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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After lots of aimless wondering around on the board, trying to absorb all this, I now have a question about "direct to garment printing"...

I seen one for like $14000.00 & it was SUPER cool... I didnt even know they had machines that do that... Is it like a printer that will print just like a regular paper printer but on a shirt instead???

My question is, how expensive are these things... I still want to learn the old fashioned way because I have a genuine interest in the art of screen printing, but these "direct to garment printing" machines look like they could turn out a huge amount of shirts...

I wouldnt ever buy one, unless I started to be really, REALLY successful & needed a faster way of doing shirts... I just thought it was a really neat piece of equipment.
 

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My question is, how expensive are these things.
About this much:
I seen one for like $14000
s it like a printer that will print just like a regular paper printer but on a shirt instead?
Yep.

I think a couple of our members have one. I think Angela (printchic) might be able to share more details on the Direct to Garment stuff. It does sound cool!

I have some shirts that were printed on direct to garment printers (from cafepress), and while the technology is not on par with screen printing quality YET, it looks like it soon will be.
 

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MikeyFingaz said:
After lots of aimless wondering around on the board, trying to absorb all this, I now have a question about "direct to garment printing"...

I seen one for like $14000.00 & it was SUPER cool... I didnt even know they had machines that do that... Is it like a printer that will print just like a regular paper printer but on a shirt instead???
Yes you can print directly on the shirt. There are several models. The one mention for $14,000 probably is an "epson printer" that has been modified to print on a t-shirt.

My question is, how expensive are these things... I still want to learn the old fashioned way because I have a genuine interest in the art of screen printing, but these "direct to garment printing" machines look like they could turn out a huge amount of shirts...
Careful...

Not all DTG Printers can pump out shirts.

I've owned 2 different brands.

I started with a t-jet tabletop model and it eventually offered an white ink upgrade. When i upgrade to white ink my problems started. I eventually sold it as we learned it didn't fit our business.

We learned that to print a dark shirt for my clients I could only get about 3-4 shirts an hour. But that would be "if nothing went wrong". So it wasn't very "production oriented".

Now the sellers of the t-jet do have "larger models" meaning you can print more shirts at a time but the white ink process on dark shirts have some issues with washibliity, steps to get a good shirt printed, etc. Only the person deciding on a machine can tell you if it's a good choice for you are not. It will really be based on if you have the "patiences and funds" to test, test, test to get the white ink printing process down.

After 12 month of ownership i sold it and replaced it with a "Brother GT-541. It's turned out to be a bette fit for my biz. I can't print "dark shirts" but that's ok i just order transfers when I need something on dark colors. I would rather "not print black shirts" than to be able to print them and they not hold up during washing, etc.

The brother is a real production machine. It can pump out 40 full size shirts or more per hour. Actually most prints are done in less than 1 minute. The print are more vibrant than any i've seen coming from other printers and without all the work involved to accomplish it. I've had 0 down time and shirt mess ups are rare.

Here's a few things I've printed on it;

http://www.rureadysports.com/yourshirts.jpg
NOTE: The first shirt is not a photo of the actual shirt the others shirts and towel are.

http://www.promotees.com/samples/mysamples.jpg

I wouldnt ever buy one, unless I started to be really, REALLY successful & needed a faster way of doing shirts... I just thought it was a really neat piece of equipment.
I love the DTG Printing Technology but everyone has to decide when it's the right time for them to go that route. I don't have a slew of business just yet but I can get there doing custom work. I also have a few of my own designs I want to start to release.

As i said in the PM i sent you if you are really interested in the DTG Printing technology you can learn more at;

http://www.inkjetgarmentprinters.com/forums/index.php

That forum coupled with T-shirtForums should give you everything you need to get the biz going.

If i can answer any direct questions let me know.
 

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printchic said:
I started with a t-jet tabletop model and it eventually offered an white ink upgrade. When i upgrade to white ink my problems started. I eventually sold it as we learned it didn't fit our business.

We learned that to print a dark shirt for my clients I could only get about 3-4 shirts an hour. But that would be "if nothing went wrong". So it wasn't very "production oriented".

Now the sellers of the t-jet do have "larger models" meaning you can print more shirts at a time but the white ink process on dark shirts have some issues with washibliity, steps to get a good shirt printed, etc. Only the person deciding on a machine can tell you if it's a good choice for you are not. It will really be based on if you have the "patiences and funds" to test, test, test to get the white ink printing process down.
I was looking into this line of digital printers just last week! Printchic, does the resolution have anything to do with the slower shirt output per hour? 3 to 4 shirts an hour, can you imagine if you had a big order, you'd pull your hair out & bite your nails down to the nailbed! I was looking at the Fast T-Jet2™ SDT-1200, was that the one you had?

