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Discuss the various inks available for direct to garment printers. Wash tests, pictures and comparisons are all welcome.

Ink Questions for Total Newbie

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Old December 31st, 2019 Dec 31, 2019 4:29:21 PM -   #1 (permalink)
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I'm brand spanking new and deciding if I have what it takes to get into the shirt printin' biz.

I'm thinking about a DTG printer because my designs, while simple, have tons of colors.

So I'm wondering - if I wait on getting a DTG machine, will ink costs fall as the industry gets more saturated / competitive?

Is there a certain brand that gives just the right mix of ink cost and ink quality? I definitely do NOT want to lose any quality whatsoever, but hoping there's a player or two in the game who does great ink/prints without costing premium prices.

Are there any other benefits to waiting? Will the machines get cheaper, the speed get faster, etc? Or is this just as good a time as any to dip my toes into the waters of DTG printing?

For what it's worth, I imagine I'd be doing about 300-600 pcs / month but split up among 30 or so diff designs. So jump in if based on this info - multicolor designs, lots of diff designs, low to moderate volume - you think there are other methods I should be considering other than DTG.

Also, I'm an idiot. Is DTG the best option for me as far as "anyone can do this?" Screenprinting seems way above my paygrade from a technical standpoint. Seeking a process that's more about "going through the motions" than having exceptional attention to detail.

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Old January 2nd, 2020 Jan 2, 2020 12:31:41 PM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ink Questions for Total Newbie

Hey, Joe. Do you know that a working DTG printer will cost you over $15,000? Sure you can get cheaper, but you probably should know how to work on these things if you try that. You can also cut this initial investment by building your own DTG printer from scratch. Such as the UFO.

If all of that doesn't scare you, then go for it! But there are MUCH cheaper ways to do what you're trying to do.

1. Sublimation. If your designs are on a white background--or if they would also work on a light/pastel colored background this might be a way to go. With sublimation, the color actually "becomes part of" the items being printed. You can get a printer for ~$150 and then just get refillable cartridges of sublimation inks. Then you just heat press them onto the garment. Even if you want to use sublimation on dark materials or cottons there are ways to do this, but all of them cause the forum to devolve into raving pedants.

2. Heat Transfer Vinyl. If your designs have distinct colors and don't blend you can get your plotter/cutter to cut the designs out of a sheet of vinyl then use your heat press. Just butt the different colors up against each other carefully and away you go.

3. Ink Jet/Laser Heat Transfers. There are several companies that make these kinds of transfer materials that don't require sublimation inks. The process is much the same in that you would need to use the 2-part transfer (to put the white background in there) for dark colors. But rather than becoming part of the item being printed the ink is "on" the item instead of "in" it. And I've asked a couple of times on the forum if sublimation looks that much better for everybody and their brother to jump through hoops to come up with the next greatest was to use sublimation inks on cottons/darks, but I can never get a straight answer.
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