If you’re considering buying a DTG printer, you now have an incredible variety of options.
Direct-to-garment (DTG) printers have come a long way since the first models were introduced at the 2004 SGIA Expo. Engineers, software developers, and chemists have made remarkable advances in printheads, equipment design, inks, workflow, and software.
They have some powerful economic incentives to do so. According to an online presentation by AnaJet regional manager Charles Burwell, garment printing in the US is a $23 billion industry. While the garment printing industry is still about 95% screen, digital printing is gradually becoming more prevalent.
As the technology has moved from entry-level to production-grade, more and more garment decorators are adding DTG capabilities to their businesses. Harry Oster of Equipment Zone notes that, “Initially, many DTG machine buyers were starting a business based solely on that machine.” Today, screen printers, embroiderers, promotional-products firms, and apparel manufacturers are buying DTG equipment to complement their existing production equipment. Other buyers of DTG equipment include digital and in-plant graphics printers, sign shops, educational and non-profit institutions, sports retailers, e-commerce companies, and home-based studios and start-ups.
As the customer base has expanded and become more diverse, so has the selection of machines and accessories. Firms that have been in the DTG business for years have introduced upgrades that reflect some of the ease-of-use and productivity improvements their customers have requested. New DTG printers from companies such as M&R, Lawson Screen & Digital Products, Kornit, and Aeoon Technologies reflect a deep understanding of the needs of higher-volume screen printers as well as textile and apparel manufacturers.
While the proliferation of DTG printers has enabled more companies (and individuals) to get into the decorating business, screen printing firms have some advantages that newcomers to the business can’t match. For one thing, screen printers already have relationships with apparel vendors and many of the biggest potential customers for DTG output, such as corporate brands, non-profits, and sports teams. Plus, experienced screen printers already understand how to prepare designs and graphics for garment printing. They are equipped with heat presses and dryers, and have systems for inventory management and pricing.
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