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Discussion Starter #1
So when folks are researching DTG machines, (hopefully) they head over to an industry trade show and watch the machines actually work.

But this seems to only show part of the DTG experience (albeit the fun part :))

Is it feasible to show the type of maintenance a DTG owner might expect right on the trade show floor?

I know a lot of the great DTG vendors here talk about user education before sales; it seems like there's a perfect opportunity to really educate customers at the time of (potential) purchase by having an extra DTG machine on the show floor and walking users through some of the type of maintenance they can expect to perform on the machine in the first 6-12 months of ownership.

Is anybody already doing this?

As someone who has considered buying a DTG machine, one of the parts that holds me back is the "mystery" of not seeing first hand what the maintenance would be like and if I'd be able to tackle it on my own :)
 

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We are always showing how to do maintenance on our machines on the show floor DURING the show. There are no covers to take off of the machine for regular maintenance procedures, so it's easier to show the maintenance and switch back to printing on the fly. Come by our booth at SGIA (#1603) and we'll show you.
 

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Whenever I am helping the guys in the AA booth I will gladly go thru the daily maintenance with potential buyers/users. I bet I do it a half dozen times a day during show hours.
 

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Rodney,

This is actually a great question. To truly understand the maintenance side of dtg printing, you have to consider the following items:
1. The manufacturer's recommended maintenance - daily, weekly, periodic.
2. The environmental conditions in which the printer is located in the customer's shop.
3. The usage (daily / periodic) of the printer.

I have seen several dtg manufacturers do #1 on a trade show floor - especially at the end of the show when the customer purchased the show floor model. However, the amount of maintenance that one does depending on the temperature / humidity the printer is located in (#2) and how frequently / infrequently used (#3) is something that is customer specific. In many cases, #2 and #3 can outweigh the amount of maintenance that is done in #1 depending on these items. That is the part that catches some new dtg users by surprise.

Again, great question.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks guys. Which specific maintenance procedures are you showing on the floor?

Some of the stuff I see pop up on the forums (there's probably more, but this is what comes to mind):

-flushing the lines?

-replacing printheads?

-replacing dampers?

-cleaning?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
the amount of maintenance that one does depending on the temperature / humidity the printer is located in (#2) and how frequently / infrequently used (#3) is something that is customer specific. In many cases, #2 and #3 can outweigh the amount of maintenance that is done in #1 depending on these items. That is the part that catches some new dtg users by surprise.
Thanks Mark! What additional maintenance procedures might be required for a machine that has more infrequent usage or not optimal humidity (I seem to recall posts about buying a humidifier for the room the machine is in)
 

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Rodney,

A printer located in a room with a lower humidity is likely to have more clogged nozzles. This means that you will spend more time getting a good nozzle check by running additional head cleanings. The number of head cleanings or the strength of the cleanings can vary depending on the print head and ink in the printer.

For those printers that are not used as much, you open the door to have the ink separate in the ink reservior (cartridges or bottles), ink lines, dampers (if the printer has these) or in the print head(s). In addition, infrequent use can cause a build up of particles in the ink lines that can restrict or completely block the flow of ink to the print head(s).

To be very upfront, infrequent use is not something that is recommended for any digital printer based on my experience - especially those that use white or metallic inks.

Hope this info helps.

Mark
 

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Thanks Mark! What additional maintenance procedures might be required for a machine that has more infrequent usage or not optimal humidity (I seem to recall posts about buying a humidifier for the room the machine is in)
Use the search button you newb! Lol

I use around 12 gallons of water in my humidifier everyday during the winter months. Maintaining a humidity level of 50-70% keeps the printer in ideal conditions. However if you are only going to be using the printer periodically then I would suggest a cmyk only machine.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Use the search button you newb! Lol
I did, that's how I got the maintenance list so far :)

I guess my question is, is it possible to show the exact steps for every type of maintenance (like actually do it on site) that a DTG machine might require:

-flushing the lines?

-replacing printheads?

-replacing dampers?

-cleaning?
 

