Barcelona here we come!
Meet us at FESPA Fabric 21-24 feb. The official European launch of the Mpower series! Come see what this incredible machine can do for you and our business, you will bee amazed !
If you like to book a demonstration give us a call and we will be happy to help you. Buy the way we speak or understand Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, German and English.
Just to let you all know, Grafitronic will attend the PRomotion EXPO in Elmia, Sweden, 18-20 of January 2012, as well as EXPO NEWS Fair 2012, Denmark, 23-24 January. Come and see the quality of our amazing Anajet apparel printers, and experience what an iPad can do for your company.
(article from www.t-shirtbusiness.com)
What are the best digital DTG printers for a small start-up T-shirt printing business?
There are a number of excellent direct-to-garment (DTG) printer brands and models from which to choose when starting a T-shirt printing business.
We’ll help you sort out your options and give you our recommendations for best DTG printer.
Since this web site is specifically for people who want to start a small T-shirt printing business, we will limit our DTG printer candidates to those that are designed for that market, which will generally be the less expensive models — those not necessarily suited to a large high-volume printing company.
All the printers we discuss are available for about $12K-$20K , except where noted. Although this might seem to be a lot of money for a start-up business, financing can be arranged for about $450-$650 a month, which is easily achievable for a business that has such high profit margins as a T-shirt printing business. It doesn’t take much business to make the monthly payments and have plenty of money left over.
Also note that you can generally get better prices on DTG printers by attending a garment/apparel decorating trade show and getting “show special” prices. It’s a good way to buy because you can see and compare different DTG printers all at the same place. Even take one of your own digital color images or photographs and let the different DTG printer companies print sample shirts for you to compare. Although we will not discuss high-end or industrial garment printers in much detail, you might be interested in those machines in the future as your small business becomes a larger business. Kornit, in particular, is a company that sells DTG printers that are out of the price range we consider reasonable for new T-shirt printing businesses. DTG (brand name) also makes high-end garment printers that we don’t discuss.
DTG Printer Comparisons and Reviews
We will be discussing the following DTG printer models, in no particular order:
- Brother GT-541 and Brother GT-782
- Anajet Sprint
- Veloci-Jet XL
- DTG (brandname) HM1-C, and DTG Viper
- M&R i-Dot 2100 and 4100
Brother® GT-541 and GT-782 DTG Printers
Brother International, a Japanese company, is well known for its printers, fax machines, sewing machines, and embroidery products. It also produces two digital direct-to-garment printers, the GT-541 and GT-782.
The Brother GT-541 is the least expensive of the two models but only prints on white shirts (or very light colors). This may not be a limitation if you know that you will only be printing white shirt designs. The printer has a generous 14″ x 16″ printing area, requires about 4′ x 3″ table space, and weighs 220 lbs. It uses sealed 4 color (CYMK) ink cartridges. There are no white ink cartridges since it doesn’t print dark shirts. It will print on 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton polyester fabric.
The Brother GT-782 is much larger and more expensive DTG printer with dual-platens (two shirts at a time) that prints both white and dark shirts. It has a 16″ x 18″ print area, requires about 9′ x 4′ table space, and weighs 485 lbs. It uses 4 color (CYMK) cartridges and 4 white cartridges (for dark shirt undercolor).
These printers have an excellent reputation for reliability, quality, useability, and are well-liked by users, based on user-forum feedback. Print speed is fast and colors are vibrant. Print table options are available for youth-size or baby-size garments. The company provides training and support through its distributors, such as SewingMachine.com. Standard limted warranty is for 1 year.
AnaJet® Sprint™ DTG Printer
AnaJet® is a U.S. (California) based company that produces the AnaJet Sprint™ direct-to-garment printer. The printer prints on both white and dark shirts, using 4 CYMK sealed ink cartridges and 4 white ink cartridges (for dark shirt undercolor). It has a 12.5″ x 16″ print area, requires about 3′ x 3′ table space, and weights only 82 lbs.
Update: Anajet has announced a brand new high-end DTG printer called the mPower that is much more expensive than the Sprint described in this article. See the Anajet web site for more details.
This printer will print on 100% cotton, 50/50 blends, or synthetic fabrics (using special PolyBrightink cartridges). Many DTG printer brands do not print on polyester. Anajet also provides applications for applying metal foil to its printed shirts, as well as techniques for printing stunning 3D images on fabric. Kits and materials are available for printing artwork to canvas.
The AnaJet Sprint enjoys an excellent reputation for reliability, quality, and useability, based on user feedback. It is fast, has an easy-to-use interface, and prints vibrant colors. It comes with a limited 1 year warranty and lifetime customer support. The company provides a 1-day hands-on training course as well as DVDs, videos, and frequent webinars for its customers. Technical support is very good according to most user reports, although a weak point is that they do not have service techs around the country who can come to your business location to fix broken machines.
The company manufactures, sells, and supports its product directly from its headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. It sells and supports international customers through worldwide distributors. For more information go to Anajet.com.
Veloci-Jet XL ® DTG Printer
The Veloci-Jet XL digital garment printer is assembled in the U.S., sold, and supported by EquipmentZone. It has a large 13″ x 24″ print area, a little “longer” than usual. Various platen options are available to allow, for example, printing two shirts in one pass. We don’t have physical size and weight but it is obviously designed for heavy-duty operation.
It comes with RIP software and a number of handy graphics program aids (EZ Artist), primarily in the form of Photoshop plugins.
