You have been to the trade show.
Watched the videos.
Seen the machines run.
They gather crowds.
The possibilities are endless!
You could print anything.
Then you see the price tag. Uh oh.
Welcome to Direct-to-Garment Printing. Arguably, one of the decoration methods that will transform and potentially eliminate screenprinting forever. Still, the technology needs to advance heavily in the next decade to completely eliminate your screen rooms and the need to haul around heavy gallons of messy ink.
DTG printing may be a great solution for your business. If you have intricate designs, and low quantities that need to be printed, DTG printing may free up some of that press time.
Although, you should remember there is a large learning curve, a heavy investment and quite a bit of maintenance that needs to be done once you buy a machine.
Be careful of those low-end machines that have an appealing price tag. They may have several limiting factors and the quality may hurt your business if you are not careful. Be sure that you have researched the machines thoroughly, and that you have seen or learned about another shop using one before you pull the trigger. The last thing you want to be is a guinea pig for a machine you know nothing about.
Before you reach out to make the investment, be sure that there is a need for it.
How do you ensure if there is a need for it?
In today's printing network, you can offer DTG printing before you even own a machine! How?
Contract DTG printers!
There are several print shops from coast to coast that offer DTG printing. There are even shops that can offer 1-day and 3-day turnarounds like Same Day Tees in Illinois. You can offer DTG printing as a premium to your customers and develop a relationship with a contract printer and still be profitable.
Sometimes you can even be more profitable if you are not experienced in setting up a multi-color job because of press time.
Yes, controlling your own product, quality, and printing on demand is a great asset to your business, but you might find that you are investing in a completely different industry that brings on more problems.
DTG printing for customers usually comes in lower quantities, so don't think you're going to get that 1000 piece DTG order. Plus, it would take forever and DTG printing is not made for that. Since machines need to constantly bleed/purge ink, there is a fixed overhead to keeping them running.
When you are ready to buy your first piece of equipment reach out to your sales reps and ask them about other shops that have them. Aside from going to the show and seeing all the machinery in perfect working order, get in touch with real shops that use them and ask about their experience. Be careful about buying used, because a machine that was not properly maintained could bring you years of headaches.
Most importantly, ensure that your DTG investment is calculated. Don't take away from what you are already good at!
Image source: Los Angeles Print Design
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