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Adjusting Your Business Model for DTG

(April/May 2017) posted on Tue May 30, 2017

Overcoming the challenges of direct-to-garment printing.

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By Aaron Montgomery

Another way to add perceived value is to simply describe your product differently. Big orders often mean slinging out cheap shirts for nickels in profit, but you can work with a much higher quality base garment with DTG, so use that to your advantage. Instead of offering “Cotton shirts, cheapest prices,” pitch “100-percent ring-spun combed cotton crew necks.” Research how the garment manufacturers describe these high-end garments and use those terms in your own marketing. 

Understanding Your True Costs

Getting a handle on the cost to produce a garment with DTG can be tricky, especially for those trying to make their screen print cost spreadsheets bend to the new digital technology. My suggestion is to reinvent the way you look at your costs and, in turn, the way you price your products. Forget things like screen making, press setup, color changes, etc., and think instead about ink, pretreatment, labor, and packaging. It’s time to start fresh. 

Let’s break down the costs of producing a light garment and a dark garment in general terms. These are going to be round figures since ink cost, print time, maintenance, and other expenses will vary from one machine to the next, as well as by job. These figures simply illustrate the factors to consider when estimating your true cost for DTG printing: 

Blank Goods

With today’s DTG printers, it’s important to get a shirt that is made for inkjet printing. Without the right blank shirts, prints will simply not look as good, no matter what you try. 

Ink and Pretreatment

For light garments, we’re assuming you will not be using a pretreatment. Ultimately, your market will dictate that need. For most people, just ink on a shirt creates a fantastic, salable garment.

With dark garments, you’ll need to pretreat if you’re going to print white ink. Add in a layer of white ink with enough opacity to be a good underbase, too. (This is the reason the ink costs for dark shirts are so much higher.) 

Production Labor


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