Thursday, July 18, 2019

Is it time for an automatic press or a DTG?

Decisions, decisions.

If you have the time to check out our web sites you will see that Brown Manufacturing offers a wide range of decorating machinery.  We build small screen printing machines, automatic screen printing machines and large production machines for direct to garment printing.  So, with that diversity we get to talk with a wide range of customers and this gives us a unique perspective on the industry.  The question of when to invest in different production machines is posed from all levels of decorators.

Manual and DTG to automatic.  When is the right time?

When chatting with a small community decorator, the talk of adding an automatic or DTG printer is common. Typically, a shop starts with one DTG system and a heat press or a manual screen print set up.  Sometimes a combination of the two.  This configuration is designed to be a one-man show with low rent and no employees and sometimes, no paycheck.  As this business becomes more successful the need for higher volume pushes for the choice of hiring employees or buying automated equipment.  There are some screen printing production numbers that make it clear that adding an automated press is more profitable and less stressful than adding an employee.

35 hours manual vs 8.5 hours auto

Based on these numbers, a one man shop can produce a weeks manual work in one day.  This allows for growth without added payroll or time off if you are worn out.

ElectraPrint Junior
In some cases it is a DTG shop turning to screen printing.  This conversation is typically driven by volume.  The production rate of a DTG machine is lower than a manual print shop but the time constraints are similar.  So the question is whether each run justifies a different type or printing, or are the jobs still low run but there are a lot more of them.  If the runs are longer, then an automatic screen printer is the better investment.  A GTX produces 25-30 shirts per hour.  Any run that is more than 20 shirts could be set up and printed in less time on either a manual or an automatic press.  Yes, there is the screen printing mess and labor question.  However, the labor is the same.  One operator per machine.  Also, with the pretreat and the multiple steps in a DTG print, the mess is not that different. 

If the problem is with more short run jobs, then additional DTG machines should be considered.  With that in mind, how that DTG production flow is managed should also be studied.  There may be more involved than just the printer.  Look at the curing systems, the pretreat application systems and the artwork management processes.  There are products that make all of these tasks more efficient.

When do you add DTG?

Synergy Pretreat and FireFly Curing System
That questions is more about adding a profit center than changing production styles.  If your business has potential in the one-off or customization market, then a DTG adds another dimension to your offerings.  If your screen printing presses are full with longer runs, then a DTG for the short runs is an option to consider.  These systems can be run with less skilled operators and require little working space.  They are serious profit centers when used for the correct market.

At what cost?

Automatic screen printing set ups and digital printing set ups are similar in price.  Each will run from $25,000 to $35,000 once you include all the details.  Yes you can buy less expensive systems, but you do get what you pay for.  This capital investment comes with one strong benefit.  With proper maintenance, it shows up every day for work.  And, without any additional fuss, it allows for growth in either volume or product lines.  A positive investment in either direction.

Let us know when you look at the expansion.  We can help you cost our your options and we look forward to hearing from you.