Yes that is a true statement. It is now possible to offer same day tee shirt printing using a Direct To Garment system of printing.
To explain how it is done just review what it takes to print for example an 8 color design on a basic tee shirt.
A 8 color design will require 8 screens and one screen for applying the white ink on a dark garment.
Art separation is the first item to get done
Prepare the films for each color
Burn the screens
Wash out the screens
Dry screens and block out the design
Align the screens for registration
Print a sample or press check
Clean up the screens
Breakdown the carousel and set up for next order
Now let’s examine the DTG process.
Create art on the computer
Save art as a PNG file
Upload to RIP software
Transfer design to printer and print
Cure design and it’s done.
The advantage of time is so important now that clients are getting accustomed to same day service. This is pure hell for a screen printer who has to try and meet customer demands.
The old days of delivery in less than two weeks is starting to exit the process. Customers want it now. Decosource has 3 state of the art Kornit printers which allows us to make a same day delivery. Our motto in by 10 out by 5 will hold up.
DTG printed garments are now holding up under heavy washing and can go toe to toe with screen printing when it comes to the life of the garment.
The two scenarios above resulted in the fact that the DTG process is more efficient than the screen printing process. The screen print would take at least 5 hours where the DTG would take less than a hour.
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.