Purchasing a used machine Carefully
When it comes to buying your first DTG machine, there are a lot of factors to consider, and you can’t always rely on industry forums, Facebook groups, or company promises to give you a clear answer. Every month, I get at least a dozen calls from folks who have purchased an old system from Craigs list, eBay, or elsewhere, and the question is always the cliche: “do you have DTG software?” Special RIP software is required for DTG printer machines, which controls ink deposit, generates an underbase for white shirts, allows you to re-print an image (for additional brightness), and much more. A dongle is usually used to secure specialized RIP software (to prevent bootlegging). Many used machines are sold “as is,” and dongles are frequently missing. Software to run the system can cost up to $1,000 extra, and without the dongle, it can cost even more. If you’re going to buy a machine, look into RIP software.
Epson and other manufacturers tightened up the head market after years of DTG firms purchasing and selling a LOT of print heads for clogged heads. A print head can cost anywhere from $800 to $1000 – or more – and if the machine is more than a few years old, print heads may be unavailable. If you’re buying a used machine, make sure you know where to acquire print heads and how much they cost.
Be wary of claims such as “it worked when I last shut it off” or “it’s been in storage for a few years but still works perfectly.” Machines in storage frequently have blocked ink lines and clogged heads, necessitating a complete “replumbing” of all the hoses. You truly want to see the machine in action and get a real print, not just a guarantee that “it works.”
Find A Place for Your Business
Many DTG printer machines are offered to new printers who believe the business is simple and that all they need to do is develop a website and sell shirts and everything will be fine. These machines want to run – ideally every day – and you need a way to print at least a few shirts every day (even if just your own images or rags). Short run, full color, quick turnaround (same day!) business is a fantastic spot for DTG, and you need to know how this fits into your business strategy. You might not want this business if you’re a screen printer, but when you’re earning $15 to $20 per shirt for a two-dozen order with no screens, it’s hard to say no.
Cheap DTG Printer Machines Are not Equal to Good Quality
This may not sit well with machine manufacturers, but when a company sells a new machine for less than $5,000, there isn’t much room for support, infrastructure to keep up with R&D on the following generation, and so on. Avoid buying a low-cost gadget only on the basis of pricing. Profit is not a negative word for a manufacturer, and they require it to keep staff, components, inventories, and other assets in good working order. Pose some sensitive questions. “Can you tell me the number of machines you’ve sold?” “Can you tell me about the warranty?” “Have you been in DTG industry for some time?”
Be prepared to pay a lot for ink.
DTG inks are still expensive. Believe it. It’s just the way it is. Don’t let something block your success. There’s also what’s known as “the digital lie,” which means that printers don’t always tell you the full cost of a print. Yes, the ink may cost $400 per liter, and they may tell you that this translates to $.50 each print on a light shirt and $3.00 per print on a dark shirt. They don’t tell you, however, that the machine will do a lot of head cleanings, wasting ink, or that you may have to flush out all the ink and replace it every month to keep the warranty. These are all ink charges that are frequently overlooked when quoting a “price per print.” You’ll get used to it. Don’t let it hold you back. This isn’t screen printing, where a printed shirt will set you back $4.00. You’re charging a lot more for DTG prints, and if you know your costs, you can make a lot of money with it.
As previously mentioned, there are numerous Facebook Groups relevant to DTG stuff. They are, in fact, the most active Facebook Groups I follow. DTG owners enjoy boasting, complaining, sharing ideas, assisting others, and more. Join these communities and keep current with the DTG sections on various online forums. Speak with the DTG owners. Attend trade shows. Maintain an open mind. One user may despise his brand, while another may adore it. Think about the source. Is it possible that the individual who despises it has unrealistic expectations, dislikes the high ink prices, and refuses to perform the simple maintenance required to keep the machine running smoothly? Does the individual who adores their machine “understand it” – that is, does he or she run it every day, knows what markets to target for this process, considers high ink costs, and is unconcerned about machine maintenance? You get my drift.