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I am starting my research on buying a DTG printer and am confused by some of the research I have done.

Most of our designs go on dark shirts and require an underbase of white ink.

Is the quality of the DTG printers that print on dark shirts up to par yet?..

Am I better off on waiting a year or so for some progression of the technology? If not then what is the best machine for printing white ink?

How does the white ink on the existing machines compare to say making transfers with a print & cut (like a roland versacamm)

Anyone have some advice/insight?
 

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I am starting my research on buying a DTG printer and am confused by some of the research I have done.

Most of our designs go on dark shirts and require an underbase of white ink.

Is the quality of the DTG printers that print on dark shirts up to par yet?..

Am I better off on waiting a year or so for some progression of the technology? If not then what is the best machine for printing white ink?

How does the white ink on the existing machines compare to say making transfers with a print & cut (like a roland versacamm)

Anyone have some advice/insight?
Welcome to t shirt forums. You now have access to a wealth of information.

I have a Tjet Blazer Express that I bought in April. The learning curve on this machine was huge for me. However, I am brand new to the industry.
I have found the white ink to be inconsistent. I am very comfortable printing a few items with color on black or dark shirts but I am not confident with a longer run due to the inconsistency. If you are looking to print bright white on a black shirt, I would consider waiting. While I have gotten awesome white on black prints, again it is not consistent. If you are just looking for an underbase, you would probably be ok. Also keep in mind this machine must be run everyday to keep the ink flowing properly.
With all that being said, as I am learning to use the machine and gaining more experience, I am very happy with the prints on white or light colored shirts.

I hope this was helpful. Good luck.:D
 

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Why wait? There's always going to be the "next generation" waiting around the corner. If you wait for that then you will be waiting forever.

Are todays white inks perfect? No. Will they every be perfect? Who knows?

I have a DTG HM-1 with white ink and love it! There is no way I would make that kind of an investment and only get half the printing capability.

If I would have listened to the salesmen trying to sell me a printer that only printed color inks then I would have been miserable by now. I would have had to turn away almost half my business so far. I might have been able to convince some of those customers to go with lighter fabrics but then they would have walked out with a product that they didn't want.

White ink is not that difficult to work with. If I can do it anyone can.

Good luck with your decision.

Brian

Edited to add: The worst that I have had to do was run a head cleaning in the middle of a shirt run to get consistent coverage on white.
 

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White ink is not that difficult to work with. If I can do it anyone can.
Based on the posts in this forum and several other ones, this is a bold statement. With the advancements in the automatic pretreatment machines and the new white ink from Dupont, things have gotten much better today than a couple of years ago.

But the larger question when it comes to printing white ink is whether it is profitable for your company to print white ink. The best example I can provide is I have seen a company spend 30 minutes on doing an embroidered shirt. Yes, they did the job but the amount of money they made it off it was was not going to be profitable enough for them to continue in business. Apply the same concept to the additional maintenance, time and labor that goes into printing white ink... and it may or may not make sense for your business. I have people that state they can't sell a t-shirt for more than $12 a shirt. With the rising costs of blank shirts and shipping expenses, you are going to have a hard time being profitable when printing white ink in these circumstances when doing short runs.

There are also plenty of circumstances where a white ink printer is required based on your target markets' desire(s) - some geographical locations (i.e. Hawaii) and professions (i.e. emergency services companies) that require a substantially high amount of dark garments. So a white ink printer is essential for a company under these circumstances.

The bottom line, without knowing specifics about your target market... you will only get answers that are specific to the people responding to your questions about their specific experiences... which could completely different than your experience and lead you down the wrong path.

Here is a post to a thread where people talk about whether someone going to start a business selling shirts in a mall kiosk - http://www.t-shirtforums.com/direct-garment-dtg-inkjet-printing/t66756.html. There is a list of the items that you if you go through with the company you are looking to purchase a printer from that will provide you the first-hand experience about printing white ink and allow you to make a solid business decision about white ink printing specifically for your business..

