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Discussion Starter #1
Hi my name is Lisa, and I currently have a small embroidery business. I work full time in as a Respiratory Therapist, and would like to transition my embroidery business into my full time job.

I currently send all my printing out, but am finding it harder with each order being the middle man. Not sure where to begin with the printing. I have lots of requests for custom one shirt orders, but even heat pressing them gets very expensive. I currently have a hot tronix heat press, and mainly use it for pressing names and numbers during ball season.

Is the DTG, the way to go? Or, should I invest in the screen printing setup? Either way, which setups are the best? Also, where is the best place to find educational information/how to's? I will also have to learn corel/photoshop. Is there a recommendation on which one to go with?

Thanks, Lisa
The Haute Tot
 

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Hi my name is Lisa, and I currently have a small embroidery business. I work full time in as a Respiratory Therapist, and would like to transition my embroidery business into my full time job.

I currently send all my printing out, but am finding it harder with each order being the middle man. Not sure where to begin with the printing. I have lots of requests for custom one shirt orders, but even heat pressing them gets very expensive. I currently have a hot tronix heat press, and mainly use it for pressing names and numbers during ball season.

Is the DTG, the way to go? Or, should I invest in the screen printing setup? Either way, which setups are the best? Also, where is the best place to find educational information/how to's? I will also have to learn corel/photoshop. Is there a recommendation on which one to go with?

Thanks, Lisa
The Haute Tot
Well, I would say you have a few options. DTG is a great way to go in terms of printing complex artistic designs on to a garment. However, it's biggest drawback is price. You can find a unit that is reasonably priced which will print on to lighter colored garments. However, if you want to print designs on to darker garments, the DTG printer can be expensive.

With screen printing you have two options. You can invest the money into getting all of the equipment. You do need to have the space for all of that equipment. However, you could go the route which I use. Which is to use plastisol transfers. In a nutshell, they are screen printed designs on to special paper and applied via a commercial heat press. There are several plastisol vendors within this forum to choose from. And there are numerous threads regarding them discussing price, experiences from other businesses, etc. Personally, I have used Silver Mountain Graphics and have been satisfied with the work, speed of delivery, and professionalism of the owners.

You could also go the route of just using heat transfers. A high resolution printer such as an Epson for example would be the best way to go. you can get pretty good results with heat transfers. But if you really want the work to "pop" go with the plastisol transfers or screen print them.

If you have a cutter, you can do some really nice things with vinyl. But if you want to stay with just working with inks, that's cool as well.

As for the classes, there are numerous classes you can take for help with using graphic software such as Corel or Illustrator. You could take an online course or check out the course offerings at your local community college. Many teach how to use these programs through their continuing/adult education programs which run throughout the year. There are also several tutorials you can watch. Many posted to youtube.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess my main question now is, if I have a lot of requests for individual work, what is the best printing route? I currently use transferexpress for my transfers, but even with that there is a minimum of 5.
 

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Transfers and screen printing for individual work is sometimes price prohibitive. IE, just doing 1-12 shirts is pricey. Setting up the screens for a NEW screen printing job takes time and costs $$. Generally the setup fee to a customer alone for a single color job ranges $20-40 depending on what part of the country you are in. Multiple colors just multiplies this.

You've seen that transfers are expensive at low volumes, but cheaper than all the effort for setting up screens. You do avoid the expense of equipment so until you have volume it's not a bad way to go.

For simple designs, a third option is a heat press of specialty vinyls (ThermoFILM, Siser EasyWeed, etc). There are many varieties, but you need a vinyl cutter/plotter to cut the design ($300 on the low end to $1800 on the high end). You are limited to very simple multi-color designs, but it is effective and more affordable than transfers at low volumes, but more labor intensive.
 

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I guess my main question now is, if I have a lot of requests for individual work, what is the best printing route? I currently use transferexpress for my transfers, but even with that there is a minimum of 5.
For individual jobs of one or two shirts per customer, I would say you would be do better with doing your own heat press transfers. So you would need a high resolution printer and a good graphics/vector software like Corel or Illustrator. Then you can buy the transfer paper which is very inexpensive. you can check with Coastal, Imprintables Warehouse, ProWorld, Stahls, or other vendors who are all on this site in regards to heat transfer paper. Personally, I love Jet Pro brand which is sold by many of our vendors.

Or you could buy a vinyl cutter, get the vector software, buy the vinyl and do it that way. Screen Printing for just one shirt is not cost effective at all.
 

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Lisa:

Take a look at the Seiki cutters on eBay...going for around $350 to $400. I've been using one daily for nearly three years for apparel and signs.

Vinyl costs are not cheap....sometimes $4 per foot for glitter, but for small quantity shirts and quick turnaround I don't think there is a better way to go for one or two color designs.

You will need vector software. I use Illustrator but there are also free programs out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So am I correct in thinking not only do I print with the versacamm, I also cut. And if so, this would eliminate my need for the GX-24?
 

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Lisa,

I think the first thing you need to do is figure out the market you're in, and where you see your business headed in the future.

If you see yourself doing a lot of one offs, then DTG may be the way to go, given the setup costs per job is low. If you anticipate doing a lot of shirts for schools or events, then a screen printing system may be the way to go. If you're doing a lot of work for businesses where there will be a lot of repeat business, then pastisol transfers would be the route to go.

We started out with a one station screen printing system, and have expanded to a 4/6 system, along with a GX-24 and a Versacamm. We did not go out and purchase all of the equipment at one time, but instead, we tried to read where our market was taking us, and made our purchases accordingly.

With regard to the Versacamm, keep in mind that in addition to doing digital transfers, you can also do decals, posters, banners and magnets. In addition to searching this site for information, you can also check out "myversacamm.com" for more info on the Versacamm.

If you want to discuss this topic further, send me a private message.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
From my understanding, yes. You can do shirts, banners, stickers, etc. I'm thinking other than the initial cost (pretty pricey), this may be the way to go. I seem to get lots of requests for individual (1 shirt) work. This would eliminate the need for transfers when I have to order a minimum. As of now, I send out all my screen work, and I am tired of being the middle man.
 

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Brice,

Yes, there are many different types of media which you can use to produce digital transfers.

The great thing about the Versacamm is that everything gets printed and cut from one piece of vinyl. You're never faced with the task of trying to align multi color designs. In addition to basic media made for cotton, poly and nylon garments, you can also get specialty materials which will give you metalic, glitter, flock or puff effects.
 

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Lisa,

The one thing you are realizing is that there isn't one process (whether it be DTG, transfers, screen printing) which will serve all your needs. The key is to find the process which best fits your situation, and then go from there. Despite having all our equipment, we still find it necessary to contract out our DTG work, and some of our screen printing.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Kevin for all your advice. I have been at this for a little over a year now, and am ready to pull my hair out. It is very hard to find a local screen printer that is dependable in my area. Maybe I just need to go up a little on my cost to cover all my gas traveling back and forth to the screen printer. (Approx. 40 miles one way) The other problem with this is being the middle man makes it hard to give my customer a time frame. In your opinion, would it be a wise investment for a versacamm, and just send larger orders (more than say 24) to the screen printer.
I am also contracting out my banners and vehicle decals.
 
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