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In the AA booth on the last day of the show we flush out everything and do a thorough cleaning. This would be the best time to view the processes you are inquiring about. Doing that deep of a show and tell during the show would be difficult to accomplish. It's quite a bit too take in during one viewing regardless of the brand of printer. You might try to visit a local shop or dealer for a more personal test drive.
 

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I did, that's how I got the maintenance list so far :)

I guess my question is, is it possible to show the exact steps for every type of maintenance (like actually do it on site) that a DTG machine might require:

-flushing the lines?

-replacing printheads?

-replacing dampers?

-cleaning?


The problem with demonstrating those procedures during a trade show is that all of the companies displaying can only bring a limited number of printers to the shows. And lets face it, pretty much all the people coming to the show want to see these printers printing shirts. That's what sells the printers and, frankly, selling is why the companies are at the trade show. If you spend the time actually showing maintenance steps on the printer such as damper replacement your printer is not able to print sample shirts and you risk losing the interest of the great majority of potential customers. We have shown videos of the procedures during trade shows and that method does seem to help inform potential customers.
_
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The problem with demonstrating those procedures during a trade show is that all of the companies displaying can only bring a limited number of printers to the shows.
That does make sense. Maybe the same machine that prints during the day could be scheduled for a maintenance at the end of the day for people to see the process.

And lets face it, pretty much all the people coming to the show want to see these printers printing shirts. That's what sells the printers and, frankly, selling is why the companies are at the trade show. If you spend the time actually showing maintenance steps on the printer such as damper replacement your printer is not able to print sample shirts and you risk losing the interest of the great majority of potential customers.
One might argue that you risk losing potential long term customers by not showing them the full gamut of what is involved in owning the machines :)

Even if potential buyers just want to see it print, it seems like you'd want to fully educate them before purchase so they don't come post on online forums after the sale because they are surprised by all the stuff they didn't learn on the trade show floor :)

Think about all the great free marketing a company could get by being one of the only ones to show the whole process during the show. I could see people coming on forums and posting positively about that. "No surprises" sounds like a good theme for a DTG tradeshow exhibit :)

I think it's possible a company might actually sell more printers by being seen as a trusted source, not afraid to show the whole process to potential buyers.

Reality is, printers don't print all the time, so it seems like a good selling point to show that this is what you might expect when you get the printer to your shop.

#thinkingoutloud
 

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Showing maintenance at a trade show is a good idea, the regular daily maintenance is simple and quick process to show. I can't speak for all the Dtg vendors but I bet the answers will be similar, trade stands for DTG are normally very busy. To show the procedure of changing a printhead & dampers correctly would take at least half an hour to a customer with no technical knowledge, with lots of people pushing and shoving to watch most will only get half the process & assume they are then an expert which is worse.

Offering a free no obligation training course at a later date works much better for us in Europe, that said education is always a good thing & you never know it all !

Perhaps having a method of registering a time slot at the show and using a separate cordoned off area could work. That's a big extra cost but I would be willing to test it if enough people registered pre the show.
 

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Think about all the great free marketing a company could get by being one of the only ones to show the whole process during the show. I could see people coming on forums and posting positively about that. "No surprises" sounds like a good theme for a DTG tradeshow exhibit :)
I think a better first step would be getting the dtg sales companies to show all the printing steps (i.e. garment selection importance, pretreating process, printing and curing) they are trying to sell to the prospective customers. For example, if a customer is going to be talked into buying a printer and using a HVLP sprayer, show that process - which I have only seen done prior to the opening of the show floor a handful of times. In my opinion, the most underestimated part of dtg is the pretreating process.

Some dtg manufacturers / distributors do show the pretreating process using an automatic pretreater and that is great. But when a new dtg user gets sold by a sales rep on purchasing a printer using a HVLP sprayer as a way to save money and get them to buy their printer at the show, the sales rep should be able to show them the entire process.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely know dtg users that can pretreat by hand very accurately. But I know more people that were not successful and either invested in an automatic pretreater (an additional several thousand dollar cost not necessarily planned for at the time of purchase) or no longer print white ink. There are some new developments on the pretreat side that make it easier to pretreat by hand and that is great. But pretreating is such an integral part of the printing process when you print white ink, prospective customers should see the complete process done in front of them based on what they are purchasing before they drop the $20k-$40k investment.

