I've seen some attempts in creating DTG Prototypes being done by DTG enthusiasts and they have successfully made it print and function just like the real DTGs. It’s Reverse Engineering that’s what they say and with all those efforts, some of them made these experiments into business. Well actually it does make a lot of sense to earn a profit. This is because if we will talk about the real Direct to Garment Printing Equipment (“The Branded type”) would cost around $8,000 to almost $250,000 depending on the Brand name and Specifications such as printing capacity (T-shirts per hour), printing size (8x11 – 11x17 or even bigger), and Printing capabilities (able to print on dark colored garments).
The Advantage of Buying a Direct to Garment printer
The development of Ink technology have significantly improved over the years and the ink performance is getting better as well as the quality making Digital Printing so special. And what is good about DTG technology is the non-contact printing abilities, meaning that the media (T-shirt) is printed by the machine without hand contact, that means the design being printed is produced with high precision. And since DTG is a computerized printing equipment, mass production is so easy without any design distortion when compared to a conventional screen printing technology. All you need is a good design, a program and a qualified well disciplined person to operate it.
Currently, Maxmedia Enterprise is printing T-Shirts the conventional way using Screen Printing process. But we also have printing technology that we call Ink Transfer using Sublimation Ink and a Heat Press machine to transfer the ink to the textile (normally it is done in a light colored garment because there are no white ink available for Sublimation Printers). And for Dark colored shirts, another technique is being used and we call it the Dark transfer technology where we will use a 3G Opaque paper and print the design on it using a pigment printer and then once it is done printing, we will pill-off the front side (the printed part of the Dark Transfer Paper) then exposed to the heat press equipment and the design will stick to the Dark colored shirt. Although it sounds simple to do it but it really needs a lot of patience because if you are in the business; producing quality products is always the top priority.
Direct to Garment printer Disadvantage
Another disadvantage issue about DTGs is the equipment maintenance cost because the technology is still limited, qualified technicians are also very few, spare parts is not that readily available, and basically it needs a lot of technical know-how to set-up the machine. That means in order to maintain the printing quality, proper maintenance should be done, periodic check up and calibration inspection is necessary. And another thing to consider is the technical support, know your supplier’s capability to supply technicians in case of machine failure. This is because in my experience with the business; most technical support, transportation and accommodation cost is billed to the customer. And so therefore if your business location is far from the supplier, better yet think twice when asking for a repair because cost is definitely higher than you expect. So I guess if you are planning to buy this equipment, first and foremost is to prepare yourself by understanding its technology, the machine functions, operations and maintenance. But most of all, the person assigned to operate the machine must be qualified to handle the task because human error is always the reason of failure.