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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering purchasing one of the Brother DTG printers. Considering either the GT381 or GT361. I would like to hear from anyone who is currently using one, like and dislikes, has the machine performed and have you experienced any problems, how has support been, if you had to do it over again, would you buy the same machine, and if or if not, why.

I know there are a lot of owners of different brand machines that are sold on them, and feel their machines are superior, but please refrain from posting.

At this point I am only interested in comments from GT series owners.

Thanks in advance for anyone willing to weigh in.
 

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:)Can't comment on other printers, I just read many postings on other machines and all I can said i have purchase one of the best, the GT 381. Garment printer is not my main source of income I also own a small commercial print shop. I purchased the 381 after reviewing a few other machines. Visited a show in Philly and to see a different machine and Brothers won me over. Don't print a lot of shirts, and sometimes the machine sits for days. Have absolutely no issues whatsoever. Ink cost maybe be a little more expensive and the white ink is comparable cost to the CKYK. I do a nozzle check every couple of days, shake the inks and do a white tube agitation as well. Nozzle check are as good as the first day the machine was installed. November 2012. White tube cleaning maybe every three of four weeks or when i feel it has been too long overdue and get a little nervous about it. Customer support is top notch although I haven't had any need to call them for any mechanical issues, just a couple times for technical printing questions. Print is nice, even nicer using ring spun garment. No problem printing hoodies either. Their tech person have stopped by a couple of times just to see how everything is going and to upgrade firmware without me even knowing it had a new one available.
I ordered three weeks ago the preteatment because I was running low. Yesterday I called in because I have a couple of jobs to finish by Saturday. They told me that it was back ordered and they just got it in. After explaining to the store rep my dilemma of not having any to finish the jobs, they overnighted to me. I got it this morning. Is that is not good service and concern for their customers i don't know what is. I can shoot an email to any rep and get a response almost right away. If they can't address my questions they will forward the questions to someone else and they call me back. Not days waiting. If my garment production grows to a point where I would need another machine, Brothers will be my first choice. Absolutely happy with the company and their (mine) machine. You won't be sorry. Don't just take my word for it. Go to a show near your city and check the machines, all of the machines on the floor talk with the vendors and go from there. I traveled 600 miles each way just to see the machines in action.

Good luck

CD
 

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Wow... I have a completely different experience I would like to share. I got my GT-381 around Aug. 2012 and have nothing but problems with the machine since. After the install and training the performance of the machine began to slowly go down hill by the first month. I had a lot of orders and was running the printer everyday but the quality of the prints began to suffer (printing on colored shirts were impossible). The tshirt designs would fade or crack within a week or two after the sale. By October I couldn't get anymore customers because the white ink print heads were just junk.
Printing on white tshirts wasn't so much better because after the first wash the whole image would fade as if the tshirt was already a year old.
In November 2012 had to pay (airfare and lodging) for the Brother distributor to send a tech to replace all 4 white print heads. Which Brother did not charge me for the print heads which was great since they cost $1,300 a piece. But things were definitely much better after that, December was a great month. The new print heads were great and my business started to pick up. Printing on white tshirts were still the same though, faded after the first wash...
But then again in January-February of 2013 I started experiencing clogged nozzles and inferior print quality again. I always performed the weekly cleaning and maintenance routines meticulously and could not understand what was going on. I was constantly on the phone with my Brother distributor trying to figure out what I was doing wrong... we ruled out humidity issues, dust or particle problems, pump issues, using different tshirt brands ( i used port and company) I lost so much money in 2013!
By September 2013 the yellow printhead wasn't shooting out any yellow anymore. Nonetheless, I trucked on and continued to print and do jobs so I could save up to buy an new printhead. By mid-October the Magenta printhead wasn't working as well. I ended up printing lousy 3-tone designs because I only had white colors, blue and black. It was so frustrating and stressful...
In November, the Brother Distributor took pity on me and flew over ( which I paid for again but was a shorter/cheaper flight) and he was able to replace the yellow and magenta printheads free of charge even though the one year warranty had expired. Thank you Brother-USA!! Apparently, what the Brother tech failed to inform me was that I should have replaced the dampers or filters that are located just above the printhead. He said there should have been notice on the LCD monitor for me to replace them. I swear there was no such notice... and he should have at least told me that could be an issue. I had no idea since this is the first DTG printer that I ever purchased and operated. oh well... live and learn right? wrong.
Even after replacing all the dampers the black printhead failed in February 2014. I was able to replace it by blowing $1,300 for a brand spanking new one! The Brother tech says that "sorry it really is an awesome printer but all your problems are really attributed to operator error" yeah? ok... right...
I've had this printer/business for 1yr. 8 months (my first shot at DTG printing, mind you) and I have spent as much money on maintenance supplies and ink costs that I could have bought another Brother GT-381 printer ( a little over 25k ) I have exactly done 8621 prints according to my printers records. And I am confident that I could have done double that amount if not for the lousy quality and the machine not working at certain times ( making me look like a terrific ***-clown in front of my customers) . I have lost so much money that it would be soo funny, if in fact, it were not happening to me :)
<deep inhalation> sorry for the rant... it's been a most stressful experience. There have recently been other internal problems that I experienced with the printer last March but I don't want to bore anyone.
oh and by the way, all four of the white print heads are beginning to fail again...

