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Topic Review (Newest First)
July 26th, 2014 09:44 AM
treefox2118
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

The Spectra has a lot going for it. Until I have one in my hands, I can't push too hard in one direction, of course.

The cost per liter isn't enough to gauge profitability. For me, the cost of ink accounts for less than 6% of the final retail gross income on a shirt.

Some printers, the Epson F2000 for example, are faster than some other printers. My labor cost is very expensive, being in an urban environment AND in a popular area AND on a popular street. If one printer is 20% faster than another, my labor savings alone is more than the cost of ink total.

Also, there is more than just the speed of printing. How fast does it take to load and unload a platen? There are probably 10 different platen systems I've played with, and all of them have different requirements for loading and unloading. How fast does it take to put a platen into the machine and take it out?

On top of that, you have the RIP itself. Using identical PCs, different RIPs take different amounts of time to generate a print file. This can lead to inefficiencies. Some RIPs definitely require some manipulation in Photoshop before a file is acceptable. Again, inefficiencies. On top of all of that, different RIP manufacturers do a different amount of work on color profiles. One RIP I worked with was great in terms of work flow, but colors were terrible. We had to tweak for months before we had a profile that worked with 80% of customer files. The RIP I use now works with 95% of customer files and I haven't tweaked it AT ALL.

In my opinion, the worst enemy in the DTG game is typically the salesman. The best friend in this business usually is your competition -- if they are willing to share their knowledge.
July 26th, 2014 09:38 AM
johnleisenberg
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

Thanks Professor,
Your wealth of knowledge shared so eloquently is a beautiful thing. Once again, the pen is mightier than the sword...
That having been said, my recent "Due Diligence" experience has lead me to the realization that many "suppliers" cost per Liter for ink can vary from a high of $380.00 / liter Epson Surecolor F2000's 600ml. Cartridges, Anajet at $305.00 / Liter for White and $264.00 / Liter for CMYK in their High Capacity 220ml. Cartridges down to Spectra at $150.00 / Liter for White AND CMYK delivered via Gravity feed in an Oxidation proof IV Bag with a 250 Mil Capacity.

I agree regarding computer fire-power! I ran an International Publishing Company with 250 Macs on the network in a completely pdf work-flow. Keep the biz side on one side and the production side on the other!

In the printing industry you die the death of 1,000 (or whatever the run is) due to lack of attention to detail.
Since I'm ADD and OCD and also suffer with PTSD and according to my wife PPS (Peter Pan Syndrome) AND most importantly, my first job was shoveling 40 stalls twice a day. Been shovelin ever since.
john e.
July 26th, 2014 06:34 AM
treefox2118
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

I don't recall eating being that important to me when I started businesses in the past. Although I am also a huge proponent of Intermittent Fasting and the benefits of skipping meals when you're stressed, ha.

The dilemma that occurs in budgeting for your first DTG printer isn't really the cost of the printer: it's the cost of everything else. The biggest cost to buying a new printer isn't even hardware, it's your time.

You can go and buy a shady heat press, but I have 4 or 5 broken shady heat presses in my basement. I could have bought two Geo Knights for the same loss. Spend the $1500-$2000 on a quality heat press, and make sure it is in your budget. I would estimate that we lost ... hundreds of hours ... dealing with shady heat presses. Not including down time when a press died and we had to wait for a new one. So call it hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars in lost/refunded jobs. Since the heat press is a point of failure, I actually recommend having a backup. $3000-$4000 for heat presses right there, almost the cost of a new entry level DTG machine.

Pretreating... I know we ruined our first print head years ago by pretreating "near" to our DTG printer with a hand sprayer. That stuff is acidic and sticky and gets everywhere. Can you budget for a pretreatment machine? If so, that's $4000 to add. A good pretreatment machine also means your time is conserved AND you're not wasting expensive pretreatment chemicals on overspraying using a manual spray tool. Now our pretreatment step takes literally 10 seconds from box to curing platen (second heat press comes in hand here) and can be done WHILE setting up jobs to print.

Platens ... do not ignore this issue. We have a dozen platens or so. Oversize, a bunch of adult normal size, youth, sleeve, toddler. If we have a big job with identical prints, preloading platens can double efficiency. Having one or two platens only means you have a point of inefficient waste where you could be preloading shirts but instead you're sitting around waiting for a print to complete or a shirt to finish curing. I personally would budget $1500 for platens -- get a youth, get a toddler, get a few adult platens, and get an oversize one if your machine offers it.

