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Old March 27th, 2009 -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Items per hour

The production speed of a shop is contingent on some many things that it is difficult for a prospective buyer to determine what they realistically achieve. When in doubt, a prospective customer should go with low to conservative numbers when looking at the different printers. Here are top 10 factors that I look at when recommend printers to certain people.

1. What resolution / # of passes will be required by the customer to make the purchase?
2. What type of pretreatment process is being used? By hand, automatic pretreater, no pretreatment. The pretreatment time should be counted in the production time.
3. Are you talking about the same file or are you talking about printing diffent files. You can save time by using a production run feature with most RIPs if you are printing the same exact file. Any changes to the file (i.e. names, numbers,...) will require the file to be ripped again which can take additional time.
4. What amount of artwork manipulation are you doing to each graphic? The more time you spend on artwork, the less production / printing time you will have. Some graphics may need to be tweaked / changed to come out good depending on your graphic software program, printer and RIP settings.
5. What is your curing process and the equipment you are using? If you have a conveyor dryer or multiple heat presses, you probably don't have a backlog on the curing process that would slow down the production levels. This especially helps when you have small designs or ones with low coverage.
6. What size of a print and what coverage is the graphic? You can have a 10" x 10" with low coverage that will print much faster than a graphic with heavy / full coverage depending on the firmware on your printer.
7. Are you printing white ink? White ink goes down at a higher resolution and will add a significant amount more time compared to printing on dark garments.
8. Can you load a garment on a 2nd platen while another one is printing? This can minimize the time where the printer is not printing and thus increase your production levels.
9. Do testing (printing and wash) in advance on different manufacturers/ brands / color / sizes to make sure that the garment will print well. I strongly recommend against not offering to your customers the entire wholesaler's catalog to choose from. Some shirts just don't lead to a good dtg product and this can hurt your business.
10. Do you have color management practices setup? If you have proper color management practices setup, then you should not have to run as many test prints before you start your production.

... and I am sure that others can add to this list as well.

But probably the most important factor in my opinion is the operator. dtg printing is not just as simple as touch a button and watch a finished shirt come out that is properly cured. There is still skill involved in dtg printing and that is why the operator is so important.

Nice conversation for prospective customers. Best wishes to everyone.

Mark E. Bagley, Esq. - GT Printer Accessories - www.garmenttools.com / Perfect Transfers - www.perfecttransfers.com
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MardiGrasTexan (March 27th, 2009)