We talk to screen printers on a daily basis that want to expand their custom t-shirt business by being able to offer smaller quantities, more color options and faster turnaround time. The answer to depends on their business, their existing equipment and how they intend on using a DTG printer.
First the basics:
The “DTG” in DTG Printer stands for direct-to-garment. A direct to garment printer is one that prints directly onto a garment, usually a t-shirt, form a computer rather than producing an image on a screen or to a vinyl cutout. DTG Printer, by the way, is both type of printer and a BRAND. Here is that website: www.dtgprintermachine.com
DTG Printers have been around for years, but until recently the ones that are suitable for bigger shops, online custom t-shirt businesses or screen printers have been either too expensive, too slow, or the quality just wasn’t good enough.
If you are a screen printer reading this, you are probably motivated to consider DTG now because you’re losing customer to smaller DTG only shops or to those big online retailers because they can easily and profitably sell 2 shirts, 5 shirts or 25 shirts at a time and make a profit.
So that brings us back to what’s the best dtg printer!
The quick answer is, it depends. It depends on the following:
Demand – Not just demand now, but over the next 2-5 years.
Do you currently turn away short run jobs?
Are you outsourcing smaller, >50 piece jobs? If so, how much have you paid?
Screen Print Life – how old is your current screen printing equipment? Is it reasonable to expect your DTG Printer to take a larger and larger part of your workload over the years?
Your Business Model – You’re probably going after those larger jobs right now. What would happen if you also could profitably do jobs like; family reunions, charity team events, last minute jobs?
Your Budget – of course.
Best DTG Printer – M2
If short run, full color prints are important to offer, but you’re not planning on making it a core part of your business model, then the M2 might be the best dtg printer for you. With an MSRP of just under $28K and a lease option under $600/month, it won’t take many sales to make this t shirt printing machine pay for itself. It can print on 2 shirts at a time, and do 6×10 full color images images on 2 light t-shirts in under 1 ½ minutes. Printing on dark tees take longer, but the results are incredibly high quality.
Best DTG Printer – M4
The M4 is basically an M2, but with a larger platen system that will let you set up and print 4 full sized tees at a time instead of 2. With the included RipPro software, that means that you load 4 shirts and go do something productive while they print – like sell more shirts – and so make more shirts/money in less time.
Here in CA it is saturated.
My friend bought a simple screen printing machine some time ago and has not made back his investment.
The problem is, actual screen printing shops have the more sophisticated presses and can work in volume better than a little guy, so even if you get a few small sample orders once they go to full production they probably will not need your services.
Plus the most savvy shirt makers source their screen printers on the internet, and I'm not just talking about Cafe Press--when my bro needed cool promo t-shirts he found a printer that could do gold metallic and used American Apparel t's in really cool cuts that were super popular among his indie fans