I am thinking of doing a new business, maybe just selling coconuts near the beach or something...
 

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Really sorry for that bad experience you are going through. It seems to me that you got a lemon. Any manufacturer have them from time to time. It is a good testament to Brother how they tried to fix your issues although it has cost you a ton of money paying for them to come over to your place. Brothers should have recognized that the machine was one of those lemons and should have replaced it with no questions asked nor inferring operators error for the ailments of the machine. Maybe if they instead of changing just the print heads would have done it properly with new filters, lines and new capping station thinks would be a little different. I still stand by my earlier post, I haven't had a single issue yet (keeping my fingers crossed). Try to contact Brothers management directly with you problem and history and tell them that maybe there are more serious issues with the machine beyond faulty heads that makes the machine one of those few instances where the printer is a manufacturers unintentional mistake. Be nice and see where they go from there. It is in their best interest to resolve this issue since there are other printers coming into the market that will compete for their business if things like these are not resolved to your satisfaction.

Good luck
CD
 

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We've had our GT-361 since Sept 2012. At first, things were quite a fiasco. When we first took delivery of the machine, outdated white filters were installed and ending up ruining 3 white print heads. Brother replaced two of them for free, but we ended up footing the bill for the first one.

Once the filters were identified as the problem and were finally updated, we started getting much better results.

However, with CMYK+W prints, the prints still easily scratch off with a fingernail or a plastic pen cap. Not durable at all by any commercial standard. We've tested about a dozen shirt brands and varied the curing procedure all different ways -- we still get prints that easily scratch off. Every sample from Brother we've gotten scratches easily too, as well as from some other big-name companies that are using the GT Series.

Maybe our standards are too high and prints are supposed to scratch off these days . . .
 

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I own a 361 and have had very few problems with it. The biggest issue currently is the consumable cost and the wait time. The 381 should speed up printing quite a bit, on darks the 361 usually does 1 white pass+1 white+color pass, sometimes a large design will take about 5 minutes to print. My business offers a ton of different services though, so usually I can do something during the downtime. If nothing else is going on and I'm doing the job solo, I can at least pretreat another shirt or two during that print time and wait for the press to reclaim temp.


My brother rep actually brought a printer out (120 miles away) and demo'ed it for me when I expressed interest to my supplier that I was looking into buying one, I got to learn some basics of how the white ink worked and what not when he was there. This sold me on the machine and I purchased it. I do not have any regrets, and the main reason I went with Brother was my 541 had served me well and Brother's reputation was good in an industry that was full of bad.

I would strongly suggest having a look at the NeoFlex if you have the opportunity though, the feedback from the forums here for Peter and All American seems phenomenal. I have not used it myself, but it is an alternative, and one many seem to stand behind.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A few questions to those who have had problems.
Did you buy the machine directly from Brother or did you buy them through one of their dealers?
When you had problems, who did you contact?
In the case of the costs that you had to pay for repair, did you feel Brother treated you fairly, or do you feel these were inherent issues with the parts or machines that should have been covered 100% (parts and labor).

