Page 38 - Print 21 Magazine March-April 2019
P. 38

Textile Printing
Jake Nelson
Teeing up new revenues
with direct-to-garment
Once upon a time, paper was paper and fabric was fabric and never the twain did meet. As digital technology advances into the textile printing market, however, the rise of direct-to-garment (DTG) solutions opened up new opportunities that commercial printers never had before – and now is a good time to jump aboard the bandwagon, as Jake Nelson discovered.
manufacturing of the products, can find it in DTG,” he adds.
Epson has been a leader in direct to garment for many years, as visitors to Australian trade shows would testify. Its latest model is the SureColor F2160, which is an OEM product – the machine, plus its print heads and its ink, are all made by Epson; this allows for better support and a more complete warranty, says Warby.
“Some other key advantages would be its usability, its automatic print head maintenance and protections,
its sensors that detect surface obstructions, its wide colour gamut thanks to the Epson inks and pigments used, and its different optional configurations for high- speed and white ink printing,” he says.
Graphic arts supplier GJS sells the Epson SureColor F2160 along with its competitor, the Brother GTX. DTG sales are booming, according
to Michael Davies at GJS, who highlights screen printers looking to expand as a strong customer base.
“It’s a growing area, and a lot of people purchasing this equipment tend to be starting their own busin- esses from home. We’re seeing a lot of screen printers taking on digital.”
DTG (direct-to-garment) uses inkjet technology to print straight to natural and blended fibres such as cotton and polycotton.
Unlike screen printing, which quickly stamps out identical copies of the same image in large volumes, DTG, like all digital printing, can print runs as low as a single garment, according to Steve Richardson, managing director of Impression Technology.
“Originally you could either screen print or sublimate, which requires polyesters for sublimation or large quantities of natural fibres for screen – you couldn’t do one-
offs on natural,” he says. “DTG was developed for internet sales, where people could upload designs, and you could formulate four-colour process on a single piece of cotton.”
Australian-owned Impression developed direct-to-garment around 14 years ago in conjunction with an American company called Coldesi, says Richardson.
“Direct-to-garment technology is an Australian innovation that’s since been taken up by companies around the world,” he says. “Our brand was DTG Digital, and the name has been adopted to describe the process.
“We’ve had numerous models over the past decade, culminating in our newest model, the G4 series, which sees enhancements in speed and usability, as well as entirely new ink technology.”
DTG lends itself to promotional work, says Richardson, with businesses that adopt it able to see big returns on investment.
“A company can take a four-dollar blank shirt and a dollar ‘s worth of ink, and turn that into a twenty-five
Entry into direct to garment: the Ricoh Ri100
to thirty-five dollar product,” he
says. “Because of its size it’s easily sellable online and easy to freight,
so companies can deliver a higher perceived value product with minimal stock on hand, plus easy logistics.”
According to Ryan Warby, national business development manager for sign and display at Epson, direct-to-garment offers
a new revenue stream for service providers such as cut-sheet printers and franchisees looking to offer more to their customers.
“Existing screen printers who traditionally have to rely on high volumes of the same artwork to justify the print run can now accept short-run multiple-size artworks,” he says. “Additionally, small businesses looking for a good startup, where they have the artwork or brand they want to promote, and need an economical and reliable way to get into the
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