Best wishes in your research,

Mark
 

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Based on the posts in this forum and several other ones, this is a bold statement. With the advancements in the automatic pretreatment machines and the new white ink from Dupont, things have gotten much better today than a couple of years ago.
Mark...great comments..thanks...

I see so many back and forth discussions about printing white ink... for this thread lets make the assumption that:

1.) White ink is neccessary for your product and you are expecting a level of quality and ease with the printing process (or else you wouldnt spend $20,000 on a machine)
2.) You are doing enough volume to keep an economy of scale by keeping the machine running and can probably make a profit


I am looking for the answer of whether or not the white ink technology is there yet to make this investment or if I should wait until some progress is made and new machines are released that can take better advantage of the advances...

Any insight?
 

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Bahston,

Unfortunately, the answer to your question as more to do about you (or the operators of the printer), your business plan and your existing business (if you have one) than it has to do with the current state of white ink. White ink printing can be very profitable if done in the right circumstances (operator's knowledge, steady flow of business, good maintenance,...). Is it simple to use? No and be glad because it might just show up in even Target, WalMart, Walgreens,... if it was that easy to do.

As it has been stated before, you can always stay on the sidelines and just watch the white ink situation while you are printing Dual CMYK with several of the different printers. Once you have mastered the printer, maintenance and curing of the shirts using Dual CMYK... then you can get your feet wet with white ink and make the decision for yourself. If the white ink does not work out for your business, you can always go back to printing Dual CMYK. This is an option only if you are able to ROI the printer in a Dual CMYK mode - otherwise it might not be worth the risk.

Since the pretreatment process is such a key part of the equation to printing white ink, I would strongly recommend considering an automatic pretreatment machine. These pretreaters take a lot of the mistakes out of the pretreating process and can make it a cleaner process that you can do in the same room as your printer. However, these pretreaters are coming in the range of $4,000+ and will have to be ROI as well.

Read the post I linked above and see if you are able to do the 9 steps I listed with your distributor. If you can do that, you will have a good, first-hand experience of white ink printing that should help you make your decision.

Hope this helps.

Mark
 

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First let me state upfront that I sell the printers so I may have a bias here. With the new white ink, and the new white pretreatment, the quality and washability of the prints is now similar to the results obtained by screen printing. The major learning curve in the process is the proper application of pretreatment. Combining a printer with an automatic pretreater has, from our experience, eliminated that learning curve and seems to have brought consistantcy to the entire print process.

I have also found that the latest version of white ink has little to no clogging issues as long as routine maintenance is done. To use our own example, we have a T-Jet Blazer Pro in our showroom. At the end of the day after using it (samples or customer demo) we do a cleaning maintenance which takes a little less then 5 minutes. There are times when 4 days may pass before that Blazer Pro is used again. We start it up, do a nozzle check, maybe one head cleaning, and it works fine each time. This should be also applicable to other printers out there. As long as you are diligent in your maintenance, most clog issues should not occur.

So to answer your question of whether white ink technology is there - I think it is. Will it get even better as time goes by. Of course. But then you would never buy a computer, because you know in a year you will probably be able to get a faster one. The printers out there, combined with the latest white ink, can work trouble free.

Harry
 

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First let me state upfront that I sell the printers so I may have a bias here. With the new white ink, and the new white pretreatment, the quality and washability of the prints is now similar to the results obtained by screen printing. The major learning curve in the process is the proper application of pretreatment. Combining a printer with an automatic pretreater has, from our experience, eliminated that learning curve and seems to have brought consistantcy to the entire print process.

I have also found that the latest version of white ink has little to no clogging issues as long as routine maintenance is done. To use our own example, we have a T-Jet Blazer Pro in our showroom. At the end of the day after using it (samples or customer demo) we do a cleaning maintenance which takes a little less then 5 minutes. There are times when 4 days may pass before that Blazer Pro is used again. We start it up, do a nozzle check, maybe one head cleaning, and it works fine each time. This should be also applicable to other printers out there. As long as you are diligent in your maintenance, most clog issues should not occur.

