Direct-to-Garment: Worth Your Dollar?

Expert opinions as SGIA 2015 draws near.

The specialty imaging industry heads south this November for the 65th SGIA Expo, an annual tradition since 1948. With whispers of yet-to-be-seen direct-to-garment technology, the lure of burgeoning new industries, and more than 500 exhibitors clamoring for your investment, it’s best to arrive prepared. We spoke with these trusted consultants and Screen Printing contributors to find out what you can expect to see at the show.

Screen Printing:  The “Digital Textile Printing Zone” also promises to draw crowds, I’m sure. What advice do you have for screen printers considering the shift to DTG? What should they be on the lookout for at SGIA?

Mike Ruff, Mike Ruff Consluting: There is no doubt it will be awhile before high-production wearables will be done digitally. That doesn’t eliminate the brand new market DTG has created. DTG has reduced setup time. It uses less floor space. It eliminates the dirty, highly skilled process of screen printing for short runs, and creates the ability to print more detailed and better art without having high-priced separation technicians in house. On the other hand, it is still really slow. In the Digital Textile Printing Zone at SGIA this year, look for digital printhead improvements, better white inks, and faster printers with better resolution. The best part is that the prices of the machines are coming down. Don’t be too quick to think you know it all. DTG is here to stay.

Charlie Taublieb, Taublieb Consulting: I think one of the biggest things to look at with DTG machines is how you can fit them into your company’s production, and whether you have a client base that would be interested in this technology. Ask questions like: “How often do I have to print with it?” “How much ink is purged regularly and what is the cost of that ink?” “What do I have to do to my artwork to get great results?” Asking a lot of questions will let you know if this type of machine will work well with the clients you have.

Andy MacDougall, TMI Screenprinting Equipment: Make sure your numbers – the emphasis on “your” – can make a case for entering into this market. The machines are expensive, the ink is expensive, and your product will be expensive when compared to a screen-printed shirt. There’s no doubt the latest generation of DTG printers are better than the last, but take a hard look at your core market to make sure you can afford it and make money from it.

Steve Urmano, InfoTrends: Make sure to invest your money in a company that can support your needs by providing break fix service. See if the vendor will bundle service in with the price and possible ink purchase. Service is expensive and, at the same time, mission critical.

For more perspectives on this year's SGIA Expo:

SGIA Embraces Industry Manufacturing Opportunities
SGIA Attendees Can Explore Sustainable Printing
Trends to Watch for at SGIA
SGIA Expo: Rookie Dos and Don'ts

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