We do all forms of apparel decoration with the exception of DTG.
I've been reluctant to dive head first into it because of issues like this.
It seems that there is so much that is not perfected, but is accepted as "ok".
I get chills when posts talk about some of these small companies that their claim to fame is a single DTG machine.
Yes the machine may be decent, but it only takes issues like these with the Brother machines and they are financially ruined. There have been so many of those types that were here yesterday and are gone today.
Ever see the videos of DTG's being blown up in the desert because company was gone and parts were not available.
I guess I won't enter the market until there is a manufacture with some history and a solid foundation that will take care of its customers.
From the first response, that was sounding like Brother. From the recent posts, not so much. I would hope Brother would buck up and take care of these people.
 

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If you are waiting for a company to come along with a longer history, or better financial foundation than Brother, you better pull up a chair and order some food, because you're going to be waiting a while.

Other than Epson (who have only been in the DTG market for a year), no other DTG company has anywhere close to the financial stability of brother. As far as their history is concerned, they are the longest operating DTG company still in existence today, with over a decade of DTG experience.

Brother has always taken fantastic care of me. I have at one time owned every model of printer that they offered. Any issues I ever had (a whopping two) were taken care of in a timely manner.

Of course this is just one person's perspective. But I think if you're waiting for a better company you will be waiting a while. That doesn't necessarily mean that there might not be a better printer on the market for your needs or wants, and there are certainly other fantastic companies to include Belquette , All-American, etc.... but I certainly do not know of a another company than Brother, that meets your criteria.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I never said that Brother was not financially sound or well established. My point was, two owners of Brother DTG's have experienced problems, and from their response, it does not appear that Brother took care of one of them in a favorable manner, hence my question as to weather the machine was purchased direct or through a distributor.
I'm not jumping to any conclusions that Brother is at fault, but I also understand there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.
It is possible not all the facts have been revealed.
I'm just looking for more information so I can draw a conclusion.
You stated, "I have at one time owned every model of printer that they offered". Did you mean DTG or just printers, because in my mind those are two totally different animals.
I appreciate everyone's input, positive, negative and neutral.
As far as my expectations of a machine go, I want something that works, I can make money with, with the peace of mind that the manufacturer or distributor has my back if I have problems.
If that doesn't exist to the levels I expect in my business, I won't be in the DTG business, but don't be hating on me because I have criteria and expectations.
With 20 plus years in this business, I've seen a lot of companies come and go. I'll take credit for doing something right in my decision making for both longevity and company growth.
 

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Nobody was hating....geez, I was just trying to answer some of your concerns, and you accuse me of hating......isn't the internet wonderful....lol. I also never said you said anything, so to qoute you, " don't be hating on me", because I was trying to help.

In my reference to owning Brother printers, I meant DTG, as we are on a DTG forum, and quite frankly, it would be amazing if someone had owned every model of every line of printers that Brother has manufactured. My guess is that would be hundreds of printers.

I wish you luck in your search for DTG knowledge, maybe you will also catch a unicorn, and solve the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle...:)
 

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Touchy... No matter what printer you are considering you should try get as much info as you can. Also see it in action. You can make money with just anything the trick is to know your limitations and the capabilities of the printer. If you are looking for info in the TSF just do a search for the printer you are considering. You'll read good things and bad things. Do a tally, cons and pros and that would be a good indication which ones are more reliable. Sometimes is best not to consider the maintenance costs and supply costs. You can have a cheap printer with cheap supplies but a ton of issues or a more expensive printer with more expensive supplies but with less issues and hazzles. Sometimes is a wash in cost terms. More issues will cost you time and money by having downtime and repairs cost or pay a little bit more on inks and machine but printing all the time. Any manufacturer from time to time will produce a unit not up to par you just need to figure out if that is the norm or the exeption.

Good luck
CD
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sorry my response came off that way.
I did not intend it to sound as it did.
I understand everything you are both saying and I truly do appreciate the input.
My knee jerk response was based on the fact that I not asking for information on what to look for or how to purchase a machine, but the experiences others have had with the equipment.
My original post was asking for Epson owners to respond because I had narrowed it down to them as a manufacturer.
I've looked at and seen other machines in action. I have M & R automatic presses, but I'm not convinced M & R should be in the DTG business.
I've looked at the Kornit machines as well, but I'm not sure the price tag us worth it for technology that does not appear to be perfected (by anyone).
As a person with an electronic technician back ground, I understand about equipment failure and down time, and I will pay for a better product if it will work better and longer, but as I was also attempting to say, I want to make sure the supplier will back the machine up if there are problems.
Those that never have a problem generally can't say enough good about the product and will even tell you service is good, even though they may have never used it.
Those that have, will have a different perspective.
A perfect example is we love our M & R's, and they have been work horses, but I am baffled every time I have to order a part, provide them with make, model and serial number, and they still can't provide me with the proper part. I understand they make production changes with parts, but it is the little things like that, that can drive you nuts. A $10.00 part takes your machine out of production for a day, and then two because the wrong part is sent.
I digress.
Once again, I apologize for the remarks.
 

