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Discussion Starter #1
please give your opinions on direct to garment digital printers. do they have good quality printing? for a startup, do you recommend these printers? if possible please mention the name(s) of these printers...
 

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Re: direct garment printing

In my opinion, DTG printers have the best quality of print on the market today. Anytime anyone has seen samples of DTG printing, they jaw drops in amazement of the quality.

As for if it's good for a startup, that's entirely up to you to decide. I have customers that purchased these machines and already are making money on them and are more than satisfied. We used to sell the Flexi-Jet and the master distributor pulled our dealership in favor of selling them all himself along with one other company. It still is a great machine even if we don't sell it anymore. Some of the printers are as follows:

Brother
T-Jet
Flexi-Jet
DTG Kiosk (distributed by SWF)
Mimaki
Kornit
NaturaLink

There are many out there and this isn't all of them. We will be selling another machine soon that is based on the same printer as the Flexi-Jet. This is exciting since I really believe the Flexi-Jet was the best printer on the market for it's cost.

The machine we will be selling is compared to the Flexi-Jet L model, which is the larger of the 2 models available. The price with 2 platens on the Flexi-Jet L is $19,000 whereas the machine we will be selling is only $13,500. (This is not a sales post, only an informative post of what we will be doing and the price factor people are looking at in getting involved in DTG Printing.)

I did not list the machine yet because we want to make sure we have them in stock or close to it before advertising. Before the Flexi-Jet came out, I believe the Brother was probably the best printer on the market. The problem with the Brother's machine is it doesn't nor will it ever print white inks. Even though the quality is excellent and the speeds are great, $20,000 for a machine that will never print white is pretty steep, in my opinion.

So the bottom line is, this technology is great for a startup because it really turns heads. The main question is, what do you have funds available for. Some people's idea of a startup is under $500 - $1,000 while others can and are willing to spend thousands of dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Re: direct garment printing

Jerid Hill,
Thanks a lot for the info. It clearified a lot for me. One more thing, as the printers you mentioned are ranging from 13k to 20k, so would financing or leasing be a better idea for a starter or buying the machine right away would be better? Please answer this considering cost factors and rapid technology changes...
Thanks
 

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Re: direct garment printing

Yes, cafepress is using DTG (along with heat press if requested).

The DTG prints on dark colors still don't match with screen printing. The prints I've seen are more subdued and not as vibrant. The whites on a black t-shirt aren't bright white and crisp.

Overall, the quality is still good though.
 

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Re: direct garment printing

My guess is give the DTG another year and we will see some amazing improvements. They are already very good but they will get even better. Everything does. I've read where they are really trying very hard to improve the white inks. As they are now, they still clog up too much and require frequent cleanings to keep them flowing correctly, but they are making improvements rapidly with this technology. I am going to get one too.
 

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Re: direct garment printing

LateFall said:
Jerid Hill,
Thanks a lot for the info. It clearified a lot for me. One more thing, as the printers you mentioned are ranging from 13k to 20k, so would financing or leasing be a better idea for a starter or buying the machine right away would be better? Please answer this considering cost factors and rapid technology changes...
Thanks
This is something only you can truly answer. When leasing a machine, most people lease to own, so it's not really like turning it in for a new one every couple of years. It's pretty much a lease with a buyout in the end.

Personally, I have found it's almost always better to buy outright if you can. This keeps your funds from having to be tied up in payments if something else comes along. I just think it's good business practice to buy instead of lease or getting a loan.

Even with the rapid technology changes, the machines do get better, but the inks are where it's at. Most of the inks on the market should work with just about any DTG printer. It's a matter of finding the right ink for the job. When the ink improves over time, the machine doesn't need replaced. Some may not take the newer inks, but I have found with as many printers being based on the Epson series, alot of them will work in each other's machine.

As for the question reguarding cafepress, Rodney answered that with a yes. It's my understanding they purchased a handful of the Kornit machines for I think $180,000 a piece (or something like that), maybe a little less but I'm pretty sure not more.

And as for white inks, yes there is a clogging. The titanium in the inks separate. This causes heavier deposits in the lines and the heads. This is where the clogging comes in. There are inks currenty that do not have the titanium and this is good, but the problem is, titanium dioxide is a whitening agent. This causes the whites to be really white. Without it, they look okay, but not great. With it, they look great, but there's clogging. I actually am looking at a white ink now that has the titanium dioxide in it and it can sit for a long long long time and still not separate. This is a good thing and could be the answer to alot of the problems with the white issues. Time will tell....
 

