T-Shirt Forums banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am looking to get into DTG for my brand and possibly start a small local printing business to accommodate local city organizations (churches, sports teams, etc.) and service small to medium size requests- 25-300 units. I have been researching, and it is hard to figure out what is true and what is true and what is BS. I almost bought a Ricoh RI 2000 the other day but decided not to after researching FB groups and finding this forum; so many horror stories I believe I dodged a bullet with that one.

I know nothing aside from the crap on youtube, and I get the feeling all the guys reviewing the printers are paid to give fantastic and positive reviews. I am not a cut-corners type of person, and I want to do my best to get it right the first time and avoid as many headaches as I can. My budget for a complete setup, including a pretreatment machine and conveyer dryer, is $25-$40k.

My needs:
1. A printer that will overperform and allow me to grow into it. I do not want to max out my production capabilities too quickly and regret my purchase.

2. Lower maintenance lol... I am sure all have this preference. I would also appreciate the ability to turn the printer off if I need to (not a deal breaker but preferred). For example, I have a family, and we go on vacations/ trips. So I cannot be worried my printer will break down because of a power outage or if no one is around to run it on a daily basis.

3. Ability to print on multiple garment types/fabrics: unorthodox garment types example, shorts, underwear (I own an underwear company and am interested in seeing if I can do some creative things), jackets, socks, pants, or any other random things aside from the normal T-shirt & hoodie.

4. I cannot confirm the number of prints I will need per day/ month, but I will say that I have access to about 50-75,000 consumers with my current brand. Hence, it is a possibility I will get good use out of the machine from my apparel company alone without considering the second business opportunity.

5. Good SUPPORT! Aside from quality, this is probably at the top of my list.


At the moment, the printers I am considering are:
1. Brothers GTX Pro/Pro B
2. OmniPrint i2
3. Epson F2100


I am open to other alternatives not named so please feel free to school me. I would appreciate as much detail anad information you are willing to offer!

In advace, Thank you so much for your input; I very much appreciate it!

-AC
 

· Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
I can only speak on Epson as that is what we have. Epson has great support, especially under warranty. They'll overnight parts & dispatch a tech in 24-48 hours to fix your printer. Parts have never been an issue getting even with Covid. I've heard some people having to wait multiple weeks on a part. We have multiple Epson DTG printers and will continue purchasing more from them in the future. DTG printers work well if you use them. If they sit they can give you issues. Normally ours are almost always operating Monday-Saturday. Very rare for them to sit idle for three days. I tell everyone if you can get an opportunity to see them in action, ideally use them.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,116 Posts
2. I would also appreciate the ability to turn the printer off if I need to (not a deal breaker but preferred). For example, I have a family, and we go on vacations/ trips. So I cannot be worried my printer will break down because of a power outage or if no one is around to run it on a daily basis.
I don't know about the power outage concern. But my recommendation would be the Epson F2100 for the reason that you can run your "storage" maintenance cycle on it and then leave it almost indefinitely without worrying about the print heads getting clogged due to lack of use.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
21 Posts
We loooove our Pro B, and have been buying used ones from other shops. That said, it's a beast and not necessarily a starter machine - it's a 2 shift printer.

1.Idle time
All of these printers need to be run every day for them to be happy.

2. Vacation
You can go on vacation, but you should put your printer on a good UPS to protect against power outs. if you are generally printing consistenly, you can be off a week and be fine. You'll just need to do a lot of cleaning to get back to normal. Don't do consecutive cleanings without printing at least a nozzle check.

NEVER TURN OFF your printer.

You could put your printer in vacation mode, but it wastes a lot of ink.

On a Pro B at least, you can program extra circulations.

3.Cost
We've run both the epson and brother heavily, and the GTXs are a lot cheaper to run. THat said, you need to maintain your humidity and temp or your GTX will waste a lot of money cleaning. I've got an industrial space in Canada, so I struggle with keeping the humidity up. I've finally found a humidifier that give me less headaches at home depot - it's the aircare space saver humidifier. Shaped like a trash can and lets you dump something like 7 gallons of water in - and you don't have to distill. It's only like $150.

4. Printing on other things
I recommend building your own platens if you want to print on other things, but it takes lots of testing. For us, the most useful platens that we designed are the:

-short hoodie platens that allow us to keep the kangaroo pocket out of the way. Without the pocket, you can have a much higher platen height and thus a better print
-mask platens to run 6 at a time
-neck tag platens to allow 6 at a time

printing on hats and shoes and such is just too slow or the quality is too inconsistent for it to be useful. Better off with DTF.

Epson does a better job with polyester IMO.

5.Quality
With basic equipment you're going to have a harder time making retail ready garments. So you have to have realistic expectations. When we had our basic setup, we struggled getting the prefect pretreat where it wans't at all visible at all after curing, while also showing no fibrillation, and was washfast enough.