UPS ... don't plug your printer into your outlet directly. Buy a quality UPS. $250.

Production/RIP PC ... don't do your accounting, billing, web browsing, Youtube watching or emailing from your production machine. Don't design on it. Have a solid machine, with a lot of RAM (4GB minimum) and an SSD hard drive, and use it strictly for loading files, ripping and printing. I am exhausted from providing 2 years of free assistance to people having "massive printer issues" that boiled down to their PC not being able to handle sending the data fast enough to the printer. Consider this: If you are printing a 12" x 15" image, with white underbase, the PC has to send nearly 300 MEGABYTES of data to the printer. Over a USB cable. Possibly while also calculating all of those millions of pixels as it rips your file while sending data out. Budget $1000 minimum and get a beefy machine. Plus your design/accounting/service PC. Call it $2500 for everything for both, including monitors, etc.

All of a sudden, to reduce inefficiencies, and to reduce points of failures, and to reduce headaches, and to conserve time, you're looking at more than the cost of a DTG printer. And we haven't even discussed upsell hardware like a steamer (we charge customers for steaming printed shirts) or a sewing machine to sew on custom labels (easy profit, easy money) or rent on the 500-1000 square feet of space you'll want.

In the end, the cost of the DTG machine isn't the big problem. It's all the other little things that add up to the scary final number.

But, according to my market analysis, which I run twice a year, there is enough room for 15,000 more DTG shops in the US. And that's a conservative value. The #1 reason people fail to make money? Laziness in developing new business. The #2 reason people fail to make money? They run out of money before meeting reason #1.

And that's the final thing that is important in starting a DTG business or any business: have money in the bank. You will have slow periods where you still have to print shirts. Even if you have no customers that day or week. So print and keep printing, even at a loss, so you can build your reputation and become profitable.
July 25th, 2014 07:23 PM
johnleisenberg
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

Actually, I disagree. Trade Show Demos can be notoriously deceiving. With today's technology, I simply sent files, had them imaged and had the potential vendors report ink usage in Millliliters split between White and CMKY and their cost per liter for ink. That's what I based my decision upon subsequent to spening about 5hrs down at Spectra DTG experimenting with ink saturation and resolution levels and running many, many test images. You won't be able to do that on a Trade Show floor, most of the demo's are "canned"
July 23rd, 2014 07:59 PM
johnleisenberg
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

I agree. Eating is not optional. In the printing biz the rule of thumb was buy it on the outside and mark it up. Then, when your total purchases per / month / annum equal the cost of the equipment plus the cost of the consumables plus the cost of the footprint fully loaded plus the cost of the operator. Take that total and multiply it by 120% which assumes an 80% productivity rate and you'll see if your ready for you own gear. NEVER turn away an order that too big for your platen or your capacity. This is another reason why we're all here. You can either out source for size or to augment capacity you can't keep up with because of a deadline, split the run... Think fast and on your feet, success comes in cans NOT cant's
July 23rd, 2014 06:11 PM
bentcycle
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

Quote:
about $6,000 blows the doors off of anything.
there's a line i saw advertised on youtube called UFO, i think, that has 3 DTs from $2,000 to $4,000, but at those prices, i'd suspect they're chinese made and possibly a nightmare to deal with for parts and service. i found no info on them other than their website.

the things i like most about spectra besides the price in my research is that they use an upgraded motor that indicates quality is important to the brand and the fact that they use pressurized inking and allow users to get bagged inks making clogs less likely.

yeah... i'd love a neoflex myself, especially with that huge print area and all the love they seem to get from users and reviews. in the short term though, frivoulous concerns like EATING are more important. LOL
July 23rd, 2014 03:58 PM
johnleisenberg
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

thanks Mon, agreed.
Like I said the NeoFlex is a workhorse, the samples Randy ran were exemplary, At the end of the day it's a simple formula that's totally specific to the situation.
For me, it's about having control and not subcontracting our orders for production. That also allows us to control graphic sizes and blanks. We're wholesaling to the Luxe market at $24. -$36. per piece and they'll keystone it for the floor. I'm not dealing with the public. We're a High End Fashion House that's chosen to produce ourselves. Who knows, if we get into imaging Blank Dresses I'll layoff that production to you.
Keep in touch,
john e.
July 23rd, 2014 02:00 PM
23spiderman
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

gotcha. not arguing, just questioning.

i do disagree with you regarding the Epson 4880 being "antiquated/outdated technology", and that definitely is not the reason that the NeoFlex price went down.

i do think you'll be happy with the Spectra, and at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. Jeff German (German13) is a standup, trustworthy guy in the DTG world, and i know that he is involved with the Spectra in some way.
July 23rd, 2014 01:40 PM
johnleisenberg
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

1. It's now antiquated technology which is why the price is dropping like a rock.
2. The print quality was OK / certainly comparative to the Espon at $16k and ALMOST as good as the Spectra3000
3. Agreed, it's a Workhorse with a biggerPlaten than most will ever need.