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Re: direct garment printing

In my opinion, DTG is about a year or two away from being totally up to scratch. It certainly doesn't yet compare to screenprinting on darks, and I still prefer the screenprint on lights.

A couple of years though, and this may all change.
 

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Re: direct garment printing

monkeylantern said:
In my opinion, DTG is about a year or two away from being totally up to scratch. It certainly doesn't yet compare to screenprinting on darks, and I still prefer the screenprint on lights.

A couple of years though, and this may all change.
There are many people who feel the same way that you do, but those many people who get a sample of a high quality DTG print really doesn't have a lot of bad things to say about it. We are advancing in white ink so where it has a softer feel than screenprints and the brightness is very white.

I saw where someone had taken a DTG printer over a 4 day bicentennial for their town and made over $20,000 in profit on this printer alone. Try that with screenprinting, it won't happen. This is definitely a niche market for 1 and 2 ups and with the speed increases of the machines, even a 250 piece order isn't too much. Most of your money will be made on 1 and 2 up shirts. Custom made shirts, full color artwork, extremely high profit.

That's the benefit of Direct to Garment printers.
 

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Re: direct garment printing

I take 3 tees with me on sales calls 1)DTG 2)ScreenPrint 3)Inkjet transfer. My customers always pick the screenprint as to how they want their shirts to look/feel. Do you have sample shirts that I could order? I'm thinking that if what you are saying is true, the old "white" sample I have is outdated. If you can run DTG on colors such as red (that is what my next big order calls for) I'd like to see it. It's been ages since I've taken an order for "white" shirts.
I'm not trying to be smart I just need to compare apples to apples.
 

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Re: direct garment printing

StitchShoppe said:
I take 3 tees with me on sales calls 1)DTG 2)ScreenPrint 3)Inkjet transfer. My customers always pick the screenprint as to how they want their shirts to look/feel. Do you have sample shirts that I could order? I'm thinking that if what you are saying is true, the old "white" sample I have is outdated. If you can run DTG on colors such as red (that is what my next big order calls for) I'd like to see it. It's been ages since I've taken an order for "white" shirts.
I'm not trying to be smart I just need to compare apples to apples.
Rodney runs a tight ship around here ;)

Private message me for anything. I will say that it wouldn't be until after we would have the newest machine in. Late July or early August.

I guess the hardest thing to deal with when it comes to DTG printing is to overcome the idea of it having to be screen printed. I am a screen printer by trade but when I was introduced to the Direct to Garment printers a couple of years ago, I was skeptical, very skeptical. When I saw samples and actually had hands on with a DTG printer, I was sold. It doesn't limit you to only T-shirts, as Printchic has stated as well. I can't begin to mention how many times I have had customers want one ups or even 1 dozen full color designs.

When you have a printer that can print custom, on the fly printing and it's better than transfers and has a softer feel than screen printing, you'd be amazed at how many people would pay $25 or more for a t-shirt.

I don't believe DTG printing will ever replace screen printing, there are too many colors and special effects that DTG printing cannot emulate, but it will be a viable option, just as transfers are for so many.
 

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Re: direct garment printing

There are people selling "loads" of shirt done on a DTG Printer.

I own a Brother GT-541 and I feel "it's the best" machine on the market today. So i guess I "disagree" with the statement "the flex-jet" it the best. (Sorry Jerid)

I've owned a t-jet before it and sold it and opted for the Brother over the Flex-jet because of the history of the company, the speed of the machine, it's a workhorse, ease of use. We'll i could go on.

Anyway, I'm chiming in here only due to the statement that keeps being made "The Brother Can't Print White Ink"

Which is true but it hasn't hurt me from making the $$$ on doing dark shirts.

http://www.inkjetgarmentprinters.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1916

I think the link gives all the details so i will not restate them here.

Again, not trying to "take over" this topic but had to address the statement dealers keep making about "the Brother" can't print white ink.

Disclaimer: I don't sell machines, I don't get any commissions, etc. my statements about the Brother, T-jet, etc. are from my experience as a "enduser".
 

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Re: direct garment printing

I don't agree with the theory either that the Brother isn't a viable machine because it can't print white. It's the market of the end user.

