orders come in. We also offer custom t-shirts, but that's a small percentage of the orders coming in.
 
Old 4 Days Ago May 16, 2019 12:07:36 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

I would start by trying to get a better deal on you printing. If you shop around you could probably get the price close to the $6.50 it will cost you to print in house.


600 dtg prints a week is not something you can hit the ground running with - it will take time to get up to speed. You will likely need two extra staff - one to print and one to pack and probably two dtg machines.


Consider buying a machine and learning how to use it yourself before attempting to add your own print department. That way you can take time to find the right staff and gradualy move printing inhouse seemlessly.
 
Old 4 Days Ago May 16, 2019 5:18:05 AM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

I second what Pat says. DTG is great for small runs of 12 or less and prints with a lot of colors, but it doesn't sound like that's exactly what you're looking for. If you decide to take the plunge anyway, maybe start off just with those custom orders. A lot of newbies have trouble doing ten shirts in an hour, and you'll be looking at a lot more than that if you try to print every last shirt.
 
Old 3 Days Ago May 16, 2019 9:19:35 PM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haywood
Also, any DTG printer recommendations? I was looking at the Epson F2100. The current company printing our t-shirts uses Kornit machines, so I'm not sure if there's a huge difference in quality since the Kornit is much more expensive.
Kornits are monsters made for industrial scale production, and cost more than my house. Typically these are operated to maximize throughput. In theory, I imagine they could be operated to maximize quality, but I think anyone with a warehouse full of $500k printers is thinking about quantity, not quality (Printful, Merch by Amazon, etc).

F2100 are nice, much improved over the previous version, and you can get very nice prints out of them ... but it will take something like 2 minutes for that very nice print: two white underbase passes and then a CMYK pass on top. Skip the second underbase for a bit faster, but lower quality.

Pretreatment and heat pressing of pretreatment. Fitting the shirt on press and loading the image to print. Printing. Heat pressing of final print. If it takes two people 3 minutes to cycle through the entire process, that's 20 units an hour, so you need 6 hours times two employees to meet your approximate 115 units a day.

=====

An alternative to the DTG route would be Plastisol transfers. You wait until you have an order before applying the transfer to a shirt of a specific color/size/style.

You could ease into trying this by ordering transfers for one of your better selling designs and pulling it off whatever POD fulfillment you use now. All you need is a heat press (get a decent American made one). So say you order 100 transfers of one design and buy a heat press. Then you need some blanks on hand ... or at least easily gotten (if you have a local distributor). To simplify things during this testing phase, I would reduce the color, size, and style options for the test design to things you can get locally, or to a minimum, so as to avoid sitting on a bunch of blanks if you decide to give up on this idea after trying it.

If it works out, then add some more good selling designs to your test. Scale up as far as it makes sense to. Probably want to keep the slower sellers and high color designs on outsourced POD due to volume/cost and color/cost considerations when ordering Plastisol transfers.

Many of the big online T-shirt companies started this way, and may still run this way. The guy who started RoadKill posted on here back in the early days of his T-shirt business. He was using Plastisol transfers. Clearly Snorg was doing that, too. They may have added DTG to the mix now, or moved entirely to it, or partially, or not at all ... don't know. I'd say that for frequent sellers, Transfers are still the best way to go.
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Old 3 Days Ago May 17, 2019 11:43:40 AM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haywood
Thanks for the responses.

So the thing is that because of sizes, styles, and colors offered, we have close to 10,000 SKUs, so that's why I was thinking of going with DTG and just print as the orders come in. We also offer custom t-shirts, but that's a small percentage of the orders coming in.

For 600 prints per week, I'd say you need at least 4 printers, for redundancy and speed. What you can print with 1 printer in 8 hours, you can print in 2 hours with 4 printers. Then you can allocate another 2 hours for packing, and another 2 for printer maintenance.

However, I strongly recommend starting with one printer. There is a learning curve and it will take time.
 
Old 2 Days Ago May 17, 2019 8:22:21 PM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

Thanks for the great responses.

One thing I did not think about was using plastisol transfers like NoXid suggested, and I guess that's something I would have to research. Most of my best selling designs only have 1-2 colors, so it looks like this would be a very good method for those. We do offer high color designs, and also some with 1-2 colors that don't get as many sales. I guess DTG would be great for those.

One thing I did not mention is that right now it's not as busy - Selling around 50 garments per day. Once Q4 comes then we'll be selling an average of 200 per day or possibly more.
 
Unread 34 Minutes Ago May 20, 2019 11:39:20 AM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Outsource vs in-house DTG printing?

I would discuss a better rate with your contract printer as this sounds high for the volume.
 






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