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Like everyone else, I found that known brands sold DTG printers and inks at ridiculously high prices. Considering that Tshirts are not highly profitable items, the costs just didn’t work out.

After studying lot of DTG machines and companies on Alibaba, after lot of chats/emails to and fro to various manufacturers - I shortlisted DTGs from 3 companies - Sinocolor, Focus and Yuxunda.

All companies had models with Double Epson 4720 print heads, with ability to use Dupont inks. It was a no-brainer to go for these printers as
—>It boasted of Epson latest 4720 printheads that offered industrial speed and reliability
—> Ability to use Dupont inks gave me a peace of mind that prints would be long lasting
—-> Just in case there was need to reduce printing costs in future - option to shift to Chinese inks was always there. (Chinese don’t manufacture white ink though, they use Dupont themselves there). Chinese CMYK inks were roughly $38/liter against $80/liter of what Dupont costs.

All 3 companies gave me almost the same quote - roughly $5500 for printer plus set of inks, and some small spares. Even after importing it via sea, and after paying the custom duties the price was still half or 1/3rd of what known brands like Epson/Brother would have costed.

People did warn me against Chinese printers but I had my reasons to go for it as mentioned above - pricing of machine, pricing of inks, flexibility to use inks from multiple sources and even pricing of spares were ridiculously low.

I also did my due diligence and requested all 3 manufacturers for a t-shirt sample printed with my own design. All 3 sent me photographs of the same. Sinocolor and Focus prints were not good with lot of details missing, and colors entirely distorted. On informing them, they sent me second images with some improvement though they were far from perfect. Yuxunda sent me an acceptable image in first go.

Knowing that colors on fabric will not always be perfect, and it also depends on RIP settings - I thought of ignoring it for that moment and move to next requirement that is speed. I simply could not believe their catalogued speed that black t-shirts are printed in a minute and half, so I requested all 3 for live WhatsApp video while printing my artwork.

Sinocolor fared extremely poorly with print taking over 17 mins and still not completed. Focus took around 5.5 to 6 mins to complete fully, and Yuxunda took 3.5 mins for 4 pass / 5 mins for 6 pass. All 3 were far from what manufacturers preached in first place, but I still went ahead and shortlisted Focus and Yuxunda.

I requested both to send me physical sample of t-shirt just printed so I can feel the t-shirt print, and then finalise. Both asked to pay shipping fee via PayPal which I did. Focus suddenly came back later saying they can’t accept payment via PayPal and that I will have to do bank transfer. $25 via swift is just not feasible as bank charges itself are $30+. I denied that, they simply refunded back via PayPal and said they can’t ship. That put them out for me, as inability to take care of this small thing was a big factor considering there would be small payments to be done in future for spares. Shipping etc. working with company as inflexible as this can be deterrer later on.

So that left me with Yuxunda. When I got the physical sample, the print looked brilliant, soft and very professional. I bought the machine and got it imported.

First impression of the machine was it was really well built. However it was a nightmare to get it inside my door on second floor as it was assembled in one piece. After chatting with them, I got few parts separated and with help of several labourers I got it up to second floor by stairs (it won’t go in lift, was too big for it).

We reassembled it back, and were really happy to get started. But we could not find any user manual or instruction guide in the box so we contacted them back. They said they don’t provide that, and sent me link with videos in it. Videos were extremely low quality, almost like home made ones with operators doing something without prior explanation. Half of the information needed to set the machine was absent, and we had to figure it out ourselves.

There were two pieces of software needed to be used by the machine. First the RIP software called RiPrint, and then the output from RiPrint was needed to be passed into control software of Yuxunda. Both softwares has tons of settings, again for which no manual or guide was provided.

The RIP software also required that we fix spot colors in photoshop so that was one more step in getting the file ready. Effectively it was around 10 to 15 mins step to get file ready for printing. Too much if you are going in for a slightly mid volume of 15 to 20 shirts per day.

Next 2 to 3 weeks we had real hard time understanding the machine, and its softwares. The software was in English, but one could make out that it was made by somebody not great at it. Some words were misspelled, some made no sense.

Ask their support, and they couldn’t really figure out our problem as sales guys know English but not the technicalities, and technician team doesn’t speak English, and hence they are never exposed to us. So it all depends on brilliance of sales person to understand our problem, convey correctly to technician and then the solution back to us. Every time we asked the question answer came in late in the evening or the next day, and many a times they were not the solution to the problem we were facing.

Finally after lot of trials for almost 3 weeks we got following things working
1. Understanding to how to get spot colors ready in photoshop for DTG
2. Understanding nuances of RIP software called RiPrint
3. Understanding nuances of control software of manufacturer through which the ripped image is uploaded and given print command that machine understands
We made our own setting in RIP that gave us the desired colors (atleast upto 85%)

WE thought in order to save money we need to bypass some inconveniences, and so we set aside this lack of manual, lack of support, the labourous process to set the image etc. We thought all these are first time hiccups, and we will get knack of it with time - which we did !

