Web-to-print innovation has launched the big change of today’s printing practice, by introducing DTG printers that have transformed printing processes with increased efficiency.
T-Shirt Design Tool Integration for Ecommerce Stores: Product Tour
With the advancement of technology and the need for more detailed and complicated prints on t-shirts, the print industry has moved from traditional screen printing and embroidery to more digital direct-to-garment printing. Although the popularity of screen printing and embroidery is not going out of style, the DTG printing industry, on the other hand, is getting stronger for its fast delivery and printing high-quality artworks.
What is the best DTG printing machine? Today, the best DTG printer on the market is the KORNIT AVALANCHE HDK which costs around $250,000. It produces some of the lowest cost per print in the industry with high-quality print on t-shirts & apparel. The second best is the Aeoon Kyo DTG printer which costs $160,000 onwards. A professional DTG printing machine can cost between $10,000 to $500,000.
What are the top DTG printers in the industry? The top 10 DTG printers in the industry are:
- KORNIT AVALANCHE HDK – Around $250,000
- Aeoon Kyo DTG printer – $160,000 onwards
- DTG M6 Industrial DTG Printer – $39,995 onwards
- Brother GTX DTG Printer – $22,500.00 to $27,000
- FreeJet 330TX Plus DTG Printer – $19,995 onwards
- Epson SureColor F2100 DTG Printer – $17,995
- NeoFlex 800 DTG printer – $17,995.00
- Azon Tex Pro DTG printer – $12,000 to $15,000
- Summit AT DTG Printer – $11,400 to $15,000
- Anajet RICOH Ri 6000 – $25,000 to $30,000
Top 10 DTG printers with Price
Here is a list of Top 10 DTG printers with pricing, pros & cons to help you choose the best suited for your printing business:
1. KORNIT AVALANCHE HDK
Price: ~ Around $250,000
- The truly industrial dtg printing machine that is a global market leader in digital printing of garments and textiles. It is a high-speed industrial t-shirt and garment printing machine with an output of up to 220 garments per hour.
- The High Definition printing technology of this machine equips Kornit’s HD Print Engine and NeoPigment Rapid Ink. This reduces ink consumption by 30% as compared to other dtg printers, therefore the print cost decreases.
- Can print on multiple fabric types, both light and dark with a 24/7 non-stop production workflow with ink re-circulation and dual-bridge system.
- It has a printing area of 23.5 x 35 in/60 x 90 cm or XXL garments and various printable substrates like Cotton, Polyester, Cotton- Polyester Blends, Lycra, Viscose, Silk, Leather, Denim, Linen, Wool and more.
- The ink channels include 4-colors CMYK + White with an output of maximum print resolution upto up to 1,200 dpi.
- Moreover, the Kornit Avalanche HDK DTG printing has a dimension of 138 X 91 X 67 IN / 350 X 230 X 170 cm and weighs approx. 2200 kg / 4850 lb.
- Considering the labour and ink cost, Kornit Avalanche HDK can a better option.
- You may get compromising print quality when it comes to printing spot colour artwork.
2. Aeoon Kyo DTG printer
Price: ~ $160,000 onwards
- Aeoon Kyo DTG printer is the fastest industrial direct-to-garment printing machine. It can print five t-shirts at a time with a skyrocketing speed of 1280 prints per hour or one t-shirt per 5 seconds.
- The Aeoon Kyo DTG printer uses Direct Inkjet to Textile Garment Printing. It has the capacity to use 4-12 colors with 2-12 printheads with 2558 nozzles per printhead.
- It has various optional pallet sizes with the largest one having a dimension of 250 x 400 cm.
- Can print multiple fabric like Cotton, polyester, Lycra, Viscose, etc with CMYK pigment for cotton and mixed fiber garments. Uses upto 8 whiteheads for superior speed on dark garments.
- The Aeoon Kyo DTG printer can give a maximum print resolution of 2400 x 2400 DPI with 600 DPI native resolution
- Moreover, it has a dimension of 4.1m x 1.5m x 2.0 m weighing 2000kg. Additionally, it comes with a one year warranty.
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3. DTG M6 Industrial Direct to Garment Printer
Price ~ $39,995 onwards
- This DTG printer is suitable for printing multiple garments at a time. A single machine that can print 3 numbers of XXXXL oversized garments, 6 numbers of standard garments or 12 numbers of smaller garments.
- It utilizes a maximum print space of 1150mm x 750mm (44″ x 30″) to its full capacity that prints more than one t-shirt at a time.
- The print-head with 180 nozzles per channel with eight dual CMKY independent ink channels that can give a high print resolution of 2880dpi.
The 4-2-1 platen system enables the opportunity to gain maximum profit. You can print any garment that comes to your mind like apparel, towels, blankets, and many more.
