Is the choice of DTG printers confusing you?

DTG print head

How do you decide on the best DTG printer for you when the choice is so varied? Managing director of Amaya Sales UK, Peter Wright, explains.

If you search the market nowadays, you will find reliable direct to garment printers available from around £7,000 up to +£500,000. But, how do you decide which is the best DTG printer for your business?

The first question you should ask yourself is, how many shirts you would like to print per day. Your answer to this question will determine what level of printer you start with. Starting at the entry level you would probably be able to print around 100 dark shirts a day and 140 white. This is assuming that you have the business and you can keep feeding the printer with garments. The lower priced printers are perfectly adequate for producing around 100 dark shirts per day which could make you a turnover of about £800 per day.

The step up from these gives you a slightly higher print speed but also a higher cost of equipment.

Faster printers

Recently, new faster printers have arrived in the market on which they claim can double these figures. The downside is that the cost of the equipment is more than doubled.

Some customers prefer buying two of the slower DTG printers and have them starting at staggered times. This means that one operator can handle the operation easily.

Remember that you will have to pre-treat your dark garments before printing. This is time consuming, whether you are doing this with a spray gun or an auto pre-treat machine. After pre-treating, the garment must be dried on a heat press or tunnel dryer before printing.

There is one manufacturer of direct to garment printers that has developed a built-in pre-treatment system. This takes away one of the time-consuming processes in DTG printing and takes away the labour part of providing this. The process is simple: load the design, print the garment, dry and pack. These fully industrial printers are also very fast but again this pushes up the cost of the equipment.

When deciding on these more faster and more expensive printers it is very important to look at the cost per print. It is no good having a faster printer if the cost per print is exorbitant.

You need to investigate how much a full colour A3 print would cost you, together with the pre-coat. Check out your ROI (return on investment) on the high-end equipment, print costs can vary from as little as 70p to £2.70. This will make a massive difference on your ROI. If you have a printer with a print cost of only 70p for an A3 size, you can make another £2.00 per shirt. So, if you are printing say 200 shirts a day, you make an extra £400 each day or £2,000 a week. On 500 shirts a day that could make you an extra £5,000 per week. Add this to the amount you make on a shirt.

Checking out the actual cost of a print (including pre-treat) is vitally important for making the right decision on your next printer and getting a speedy return on your investment. Ask your supplier how much the ink and pre-coat would cost for an A3 full colour print on a dark garment. If the type of printer has a few dealers, check out this cost with all of them and see if there is a difference.

In conclusion, I would advise the following pointers to check out before you buy:

  • Purchase from a well-established and experienced supplier of DTG equipment that can provide full on-site service support for you printer.
  • Check out the actual cost per A3 print (including pre-treatment) on dark garments.
  • Ask your supplier to work out a return on investment plan with you. Remember this is only a guide, but it will give you an idea on the production required to make a good profit and pay for your equipment. Paying too little for a product can cost you dearly in the long term.
  • Look at the orders you are receiving, if they single orders you may consider several of the lower priced printers in a modular configuration. If your orders are bulk or fulfilment, then you will require the higher production printers with the lowest print costs.

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