But now we were faced with few challenges - the WHITE INK ! Though it was Dupont ink it kept drying everyday after use. The printhead was always clogged. Everyday we had to apply cleaning solution on it, do power cleaning cycle through software, pump inks to flush out dried ink. Someday when even that won’t work we had to put the entire cleaning liquid in its resting tray for overnite, so printhead remains in touch with cleaning liquid for the nite and hopefully gets declogged. Everyday we needed to do this routine for white inks. It just resulted in lot of wastage of inks, and moreover wastage of our time.

Every time we raised to Yuxunda they asked us to remove air of the printhead. We did everything in our capacity and even though there were no bubbles it still remain clogged.

We even tried keeping circulation and stirring function on for 24 hours, even that didn’t help white ink from clogging. We were extremely frustrated at this point, and made a decision to do this activity everyday dooming it as unavoidable. There was something wrong about the design of resting tray, as ideally it should never let the inks dry.

When the white printhead was declogged, the machine gave absolutely fantastic print results. It looked professional, deep and detailed.

But next day, the routine of declogging white, and getting image ready for printing started taking its toll on us. We still adjusted ourselves to this menial routine.

Now came the stage where we wanted to test the wash fastness of the print. The inks kept fading in, and many times there were cracks, dots seen after cold washing. Hot water washing didn’t work at all. We tried all kinds of methods - lowering or increasing quantity of pretreatment, or curing temperature. After wasting around 25 t-shirts (back and front side) in experiments we finally arrived at a setting that was satisfactory, though not perfect.

One noteworthy point is that Dupont has absolutely no guide/manual on how much pretreatment to use / what temperature to cure their inks on artistri website. On google search you get some pdf’s of manuals but they are not exhaustive or correct. The inks were never cured by the temperature and time given by Dupont. The setting we arrived at was based on our own testing and experiments with 25 t-shirts as mentioned above.

Few days down the line, CMYK inks started clogging too - however we gave them the same treatment as white and they were fixed. We are not sure what caused them to clog as they worked quite well for sometime. We are also still facing issue of artwork not getting printed exactly in centre of the t-shirt. China is unable to solve this problem so as a workaround we introduced blank space towards left of every artwork so it prints in centre.

All these time we kept thinking that machine was incapable of keeping inks wet, and has a poor stirring and circulation system. It is true, but after various trials and error with the machine, we realised that not only machine is a problem but actually Dupont inks are too. Even when we were printing only colors on white t-shirt, the white which was declogged sometime back - gets clogged again in air when it is idle, but still has to move along with color printhead. This was a shock to us.

To confirm our learning, we printed only white once…the color printheads that had to move along with white though they were idle - got clogged in air. That means Dupont inks have extremely low resistance to drying, and probably the reason why printheads get clogged all the time. Yuxunda is unable to solve this, and so is Dupont.

I am stuck with this $5500 machine that works but with great effort and headaches everyday. I am stuck with inefficiency of Dupont inks, that seems untested or poorly tested in real life conditions. Even Dupont cleaning solution is unable to properly clean Dupont inks - how weird is that ? Has the company tested their products sufficiently ? With artistri I can definately say not ! Or maybe Epson 4720 and Artistri 5000 series are not meant to work together. But a quick call to Dupont confirms that it was deemed compatible with Epson 4720 so that rules out any unnatural pair.

In event of all these learning with China DTG machines and Dupont inks I would like to suggest that you better opt for a branded DTG machine like Epson F2130 or Brother GTX that manufacture their own inks too. A company that has tested their inks well with their machine is likely to give you less headaches, and probably better wash fastness.

DO NOT GO FOR CHINESE DTG MACHINES. They are cheap and tempting, however absence of user manuals, or instruction guides, poor support, poor softwares, poor CISS and laborious work to get print file ready - makes it a very bad choice. Its better to pump in money once in branded printers once, and stay happy later….than save money once, and be unhappy always !

In regards to saving costs on inks to bring production cost low - You can always try third party inks on branded printers once your warranty period is over. There are pretty reputed companies like FireBird that are making reasonably priced inks for Epson F2130. Of course you would need to do lot of tests to check any clogging or wash fastness issue - however it would be worth a try once your sales increase. Strikes any chords there ?
I bought Sino color complex prints take 12 mins
The whites keep on clogging i switched to image armor white ink and it worked amazing.
The print head burned from getting wet from, the ink. Manufactured wanted to charge me 400$ to replace. I found a printhead online for 70$ that looked similar and it worked!
I now waterproffed the print head with silcone.
Now my printer works great with all the fixes. The only problem is the speed. So i bought and epson f2100 which i will use for as the main printer then the Chinese printer as back up.
I reccomed buying a Chinese printer if you are just starting out, and haven't established a solid customer base; it is a great learning experience. So when you finally get an actual printer, you already know the fixes.
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