You also have to consider that on light garments, you might not be able to use white ink because of the way white ink pretreat behaves. Not sure if this is the case for all brands, but we use Firebird exclusively now.

So for example, we do a lot of white ink on sport grey for a few customers - in these cases, we don't want the heather to show through the print / there is opaque white in the design. When you use white on light shirts, you/the customer has to pre-rinse the shirts before wearing. If you don't rinse first, it may yellow in the shape of the pretreat box, in the sun. This has happened to us only a couple times, but it sucks to deal with.

We used to have a unique pretreat recipe for every colour of every shirt model, because of quality concerns.

Now that we have more robust equipment (bigger oven, digital pressure heat press, Pro B printers, rotated nozzles on our pretreater) the printing is much simpler and a lot of our issues magically went away.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
We loooove our Pro B, and have been buying used ones from other shops. That said, it's a beast and not necessarily a starter machine - it's a 2 shift printer.

1.Idle time
All of these printers need to be run every day for them to be happy.

2. Vacation
You can go on vacation, but you should put your printer on a good UPS to protect against power outs. if you are generally printing consistenly, you can be off a week and be fine. You'll just need to do a lot of cleaning to get back to normal. Don't do consecutive cleanings without printing at least a nozzle check.

NEVER TURN OFF your printer.

You could put your printer in vacation mode, but it wastes a lot of ink.

On a Pro B at least, you can program extra circulations.

3.Cost
We've run both the epson and brother heavily, and the GTXs are a lot cheaper to run. THat said, you need to maintain your humidity and temp or your GTX will waste a lot of money cleaning. I've got an industrial space in Canada, so I struggle with keeping the humidity up. I've finally found a humidifier that give me less headaches at home depot - it's the aircare space saver humidifier. Shaped like a trash can and lets you dump something like 7 gallons of water in - and you don't have to distill. It's only like $150.

4. Printing on other things
I recommend building your own platens if you want to print on other things, but it takes lots of testing. For us, the most useful platens that we designed are the:

-short hoodie platens that allow us to keep the kangaroo pocket out of the way. Without the pocket, you can have a much higher platen height and thus a better print
-mask platens to run 6 at a time
-neck tag platens to allow 6 at a time

printing on hats and shoes and such is just too slow or the quality is too inconsistent for it to be useful. Better off with DTF.

Epson does a better job with polyester IMO.

5.Quality
With basic equipment you're going to have a harder time making retail ready garments. So you have to have realistic expectations. When we had our basic setup, we struggled getting the prefect pretreat where it wans't at all visible at all after curing, while also showing no fibrillation, and was washfast enough.

You also have to consider that on light garments, you might not be able to use white ink because of the way white ink pretreat behaves. Not sure if this is the case for all brands, but we use Firebird exclusively now.

So for example, we do a lot of white ink on sport grey for a few customers - in these cases, we don't want the heather to show through the print / there is opaque white in the design. When you use white on light shirts, you/the customer has to pre-rinse the shirts before wearing. If you don't rinse first, it may yellow in the shape of the pretreat box, in the sun. This has happened to us only a couple times, but it sucks to deal with.

We used to have a unique pretreat recipe for every colour of every shirt model, because of quality concerns.

Now that we have more robust equipment (bigger oven, digital pressure heat press, Pro B printers, rotated nozzles on our pretreater) the printing is much simpler and a lot of our issues magically went away.
Thank you for the valuable information.

From what you are saying, I am understanding that the Epson f2100 is basic, and the brother GTX Pro or Pro B is better for someone trying to produce retail. Would you suggest I maybe look at the Epson 3070? More expensive than the pro-B, but retail is what I am after. After reviewing some quotes, the two machines are not incredibly far off from each other in terms of price. At first, I thought the 3070 was way out of my league, but after going through a demo today (GTX proB and Epson), selecting the 3070 seems to be the way to avoid the most headaches (better warranty) and easier to maintain the closed system. Although more expensive, it seems the 3070 is cheaper per item printed and will save me time and money in the long run vs. the GTX Pro B. Now, I do not have an infinite amount of money to spend; however, I am a firm believer in biting the bullet the first time around vs. being nickel and dimed forever. Thoughts?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
[/QUOTE]
Thank you for the valuable information.