It uses bulk (bottle) ink, which reduces ink cost when compared to sealed cartridge systems. The company also offers an optional sealed bag ink system. Print head height automatically adjusts up to about 6.5 inches, which allows printing on extremely thick items. Print speed is fast and operating costs are somewhat cheaper than with some competing machines.
The company also sells a SpeedTreater which automates and speeds up the pretreatment of dark shirts.
18 months limited warranty and 18 months free support. After 18 months, support plans are available at extra cost. User reports regarding the machine and EquipmentZone support are generally very positive. The company has service technicians who can travel to repair broken machines.
DTG HM1-C and Viper DTG Printers
The DTG(brand name) direct-to-garment printers are manufactured in Australia, sold by distributors in the U.S. as well as internationally. (SWF East has recently changed its name to ColDesi)
The DTG HM1-C, and Viper are DTG’s digital garment printers. The printers use the latest technology in ink management, print head protection, and encoder strip protection. The differences between these printers are primarily in size, operational characteristics, and options. Anyone considering any of these printers should attend a trade show or distributor showroom to see them in action before making a decision.
All DTG printers will print on both white and dark shirts of 100% cotton or cotton/poly blends. The printers use CYMK/White pressurized refillable bulk ink bottles, which reduces ink cost over sealed cartridge systems. Print areas are 12″ x 21.2″ (HM1-C), and 13″ x 16.5″ (Viper). The Viper can be optionally equiped with various platens (2/4/6 shirts) and a conveyor roller system to allow larger print sizes and multiple prints per pass. The Viper requires 3″ x 4″ table space and weighs 120 lb.
DTG printers come with RipPro software and WIMS (White Ink Management System) that prevents white ink clogging.
DTG printers include 2-day hands-on training in Tampa (for Eastern U.S. by SWF East; unknown for Western U.S. by MESA). Also includes a 2 year warranty and an unspecified support period.
M&R i-Dot™ DTG Printers – 2100 and 4100
M&R Companies produces two direct-to-garment printers, thei-Dot 2100 and i-Dot 4100. The 2100 prints only on white or very light colored shirts, while the 4100 prints both white and dark shirts. Both use 4 CYMK color cartridges and can print on 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton/polyester blend fabrics, as well as “some” polyesters.
Both printers have 16″ x 20″ print areas and have essentially the same features, although the 4100 is more robust and comes with a bulk ink system, a touch screen control panel, 4 white ink cartridges (for dark shirts), and includes free 2-day training. The printers have a 1-year limited warranty. On-call technical support is available from the company. Length of support period is not known.
Interestingly, the M&R i-Dot printers also come with a computer, flat-screen monitor, and keyboard. The 4100 also comes with a separate touch-screen control console. The computer has the necessary RIP printer software already included but customers must supply their own graphics programs. It’s not known if the computer has the power and memory necessary to adequately handle large graphics programs such as Photoshop.
Summary & Recommendations
Choosing from among the various DTG printer products is not an easy task. The products are in many ways very similar, but can have significant differences as well. There are more companies and products than we have discussed here, although we have chosen those that we feel best fit the needs of start-up T-shirt printing companies.
The DTG printer industry is moving very fast. New technology and updated printer models come out every year that replace older less advanced, less reliable models. Be sure you aren’t buying last year’s printers. Some old-technology printers, such as Fast T-Jet, are available as inexpensive reburbished units, but you should be very careful about buying such products.
It is also important to select the right printer company or dealer. A great printer from a company that doesn’t provide adequate customer training and support is not acceptable.
Our Recommendation for Best Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printer
We feel the AnaJet Sprint™ is currently the best overall DTG printer choice for start-up T-shirt and garment printing businesses.
AnaJet’s only business is its DTG printers, unlike other manufacturers or distributors who are primarily in the screen printing or embroidery equipment business and have added DTG printers as a sideline. Anajet doesn’t depend on distributors or dealers (in the U.S.) for sales, training, and support. They do it all themselves, including manufacturing, directly from their plant in California. The company has developed a reputation for outstanding customer support and product reliability.
The AnaJet Sprint direct-to-garment printer prints to both white and dark shirts, prints on polyester materials (unlike many competitors), is fast, uses a sealed-cartridge ink management system, and requires little manual maintenance. The printer comes with a 1-year warranty on parts and labor, which includes a 90-day warranty on the print head (many companies don’t warranty the print head at all). It also comes with two full sets of color ink cartridges (most competitors only supply one set). The company recently reduced its ink cartridge prices (by up to 35%), making it competitive with less convenient bulk ink systems.
AnaJet offers a variety of options including different print table (platen) sizes, pretreatment sprayer, heat press, PolyBright inks (for polyester), a pre-treatment sprayer (for dark shirts), clip-art graphics CDs, and an extended warranty. They also offer an ARTprint Starter Kit that includes all the materials to make high-profit art prints on canvas.
The company offers a 1-day hands-on training course (strongly suggested), DVD and video training, regular online webinars, and even a handy book, ”The T-Shirt Revolution: Building Your Business Using a Digital Apparel Printer.”
Oh, and one other thing, the AnaJet Sprint looks good, is stylishly attractive, and is relatively lightweight, unlike the heavy factory-industrial designs of many of its competitors. This might be important if it’s going to sit on your dining room table as you get your T-shirt business started, or if you intend to make it portable and carry it to art shows or events.