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What’s New in Direct-to-Garment Printers?

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 07, 2011

The demand for customized T-shirts is on the rise. Find out how direct-to-garment inkjet printers can help you capitalize on this trend.

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By Gail Flower

Landesman: Our estimates are that within 10 years, the industry will be 50% DTG. Screen printing is not going away. There will remain a strong need for screen printing as certain materials are not easy to inkjet; furthermore, specialty inks like glitters, foils, glow-in-the-dark inks, are not jettable at this time.

Baxter: While screen printing will always have an important role in the garment-embellishment process, DTG printing will have an ever-increasing place.

Schierkolk: DTG printers are an enhancement to a printing business. This printing technology enables any apparel-decoration or promotional-product business to enjoy profits never before possible. Screen printers can make a decent profit on a one-off shirt that was out of range in years past.

Peña: DTG equipment is a great supplement to traditional garment-decorating methods, such as screen printing and embroidery. We’re witnessing an increased combination of DTG and traditional printing in most production lines, and we anticipate a steady growth in this trend. With the ability to print full-color graphics instantly with fast turnaround and no setup, we definitely foresee most garment printers using DTG technology in their shops.


How large is the direct-to-garment business in the U.S.?

Green: It was $370 million in 2006, or just 1% of the apparel-decoration market’s share at that time. Lacking an independent market analyst in this space makes it difficult to estimate. It could be in the $500 million to $1 billion range by now.

Copeland: I would estimate the DTG market to be roughly $40-$50 million annually for equipment sales in the U.S. This excludes residual sales for heat presses and consumables sales, which altogether could double the market size.

Baxter: It’s difficult to say, but DTG printing remains a small percentage of all garments printed in the U.S.

Schierkolk: Decorated apparel is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S.

Peña: DTG is ever expanding, for certain.


What types of ink does your equipment use for direct-to-garment T-shirt printing?

Green: Our printer uses two general types of water-based pigment inks—one that works best on organic fabric, AnaBright, and another for synthetics called PolyBright. Our white ink looks fantastic on dark fabrics. We have a closed-loop ink-delivery process that enables precise application while re-ducing the evaporative process that leads to ink clogging.

Goljevacki: One set of CMYK and one set of White cartridges. The ink is a water-based pigmented formulation.


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