From what you are saying, I am understanding that the Epson f2100 is basic, and the brother GTX Pro or Pro B is better for someone trying to produce retail. Would you suggest I maybe look at the Epson 3070? More expensive than the pro-B, but retail is what I am after. After reviewing some quotes, the two machines are not incredibly far off from each other in terms of price. At first, I thought the 3070 was way out of my league, but after going through a demo today (GTX proB and Epson), selecting the 3070 seems to be the way to avoid the most headaches (better warranty) and easier to maintain the closed system. Although more expensive, it seems the 3070 is cheaper per item printed and will save me time and money in the long run vs. the GTX Pro B. Now, I do not have an infinite amount of money to spend; however, I am a firm believer in biting the bullet the first time around vs. being nickel and dimed forever. Thoughts?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
hey ant3224 when you say retail what do you mean? We use the Epson F2100's for retail, wholesale etc. The Epson 3070 costs more but if you are printing a lot you will save money on ink, it will print faster which is a plus.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
hey ant3224 when you say retail what do you mean? We use the Epson F2100's for retail, wholesale etc. The Epson 3070 costs more but if you are printing a lot you will save money on ink, it will print faster which is a plus.
*MerchMaker left a replay recommending a certain printer if I am looking for retail quality. At least I assume that is what he/she meant. I just found out that the brother Pro B has a camera attachment to help with tough design placements. I think that alone has swayed me towards a brother, given I am printing on unique items vs your standard Ts and hoodies... It came down to the Epson 3070 and GTX ProB.... well really the ProB; I was just considering the 3070 at the end because the total cost was within about $10-$15k. The 3070 is definitely an overbuy for me but I am also considering the resale value if I ever had to sell it. Now if someone comes in here and tells me that the Epson has an accu camera motion to the ****... I am back at at square 2 lol 😂
 

· Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
MerchMaker left a replay recommending a certain printer if I am looking for retail quality. At least I assume that is what he/she meant. I just found out that the brother Pro B has a camera attachment to help with tough design placements. I think that alone has swayed me towards a brother, given I am printing on unique items vs your standard Ts and hoodies... It came down to the Epson 3070 and GTX ProB.... well really the ProB; I was just considering the 3070 at the end because the total cost was within about $10-$15k. The 3070 is definitely an overbuy for me but I am also considering the resale value if I ever had to sell it. Now if someone comes in here and tells me that the Epson has an accu camera motion to the ***... I am back at at square 2 lol 😂
curious as to what other items you will be printing on? We print on a wide variety of textiles, wood and metal.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
21 Posts
I'm pretty sure that there is a platen and camera package for the F3070 as well. At the very least, you can use the Epson version of Cadlink to get access to camera aiming.

I have the acculine camera, albeit an early version- it's just 'ok' not great. I suspect that the cameras for all the brands are a mixed bag.

CAMERA:

-it has it's own program so it doesn't use graphics lab. The software is a bit clunkier than graphics lab

-it gets messed up by overhead lights. We could never get the lighting right so the garment images were often either over or under exposed and it was hard to see exactly where to drop the artwork.

-doesn't work with cadlink. If you are using cadlink, then you can get a cheaper camera and use it's module (paid add-on)
-it has these two plastic registration targets that you stick to the printer with double-sided tape. I have to work really fast and these nubs get in the way when I'm threading shirts onto the platen. I'm constantly scratching my hands on those nubs. You can take them off but then you would have to re-apply the tape each time.
-the image resolution isn't great
-the process for focusing the camera is really annoying depending on your computer setup - when calibrating, you have to climb up to the camera with a ladder and turn the lens to focus your image. That said, you need to be able to see your computer monitor up close to get the focus right, so you need to have your monitor next to your printer to get the calibration done. When you get the focus right, put a piece to tape on the lens to lock it in place.
-The live masking tool is great for bleed printing, multistep printing, and touch ups. Just keep in mind that the brush tools are MS Paint grade. Jerky, with no snapping, line smoothing, or edge detection.
-you still have to account for depth - the further away your garment is from the printhead, the worse it prints - you get a blurry 'airbrush' effect when the print surface is farther away. You have to lower the platen for uneven objects so that the highest point of your print surface is far enough away from the printhead that it won't trip the obstacle sensor. So something like a hat, that is not perfectly flat, might give you an uneven print. platen glue helps. By the way hat printing on the GTX sucks.

RIP
Cadlink Digital Factory Apparel is slowly getting better, but when the Pro B first came out, there were many issues and it was an incredible time sink just trying to get them to understand and then acknowledge problems - several have gone unresolved. That said, if you want to work on custom shapes, then cadlink allows you to:
-create custom profiles
-change your rendering intent
-use wider gamut profiles
-have better tools for creating custom platens
-have custom printing controls.
-you can create your own print modes for specific uses like printing on dark polyester.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
21 Posts
We buy the 18L white and 1.8L colour. It costs about 23 cents a cc (CAD). Colour ink is 32 cents, but these are Canadian costs which are much higher than US. We buy the medium sized jugs of cleaning solution but we rarely fill the machine - it lasts several months. With cadlink and bulk ink, you'll spend about $2.50 per print for a large 12x15 on black (including pretreat). White CMYK prints for a large image will be .75t to 1.25 with pretreat. Colour shirts where there's no garment knockout will cost way more for a large image - $3 to $4.50. Oversized prints can go up to 12 cc of ink.

Brother consumables like the wiper cleaners, flushing foam, air filters and R-sticks cost way less in the US.

IMO retail quality issues have more to do with pretreat and proper curing than anything else. Pretreat shadows, press boxes, staining, improper curing, prewashing - are all related to pretreating.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top