2018 Digital Direct Report

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 • THE DIGITAL DIRECT REPORT • 2018 A lthough there have been production PODS used in the direct- to-garment printing (D2) market for many years, they are rapidly gaining in popularity due to the increasing size of the D2 market, technological improvements, and the overall reduction in the price and operating costs of D2 printers. So, what are D2 PODS, or direct-to-garment print on-demand systems? The short answer is they are a group of two or more D2 printers, usually clustered around a conveyor dryer for curing, and operated by one or more people making this a complete D2 produc- tion unit. The use of PODS in D2 production has many advantages. PODS allow the user to easily scale up depending on production volume by adding a single D2 printer to an existing PODS or by adding whole PODS units. MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY The PODS process is very effective as the D2 operator can load and unload garments while the shirt is being printed on other printers keeping all the printers in the PODS busy and having an efficient workflow as none of the printers or operators are ever idle. Since one operator can load garments and print on several D2 printers using PODS help reduce labor costs. PODS also give the owner redundancy and backup. In case one printer goes down, there are other units in the PODS available to continue printing. When facing an equipment breakdown, most business owners know it is always a lot better to be able to produce something rather than nothing at all. Many production shop owners decide to use PODS as they can equal higher-volume production for less money than large, high- production, single-unit printers. For example, a D2 owner could conceivably create a PODS using three D2 printers, a conveyor dryer, and RIP production software for less than $75K. Depending on print file attributes and other factors, a single operator could produce close to 500 shirts in a single shift using this three-unit PODS. EVERYTHING ELSE So far, we have concentrated on the D2 printer, but there is other equipment and software that make the PODS more effective. Bar code pull and RIP software is one of the great additions to WHAT ARE D2 PODS? B Y M AT T H E W R H O M E PODS help increase volume to create a full D2 produc- tion unit. (Image courtesy Melco International)

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