If you've got the space and the production and don't mind buying outdated technology, go for it, be my guest. Most I believe will find the platen size just fine for 99% of their orders.
July 23rd, 2014 01:27 PM
johnleisenberg
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

The Brother 541 was a workhorse, still is if you're going to print White or Light Blanks ONLY
Also, it's NOT a 3rd GENERATION DTG Printer like the Epson and Spectra3000 are. Everything else out there for now is passé technology. Also, if you buy used, make sure you can still get parts and support...
July 23rd, 2014 11:36 AM
23spiderman
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnleisenberg
Spectra 3000 Spectra 3000 Digital Garment Printer...the affordable DTG solution about $6,000 blows the doors off of anything. If you want to spend more, the new Epson SureColor F2000 with White. The latest and the creates as well, a real workhorse for about 16K
THESE ARE BOTH THE NEW 3rd GENERATION DTG PRINTERS!

Stay away from everything else and don't buy anything used!

john eisenberg call me if you wish, just did the whole due diligence thing LEARNED MUCH! Beware lots of Snake Oil Salepeople pushing Anchor Weights CAVEAT EMPTOR.
the printers you mentioned are great, but "stay away from everything else"??? NeoFlex included? Mod1 included?

my Neo allows me to print anything that fits on the 17" x 42" bed. when i do production runs, i'm never waiting on the printer...it keeps printing while i unload and load shirts. it has the best print quality, excellent customer service and tech support, and it's price was recently lowered. just wondering why it is now in your "stay away" list?
July 23rd, 2014 11:08 AM
fancyneat
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

Hi underdog. I worked with family in the tee biz for 2.5 years as the mgr. we had brother gt-541. I never had the first problem with it. we paid 26K for it new. we didn't get our money's worth out of it. however, I was basically the only employee. we couldn't find enough biz to stay open. we sold our gt 541machine and the whole biz for around 12K. it was an excellent machine and all our customers loved the work it produced. we ran into a few probs as far as always getting calls about doing black tees and us not having white ink was an issue. maybe u could buy a used machine. good luck .
July 23rd, 2014 10:38 AM
johnleisenberg
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

Spectra 3000 Spectra 3000 Digital Garment Printer...the affordable DTG solution about $6,000 blows the doors off of anything. If you want to spend more, the new Epson SureColor F2000 with White. The latest and the creates as well, a real workhorse for about 16K
THESE ARE BOTH THE NEW 3rd GENERATION DTG PRINTERS!

Stay away from everything else and don't buy anything used!

john eisenberg call me if you wish, just did the whole due diligence thing LEARNED MUCH! Beware lots of Snake Oil Salepeople pushing Anchor Weights CAVEAT EMPTOR.
July 23rd, 2014 10:09 AM
102557
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosier13
One nice thing about the Spectra is that it is light and portable. Here is a picture of me working like a "dog" this weekend at home. Had a bunch of shirts to print and didn't want to go to the office.

Seriously though, it weighs about 30 lbs and is very easy to transport and set up. I often work at home and this printer is perfect for that
Looking good! your actually pretty close on the weight. Its approx. 40.5 # pounds with the removable platen off and approx. 47# pounds with the platen on Considering the original print engine weighs in @ 35 pounds before conversion in the equation is pretty remarkable outcome.. you cant mistake weight for strength this is a misconception, there are a lot of materials very strong and light weight an example being carbon fiber.. best of luck in your venture...
July 22nd, 2014 05:30 PM
hoosier13
Re: What DTG would you recommend?

One nice thing about the Spectra is that it is light and portable. Here is a picture of me working like a "dog" this weekend at home. Had a bunch of shirts to print and didn't want to go to the office.

Seriously though, it weighs about 30 lbs and is very easy to transport and set up. I often work at home and this printer is perfect for that
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