Top 10 Reasons to Get Into DTG Printing
Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing can be incredibly rewarding, and offers many advantages over traditional screen printing. Whether you are a new startup company or an established print shop looking to augment your production capabilities, DTG is definitely work a second look. Here are 10 good reasons to consider adding DTG printing capabilities to your business:
- Full Color Printing – Since DTG printers operate more like your home or office printer, you can print stunning ”full color” images in one pass (or two passes if printing on dark garments). Clients no longer need to simplify their design ambition to meet their budget, and you can simplify your pricing structure to eliminate the number of colors in the print as a consideration for cost. Its a win-win!
- Minimal Setup Time / Cost – With DTG printing there is no need to setup individual screens to create a design; in fact, aside from the initial artwork file (and the maintenance required to get the machine up and running at peak efficiency each morning) there is really very little setup at all! Forget about screens, emulsions, film output, screen exposure, rinse-out booths, etc; all you need to worry about is pre-treating your shirts prior to printing, and you are good to go. Let’s take a typical 3-color print job and compare the two processes: if the client is ordering anywhere between 1-72 items, there is a good chance you could have finished the order on a DTG printer in the time it would take you to print multiple film outputs, expose a couple of screens, rinse out the screens, tape the screens (and apply block-out liquid for pinholes, etc), align the screens on a press and ink them up.
- Minimal Tear-Down Time / Cost – Using the same example from above, the screen printer would have had to scrape ink off all three screens, remove the tape and clean the screens with some sort of ink remover, then apply an emulsion remover and pressure-wash the hell out of them until all the exposed emulsion was gone. After that, they would need to use a haze remover chemical, followed by a degreasing agent, prior to spreading a new layer of fresh emulsion onto each screen in preparation for the next job! Meanwhile, if you had just finished printing this job on your DTG machine you could simply box up the shirts and grab the next batch for printing! That’s it! Not only does this save valuable time, but it also saves a ton of money on additional chemicals and resources for the setup / tear-down process.
- No Minimum Orders – Due to the fact that there is virtually no setup or tear-down associated with each print job, it is easy to load up a single shirt and print it! You no longer have to demand that your clients order a few dozen shirts (when they only really need a handful for their upcoming event) – start selling short-run orders to the clients who are being turned away at other local print shops, since screen printers won’t touch their orders! Bachelorette parties, home Poker tournaments, fundraising and charity groups, artists, small businesses and more can all be part of your new client base, since they have not traditionally been able to meet the minimum orders required by most screen printers. Most clients who only order a handful of shirts are already aware that it is hard enough to find someone to print for them, so they will often be more willing to spend a few extra dollars on each shirt; also, when small groups of individuals collect money from each person (for instance a club or a poker group) they will generally pay more than an individual who is trying to get the lowest price possible on a bulk of shirts. Small orders can mean big profits!
- Beat the Local Competition – Once people discover your full-color, no-minimum printing capabilities, they will start to expect similar services from other local shops (most off-the-street clients don’t have a clue how screen printing happens, let alone DTG printing, sublimation or other decoration methods; in some cases you are lucky if they even know what they want printed before they walk through your door). When your competition is forced to stand by their ”36+ minimum order”, or when they can’t waive the huge setup fees that the client is no longer paying through your company, they won’t stand a chance! Of course, aside from the fundamental policy differences you will be able to offer, you will also be capable of producing some of the most stunning artistic prints that have ever graced the surface of a cotton t-shirt. Even the highest-quality screen printers in the world would have a very hard time reproducing some of the stunning print effects that can be achieved through DTG printing, so it is simply a matter of educating your client base and showing them why you are different than anyone else in your area.
- Sell Online – When you offer no minimums, full color printing and stunning output capability, you start to see a lot of people who want to send you an image or two to be printed on a shirt; these orders will start in your local area, but if you are savvy about getting the word out (try Facebook, LinkedIn, Craigslist, etc) you will begin to connect with clients who will probably never even see the inside of your shop. Expand your global reach and start making money EVERYWHERE!
- Cutting Edge Technology – Staying ahead of the technology curve is how you keep your business at the front of the pack; true pioneers don’t react to trends – they create them. The reason your local market doesn’t expect stunning, full-color printing with no minimums is because you haven’t introduced them to it yet; however you better believe the industry is shifting, and if Bob’s Printing down the street starts showing off his new DTG printing capability before you do, then it’s a lot harder to establish yourself as the local expert in this growing new field. If you like being a follower, then this technology is not for you!
- No Harsh Chemicals – In almost all cases, the inks used for most DTG printers is water-based; this means they are safe and environmentally friendly, unlike many of the harsh chemicals used in traditional screen printing (in screen printing, even the majority of the inks used are plastic based). Windex is a common cleaning solution used to remove dried ink from various internal components, which is a far cry from the emulsion removers and various liquids used during the screen printing process. DTG printing can be done in a closed space, in a home or garage, and in almost any business environment (whereas some areas require special permitting to do screen printing, and it is often restricted to certain commercial zones).
- Relatively Clean Process – Unlike screen printing, you can show up to work in a button-down shirt and tie, and you would have little fear of ruining your clothes while you work. Of course there is always the slight chance that you might somehow spill ink on yourself if you are not careful, but you certainly won’t find yourself scraping ink to and from small plastic containers, or covering yourself in back-spray as you pressure wash a screen.
- Product Flexibility – Once you are comfortable with the process of DTG printing, you can quickly expand into additional product markets by trying to print on new and exciting substrates. For instance, many DTG print shops make great money on the side printing things like mouse pads, pre-stretched art canvas, some shoes, ceiling fan blades, leather, light switch covers and lots more! Of course some stuff requires a little creativity, and like any other print method you will have to consider certain pre-treatments and top coats for certain products in order to successfully print them. If you are the creative, experimental type, then DTG printing could prove to be quite profitable for you! Some printers, such as the Neoflex DTG and the Mod1, have the capability to quickly and easily swap the printing unit from the main base, opening up the possibility of using different printing units loaded with various ink types; for instance, some people use an additional print unit loaded with solvent ink to print on plastics (such as iPhone covers), glass, wood, etc, while others load an edible ink and print on cookies, cake toppings, etc! The sky is the limit and the book is yet to be written on what all can be done with a DTG printer, in the hands of a talented end-user.
If these things sounds good to you and you are the type of person who is just itching to try printing on a million different substrates, then DTG printing might be perfect for you!