Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Curing solutions for Direct-To-Garment tshirts

The direct-to-garment (DTG) industry is a fast growing segment of the t-shirt decorating businesses.  It has potential to for great customer service and satisfaction due to the rapid turn around of finished goods and the limitless design possibilities.  However, it has some downsides in terms of profits.

We have written in previous blogs that the only way to make high profits in t-shirt decorating is to move product in and out of the production facility as quick as possible.  Labor costs are the real costs of t-shirt printing.  Whether you are talking traditional screen print or DTG.  Keeping your time down is how to keep your profits up.

What is the biggest time consumer in DTG production?  Curing.  Especially curing dark garments.  Let's talk about that production and a new way to resolve the bottle neck.

Typical production of DTG shirts
There are standard steps necessary to produce prints on dark colored garments.

  1. spray the shirt with pre-treat solution
  2. using a paper barrier, press the shirt in a transfer press to seal the fibers and dry the pre-treat
  3. print the shirt
  4. use a transfer machine (set to not touch) to cure the ink
What are we trying to accomplish?
The first press with the transfer machine lays down the fibers of the shirt so that the ink prints onto a flat surface.  This is necessary to get a clean print.  The second press is our curing system.  This can be accomplished in other ways that are faster and more efficient for both the operator and shop power consumption.  The traditional heat press ranges from 45-90 seconds pr/shirt for a full cure which is roughly 60 shirts per/hr.  With DTG machines capable of producing up to 400 per hour, an operator would need to utilize around 7 heat presses.  A single operator will not be able to keep up at that pace, and the power consumption of is crazy. 

What is the solution?  
A conveyor curing system that heats the water and has convection air to move the water vapor out of the chamber.  DragonAir Core Technology.  Ok, nice sales tag.  But seriously, this is the answer to increasing production and getting a consistent final product.  If you can pull the shirt from the printer and place it on a conveyor, then you open the transfer press for other uses and the operator has one less task.  Also, in a conveyor system, you can load from multiple DTG printers so that you would reduce the power required for the transfer presses.

So how and why does this work?
DragonAir Core Recirculation Technology

Think of convection ovens.  The idea is to move heated air around the product and to exhaust the water vapor out of the system.  The DragonAir does just that.  By utilizing filtered air and digital temperature control this unit effectively and consistently cures DTG garments.  

The final garment has a more vibrant look and it feels better.  The cure is consistent from shirt to shirt and the cost of production has dropped.  And isn't that what we are going for?  Production cost of goods to decrease, production to increase, and a great looking product.  

For more information, check out our BrownDigital web site at