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What saves money in the long run?

1562 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  bentcycle
What will save money and time in the long run?

Buying a printer/software program to transfer designs to t-shirts?


Sending your design and paying for the service through a vendor?

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It depends on your business.. if your just going to do a few things here and there you should contract out. But if you plan to do a lot of business I would do everything you can yourself..

I want to start-up myself but the issue I am facing is that I want to use plastic material as well (as a pocket). Which would be extra money than the avg shirt.

Would you happen to know how plastic pockets can be applied to shirts? Is it sewed /glued on?

Thank you for the advice. It is truly appreciated :)
To be honest I have never heard of that so I have no clue... but I'm relatively new the screen printing industry... just 3 years old now..

I've never heard of these plastic pockets either..............
I want to start-up myself but the issue I am facing is that I want to use plastic material as well (as a pocket). Which would be extra money than the avg shirt.

Would you happen to know how plastic pockets can be applied to shirts? Is it sewed /glued on?

Thank you for the advice. It is truly appreciated :)

I don't know that either.
But if u r so nice to share, what kind of plastic pockets r they?
Do u have any photo or image of one that u have already made?

Curious about it.

The cost of any equipment you buy, space/wiring you need to modify, etc, gets spread across the number of shirts you use it on. If you end up buying a $20,000 DTG printer or a $5,000 screen exposure unit, $2,500 screen press, and $4,000 conveyor tunnel ... well, you'll have to print a few shirts to justify that expense.

With patience (and some luck), one can find a good deal on used equipment. Or, if you are handy, you might be able to build some of the equipment for less money, but more time.

Weigh how much time, patience, DIY skills, and money you have access to and how much of each you are willing to risk.

If you are just starting and are uncertain how well your designs will sell or how well you will like doing all of this, then it may well be smart to outsource production. You can always take over the printing yourself once you've sorted out the rest of the business.

A sort of in between option is to outsource the printing of your art as Plastisol heat transfers, and then heat press them onto the shirts yourself. That gets you involved in the production process but greatly limits the cost and space required for equipment. This also gives you extra flexibility in terms of inventory, as you can press a design onto whatever size, color, and style of shirt that you want, as opposed to being stuck with 100 extra-small pink V-necks imprinted with an image of a screaming duck giving the finger, while you are totally sold out of that same design in large black Ts.

As to the bigger picture of which way has the bigger payoff in the long run ... well, people will argue hard in both directions. My opinion is it matters more what you like to do. If you enjoy printing shirts, then you might as well pay yourself to do it rather than pay someone else to do it. If your business grows to the point that there isn't time for you to do it all yourself, then you need to decide where your presence makes the most difference and what tasks you are better off paying someone else to do. In short, if you are really small, or really big, outsourcing the printing can make a lot of sense. If you are in between those points, it is a matter of whether you like to do it or not, and what your future plans are in terms of size. Myself, I have no desire to get larger than what I can do on my own (and would raise prices to reduce demand if it got too busy... not that I expect to have that "problem!").
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if you want to do it as cheap as possible, then just build your own screens and burn them yourself. i've seen tutorials for that on youtube. i don't remember how they created the transparencies to burn their screens, but i bet you can print them out of a regular printer. i've made them myself with photocopiers, though the quality of that would suck for screening.

it's a tradeoff. you want to save money, you've got to work harder and leaner.

for what it's worth, this was the route i originally wanted to take myself to compliment my graphics business until i learned about DTG printing.

DTG is very expensive! inks are expensive and printers even moreso. you can get a spectra 3000 for $8k, but no-one has much experience with those yet or you could get a used $18k unit for around that too. maintenance is costly too though as print heads cost around $500 and can go in just half a year.

the reason i chose to go this route though is setup is so much easier than screening as i'd be transferring my graphics directly from my computer and not have to deal with setting screens up and washing them. in that regard, it's cheaper than screening as all you need is digital art without making screens.

more than that though, i like the idea of being able to swap between 100+ designs instantly, with customization as well as do full color designs that are more attractive than 1 color screens or dealing with the hassle of setting up multiple screens for 2+ colors when i might end up selling just a couple shirts a day.

another option that might even be what you're talking about is doing heat transfer film where you buy spools of colored plastic and a cutter. (i'm pretty sure those are easily less than $1,000) and a heat press and just cut out whatever text a customer selects and cut the design out. then you have to peel out the background which is a little fiddly and time consuming and line it up by eye on the shirt then iron it on.

the downside to that is that you can't really do intricate graphics or even fonts as it'd take forever to peel the backgrounds out, but for your needs, it's much cheaper than DTG, and a little easier than silk screening.

personally, i'm not a fan of the tech though as i picture the transfers cracking like crazy after a few washes, but i could be wrong.

try looking into that. to me, it sounds like it covers all of the bases in your description as you didn't mention what kind of designs you even want to do.

farming out to DTG, as mentioned, is much more costly per teeshirt in the short run, but saves you a few thousand in equipment.

everything has it's own set of comprimises. some don't like DTG because the inks fade, but i personally love the tech because i'd rather a design fade than crack any day. as far as i'm concerned, the ink on my mountain design tees outlasted the material. that's the benchmark i'm aiming for and why DTG is so appealing to me.

if you just wanted to do shirts, i see you can get a 12" VINYL CUTTER (that's what they're called) for as little as $270 plus films for a really cheap start.

if you go that route though, it might be a really good idea to spring for a 52" or larger unit around $1200 as that would allow you to do sign work and there's money to be made in that.
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