Our investment in a Kornit printer was a wise move. We purchased the unit with some reluctance because of the price.
You can expect to spend close to $300,000.00 for a new machine. We bit the bullet and purchased three. We never looked back.
Some say we could get more production if we purchased the less expensive DTG printers available. This argument sounds good if you are shopping price.
Bargin Priced DTG printers are suspect
We found that the lesser priced printers are not fit for production. These machines work real well if your market is geared to single shirt printing. The margins are great for one off printing.
If you are going to use a lesser priced model you have to be aware of the time to print a shirt. They just do not perform as advertised.
DTG Production time
We found that the printing process is slowed down due to the application of the pretreatment. Each shirt has to be pretreated before printing. The process is to first spray the pretreatment on the garment and heat press to lay the fibers of the garment down for printing. With the Kornit the pretreatment is included in the printing cycle. This is a important time saver to consider if you are going to do production. The pretreatment process generally takes about 2 minutes vs no time using a Kornit.
The next step after pretreatment is to print the garment. Time in a Kornit is around 2 minutes or less in the new machines. In a mall style printer the time is about 4 minutes.
Finishing the shirt
After printing the garment has to be heat pressed again to finish. Using a Kornit we run the garment though a dryer and the project is complete. The dryer does take a little longer but it does not eat up labor time like a heat press machine does.
In summary we make tees, tees and more tees than a lower priced DTG printer.
There are two methods of decorating a tee shirt with ink. One is silk screening and the other is Direct to Garment printing.
Silk Screening is a method where the ink is applied to the tee shirt via a mesh screen with the design area cut leaving a open area for the ink to flow freely on to the garment. This is a very efficient process for large scale orders. The above is an example of what we have done for the MWR on Diego Garcia. This was done with embroidery.
One major drawback is that the design is limited to the amount of colors which can be used in the design. There is one screen for each color in the design.
Because of the amount of color in some designs the order has to be large enough to absorb the cost of the screen set up.
For example a six color design would cost around $120.00. This is why multicolor screen printing needs at least 144 pieces to make the order feasible.
No screens in digital
The digital to garment printing technique does not require any screens at all. This makes this process very inviting for a small order. For example a design with over 12 colors does not require any complicated set up like screen printing. It prints whatever is on the computer screen. An order of six pieces is very easy to do.
The set up is very easy and basic. The key is to have good finished art. The easiest format to use is Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator. These two drawing programs are very popular and are used exclusively in the apparel decorating industry. Also, there is a great deal of designs available for sale on the internet which can be linked up with a basic lettering system to produce some very acceptable art work.
The most popular designs available on the internet are mascots. Everyone has a mascot and you will find many schools teams use and enjoy the same mascot design. The only difference is the lettering used in the design.
This blog was intended to introduce the reader to the two techniques for custom decorating apparel. For more information contact NW Custom Apparel.