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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.

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By Ben P. Rosenfield and Lori Leaman

Run lengths on Rinnig’s GT-541 typically are two dozen or fewer, and he says his policy is to automatically put any incoming order for fewer than 24 shirts on the Brother. “Or, if they want more than 24 but it’s a process-color print or color photo, I might also tell them it would be perfect on the digital printer,” he notes. “I explain that you can do full color, low numbers, and photos. And there’s good and bad: good, you get the full-color photo with no setup charges and you can do as little as one piece and get soft hand; bad, it doesn’t pop like a traditional print.”

Another caveat Rinnig issues to customers involves the vibrancy or saturation of the digital garment print once it’s washed. Rinnig says he tells clients that they may see a loss of color saturation of 5-8% on the first wash so they won’t be scared when they launder the garment.

“I say after the first wash, the color is for the life of the shirt. I think in almost three years I’ve had one person complain,” he says. “So if I say that up front, and it doesn’t fade, they love it even more.”

The Brother GT-541 printer and the Geo Knight DK20SP heat press dedicated to it stay in a separate room, shielded from the exposure to dirt and dust they might experience on the production floor. Even though the digital garment-decorating equipment is isolated from the rest of the production tools, a full-time employee keeps the machines company 40 hours a week, operating them exclusively. Rinnig reports that the Brother has printed more than 88,000 garments since QRST’s put it into action.

Spreadshirt, Inc.

Spreadshirt is headquartered in Boston, MA, but the company also has branch offices in England, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, and more. Luke Jackson, Spreadshirt’s manager of quality and innovation, says the company got its start in garment decoration by heat-applying plotter-cut vinyl designs onto apparel. The business then branched into direct-to-garment digital printing in 2007.


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