I do believe the Flexi-Jet is a great machine and it is the best printer in it's class (meaning printing white, printing on various substrates, multiple ups, price range), but I also believe a product is only as good as the company will allow it to be. That being said, Belquette, the manufacturer, is a great company, but the distribution of the product is where the problem lies.

The Brother is a great machine, I agree. The problem (for many) is the cost per print and yes, the limitation of not printing white ink and the price range. I will never say it's a bad machine, because I've seen the final products and it is a machine designed to do what it set out to do. I've had a couple people buy a Brother because they didn't want to wait on the Flexi-Jet (which I no longer sell). I told them they had to do what was best for their company. I don't try to destroy another business or company's product just to sell a machine. I just point out the obvious. ;)
 

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Re: direct garment printing

Hi Jerid,

I didn't mean to infer you were trying to destroy another business' rep or product. The statement was "meant to be generic" meaning "people keep using that statement" as a limitation (it can't print white). But... since I posted it in a thread you were in I guess it could be assumed i meant you.

I was simply "sharing" an overlooked alternative about "white ink printing". As for white ink anyone seeing my posts here or on other forums about white ink know i've said "white ink" for DTG Printing has wash issues.

That means "any machine" currently or coming out if the process requires "pretreatment".

I don't want to kill "anyone's" potential to sell a product but I shared my point of view on the topic of DTG Printing as an end user.

Again not saying you were trying to "destroy" another business's rep. I've watched you do hard work and support on the flex-jet and will share that you are a honest person and truely care about the "product you sale".

Printchic
 

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Re: direct garment printing

That's okay. I didn't believe you were making that statement towards me either. I was simply stating it for the benefit of others.

Sometimes when I type, my thoughts get conveyed a little differently than intended. No harm no foul!

I do like the fact that you are thorough open and honest with your assessments. You've helped me out more than you know.
 

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Re: direct garment printing - a bit of a different perspective

I just joined the board yesterday - so I am trying to catch up with some of these threads. We at SWF East have been involved in selling direct to garment printers for about 21 months now (an eternity in this marketplace!). One challenge that I don't think most of the "newbies" in the distribution market fully grasp yet is the aftersale support that goes with the sale of these machines. We have a long history of supporting high ticket apparel decorating equipment sales, because of this we already have an infrastructure that is designed to handle the support and training of this type of equipment. As the percentage of our sales that are direct to garmnt continues to grow, we have had to add more and more support, training and even shipping personel to handle the growth. Any new "players" that are not already established in the apparel marketplace are in for a rude awakening when they begin to experience this growth. While I don't claim to know all of the major players in the market at this time, I know most of them. Few can produce the volume of machines required to be a major player in the marketplace. To run with the "top dogs" (creidt given here to Scott F. for coining the phrase) - you are gonna have to move 100+ units a month - I don't see many out there that can meet those kinds of numbers.

It is not too terribly difficult (not that I could do it!) to modify an Epson printer to do what these machines do, as is evidenced by the number of new entries at SGIA. Being able to sustain production at a high level is the issue, that as well as the ability to produce solid projections 3-4 months out so that products are in stock without having excessive $$$ tied up in inventory. For those who have never dealt with importing a product before, it takes as much as 6-8 weeks for a product to arrive via surface (water) from Asia to the US. Add to that the fact that you have to project how many units that need to be produced to be ready to ship on a given date and you can see that the logistics of entering the market at a high level are very intense. Heaven forbid you have to expedite shipping (air frieght) and incur a 5-10 fold increase in freight charges!

Be wary of the "upstarts" - while they may be well intentioned and have a valid product, they are most likely unprepared for the hellfire they are about to encounter.

Happy Printing

Don
SWF East

"I ink, therefore I am!"
 

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Re: direct garment printing

Very good info Don and nice to see you on the forum. White ink is great but better pretreating solutions will be the key to a larger market share
 

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Re: direct garment printing

monkeylantern said:
In my opinion, DTG is about a year or two away from being totally up to scratch. It certainly doesn't yet compare to screenprinting on darks, and I still prefer the screenprint on lights.

A couple of years though, and this may all change.
I would say the white is not as comparable to screenprinting but you can get some amazing prints on darks.
See my examples:
threadsafeinc.com/samples.html
 
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