How to build a DTG printing factory?

Starting a direct to garment printing factory is not an easy task. In this article, Dmitry Sarbaev, managing director of FLUXMALL DTG, shows you how.

If you are about to outgrow a small-size printshop, and notice that your printing volumes are constantly increasing, you might need to consider investing in a facility that would be built to suit the requirements of a high-volume DTG production.

In order to get started on the right foot, consider the following items:

Demand generation

First off, honestly answering to yourself the question: “Does my customer base allow me to continuously print at industrial scale?”. This would be a good step to kick off the transition.

Depending on what your business model is, you could print on demand thousands of unique artworks, positioned differently on various types of garments. Or, you could print in volumes for the fashion brand, hundreds of each design.

In any case, your business model should generate enough orders to load the industrial setup, so that your idle time is minimized and your cost of DTG solution ownership is kept at lowest.

Production requirements

If you are not a freshman in garment decoration, you might want to have a look at your past track of orders in different decoration methods. It makes sense to do a ‘Now vs Tomorrow’ comparison for yourself, forecasting your potential volumes in a few years’ perspective. After all, industrial setup is a long-term investment, and it is important to think whether you have enough room to extend your capacity seamlessly in a few years perspective.

Choosing a proper equipment solution that fits your business model best, is also an essential step to take. Do your homework first, and don’t rush to make investments you don’t fully understand. Is your equipment really build for production from the ground up? Is it scalable at all? Is the local support and service professional and timely? There is no bigger frustration than to purchase machines that cannot deliver to you tangible results that you require: speed, consistency, quality, and many others.

Facility

Choosing a proper location, carefully planning the layout of the space, and ensuring stable environmental variables play a key role in a good performance of your industrial DTG business.  Remember that space is a commodity – avoid the situation that you run out of space because you didn’t consider the size of your equipment against floor space availability properly. Space allocation for the warehouse of products going in and out every day is very easy to underestimate.

When it comes to planning the layout of your future DTG factory, much of your efforts should be directed to arranging the proper flow inside the facility. Products come in, you convert them to different products, and send them out afterwards. Separate dry from wet, clean from dirty, cold from lukewarm, normal light from special light. Be intentional about marking every piece of equipment on your CAD drawings prior to physical deployment of equipment and the factory.

Process management

If you have never done this planning before, it is time to look at your workflow from a systematic perspective. What are your SOPs (Standard Operational Procedures) at each step of your production? Do your workers actually understand how to navigate across different scenarios? Your process procedures have to be established once you start, and then refined constantly as you run orders day after day. A single broken process can create a serious bottleneck, inefficient flow and loss of profits.

It’s worth mentioning a remarkable and essential stage in your production process – quality control. No matter how effective you run the daily workflow, your products must meet the quality expectations of your customers. Pay special attention to this step and don’t partner with production workers when it comes to checking the final quality. You’d better error on the side of being too meticulous, rather than allow your products to be shipped out ‘as-is’, without proper defects checking – errors that might come up during any stage of DTG printing process.

Maintenance

Finally, remember: each machine is like ‘a baby’: it requires daily care, and the better you treat it, the less troublesome it will be for you, the better it will run for the benefit of your business. Daily maintenance is a must procedure for any of the machines, and it becomes critical when volumes are high and you can’t afford downtime. Have you planned enough redundancy (i.e. spare printer unit, excessive consumables stock) to reduce the risk of stopping the whole production process? Do you keep sufficient replacement parts inventory? A dedicated technician on staff might help you overcome potential difficulties, and help those workers who are not very tech savvy. Don’t neglect the chance to request more training and support from your local dealer and/ or OEM.

All these items form a solid foundation for your future DTG printing factory. Plan these steps well ahead of execution, and it will help you to build successful growing industrial-scale DTG enterprise!

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