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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As part of a student project, i have started an online t-shirt store. I would like to buy a DTG printer as to bypass suppliers and increase margins. I'm a newbie to the business.



Since I have a budget of ~3000$, I can only afford a DIY DTG printer. I am however of unsure of how prohibitive the loss in quality, durability and reliability would be.


Should I go along this path and invest in a DIY DTG printer?


I should add a few details:
–I don't intend to print many T-shirts, at most a couple dozens per week.
–I have never done any DIY project and I'm not the craftiest person around. I am however an engineering student (I don't know if it would prove to be helpful in building the printer).
–I want to print on both light and dark garments. I want to be able to print multi-colored designs with a good resolution.


Thanks in advance for your responses!
 

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I have never done any DIY project and I'm not the craftiest person around.
You can buy a ready made, Epson p600 based one, from OpenDTG.
These print as good as any other DTG, and you don't need high resolution for t-shirts anyway.

You must be able to troubleshoot, and replace parts yourself, and there is no warranty. However, parts are readily available for relatively low price, in the form of complete P600 printers at the nearest computer shop.
 

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Don't invest in your own DTG until you prove to yourself that you can sell enough shirts to make it worthwhile. Printful, or whatever POD, is a low risk way to try it and see.

Things you need in addition to a DTG:
- Pretreatment Unit
- Heat Press
- Blanks (easiest if you have a local supplier)
- Shipping scale, polybags, label printer, online postage account

The biggest bugaboo with DTG is the tendency for the white channels to plug. These machines need to be kept in use and cleaned frequently, which means burning through some expensive ink even when you have nothing to print. Else, you burn through even more expensive heads. Forget the initial cost of the printer, it is the operating costs and maintenance that you need to worry about--thus the admonition to prove your design and sales ability with POD first.

I'm sure you know, but everybody and their dog is already trying to sell T-shirts online. It was always competitive, but the rise of the POD people has made it insanely so.
 

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The biggest bugaboo with DTG is the tendency for the white channels to plug. These machines need to be kept in use and cleaned frequently, which means burning through some expensive ink even when you have nothing to print. Else, you burn through even more expensive heads.
Very true for beginners, but as with everything the only way to learn is to try. The worst case scenario is $600 for a readily available P600 printer, which is basically a complete set service parts, including a brand new printhead ;).

Unused ink in the lines, can be "recycled" back in the ink container before flushing, so there is no much ink wasted.
I hope I'm not making it look too easy, because it isn't. If it was, everyone would do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The biggest bugaboo with DTG is the tendency for the white channels to plug. These machines need to be kept in use and cleaned frequently, which means burning through some expensive ink even when you have nothing to print. Else, you burn through even more expensive heads. Forget the initial cost of the printer, it is the operating costs and maintenance that you need to worry about--thus the admonition to prove your design and sales ability with POD first.

I'm actually not really worried about competition, I intend to sell in a small, niche market (my campus), with no direct competitors. What does worry me is the fact that I'm not sure I can sell many t-shirts, since there are not that many students on campus. Hence, I'm afraid I will not be able to put up enough prints as to make my printer work well. How many prints per week should I do as to avoid being plagued by ink clogs?
 

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from my experience ,was happiest day when we sold DTG printer. we had all the time problems with the white ink. sometimes it took 2 hours to get it going. On light garments was ok,but still need to use every day to keep nozzles clean. other thing,printed logo fades after first wash....
 

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Ha... I started printing (screenprinting) as a hobby, just before starting my second year at the University, and I used all the money I had to buy the equipment. However, because of this, I was able to buy a nice house in cash, just one year after my graduation.
I have no doubt you could do the same, but lack of confidence is an issue I don't think people can overcome. I'm exactly the opposite... I believe there is nothing I cannot do, if I really want to do it.

Printing on its own will not make you money, and sales don't magically happen. You need to communicate, find out what people want, and make little partnerships. The campus is actually a really good environment to start.
 

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I'm actually not really worried about competition, I intend to sell in a small, niche market (my campus), with no direct competitors. What does worry me is the fact that I'm not sure I can sell many t-shirts, since there are not that many students on campus. Hence, I'm afraid I will not be able to put up enough prints as to make my printer work well. How many prints per week should I do as to avoid being plagued by ink clogs?
#Tabob is the one who has done it (at least with a white screen print base and CMYK DTG on top ... though I imagine he came to that creative solution after trying with CMYKW DTG). I started off with the intent of doing a DIY DTG, even bought an R1900 on closeout as a base. But after more research and consideration, I opted to screen print instead, as I didn't want the entire process to be dependent on computer hardware.
 

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#Tabob is the one who has done it (at least with a white screen print base and CMYK DTG on top ...
I thought I was for a while, but I'm not. Apparently, Kornit has been making high volume carousel attached printers since 2012, and Polyprint have been doing exactly what I do since 2015.
though I imagine he came to that creative solution after trying with CMYKW DTG).
Correct! I tried CMYKW DTG and I'm not a big fan of it, because I really hate the pretreatment part, and the problems that come with it. However, printing over white or clear screen printed underbase is fantastic.



Anyway... the university campus is a fantastic opportunity to get started. As for the DTG printer maintenance, the print-head must be used daily (2-3 prints at least I'd say), and kept flooded in flushing solution when not in use. Also the ink system should be flushed every week for peace of mind. If the printer is not to be used over the weekend, then don't refill with ink until Monday.
 

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Another option instead of going with DTG, is using a laser transfer printer. You can do the small quantities without worrying about the printer setting idle between uses. They are also capable of high resolution, full-color imprints. Just make sure to go with a model that prints using white (not all do) and I would recommend getting one that can print 11x17 paper so your imprint size isn't limited. With laser transfer, you also have the option of printing on hard materials, like mugs and such, as well has temporary tattoos and water-slide decals. All you need is a different kind of transfer paper for each application.
 

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Another option instead of going with DTG, is using a laser transfer printer. You can do the small quantities without worrying about the printer setting idle between uses. They are also capable of high resolution, full-color imprints. Just make sure to go with a model that prints using white (not all do) and I would recommend getting one that can print 11x17 paper so your imprint size isn't limited. With laser transfer, you also have the option of printing on hard materials, like mugs and such, as well has temporary tattoos and water-slide decals. All you need is a different kind of transfer paper for each application.
An A3 size OKI white toner printer will cost around $5,000, and that's pretty much the only option. Also laser transfers are much more expensive that DTG.
 

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If you are a novice businessman, you should not buy expensive equipment. First of all, you need to develop a clear business plan. It would help if you produced as many T-shirts as they will buy. Overproduction will lead to unnecessary costs and loss of profit. Try to start by buying an inexpensive printer. If the number of orders and capital increase, you will be able to invest in equipment upgrades. In addition, you can invest the proceeds in stocks or cryptocurrency. Thanks to the Investor Junkie blog information, you can find out the latest news from the world of finance. I hope that you will succeed!
 
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