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DTG: Going in with a Plan

(June/July 2017) posted on Tue Jul 18, 2017

Preparation is critical when adopting a new technology as unique as digital decoration.

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By Marshall Atkinson

This type of print production is different than screen printing. It may require you to educate your customer on the attributes of the print. Are you prepared to have that conversation or post that information on your online sales page? Have you worked out a strong sales funnel for this type of production?

Certain situations build a strong case that DTG will be successful in a business. Some examples that best maximize digital’s capabilities:

Repeat, one-off designs from a web-based order platform. Why keep any pre-decorated inventory when you can just print on-demand? All you need to do is stock the blank shirts.

High color-count, low-volume orders. Need to print a 12-color back on eight shirts for a customer? No problem with DTG.

Photographic images. Since digital printing doesn’t use halftones to replicate the image, DTG printing will have a superior look to traditional process-color screen printing. No halftone image interference.

Shops that want to add T-shirt printing as a sales tool, but don’t want to add the infrastructure needed for screen printing. DTG doesn’t use screens, emulsion, inks, or reclaiming. It takes far less labor, and the physical footprint needed in the shop is considerably smaller. A lot of embroiderers, fringe apparel decorators, and even sign shops use DTG to augment their sales for this reason.

For the right order size (usually about a case of shirts or less depending on the model), DTG has a faster throughput from start to finish than traditional screen printing. Mainly due to the lack of traditional screen printing prep challenges, DTG orders can get entered, produced, and shipped in less time. Many online apparel decoration companies are sending the majority of their orders through DTG units to decrease the turn times from 7 to 10 business days to 2 or 3. If you are an online player, this is a very compelling argument.

It’s more sustainable. DTG printing uses far less energy, chemicals, and water, and produces less waste than screen printing. For shops or brands that have an eco-friendly perspective, this is a good fit for their image production and aligns with their triple-bottom-line approach.


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