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than Brother, As far as their history is concerned, they are the longest operating DTG company still in existence today, with over a decade of DTG experience.

Incorrect fact!
Impression Technology aka DTG were founded in 1994 (Brother 2007) and are the main instigators of the Direct to Garment industry in collaboration with Scott Fresner at the time. ;)
 

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Incorrect fact!
Impression Technology aka DTG were founded in 1994 (Brother 2007) and are the main instigators of the Direct to Garment industry in collaboration with Scott Fresner at the time. ;)
Actually, there is documentation that show Brother was actively engaged in the manufacturing and testing the dtg printing before Mastermind / US Screen came out with their printers and set up their dealer network. The main instigator in DTG Printing was Matt Rhome, who is the primary name on the 1996 US patent - Patent US6095628 - Apparatus for ink jet printing - Google Patents. Somewhere on this forum is a scanned copy of an article in The Press Magazine about the first dtg printer documented. Matt started consulting with Brother in 1999.

Belquette also communicated with US Screen prior to the Mastermind relationship about manufacturing a dtg printer as well. No relationship came out of it. That is not to say Steve at Impression Technology has not been a key contributor in the industry. There have been a lot of individuals and companies that deserve credit for getting this technology to where it is today and more people will come that will move it forward. That is the great thing about being a part of a new technology.

Mark
 

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We have a 361 with the ability to expand to a 381. Since its new, we are on the learning curve trying different pre treats and ink settings. Then we have the different shirt variables. I like the mask/highlight file Brother sent me with my machine. It allows me to print all of the different types of shirts I will use with one piece of art that shows the results of all the different mask / highlight settings on ONE RUN. One the average, I run a 7/5 for darks. How you do your art makes a difference too. Clean it when it says clean it. Agitate your white every day and dont let the humidity drop. Seems like a pain but we havent had ANY clogs with this machine.
 

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Guys I just took on a position involving a Brother GT381, I need a maintenance cartridge to run the solution through, but my Rep says that she cannot find it in her inventory. Any suggestions as to where else I could purchase? Thanks
 

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Bit of an old topic to bump, you may have better success on a new post if you haven't already, but since I'm subscribed I looked.

Most Brother DTG suppliers should be able to order the maintenance cartridge for you, it is fairly costly in comparison to other replaceables (and they suggest you replace it I think every 2 years or 4 bottles of pretreat as the filters get clogged). It's not really a stocking part, so they most likely will have it drop shipped from Brother. Stitch City in California or Midwest Sign Supply are two US dealers, if in a foreign country check with whomever supplies for you and it shouldn't be a problem.

Generally the printer has an open metal area underneath the ink cartridges for storage. We use ours to hold the filter cartridges and the maintenance cartridge, as I'm sure most people do. So check there first.

The maintenance cartridge is the same size as a regular ink cartridge and goes in place of an ink cartridge during maintenance to pump solution through. It will be labeled as "Maintenance Cartridge". Your maintenance cartridge at the outside end will have about 2 plastic pieces for the air cap system, and a hose outlet with about 2 feet of thin hose. One plastic piece will have a small little chain around it, and this is the "air cap", you basically put this on and remove it during the maintenance procedure to decide when to put air through the line and when to put liquid through (the maintenance procedure will tell you "open air cap" "close air cap").

You put your maintenance solution into a bottle, then dip the end of the 2 foot hose in there to suck it through. I believe they include a bottle with each kit, it's typically about 8 inches tall and about 4 inches diameter off the top of my head and has measurements for cleaning solution. If you're missing the cleaning solution bottle, a new empty spray bottle will do as a worst case scenario, you will want about 500 ml of cleaning fluid and make sure you keep at least 250 ml for each cart, you will want the hose to reach close to the bottom of the bottle, but not be up against the bottle's wall, as it is a vacuum based system, so if it's up against a wall it will be sucking plastic/air instead of solution.
 
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