Direct to garment apparel printing is still a nascent industry. Right now it is so new that we have a hard time understanding of what DTG printing is.
Essentially it is printing apparel using water based inks which contain no chemicals or toxic substances. The process is 100% environmentally compatible.
A few tips
A few tips to remember about DTG printing is that a quality printer is approximately the size of a small car. But this small car is actually a ink jet printer that can print on apparel.
The most popular item to print on is 100% cotton tees. Preferably a ring spun cotton with a tight knit. A 50/05 cotton poly garment will work but the results will not be as vibrant as a 100% cotton tee.
Computer does all the work
Because the designs are processed using a computer the art work should be clean and camera ready. We prefer a 300 dpi jpg or a higher resolution the better. Drawing programs which are great for designing are Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator and photo shop. The soft ware can process these programs very easily.
The nice part of having a computer do the processing is that you don’t have to work with messy screens. This allows the design to contain as many colors as needed in the design. Screen printing requires a separate screen for each color in the design. The set up process is much longer than a Direct to Garment set up. DTG set up is just enter design into the computer, press the start/stop button and commence printing.
End result is beautiful
The end result of DTG printing is a thing of beauty. The shirt is so soft to the touch. The soft hand does not rub on your skin. A DTG garment will also survive at least 50 or more washing. We have been testing tees in our plant for over 6 years and the shirts are as vibrant as ever.
To summarize direct to garment printing is eventually going to be the decorator’s choice. It is so easy to do. Mistakes will be reduced when pre-approval is done on a computer. The actual design can be shared with the customer prior to production.
Why the Kornit is a better DTG garment printer. Answer, you can make money with it. Recently I had the chance to do an evaluation of a DTG printer off site and in production. I will not reveal the name or the location of the demonstration. Its best to keep this confidential. But I will compare it to our Kornit Hexa.
The first question I asked was can I make any money with this machine. Of course the answer was yes. The sales rep was completely convinced that the model he was selling was as great as sliced bread. He was explaining how you could charge more for small run orders and be absolutely competitive in the DTG market. This made sense.
I asked for a trial run to test the productivity. The first step was to pre-treat tee shirt and run it through a clam shell heat press. This took at least 5 minutes. The sales rep had all his tees pre-treated before I got the demo. This was somewhat deceptive but it was the same trick used at tradeshow. The fact is if you want to print on darks you have to pretreat your garment.
Now the shirt is pretreated and ready for the printer. This is a very simple step and the printing and loading will take less than five minutes. The quality of the printing was excellent. The reds and greens were very vibrant. Give this no name DTG printer a B plus. Also, I noted the ink cost more compared to the Kornit.
The final step is back to the clam shell printer to set the ink into the shirt. This takes less than 4 minutes. You can also run through a dryer at a slow speed to set the ink.
In summary the DTG printer I observed did the job. However making money is another question. I figured the best production would be 8 shirts a hour. Most DTG printers are designed for one off printing. They would be great for a kiosk in a mall.
We have two Hexa printers. We can print about 20 full front prints per machine per hour on dark colored garments. Running through our dryer is nominal and one operator can product 40 to 50 full front darks per hour. When we print whites we can average 50 per machine or 100 using both machines. This makes us competitive with screen printers because we offer full color with no screen charges. We also can blow away any DTG printer in our industry.
Yes we pay a premium for the Kornit printer but what we gain in production is worth the expense.