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Considerations of Direct To Garment Printing

Posted by Steven Grant - Texsource Indiana on 7/10/2014
Often we at Texsource field lots of questions on DTG (Direct To Garment) products and techniques.  For those who might be considering such a process, it is important to understand some things in making your decision. 

 - Carefully Control Your EnvironmentThe physical properties of the water-based inks are incredibly sensitive, changing drastically based on the external environmental conditions.  For instance if the air in your print room is too hot or dry, the ink will quickly dry in the print head causing nozzle blockage and other related issues; this can manifest in moderate to severe banding (missing or rough lines in the printed image) or even entire nozzles dropping out.

 - The Process Is Slow - Here, screen printers have a huge advantage when the ink actually hits the t-shirt; screen printing presses (even the manual variety) are considerably quicker when it comes to actually printing, whereas the process on a DTG printer can take quite some time.  Although white shirts are relatively quick (its not uncommon to knock out 20-50 white shirts per hour, depending on your particular equipment, setup and print resolution), dark shirt printing can be the bane of any DTG print business – realistically, expect to print about 8-15 black shirts per hour under normal circumstances.

 - Garment Selection is Very ImportantDTG printing is not intended to be used on all garment types; in fact, the inks tend to work best when applied to 100% cotton, so it is best to avoid 50/50 blends and other non-cotton fabrics as much as possible.

Equipment and Supplies Are Expensive Getting into DTG printing can represent a huge financial risk for a small business on the edge; with many DTG printers averaging around $20,000, you can easily wind up spending $25-$30,000 for an entire package (complete with printer, pre-treatment machine, heat press, supplies, shipping, training, etc).

You Must Pre-Treat Some Garments - While you won’t find yourself laying emulsion or burning screens, most people don’t realize that every single dark garment that you print must be sprayed with a “pre-treatment fluid” to prepare the surface for receiving the ink.  Unfortunately, this is currently true regardless of which brand of DTG printer you are using or which brand of ink you are using.

Not As Durable as Screen Printing - A very important point, and it is still a common issue among many DTG print shops, especially when they don’t fully understand all the factors that ultimately affect the wash-fastness of the print.

Impossible Color Matching - Well, perhaps not impossible, but there is no “magic color profile” that will work for all situations, all the time!  Your own subjective opinions, as well as those of your clients (which will vary greatly), will ultimately affect your expectations regarding what you want to see on a t-shirt

Texsource knows and understands screen printing, and we stand behind it as we feel that it is the very best method of garment printing both now and in the future.  

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