What, turned me off to the whole DTG printers is that they don't print specialty inks, yet!! Most of my designs have at least one or two specialties. I'm sure Mr Fresner is hard at work on that patent! That guy is rakin' in the dough, with all his printing innovations!
 

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MikeyFingaz said:
these "direct to garment printing" machines look like they could turn out a huge amount of shirts...
That's one of the most surprising things about DTG printing - most DTG printers are actually slower than screenprinting, in some cases a lot slower. There's no way that will last - DTG is highly likely to be the way of the future... eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies.... If it cant make images as nice as the old school way, then Im not THAT interested, especially for the price... I want to make nice shirts & am looking forward to the learning experience & will be taking pride in my workmanship... Also, if the are actually slower than manual printers at doing dark colors, then it totally defeats the purpose for me.
 

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They're better for custom printing where there'll be a lot of one-offs than they are for high production volume.

They're also great for large businesses that want all their staff to be able to run the equipment, since it's a lot easier to train someone to use a DTG printer than to screenprint.

There are certain environments they are perfect for, but I don't think they're a good fit for someone trying to run their own clothing line.
 

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Rodney said:
That towel looks cool! I didn't know DTG could do towels.
Yeap it sure does to towels and a lot of other stuff...

-I've also printed on several thing that are not t-shirts;

WHAT I HAVE PRINTED ON:

- Stretched Canvas;


Twins Babies:
http://www.promotees.com/samples/twinscanvas_brother.jpg
(this one appears light it was my 1st attempt to print on canvas I should have printed the design twice but it was not bad for my first attempt)

Girl in Water:
http://www.promotees.com/samples/brothercanvas2.jpg
This one (face hidden because it's a client of a client's daughter and i wanted to for privacy reasons not show her face). But you can see it's on a canvas

- Wooden Products: (great for ad speciality type deals)
http://www.promotees.com/samples/woodspecialties2.jpg

WHAT OTHERS HAVE DONE:

- Wooden Yo Yo's.
http://www.inkjetgarmentprinters.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=5871

- Sand Dollars:
http://www.inkjetgarmentprinters.com/forums/userpix/2_Seashell001_1.jpg

- Brick Veener:
http://www.inkjetgarmentprinters.com/forums/images/brick1.gif
- Stone Coasters:
http://www.screenprintinguniversity.com/forums/images/coaster3.gif

NOTE:

The Brother GT-541 doesn't advertise it's ability to do anything other than print on Garments and it does that well. However, several of us that like to experiment have done other things you wouldn't think you could print on. :)

The Canvas for example was printed on without the need for pretreatments, etc. Some other DTG Printer brands market their machaine as needing to use coatings, etc. to print on canvas which may be true if you to print on any type.

However i found I could just use a watercolor canvas and not use any pretreatments since again "it's a watercolor canvas" and the machine uses "waterbased inks".
 

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NARC72 said:
Printchic, does the resolution have anything to do with the slower shirt output per hour? 3 to 4 shirts an hour, can you imagine if you had a big order, you'd pull your hair out & bite your nails down to the nailbed!
Yes the higher the resolution you print the slower the machine. Here's the deal. The machine that prints on "black shirts" is a "Epson 2200" that has been "souped up" to print on a t-shirt. So everything that applies to a user that print on paper using their 2200 desktop printer applies to the DTG machine that has been "modified" to print on a t-shirt. With that being said one could simply go to Epson's site and look at their Manual on the Epson 2200 and see speed times, etc.

Now when you get into printing on a "black/dark" shirt with the DTG Printer (which is really a Epson 2200 beefed up) your time is diminished "because of all the steps required" before you print.

and...

when you are ready to print you have to print "an underbase" (the white ink first) and then print the colors. Depending on "resolution" you choose this could take a while. But regardless maximum stated on their chart you can get for a design say about 10" x 10" is 4-5. In my case I found i got less shirts per hours than stated in their charts.

I was looking at the Fast T-Jet2™ SDT-1200, was that the one you had?
Yes and No. I had the red machine (the first model that came out) then shortly after they released the Fast T-Jet2 (silver color machine). When i upgraded to white i just installed the "Fast T-Jet2" drivers and my machined operated just like the Fast T-Jet2.

They are the same inside (both are Epson 2200 machines under the hood) but the new ones has a Laser that can tell if you have the shirt board too high. For me i had to take a metal bar and lay across the shirtbed to see if the shirt touched it (Thus taking time away from printing). If it did i had to lower the bed so avoid possible print head damage from the shirtbed being too high. The only other difference is that the Fast T-Jet2 has a slightly wider or longer (can't remember which) print area.

