DTG Shops Share Their Tips
Running a high production shop as a DTG Printer can be difficult. You must scale up your business. When your business is larger it maximizes workflow. Remember that DTG is a business, but it is also an art. It takes more finesse than just selling widgets. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your direct to garment printing business.
Quality Matters When It Comes To Printing T-Shirts
The best garments to print on are those that are made with 100% pure cotton. Garments that are “ring spun” are better. Low quality shirts will give you low quality prints.
That being said, there are printers that can handle 50/50 or even tri-blend shirts. This requires significant testing ahead of time. You’ll want to test these garments first before offering them to customers. Check for color brilliance and wash fastness.
Most DTG printers are looking for a solution to printing on polyester. They all know that they can print on it, but the color will just wash right out. Polyester is designed to repel water. It is also designed to prevent stains. With DTG ink being water-based the garment thinks it is being stained and so it repels the ink.
The repelling of the ink will not happen until you wash the garment. The ink just won’t adhere to the polyester fibers. It comes out in the wash. The Epson Polyester Pre-Treat will enable you to print on polyester, however due to the polyester weave it will not look right when compared to a print on a 100% cotton shirt.
Documentation is Key to a Great DTG Business
You should be able to repeat a job easily if you document everything correctly. It doesn’t matter if you printed the garments yesterday or 10 years ago. If you have a documentation process in place then you may have the original artwork and all of the fine details that the client needs to just place a simple reorder. Include everything you need in your documentation. This can include file names, color density, amount of pretreat solution, and RIP settings. Document everything. You will want to document it on a software program such as Word or a Google Doc. Don’t lose this information.
Quality Control in Direct to Garment Printing
You must perform quality control tests. This is vital to DTG printing. When you want to offer new products or set up a process you will want to check the quality. You’ll want to test with different amounts of pretreatment fluid. Check to see how long it takes for pretreatment and curing. Don’t forget your printer settings. Those need to be checked as well. You’ll want to wash the garments to see how they will react.
You want to be able to present all options to your clients. There are some shirts on the market that certain printers are comfortable printing on while other printers can’t handle. If you test the products first you will know what you can and cannot offer to your clients. If you can let your customers know what to expect then there won’t be any surprises. You could just refuse to offer those particular garments to your clients. The only way to know which of your products are going to work the best is by performing quality checks.
Pretreat Those T-Shirts
You must pretreat all of your shirts properly. The settings must be right on your machine. Quality DTG printing starts with the pretreatment machine. Use 28 - 32 grams of pretreat solution for an average t-shirt. Also, use a heat press for about 5 - 7 seconds. Doing this before printing will smooth out any wrinkles. It will also remove garment moisture and create a smooth printing surface.
Curing Your Pretreating Solution
You will find that all DTG production shops use conveyor dryers. You will have improved production times if you use a conveyor dryer. This is true for both curing pretreat solution and DTG ink. If you look at the market for conveyor dryers you will see a lot of great options. When choosing a DTG dryer you should consider CFM (cubic feet per minute). Removing moisture is important to a quick and dried garment. Higher CFM means shirts dry quickly.
Maintaining Your DTG Printer
You must perform the required maintenance. If you don’t your DTG printer will not be in great condition. Don’t even consider letting a day go by without maintenance.
A climate controlled area is what your DTG machine needs. It needs to be clean. The humidity needs to be average. Investing in a temperature gauge with a humidity display would be a great idea. Don’t just guess at the temperature and humidity numbers. Get an accurate reading with a gauge.
Quality DTG Artwork
You need to use high quality artwork. Just having a picture that is taken on an iPhone is not enough. It will turn out blurry. They will blame you. If you have a good starting quality for your prints, then you won’t have customer complaints in the end.
DTG printing can be a boon for any garment decoration shop. You can certainly enhance your business with a DTG printer. That being said, you still need to take steps to turn out a good product. Check your production. Check your maintenance. Check it over and over. Constantly improve your quality and you will set yourself up for success.