Brown did some recent DTG print testing and I had some thoughts. This particular test involved a print run of about 72 shirts ranging from youth medium to adult 3xl. It has a white crest print and a multi-color full back on a dark shirt. A typical order for a community printer. And a profitable one if handled correctly for your shop.
What is correctly?
This run was done with a digital printer and our Synergy
pretreat and FireFly
cure systems. At 72 shirts with a white under-base, this job took almost 2 hours. The image quality was fine but it did look like a digital print. They are clean but they do not pop. The estimate on the cost of each garment includes time and materials.
Shop time cost $1.66
Total cost per shirt $5.74
The positive to DTG printing is that once the art is approved there is no additional processing of the art to print. A quick conversation from the PNG and it is ready. Also, employee training is minimal. Everything is determined by the Linx
program within the machines and the operator only loads and unloads. Additionally, the software will resize the art to the size of the garment, the job is easily repeatable and there is no clean up at the end.
Screen Print on an automatic
So, what would happen if it were printed on an ElectraPrint
auto press? Front and back, this job would be finished in less than an hour. The look would be crisp and it would pop off the shirt. The size of the print on the youth would be the same size as on the 3XL, which is a negative. There is set up and clean up. The art needs to be separated and screens need to be made. Presuming that this design could be printed with 6 colors, this is the estimated cost per garment.
Total cost per shirt $3.31
Screen Print on an manual
So, what would happen if it were printed on an MasterPrinter
manual press? Front and back, this job would be finished in about 2 hours. The look would be crisp and it would pop off the shirt. The size of the print on the youth would be the same size as on the 3XL, which is a negative. There is set up and clean up. The art needs to be separated and screens need to be made. Presuming that this design could be printed with 6 colors, this is the estimated cost per garment.
Shop time cost $1.66
Total cost per shirt $4.63
Is cost the only factor in the production path?
Well, we can all say "no" to that answer. But there is $2.50 per shirt here in profit. So COGS cannot be ignored.
COGS is a significant factor. That calculation has to include machine time, shop time and labor time. However, judging the flow of your shop, the availability of your staff and their skill sets, and the print preferences of the final customer will sway the final production decision. If they want "pop" then they will want screen print. If they prefer a soft feel, then DTG is a good plan.
So the real answer is that there is not a "correct" way to do this except to follow some basic guidelines.
- Is the customer happy with the finished product?
- Did you deliver on time?
- Did you make a profit margin that you would want repeat the job?
- Did this job delay other jobs that were more profitable?
If your answers are yes, yes, yes and no, then you have chosen wisely within the parameters of your production facility. If any other answer comes up, then reconsider for future jobs what needs to shift. Was the print accepted, was job late, or did you not make enough of a profit margin? Because in the end, it is a happy customer with a solid bottom line that we are all striving to achieve.