You can print 7 colors on the red machine but they were saying on the T-jet2 you could only do the 4 ink colors. However recently i see some owning a (T-Jet2) have just installed the drivers for the "Red" machine (T-jet Standard) and now print 7 ink colors as they've just had too many printer issues trying to print white ink.

The Brother Machine that i have now "doesn't print white ink" but it has the ability to print on several "dark shirts". The rule of thumb is if the ink is "darker" than the shirt you can print on it we have found.

So all said,

It would actually be better to screenprint your "black shirt" jobs as you are right 3-4 shirts is not very productive. The only thing I can see people opting for the Fast T-jet2 model for since you are getting about "3-4 shirts per hour" is

- if you have your own shirt line and do the shirts a few at a time

It would be more advantagous to get the "larger marchines they have" so you can print "several shirts at a time only then can you in my opinion be making $$$

As for my Brother GT-541 my answer to the fact my machine doesn't print white ink is to just order "screenprinted transfers" when I do a job for a customer. Just completed a shirt order for some reunion shirts. This week I have another order for 50 more shirts on a royal blue. They too will be "screenprinted transfers".

So i am not limited because my machine doesn't print "white ink" i just order transfers and press then own. The customer is not able to tell if the shirt was "screenprinted" directly or "screenprinted" using a heat transfer.
 

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Solmu said:
That's one of the most surprising things about DTG printing - most DTG printers are actually slower than screenprinting, in some cases a lot slower. There's no way that will last - DTG is highly likely to be the way of the future... eventually.
I see the table top type DTG Printers like the "Fast T-jet2" as a way to "print" directly to the shirt and "save time" doing digital transfers or "multi-colored screenprinted type orders".

However, they market it as a soluton to replace doing "screenprinting". It's not. Instead it's an "addition" to a screenprinting business. Meaning in the past a screenprinter would have to turn down a job for 6 shirts as it's just not worth the time to "burn a screen" to do 6 shirts. Therefore most screenprinters set a mininum shirt order to mith it cost effective to do a job.

Where the Fast T-jet and other table top machines would be handy is that it would allow the screenprinter to take smaller orders they usually turned down before. For example a 6 shirts they could fill the order in a matter of minutes (no screens, no chemicals, etc.).

So, in order for it to be "faster than screenprinting" one would need to "have the larger Fast T-jet Machines" or have several "tabletop" models that print several shirts at a time. The single fast t-jet 2 (or other table top machines) just can't compete with screenprinting other than (you save time not burning a screen) for small orders or for multicolored orders.

ABOUT THE BROTHER GT-541:

On the other side of the spectrum is the Brother GT-541. That machine pumps out shirts in a matter of minutes (it just doesn't print on dark/black shirts.

It' a real work horse and it was built with a screenprinter in mind. It has the shirt platen where you load the shirt just like you do for screenprinting. It also can tell you "how much ink" you will use for a job so you could actually charge based on each job.

Having one of them in your shop would allow you to do "multi-colored jobs" in less than 1 minute per shirt. To burn a screen to do a 6 color job would be crazy if you had one of these in your shop. But you would "want to screenprint" your dark shirt jobs. But it would make one's time "burning screens", "using chemical" greatly reduced.

Puff Inks, Specialty Inks would still have to be done by "traditional screenprinting Methods".
 

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printchic said:
However, they market it as a soluton to replace doing "screenprinting". It's not. Instead it's an "addition" to a screenprinting business.
It seems like it would also be a good addition to other businesses if they could afford the cost. Those photo-of-your-loved-one on a shirt type places at the mall for example - a printer looks better (and is safer) in the middle of a busy public place than a heat press. On the other hand the cost of entry isn't going to make it very practical for such a business (yet).

The older model you were only getting 3-4 shirts out of an hour just doesn't seem very cost effective outright. You'd be looking at $15-$30 profit for every hour it's actually running. Not really very good (which is presumably why you moved on).

printchic said:
So, in order for it to be "faster than screenprinting" one would need to "have the larger Fast T-jet Machines" or have several "tabletop" models that print several shirts at a time. The single fast t-jet 2 (or other table top machines) just can't compete with screenprinting other than (you save time not burning a screen) for small orders or for multicolored orders.
But by the time you've got several tabletop models you've spent so much money on equipment it's just not worth it. As you said they have the edge on small orders, but if you spent the amount it would take to get to high production output on other equipment instead, you could get a lot further (even if other equipment meant two Epsons, two heat presses, and hiring two employees to run them).

