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Do I Screen Or Not

2800 Views 28 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Gilligan

Right here goes, I run a reasonably profitable T Shirt printing shop in the UK where we do heat applied vinyl or transfers.

My question is do I invest in a DTG machine or attempt screen printing?

I have read the fors and against on this forum but I still cannot make up my mind for my self!!! I am getting asked more and more for more difficult designs and was even looking at Magic Touch Wow Paper obviously this is more expensive.

My range is limited at the moment with regards to Black Tee's as is every ones problem. Any info advice from like minded buisnesses would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

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Chris, after reading your post it seems like you are a great candidate for DTG. Scree printing is good too but it takes up a lot of shop space and you need to have access to many chemicals etc. There is also a huge learninmg curve with screen printing.

There is also a large learning curve with DTG. You have to look into what you want to print... qty or shirt and colors.
If you're doing a lot of very small orders, one-off prints, and such on a daily basis, the DTG would be a good fit. For larger orders, though, screenprinting, even with the learning curve, will be the best investment. Larger orders on DTG cost more in consumables, as well as time printing. DTG on dark shirts requires constant machine maintenance whether or not you're printing shirts. A lot of unhappy customers who bought DTG machines based on high-end "motorcycle" tees on black at the trade shows, only to discover that they rarely printed those types of jobs, and that they (and their customers) hadn't the talent to create that type of art when called upon to do it, and they had to babysit the machine to keep it working, jobs or no jobs. The reps at the shows only point to the spectacular samples on display, not the the tears, hair-pulling and exhausted wallets that come as an "hidden benefit" to DTG. The right business model can make them profitable, though.
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Thank You for your advice so far.
nothing compares to screen printing when printing on darks.

u can get almost any look and feel with plastisol and wb inks. and the learning curve is not close to as crazy as people make it out to be.

It really depends if you are doing small runs or not. I take orders for 24 garments. And with a proper washout booth and set up it takes no time to get ready when you get the hang of it.

good luck and let us know what you decide
There definitely is a learning curve to anything that's involved, right?
I would definitely recommend screenprinting. Yes, a lot to learn. But, if you are able to purchase all of the proper equipement and software needed, that will relieve many headaches before they happen.
Right, same thought here, screen printing it is any recommends on what not to and not to buy, im in the UK. Thanks Chris
It also depends if you're willing to get your hands dirty. Not really dirty but if compared to DTG or printing on transfers. You have to wash the screens, coat them, clean the coater, expose the image then wash it out, scoop inks into screen, apply printing stroke with the squeegee, clean the inks and the screens, reclaim the screens, and so forth.

If you can watch some of the screen printing videos in youtube, and some video series covers the entire silkscreenting process, then that should help you make a better decision.

In the mean time do think of screen printing as desirable for more durable prints and for volume orders at a lower cost. DTG for custom and small quantity prints at a higher price.
You have to wash the screens, coat them, clean the coater, expose the image then wash it out, scoop inks into screen, apply printing stroke with the squeegee, clean the inks and the screens, reclaim the screens, and so forth.
Just another reason for keeping some cold beer on the premises. ;)
Space , space space is the key not only for the machine but also for the materials and the extra time to learn and setup it may affect your profit margin at the beginning but it is a great investment in the long run
Hi Chris,
I am UK too.
Heres one for you...DO BOTH
I would do the dtg first, we have screened for 20 years and do 1000s a week along with the same in embroidery etc but are considering getting a DTG for smaller runs. Screening needs a good deal of space, then remember screens, wash out booths, developer etc drier, flash drier, blah blah.
We recking having just costed it this week with the labour saved and time setting screens etc DTG is definatley a cost saver for us in the smaller runs, plus the added benfit of full colour prints without all the hassle of qtys and many screens etc.
So after you have spent £15k of your hard earned on DTG dabble in the screening when you get some money back in and go for second hand carousel and drier etc, you can pick em up cheap to try first. Start pushing high volume single colour jobs and when you get experienced go full blown screener man. What are you printing your transfers and vinyl on at the moment Roland/vesacamm or cutter /laser printer etc.
If you need any help or advice I am available on PM, we are ISO9001 registered supplying all over country from St Helens with 25 embroidery and screenprint staff.

Good luck
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Do not buy a dtg if you are planning to do less than 5 to 10 shirts per day, they do not do black shirts well, this comes from some of my friends that has one, white is good, black is bad. Thought of the day, do your homework!
The minimum number of shirts per day to justify a DTG should also depend on how much you are able to charge. The 15-20 minimum for some areas or countries may not be enough for others. But like Ronnie posted, do your homework especially on the associated cost of operation and not buy one based solely on the assumption that money can be made from it.
DTG is the future but it has limitations. DTG is not effective on one offs due to profiles and having to print a fews test areas on complex designs. It does blacks very well and full colour very very well (brand dependant). It has a limitation on larger quantities (51 units then is starts loosing its appeal) and will not replace screenprinting.
We use DTG mainly on fashion items but generally not business logos as it is prone to fading.
Your issue might be trying to be everything to everybody.
I think DTGs today are still like IBM's PC Convertible "5140" in 1985 where it is innovative and revolutionary. But like DTGs today, doesn't fit most people's budgets.
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I do mainly vinyl and transfers myself (granted I'm not doing a lot)... I find myself contracting a lot of jobs to a local screen printer. I just can't do what customers want with what I have.

So I'm looking to expand... DTG has never really crossed my mind (not after seeing the cost). My screen printer got one and is still struggling to make money with it.

Look at it this way... if you are doing a lot of t-shirt vinyl (qty wise) then screen printing will save you TONS! Vinyl is expensive and that is one reason I want to move away from it. Plus I can do more complex designs and higher quantities and not worry about weeding.

I know of another shop that does embroidery work and they have a nice DTG (but it doesn't print white)... they like it a lot... but it doesn't print white. ;)
DTG is the future but it has limitations.
Digital printing is almost certainly the future, just as industrialisation gradually replaces virtually every manual process with an increasingly technology based solution.

But DTG as we know it today? Nope, not in my opinion. That technology still has a long way to go.
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