September '21

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3 8 D I R E C T - T O - S U B S T R A T E R E P O R T 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M DIRECT-TO-SUBSTRATE REPORT D irect-to-garment (DTG) … It used to be a fringe edge of the decorating industry. One of the new fads that would never replace screen printing because it was too slow, the inks too expensive, and wash durability just wasn't there, said some. That is definitely not the case today. Everything about DTG has matured into a vibrant, growing, and vital part of many decorating businesses. If you have not looked into direct-to-garment as an addition to your business, you might want to reconsider. DTG PAST TO PRESENT It the early days, direct-to-garment print- ing was limited, and the printers were no- toriously slow. Printing with only CMYK inks on white or light shirts was normal. White ink printing was non-existent or just coming onto the scene. Inks, wash durability, and cost per print weren't that great, and machine maintenance was a real pain. However, since the early 2000's, the DTG industry has come a long way. It used to be that if you didn't print every day with your DTG printer, it would turn into an expensive paperweight. To- day, the machines are much more reliable. Machine manufacturers have continually developed and improved how the printers function, handle white ink, maintenance cycles, and increased the print speeds to where pro- duction capabilities of some of the higher- end DTG printers are approaching that of screen printing equipment. Throw in the improvements in pretreating, new ink formulations, and ease of use, and DTG has become a powerhouse in garment decorating. Screen printing has its ori- gins in China around the year 221 A.D., has been around for thousands of years, and today is well-known for production capabilities and wash durabil- ity. However, screen printing can be a lengthy, cumbersome, and expensive process for jobs that require a lot of colors, multiple imprint locations, and smaller quantities. There is a break-even point where it is just not economically feasible to screen Above: From a single printer in a bedroom to full production shops with hun- dreds of DTG printers print- ing tens of thousands of shirts per day, direct-to-gar- ment has found its place in the apparel decorating industry. (Image courtesy OmniPrint International) THE DTG EXPLOSION B Y B R I A N W A L K E R DIRECT-TO-GARMENT IS THRIVING; HAS YOUR SHOP CONSIDERED IT?

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