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The DTG User Experience

(March 2009) posted on Sat Mar 07, 2009

Sampling, prototyping, and on-demand printing are some of the benefits direct-to garment inkjet printers represent. Discover how four companies have made these machines important parts of their businesses.


By Ben P. Rosenfield and Lori Leaman

click an image below to view slideshow

The market for direct-to-garment (DTG) inkjet printers has grown steadily over the past few years. When Screen Printing first covered the technology in its September 2005 edition, only four companies offered DTG printing systems. The playing field had more than tripled nearly two years later, with offerings from 13 companies showcased in a follow-up article in Screen Printing’s March 2007 issue. Now, almost two years after we last covered DTG systems, the manufacturer count is at 17.

The demand for DTG inkjet printers isn’t coming solely from garment screen printers who need a solution for short runs and one-off jobs. Companies that specialize in signage, graphics, and promotional items also are getting in the game, as are entrepreneurs who set up seasonally at sports events, amusement parks, and shopping malls. The following profiles demonstrate the ways in which a variety of companies have successfully integrated garment inkjet printing into their operations.

QRST’s

QRST’s is a company in growth mode. The Somerville, MA-based garment shop uses six- and eight-color M&R Gauntlet garment presses, a Brother GT-541 direct-to-garment inkjet printer, and, after re-cently acquiring a company called Cambridge Embroidery, a couple of Barudan single-head machines.

QRST’s was founded in 1989 and purchased seven years ago by Peter Rinnig. For him, digital garment decoration represented a way to complement the shop’s screen capabilities. Now, he says, it accounts for a substantial portion of his business’s gross revenue.

QRST’s bought the Brother GT-541 two and a half years ago. Rinnig says being an early adopter of the new technology has paid off in a variety of ways.

“It was about 8% of our gross the first year, then 10 or 10.5%, now it’s at 12%,” he explains. “And when you’re first to market in something like that in my area, you end up with 15 or more of your competitors who don’t have one and who come to you to get their digitally printed shirts. I already have it, so they don’t need to buy one.”

Rinnig attributes part of his success with garment inkjet printing to research. He says he made it his mission to understand from day one what would and wouldn’t be possible with the digital printer. He decided on the Brother after six months of investigating, including obtaining printed samples and visiting trade shows.


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