Just my opinion and sorry for moving the conversation in a slightly different area of discussion.

Mark
 

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IMO if you have the money to purchase a $20k printer than why would you use a $100 paint gun to perform one of the most important steps in the process. To me it's like buying a new Mercedes Benz and sitting on milk crates to drive it.
 

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Sorry for the off topic post.

Rodney, if you are coming to the SGIA show come by the AA booth and I will show you everything you want to know after show hours. Bring a pen and paper for notes ...you will need it lol.
 

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I often compare Machine to the car as Eric just did. Near same but not all(leave room to possible attack). Lol.
Buyers need diligent study before open their wallet. TSF 90%, YouTube 8-9%, etc 1%. Same as we do before buying cars.
Most, no all DTG maintenance are 99% same. Aeoon to DIY.
Maintenance is not the killer in DTG business. If anyone stays awake less than 30 minutes they will become a MDM(Master of dtg Maintenance). But good to know. Filters, oils, plugs, wiper( I still don't know how to change mine, lol)--etc.
Killers are
1. Shortage of job. Less use printer will have troubles. Clog. Keep car in garage for months?
2. Pretreat wrong. Washout and bad print. Lose customers. Pretreat chemical got much better by Image Armor these days. Sweet spot Window gets wider. This is plus for us.:)
3. Choose wrong machines or company.
Mark, in these days starting set up complete will never cost $20k-40k. Include Brother. Still a big bucks but way less than before.
Same as Smart phone market. It is the time price should heading South.:)
It is good to see Rodney starting thread in DTG area. :) good thread. I hope TSF members won't hold the words because Rodney is Thread Stater.
Cheers! Beers are on me always.
 

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Feasible Yes, Good for the buyer Yes. will it help sale to exhibitors? That's the question. Since all dtg maintenances are near same. 90% is capping station. If AA does demo maintenance at show time. Others will benefit without time spending because all are near to identical.
All DTG buyer will receive training after pull the trigger. IMHO. $60000/19hours time.
Cheers! Meet us at SGIA.
 

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Thanks guys. Which specific maintenance procedures are you showing on the floor?

Some of the stuff I see pop up on the forums (there's probably more, but this is what comes to mind):

-flushing the lines?

-replacing printheads?

-replacing dampers?

-cleaning?
If you look at the printers on the market, most manufacturers are incorporating a simplified way to maintain their system into their design. I see Epson has done the same thing with their new printer and as we move forward, I believe other manufacturers will get on board. Although maintenance is not necessarily make or break decision on a machine purchase, it is helpful to have this information at hand. As Kevin mentioned, we will go through maintenance with customers and if they really want us to, we'll walk them through it since it takes only a few minutes to do.

I can flush out our lines and load them back up with ink in about 7 minutes. I'm not sure the 7 minutes is best suited in a booth to display this but again, maybe I'm wrong. We do have videos that when someone asks, we point them to for these types of inquiries. Every situation is different and we take it on a case by case basis.

Dampers and print heads are easy enough to change, but you have to re-prime them after you replace them. It only takes a few minutes to do and again, a video may be best suited for this. We try to tell people not to touch anything on the head unless you absolutely have to. As a matter of fact, we have them locked in place to avoid people's first reaction of pulling a print head. We have customers that have never touched their print head nor would they need to. To show them this type of thing at a show may add confusion to the mix, but again it may be a case by case basis.

You are right though, it is about getting as much information to the end user as possible and this would definitely add to that!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
IMO if you have the money to purchase a $20k printer than why would you use a $100 paint gun to perform one of the most important steps in the process. To me it's like buying a new Mercedes Benz and sitting on milk crates to drive it.
I think that's the point :) You know that as an experienced machine owner, but when you are new and thinking about starting, all you see at a trade show is shirts being printed. The pretreat process is not usually shown because the shirts have been pretreated before the show.

I agree with the idea of showing more of the overall process at the time of purchase. Even pretreating (especially when the sales staff is saying "just use a Wagner sprayer")

Having a training class to show maintenance afterwards is a great idea, I just wonder if there are people who get to the training class and feel overwhelmed because the maintenance they were shown is beyond what they were expecting.
 
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