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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I'm a 53 year old semi-disabled guy looking for a casual business to run with my wife to supplement our income.

I am looking at a direct to garment printer, and would appreciate input from someone using this system.

I currently run a small DJ, photography, and video business, so I am familiar with computers and graphics. My current situation is just a little too demanding for me, so I need a change.

What is a good, versatile, and cost effective machine to start with?

What other equipment is necessary?

I have a 600 square foot space - is that sufficient?

What about inventory costs for necessities?

Is a couple of grand a month hard to do?

Please help!

Weeble
 

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Welcome to the forum. Prior to purchasing any equipment, what are you planning on using the equipment for, i.e. do you already have customers lined up or are you starting this from scratch? Once you can determine what you'll be using the equipment for, then it's time to go back and look at what you can get.
 

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The DTG business may not be cut out for you...For starters...the cost of just the machine and equp to start is between 18k and 22K....this is for the dtg machine and the accessories needed. If you don't have the $ to pay up front, I would hesitate to get into a lease...then you are stuck with high payments and you may not make the $$ at first to make the lease payment. the 600 sq feet is big enough...but is this a store front? if not I think you will find it tough to begin with. To start the tee business from scratch without a customer base is pretty hard. That is why I mentioned a cash reserve...say equal to 6-9 month of living expense w/o income

Getting a couple thousand a month is not that easy if you are just starting. For that amount you would need to sell. That would be about 400 shirts a month that has $5 profit...that would be around 13-14 shirts a day..every day..including sat and sun. Not likely for a startup business w/o a store front and customer base

Be sure to read all the threads on getting started...

good luck and welcom to the forum
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Don't really have any plans, just looking for a reasonable business, so consider me totally uninformed. T-shirt printing caught my eye. Being as this would be a small mom & pop type thing, I believe that small runs and one of a kind items would be the way to go. I have seen some machines capable of light and dark shirts, as well as non textile items. I guess I'm trying to see if there's an all in one approach that can be narrowed down as I learn.

Again, I'm not interested in a high stress full blown operation, more of an income producing hobby.

Weeble
 

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If you are not interested in a high stress full blown operation,and looking for an income producing hobby, DTG is not the way to go...

Read the threads on sublimation and inkjet transfers and you might find something that would work for you and start up costs could be under 2K
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks. I have run 3 successful businesses from home, and have no interest whatsoever in storefront expense or hassle. Nor am I interested in anything but the dtg system. I see most of my custies coming in via online and referral. My way of doing things is far from everyone else. Like I said, I'm disabled (handicapped if you will), and need a dependable system with minimal work. I'd rather spend $15 - 20k to start, than shell out $2 or 3k on something I don't have interest in.

Again, I am looking for input from someone that uses dtg.

Weeble
 

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Hi Jonas,

I do dtg printing, and yes it is good for doing one offs and custom work, small run type stuff. There are a couple of ways you can go into this a little cheaper then buying a brand new machine printing darks. If you were to buy a used machine, you could save a big chunk on the expense of the machine, I think Harry from equipment zone carries them for around $8000, they are totally refurbished and come with a warranty. So buying used can keep the initial cost down, just make sure to buy from someone reputable.

You mention being disabled and want to make it as easy as possible I would assume. I would start out with the machine printing only on light color fabrics first, running CMYK. The reason for this is several. The first being that as long as you are not running white ink, the maintenance is very minimal and easy to keep up with (not that white ink machines are bad, but you have to run them more often). Number 2 would be that with white ink, unless you are running them on a regular basis, the ink waste cost goes up from having to do head cleanings more often. Number 3 would be that with a 600 square foot space, you may have a problem with doing the pretreatment that is required on the shirts, as it creates overspray, so you really cant do this in the area the machine is in (a pretreatment is required to be sprayed on the dark color shirt in order for the white ink to bind to it).

The nice thing with this plan is that you can start cheaper then buying new. If you want to print on darks you can always add white ink later, after you see if you really want to go that route.

I would do a serious amount of research before jumping in, as it does take commitment from the customer to be able to be successful. I have had my machine for over a year, and am very happy with it. Before I bought it though I did very detailed research, and pretty much new every aspect of the machine and what it takes to be successful with it. If you can go to a print trade show and look at the machines. Talk to the different vendors about what each machine offers, and see if it fits your business plan. And keep researching here, there is a ton of information on all the different printers out there, and what comes with owning one.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Bobbie Lee. That's info I'm looking for. I see you have your niche with baby items. You have some nice stuff there. I'm a recent grandpa, so I can appreciate it. Also, what you say makes sense.

How does one find these print trade shows?

The text and graphics that you print on the clothes...is that designed by you? Do you copyright it?

One of my current photographers is a graphic artist and would probably do some very good stuff for me.
I also do photoshop, and illustrator, and think that one of my avenues would be designing as well as print to order.

It's not that I don't have a customer base, I just haven't marketed anything like this. Over the last 10 years, we have done hundreds of weddings, corporate events, fundraisers, schools, etc., and I know I could convert some old customers into new ones.

You mention a pre-treatment spray. Could that be done in a separate semi-enclosed area similar to a spray painting booth?

CMYK - Cyan, magenta, yellow, what's the k for? If it's black, I'll feel really stupid.

I read in several places about ink cost being 40, 50, maybe 60 cents a shirt. Obviously depending on what you're printing, is that about right?

