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DTG: Going in with a Plan

(June/July 2017) posted on Tue Jul 18, 2017

Preparation is critical when adopting a new technology as unique as digital decoration.


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By Marshall Atkinson

Something about the topic of direct-to-garment printing brings out strong opinions from screen printers. Most say the technology scares them. Others think it is still an emerging print platform. Some tried it at one point and it didn’t work for them for some reason. There are stories all over the internet.

One of my favorite quotes from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is, “Every battle is won before it is fought.” With digital printing on garments, success all comes down to the preparedness of the company – before they purchase the equipment.

I believe that a lot of garment decorators completely miss the mark on DTG printing because they don’t comprehend the print platform and all the intricacies that go along with it. Shops try to cram the tried-and-true analog mindset into the digital printing world, and it just doesn’t always fit.

From what I’ve seen, shops that have failed with DTG, more often than not, didn’t write a business plan for selling this type of printed image. Their success was doomed by a lack of strategy.



A DTG printer is like a shiny new toy. A few months after the purchase, when there aren’t any sales, it loses its luster. Then, because the machine is rarely used, a series of poor maintenance-based mechanical failures destine the program to an equipment fire sale. This is the DTG cycle of death.

But it doesn’t have to happen that way. What can a shop do to prepare for success early? Here’s what’s needed to hit the gravy train for DTG printing:

• Business planning and sales
• Production steps
• Machine maintenance

If you’re interested in adding a direct-to-garment print platform to your business, then having a robust understanding of these three key areas can determine the likelihood of your success. Let’s explore.

Business Planning and Sales
Shops that are successful in using this technology have a strong and thoughtful strategy for selling it. They have a fully developed plan that feeds work into this production area constantly. If you’re considering buying a DTG printer on the off chance that maybe you’ll send a dozen or so shirts to it someday, you are doomed from the start.


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