By Olivia Canon
Part 1 of 2
Direct to garment (DTG) printers allow print providers to offer customizable apparel for a variety of uses such as advertising, events, and add-on services. Desktop, small format, and entry-level DTG printers are an ideal option for print for pays to add revenue. They can also help improve the promotional capabilities for an in-plant operation.
There is opportunity for profit potential when adding DTG business. Investing in the technology allows owners to add value to t-shirts and tote bags. The typical mark up for these items depends on the business and region.
Different markets have various mark ups depending on the quantity of products sold and the exclusiveness of the product design. Matthew Rhome, business development DTG, Epson America, advises DTG providers undertake market research before setting prices.
This includes researching the region, object, and how much personalization is used. According to Lily Hunter, product manager, textiles, eCommerce and supplies, Roland DGA Corp., it can be a minimum of 50 percent markup—if not more. “People are willing to pay extra for a custom product that is very personal to them.”
Before investing in DTG equipment, print providers should consider the total cost of investment as well as the learning curve for implementing.
Add a DTG & Benefit
There are several benefits to investing in a desktop, small format, or entry-level DTG printer. Print shops can expand service offerings with an easily installable device while also benefitting from short runs and custom print jobs.
A DTG printer enables users to print one or many shirts, with complex designs, in multiple colors, without all of the pre-production processes of traditional printing technologies, points out Rhome.
One of the largest benefits in desktop DTG devices is the small footprint. According Hunter, it’s easy to add this type of device to an existing business. “Whether you are already in the digital printing business and want to expand your product offerings, or if you want to offer custom printing as a value-added service.”
DTG printers can be setup in a home office, kiosk, retail store, or traditional sign shop. Hunter advises print shops make sure there is also room for a heat press, which is required to fix the inks onto the fabric. Select DTG printers are available with a finishing oven that can also be stacked for additional space savings. “This also makes the units very portable—you can set them up at various events, as long as as you have a power source for the printer and oven.”
Another advantage of DTG printers is that they are ideal for short runs and custom print jobs. Hunter adds, “you can print colorful photorealistic images, as well as vector files, based on what the customer wants.”
Print for Pays & Quick Printers
Print for pays and quick printers are among those that invest in desktop and entry-level DTG devices.
Product personalization and customization are still driving factors of small DTG presses. “Being able to get a custom-designed and custom-printed garment is a very gratifying experience,” shares Hunter. Such items typically incorporate photograph, text, or graphic elements that are meaningful to the individual or reflect personal taste and style. Having a desktop-size DTG printer to offer this service is extremely beneficial for these reasons. “From a business perspective, offering this type of service can be a real differentiator that makes a retailer or shop stand out from the competition,” she adds.
With the ability to print as little as one multi-colored, photo-quality shirt with minimal pre- and post-production costs, Rhome says DTG owners can realize a substantial profit margin.
Initial Investments & Total Cost of Ownership
Initial investment and total cost of ownership (TCO) for DTG equipment depends on what the end product is. It can be as low as $5,000 or it can be upwards of $20,000 or more.
TCO is an important consideration up front. Hunter says print providers will need a printer and a heat press. “Printer prices vary, and if you want to print dark colored garments, then you will need a printer that has white ink.” This can start around $15,000 for a new unit.
A clamshell heat press can cost around $1,000. For dark colors, print providers will need pretreatment for the fabric, which Hunter says should be factored in for cost as well as an applicator.
Additionally, DTG printers with white inks require regular maintenance that includes periodic flushing—each printer manufacturer will have its own recommended maintenance schedule. Hunter says it’s also important to factor in the additional costs for inks and cleaning kits, as well as the cost of blanks. “Depending on customers’ expectations, selecting high-quality cotton products that are ringspun is best. The weave is tighter, and the print results will look a lot better, especially after washing.”
According to Rhome, print providers can easily setup a complete production shop including DTG printer, heat press, and pre-treating system, with an initial investment of well under $20,000.
Learning to Implement
Before selecting a DTG printer, print providers should be aware of the learning curve, which is typically simple depending on the device, manufacturer, and specifications.
“DTG printing is a very easy and straightforward process,” shares Rhome. Most sellers of DTG products offer on-site training to help smooth out the learning curve. It’s generally recommended that a potential DTG owner takes advantage of training if offered.
DTG printers with white inks will require a larger learning curve. For established print businesses, Hunter says it is a matter of getting acquainted with the maintenance and cleaning schedule. For those not in the printing business and unfamiliar with design software, it will take time to gain an understanding of the technology and learn how to design and prepare the graphics.
Stay on Trend
The DTG market is growing as customers want more products personalized—creating a demand for desktop, tabletop, and entry-level DTG devices.
“Market trends point to customers ordering smaller sized numbers of printed garments, with multi-colored high detailed designs,” offers Rhome. This type of printing is where DTG has an advantage.
In part two, we provide an overview of available DTG printers. dps
Read part two of this series, Entry-Level & Tabletop DTG.
Jun2020, DPS Magazine