So to answer your question of whether white ink technology is there - I think it is. Will it get even better as time goes by. Of course. But then you would never buy a computer, because you know in a year you will probably be able to get a faster one. The printers out there, combined with the latest white ink, can work trouble free.

Harry
Harry...great feedback.. thanks..



and DAguide.. your insight is much appreciated...


I def. hear you about the waiting to buy a new computer scenario... However buying a new computer in 1996 v.s. 1997 would have yielded you a completely different machine from it's foundation... v.s. 2007 & 2008..maybe a slightly different processor and cheaper RAM but the overall make of the computers on a yearly basis is going to be pretty close with just some slight upgrades..

There is a time when new technology is introduced and a second wave comes along that changes the whole ballgame (see Flat Screen TV's over the last 2 years)..

So I pose 2 more questions:

1.) Is there a second wave of technology coming soon for DTG machines?
2.) Should the white ink issue be resolved better would it compel the people owning the first wave of machines to buy new machines or would it be simply using this ink instead of the current white your using?
 

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1.) Is there a second wave of technology coming soon for DTG machines?
Some would argue that we are on Wave #3 and companies like Dupont are always looking for ways to improve both the white ink and pretreatment. There have been some advancements on the equipment side that will also help with keeping the white ink from separating and I am sure they will continue to improve.

2.) Should the white ink issue be resolved better would it compel the people owning the first wave of machines to buy new machines or would it be simply using this ink instead of the current white your using?
Depends on which printer you get. Some printers can run in Dual CMYK / CMYK+White ink modes while others can only run in CMYK mode which would require a new printer (i.e. Brother GT-541 and the GT-782). Some people refer to this as a "white ink capable" printer.

The other thing to consider is the viscosity and surface tension of the ink has to match the print head being used - which can't be easily switched out from one OEM printer to another. For example, you will not be able to put Brother's new white ink into an Epson-based dtg printer because of the differences in the print heads. So as long as the improvements to the white ink stay in the same characteristics of your print head... you will be fine.

I am sure others can add to the answers.

Mark
 

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The best answer to give you comes again from my own experience. The refurbished Fast T-Jet 1000's (the original T-Jet) and the refurbished Fast T-jet 2 (the second generation) printers that we sell come with and use the very latest white ink and white pretreatment. The also include the very latest version of the FastArtist/FastRIP software (the exact same software that comes with the new model Blazers). So any improvement in the inks and software are usable on previous models and do not force you to have to buy new printers in order to utilize them. I would also like to add that the print quality of the older machines, when using the latest inks and software, is equal to the newest models.

I do not see any revolutionary wave of technology coming in the next year that should make you wait. If you feel you have the business to make this product work for you then, my opinion is, you should get the equipment you need now to get that business.

Harry
 

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1.) Is there a second wave of technology coming soon for DTG machines?
2.) Should the white ink issue be resolved better would it compel the people owning the first wave of machines to buy new machines or would it be simply using this ink instead of the current white your using?
I agree with Mark, I would say it's a third wave.

1. No white ink, no issues, white ink introduced: many issues
2. Machines developed to help the white ink from settling (during print time)
3. Machines further developed to stop ink from settling. There are several methods are there now, but all of them seem to be helping the white ink from settling. Couple that with the better formulations of white ink and less problems occur.

Up until a point, no one realized you even needed to worry about the white ink. Once it was a major issue surfacing, the 2nd wave of printers began being developed or adapted.

As for your second question, it all depends on the company. I know there are definitely some people willing to purchase new machines to solve their old white ink issues. If a Brother owner spends $20K - $25K on a machine that doesn't print white and now has the option of printing white with a new printer, I know multiple people who will at the drop of a hat buy the new machine at most likely double the price (or more) of their initial investment.

So in all likelihood, there will be many people willing to buy a new machine that helps solve the problems they were having with their first white ink printing machine. Then others have maintained their machines well enough that they don't have the issues (smaller numbers of owners) and won't consider purchasing a new machine until theirs dies or they need to grow. IMO.....
 
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