Literally speaking, between 2 -3 bucks for a shirt, a fancy print at about a buck in ink, adding odds and ends and figuring on the high end, a t-shirt should not cost more then $5 to do. That's for a nice custom quality shirt that would sell for $15 - $20. Is that realistic?

weeble
 

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The most popular shows that people go to is ISS and SGIA or NBM. ISS is by far the largest and best. It will be in Atlanta from sept. 11th to the 13th. Here is a link to their website Imprinted Sportswear Shows - Atlantic City. Its really good to go to the show and see how the machines print and whats involved with them. Just remember that the sales people though will often tell you things, that arent neccessarily 100% accurate, so its good to make sure you research the facts involved with the machines before hand.

I do design my own designs for my clothing I sell. I dont worry so much about copywrite because I can easily prove that it was created by me, so in a sense I already have that protection. There are links to copywrite and trademark information on the left side of the page however if you are intersted in doing more research for that. Although when first starting, I would worry more about building a customer base and how you are going to get the product to the customer, also what requirements you will need in your city to run a business.

The pretreatment spray is very sticky, so when it is sprayed it becomes airborne pretty well, as you need to use a power sprayer to apply it. It is not recommended to have it in the same room as the printer because it can clog the printhead very easily. I myself work from home, and I dont pretreat in my work room, I actually do that portion in my laundry room :) Believe me with the cost of printheads this is not something you want to take a chance with.

yes K of the cmyk is black haha :) Dont feel stupid, the only stupid question is the one you dont ask.

Now as far as the cost per shirt ink wise. This is where printing on lights only or printing lights and darks makes a very big difference. If you only print on light shirts with cmyk the average cost of ink is around 40 cents to $1. Now if you print on darks because of having to print a white underbase, and also the pretreatment, your ink and pretreatment cost will be somewhere around $2 to $3.50 per shirt. Sometimes the dark shirts can be even a little more. See I was taking into account your situation as I understood it, and that is why I gave the advice I did in my previous post :) It is a plan that will maximize your dollar and have the least work involved. Once you get into the white ink printing its a whole other ballgame :)

The cost of the shirt itself really depends on what brand you use. There are some blank shirts that you can buy for a little over $1 or for a high end shirt you can pay as much as $5 to $8. So it really depends on what shirts you are printing on. The majority use the gildan shirts and they are fairly cheap to buy.

I think the price you have for selling a shirt is pretty average for what people sell for. Ok I hope this helps.
And remember also if you have any other questions feel free to ask. Also a great place to research is the direct to garment section of the forum. Its filled with information and can keep you reading for days, I know that is what I did before I bought my machine :) I cant stress enough how important it is to do your research, and then make the decision on what is best for you :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Now that's what I'm talkin' about...answers to my questions and news I can use!

Are you familiar with the T-shirt Warehouse? I got some stuff from them for a fundraiser.

As far as home business where I live...no signage, no parking issues, no problem! Don't even need a license.

I'll look into those shows, and see what I can find. Thanks for the info!

weeble
 

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We started a small home business with dtg printing on our Flexi-jet. It has a long bed and over 3" depth available. This has allowed us diversity in print substrates. Not only t-shirts and hoodies and other clothing, but prestretched canvas, skateboards, grip tape, puzzles, canvas bags, wood, aluminum signs, and lots more with proper pre and post coatings. We print dual CMYK mainly because our requests for dark garment printing come only once a month or so- and daily printing is really necessary to keep that white ink flowing without excessive ink loss due to cleanings. We print on many colors of shirts using the shirt color to enhance the design, though, inlcuding dark sport gray.

Since you have an established customer base- the sky may be the limit in terms of how you can use a printer like to increase your business offerings significantly. Depending on your ink choice, the cost can be lower per shirt- we average $.25-$.30 per shirt.

Maintenance is not too bad- minutes per day, a little extra per week, and monthly flushing of the machine with distilled water is a really good idea.

We found it pretty easy to learn- and printed a couple shirts for sale the first day we set it up. A used one goes for under $12,000 and there is a support forum of owners only of many different machines that support each other, as well as this forum, and a few others open to the general public where help can be found. If white ink is up your alley- use a separate spray area or you could check into the pretreatment machine that has been reviewed on this site.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well thank you Michelle. I actually am probably heading down to Atlanta with my wife for the September tradeshow. It's about a 12 hour excursion by car, so we won't be shelling out a ton on airfare. I'll check out what I can, and see if this will be something feasible for us.

I certainly appreciate everyone's input, and maybe if things work out, I'll be talkin' to everyone again! Thanks!

weeble
 

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Its great that you are going to the show Jonas :) I think it will be a very good thing for you and your wife. Have fun there, and also there are a bunch of the members here that will be meeting there, If you look in this thread here http://www.t-shirtforums.com/offline-retail-tradeshows/t46470.html, you can keep an eye on who will be there and where they will be meeting up :) I myself wont be at this one, but I'm going to the one in long beach in january.
 

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Jonas,

Why not go to the Indy Show next week? Check out www.nbmshows.com and click on the Indy Show. It is much closer than the ISS Show and most of the dtg printers will be represented then. Should you need more info, you can always make the long distance drive to Atlanta. Just a suggestion.

Mark
 

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Thanks Mark :) I didnt know there was a nbm show near there :) my demographics arent the greatest hehe. Jonas Mark is right if it is close, the major players should be there.
 

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No board...simple wireless remote on-off controller-like a car door opener with 4 channels. All effects are mechanical, and the trussed stuff just runs standalone - we like simple.

If this printing thing works out, I will be liquidating most gear - speakers, amps, lighting, CD players, microphones, accessories, music, as well as DSLR cameras, portrait setups, and 3 chip video cameras, wireless lapel mics, video editing system.

I'm getting older and grumpier, and no longer have the patience to deal with the mentality of today's brides and grooms. 12 years is enough. There, I said it!

I need something new and fresh. With my wife, son, and past business experience, I think I can make a go of this. I have a good 10 years left.

Jonas
 
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