Going back just a few years, this was a very easy question to answer. Any order up to around a hundred pieces would lend itself to DTG printing and anything above that would need to be screen printed. Managing director of Amaya Sales UK, Peter Wright, reports.
Over the last two years printers have become faster but still have had a much higher cost of print than screen printing. We all know that DTG has many advantages over screen print, mainly its low set up cost and the ability to be able to print a one off or small runs economically. The biggest disadvantage of DTG printing has been its cost of print.
In the last year, new technology has allowed some of the industrial manufacturers of DTG printers to bring down the cost of ink per print to a similar cost for screen printing. This would be on runs up to and around 700 prints a day. Another added advantage with DTG is that you can drastically cut your labour requirements.
With the latest in industrial DTG printers you have:
- Simple process – Load image, print and dry.
- Unlimited separation of colours per order.
- Screen print quality and hand feel at a fraction of the time and cost.
- Ability to do one off jobs with no extra cost.
Order run length is shrinking
According to recent figures, order run length is shrinking rapidly. This requires you to be able to run shorter runs as economically as possible and in the shortest time. The days of orders for thousands of prints are reducing by the day and buyers are looking for a more on-demand way of purchasing.
Another big advantage of DTG printing is the ability to personalise individual items at no extra cost.
All these advancements have come at the right time because of a sort of revolution in the fashion industry. Social media has shortened the life of fashion trends and so manufacturers are wanting more of a demand and supply system instead of the normal supply and demand. Where as in the past, manufacturers would print thousands in advance, they are now reducing the amount greatly and producing shorter runs that they are confident of selling. Their customers are also demanding more personalisation and a much faster turn around from order to delivery.
Many DTG printers now have web to print software included that helps satisfy this demand.
Many of the print fulfilment centres are now offering next day service on personalised goods. Also the new generation of industrial DTG printers would cope just as well with an order for 500 shirts of different designs as an order for 500 shirts of the same design. This would be not viable in screen printing.
Another important point is that the inks are GOTS approved and totally sustainable.
So, to conclude, DTG printing certainly has a big advantage for runs of one up to 500/700 because of ease of use and costs per print. Screen printing still has its place for the larger orders but these are steadily decreasing.
Who knows what the next 12 months will bring?