Single can't compete on speed, multiple can't compete on price. All in all, that particular technology doesn't seem very good.

printchic said:
On the other side of the spectrum is the Brother GT-541. That machine pumps out shirts in a matter of minutes (it just doesn't print on dark/black shirts.
...this technology on the other hand is a lot better. Like anything it has its disadvantages, but 30-40 shirts an hour is a much more realistic proposition to make money off.

printchic said:
Having one of them in your shop would allow you to do "multi-colored jobs" in less than 1 minute per shirt.
I wonder if you would want to though. In theory turning away business is never good, but in practice plenty of businesses (in this industry or any other) have minimum orders because they don't want to deal with one off retail sales. Some screenprinters have minimums of 144, because they don't need to deal with smaller customers. Granted I'm not in that position... but I'm not in a position to afford an expensive DTG printer either. Perhaps those who can afford one can afford to be pickier.

printchic said:
But it would make one's time "burning screens", "using chemical" greatly reduced.
The use of chemicals and water is my biggest concern about the screenprinting industry. As if cotton wasn't already ecologically unsound enough, we then use more chemicals to print on it and waste more water to wash out that equipment. It's not sustainable, and from that point of view I am glad DTG will kill screenprinting (though obviously as a prospective screenprinter that's not also without its anxieties).

printchic said:
Puff Inks, Specialty Inks would still have to be done by "traditional screenprinting Methods".
A lot has been made of that, but personally I think the need for specialty inks is overrated.
 

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Solmu,

All your points on this makes total sense.

I would guess it really depends on what the person will do with the machine, what their needs are, etc. I would say if they are doing good with digital transfers then stick with it until faster machines come out.

I moved on from the t-jet as it was too slow, required too much manual labor cleaning it, babying it, etc. I don't mind keeping it clean but it's requirements in my opinion goes beyond the norm. For what i was told to do to keep the machine running for the price tag I feel should be built in as an automated feature.

The brother gt-541 on the otherhand requires little maintenance, I just turn it on and print. I can do large orders in just a few hours and all without the need to use chemicals as I work from home and that is a concern for me.

White ink wasn't out when i got my machine and therefore wasn't a determining tor in me getting the t-jet. I actually could get about 7 shirts per hour if the design was "full coverage (like a photo) because i did double passes.

When white ink came out i just bought their upgrade kit but it turned out to be a nightmare to use it. Finally a light came on in my head and I realize the time cleaning it, wasting shirts, wasting ink everyday in head cleanings several times a day, etc. made a machine that supposedly cost $14,995 cost so much more.

All said anyone thinking of getting a DTG Printer to print white on black shirts may want to wait. Pretreatement is required for the garments and that is riddled with problems and therefore the results are not consistent.
 

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Yeap it sure does to towels and a lot of other stuff...
Whoa, that's definitely a nice bonus! You could be your own ad speciality printer :)

Thanks for helping out with the DTG questions Angela! Your answers are very informative!
 

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I have a Mimaki GP-604D. It will print on a dark T-Shirt because it uses a Discharge liquid to turn the fabric white or lighter in color. It also has a self cleaning feature. The price is around $24K-$25K though. The Ink cartridge are about $80 each and good for about 1000 T-shirts.


Bill
 

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Yeap it sure does to towels and a lot of other stuff... -I've also printed on several thing that are not t-shirts; WHAT I HAVE PRINTED ON: - Stretched Canvas;

hey Angela, have you tried golf balls? Another poster says they are possible, but you haven't mentioned them.
Thanks
Deb
 

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deb7019 said:
hey Angela, have you tried golf balls? Another poster says they are possible, but you haven't mentioned them.
Thanks
Deb
Hi Deb,

I have not tried Golf Balls. In order to print on golf balls and other "non-garment" type items you need to apply a special coating first to the items. Right now the info on where exactly to get that solution is not readily available. I have found a source i believe but since i knew i had some upcoming vacation coming up I put all testing on hold until vacation time was over.

Right now i'm on vacation in a suburb near "Chicago". When i return home I have some things i will be working on and will probably give the golf balls a try too. I'll share what i do with the group as soon as I have it prefected.
 

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We worked with a guy who bought plain white fabric and ran it through a plotter with special ink and the shirts and shorts were awesome. He started with high schools and colleges - the ink lasts and doesn't fade. After 100 washings, the black is still black. You use an HP plotter (around $9000) and the Tshirts would have to be assembled after printing, but the colors and detail are great.
Kat
 

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White ink wasn't out when i got my machine and therefore wasn't a determining tor in me getting the t-jet. I actually could get about 7 shirts per hour if the design was "full coverage (like a photo) because i did double passes
how long does the ink last. from brand new ??? how many shirts can you get out of them? say you did full screen image full color. How may shirts can it print with fresh bottles of ink. trying to figure out how much ink i have to buy.
 
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