Your Guide to Direct To Garment (DTG) Printing
Ryonet's DTG expert Luke Ryerkerk sat down with Printavo to talk about all the ins and outs of DTG. An hour later, Luke shared a ton of great content. Now, we know not all of you have the time to watch a video of that length, so we pulled out the key information you need to know.
WHY JUMP INTO DTG PRINTING
- You print a lot of complex artwork
- A good chunk of the orders you receive require less than 24 pieces
- Your customers do not need high-quantity production
- You have the business model for DTG – high volume of low-quantity jobs
- You spend a ton of time setting up to screen print complex jobs
- You're selling unique designs that need a fast turnaround
- You're working in a spare bedroom and you do not want to stain it with ink
If you are considering to try DTG printing, remember that it's an expensive gig to get into. Look into your business thoughtfully to ensure that it is the best thing for you to do.
If you're thinking DTG is the route you want to take, Luke suggests getting either an Epson or PolyPrint (he's currently printing with the PolyPrint TexJet Echo2). Learn how to take care of your printer to get the most out of it.
WHY TO STAY AWAY FROM DTG PRINTING
- You're thinking about replacing screen printing entirely with DTG (that's a no-can-do)
- You only have high-volume jobs (like 100 pieces or more)
- Majority of your orders request printing on polyester and synthetic fabrics for athletics (DTG technology isn't there yet)
PROS AND CONS OF DIRECT TO GARMENT PRINTING
- Low-quantity, highly complex jobs are easier to do
- Setup time is quicker
- DTG is great for online stores that make customized orders like Etsy
- You're available to a new customer base
- The technology is improving since the industry is developing fast
- DTG cost of entry is significantly higher than screen printing
- You spend more time printing when using a DTG printer compared to screen printing
- You need to pretreat dark garments
- Inks are more expensive
- Due to time constraints, DTG is not meant for high-volume jobs
- You cannot use DTG for polyester and other athletic fabrics
If you take the plunge and try out DTG printing, Luke shares great advice about the best workflow for DTG printing. Recently at the Impressions Expo, Luke demonstrated great workflow tips, so check out that video for more information. DTG inks are more expensive, but learn some tips and tricks about storing and maintaining DTG inks.
DTG VS. SCREEN PRINTING
One of the biggest questions people ask – how does DTG compare to screen printing. The main factor that differentiates the reason to print via DTG or screen printing is quantity of the order. Screen printing is more expensive for low-quantity orders. Let's take a look at why that's the case.
Screen Printing Setup Costs:
- Screen: $25
- Emulsion and Chemicals: $0.50
- Tape: $0.25
- Reclaim Chemicals: $0.75
Screen Printing Setup Time Costs:
- Prep: 2 minutes
- Coat: 30 seconds
- Expose: 2 minutes
- Washout: 2 minutes
- Tape Screen: 30 seconds
- Register: 3 minutes
- Test Print: 3 minutes
- Screen Cleanup: 2 minutes
- Reclaiming: 5 minutes
- Total Raw Setup Costs: $26.50
- Time: 20+ minutes
- Hourly Pay: $15
- Man Hour Costs: $5
- Total Estimate of Setup Costs for One Screen: $31.50
Yeah, that's all for ONE screen. What if it's a six color design? And they only want 10 shirts? Yikes, no thank you. This is where having a DTG printer would be quite handy. If you receive an order like this example and have a DTG printer, learn how to price the shirts.
The rest of Luke's conversation with Printavo addresses heat transfers vs. DTG and direct to garment printing for online stores. If you're interested in learning more about these topics, head to Printavo's blog.
In conclusion, DTG printing is another useful tool to consider for your shop if you receive many low-quantity orders, highly complex art, and you need to speed up setup times.