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Hello Everyone,
I am the latest addition to this great site (as of this hour of course;) ). I am planning to start a garment printing business and am in a great need of some opinions. I need to know your views on Direct Inkjet Printing on Garment Printers like the Brother GT-541 or Fast T-Jet etc? What are the results and cost effectiveness? Also what is the difference in quality and cost between this kind of printing and screen printing?
Thanks,
LateFall
 

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Hi LateFall,

I have owned a Fast T-jet and now own a Brother GT-541.

Benefits of Direct to Garment Printing:

- It's faster to get to the "print phase" than screenprinting.
- In most cases the designs looks just as good (if done right)
- you can print "unlimited colors" without the need to burn screens
- No cracking of design

T-JET:

- T-JET (tabletop) model is a good starter machine but the time involved maintaining it, cleaning it, troubleshooting errors, etc. kills profit margins (in my opinion others may disagree).

This machine would be ok for someone that specialize in their 'own t-shirts' line and print as ordered but trying to do 'high production' on it for others will be a challenge as the machine is too slow.

We tried doing an 150 shirt order and it took us 2 1/2 days (including 1 night) to print an 11.65" x 14" design that had full coverage.

The T-jet can print white ink but expect a load of headaches getting to the point of printing white and also expect the washability not to be consistent from shirts to shirts.

The machine does a good job if you remain printing "7 ink colors" and skip the white ink however when doing white ink there's a lot of cleaning involved daily that eats away at your ink. Now they have introduced some cleaning solution stuff so that may help with you having to waste ink during cleaning.

I could never get more than about 7-8 shirts per hours because they all required that i do "double passes" (print the design twice) in order to get a good look and most my job was "full cover" and about 11"65" x 14 tall.

The t-jet does a "great job" of printing "low quality" files so if your customers give you a file is low quality chances are you will be able to print a decent shirt. It only requires a file about 150 dpi.

Loading and unloading a shirt is timeconsuming and also eats away at the #of shirts you can do per hour.

BROTHER MACHINE:

This machine is a real work horse. It's about $5,000 more than a t-jet (tabletop model) and and doesn't print white ink on "dark colors" shirts. I'm saying that first as most t-jet owners will quickly point that out "and use the $5,000" more price tag to justify why one should not buy a Brother.

I also use to say it and how i didn't see any point paying "$5,000+" for a brother but now that i've used one it makes perfect sense.

Loading a shirt on the machine takes a few seconds. It's just like you are loading a shirt on a platen for screenprinting.

You can't understand the benefit of this machine until you have "used one" in a production cycle. Just viewing it at a demo show is not good enough. The features they don't even tell you about were a welcome surprised and makes one more productive.

There is hardly any maintenance involved with the machine. You can just say "File>Print" and be producing up to 40 shirts per hour.

I've had mine about 1 1/2 months and have done a couple production jobs and between the 2 jobs i only wasted 1 shirt due to "human error". I've found my "waste" factor per order has gone to 0 so that means I only buy shirt for the job I no longer buy "extra shirts" expecting to mess up.

One major plus is that you can send a job to the printer and it tells you "how much ink" you will use "before" you print. Not ever job uses the same amount of ink and I've found my clients send me a lot of "full coverage designs" many of which have a price of about $1-1.50 in ink so if I based that job the same as a job that is just text and a piece of clipart I would be "undercharging".

It's feels good to be able to turn the machine off for days and not worry about cloggings. I work from home so I don't use my machine every day just yet and in the morning i just turn it on and send a job to the printer. I don't have to do daily, weekly, monthly maintenance. Time is money and so i want to spend it "printing" not "cleaning/troubleshooting errors" on my machine. Simply put "I just print".

My only cleaning comes in when i change the "yellow ink". That's a whopping saving on "time" that well forth $5,000 more in price.

CONS ON MACHINES THAT PRINT WHITE INK

This is a good article i found "after" i sold my T-jet. It describes "everything i went through" trying to print white ink. I couldn't say it any better and I am not affiliated with the person or company showing the article. I'm an end user that eventually gave up on the white ink printing idea is it wasn't perfected enough for me to feel satisfied selling it to my customers;

http://www.smartdesigns.com/pdf/The Scoop on White Ink.pdf

As a person that a seasoned professional in computers, write their own programs, can fix their own pc's have worked as a troubleshooter in the real world for years fixing issues with pcs doing white shouldn't have been an issue for me. I say this as "it doesn't matter" how much computer skills you have some will and some won't get it the printing white ink phase. I gave up as i found the time involved not worth the end results. The waste factor i couldn't afford so I figured cutting my loses would be better and just outsourcing jobs that require "white ink printing". So i am not affected by not printing white ink. instead I just have someone else do it.

CONCLUSION:

All this to say you really have to "figure out what you want to do", see each machine in action, get samples, wash the shirts, ask the tough questions and see the answers you get.

If printing "white ink" is important to you then make sure to ask a lot of questions about the "white ink", "does it harm your print heads", how much are print heads, how often you can expect to change them, etc. if you go with a machine that prints WHITE INK.

Also wash the heck out of the sample "dark shirt(s)" they give you so you can see if it can hold up after 3-10 washings.

You can also get more info about DTG by visiting;

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

There people are actually "running a machine daily" and you can see if they are having problems, etc. with their machine and can ask questions from real users.

Much success in whatever you decide
 
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