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I am just starting into the world of t-shirt making, and adding it my responsibilities (high school teacher). We have a vinyl cutter and heat press, so I have a little experience (just enough to be dangerous), but magically money has come in to expand my program. Is there a decent DTG machine in the $2k to $3k range that high school students wouldn't have too much of a problem running? We wouldn't need anything that could produce at large volumes, one at a time is fine. Preferably a model that doesn't break down easily and often, nor does it need to be the highest of resolutions.
 

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When it comes to DTG, you would have to multiply your budget 10X just for the machine. Then there are inks and pretreatments to consider. Unless you go used. But that is sometimes a crapshoot. The units are high-maintenance compared to other printing methods and even used units go for 5 figures.
 

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I am just starting into the world of t-shirt making, and adding it my responsibilities (high school teacher). We have a vinyl cutter and heat press, so I have a little experience (just enough to be dangerous), but magically money has come in to expand my program. Is there a decent DTG machine in the $2k to $3k range that high school students wouldn't have too much of a problem running? We wouldn't need anything that could produce at large volumes, one at a time is fine. Preferably a model that doesn't break down easily and often, nor does it need to be the highest of resolutions.
Why not teach them how to screen print instead? They're not going to learn an awful lot loading a t-shirt onto a machine and pressing a button.
 

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If you can accept printing (full color images) on LIGHT colored shirts only (white, ash grey, light blue, beige), you can use a CMYK printer (no white ink). Used CMYK printers are available and easy to use and maintain.

Don't go into the "white ink arena"! You will have lots of issues, the process is much more difficult (pretreatment, white layer, color layer), the maintenance problems can be extreme, expensive and complicated.

We use a Brother GT-541 (CMYK only) printer for 7 years now. (No service calls yet, original heads, 10 minute maintenance every 3 months, etc.) These printers are workhorses and available for a few thousand dollars, refurbished. Students can learn to use them within 15 minutes...
 
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