- The panel size of DTG M6 is 1100 x 980mm, that you can easily decorate multiple finished garments at just under 100 square feet per hour with the dual CMYK piezo print head with a minimum 3.5 picolitre drop size. It prints more than one image at a time.
- DTG M6 incorporates IQ Interweave technology that can even give a perfect print even at lower resolutions. You get enough flexibility to print a wide range of garments, textiles and fashion panel prints.
- Moreover, the DTG M6 printer has a physical dimension of 1810(W) x 1250(H) x 1300(L)mm, weighing 170 Kg.
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4. Brother GTX Direct to Garment
Price ~ $22,500.00 to $27,000
- Brother GTX can print a t-shirt in 45 seconds without sacrificing the print quality at 1200 dpi x 1200 dpi, with a maximum platen size of 16 x 21 inches.
- For brighter image quality, you get Innobella Textile inks and a large substrate that allows you to print on across zippers, pockets and many more.
- Brother GTX DTG machine has two print heads of CMYK and White with a maximum print area of 16 x 21 inch.
- It uses a Water-based pigment ink available 200ml and 500ml pouches.
- The platens are non-removable. That does not mean that you cannot remove it. However, you have to unscrew the platen that gets bolted in some other way affixed to the printer.
- Cannot print more than one t-shirt at a time.
5. FreeJet 330TX Plus DTG Printer
Price ~ $19,995 onwards
- Can print 100% full-color designs on light and dark polyester.
- Bloat ink delivery system completely eliminates the cartridge-based system.
- Features automatic white ink separation by circulating the white ink throughout the day in between printing reducing the need to perform multiple heads cleans or purges when idle. You can save new money on white ink.
- Set print height manually by with the new fully automated print heigh adjustment with a touch of two buttons. Your printer will automatically set the print height saving the time and effort involved in manual height adjustment.
- The cutting edge laser sensors in the gantry ensure your platten never goes too high, thus reducing the risk of issues that involves setting the print height adjustment.
- The wet-cap system equipped in the printer prevents the print heads from drying or clogging. Therefore, if your printer remains idle for upto one month without the need for flushes.
- Maintains perfect brightness, saturation, fine details, and preserving contrast of print on the fabric.
- Lowest production and maintenance costs among the other printers.
- It is expensive and has a relatively slow printing process.
6. Epson SureColor F2100 DTG Printer
Price ~ $17,995
- Epson SureColor F2100 is one of the best selling direct-to-garment printers that prints a t-shirt in 1 minute and 40 seconds. It uses an enhanced quality, outstanding color performance, etc, Epson UltraChrome DG Inks.
- The variable drop technology allows better image quality and graphics having gradient colors.
- The F2100 has an additional white ink filter that is important to prevent clogging nozzle of ink.
- You get three-speed adjustment controls with Epson F2100 i.e. fast, quality, and high quality. The six different print modes increase the print speed to 35% faster on images using white ink and double the speed in without white ink mode.
- The Epson F2100 features a fabric wiper and an in-line cleaning cartridge, the integrated self-cleaning system allows the printer to perform daily maintenance to reduce downtime. As a result, it reduces your burden on maintenance time and operational cost.
- There are two print resolutions. For white ink – up to 1440×1440 dpi & for color ink – up to 1440×720 dpi.
- Epson inks are expensive and the printer uses a lot of it. On the brighter side, the low maintenance, speed and quality worth the higher cost of ink.
7. NeoFlex 800 DTG printer
Price ~ $17,995.00
- The NeoFlex 800 dtg printer is faster and easy-to-use Direct Inkjet Garment printing machine that prints 1440×1440 resolution images on light or dark garments in a single pass.
- It has a print area of 17×42 inches that is large enough to print 3 adult sized t-shirts in a single time.
- Ink Type- Water-based Pigment Ink, Mild Solvent Dye Ink, Editable Ink
- Ink Color – 8 color CMKY+White for textile option and dual CMKY for all printer options.
- It employs the Epson 4880 MicroPiezo AMC print head type that has a life of 45,000 impressions.
- The NeoFlex 800 dtg printer can print an image of size 8 x 10 inches on a garment within 39 seconds.
- Moreover, the machine size is 823mm x 2004.1mm x 1196.3mm and weighs 124.7kg.
Note: Neo flex Dtg printer achieved first place in 38th Impressions Awards.
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8. Azon Tex Pro DTG printer
Price ~ $12,000 to $15,000
- With Azon Tex Pro DTG printer, you can print beautiful full-color prints on light and dark colored textiles like t-shirts, towels, jeans, aprons, bags or else, with superb adhesion of ink.
- Cost-effective and easy to use dtg printer.
- You can print upto 50 light shirts to 15 dark shirts per hour.
- You get a maximum printing size of 400 x 600 mm with a maximum resolution of 1440 dpi.
- It contains 4 CMYK and 4 white inks with a laser beam printhead protection.
- Moreover, it has a physical dimension(LxBxH) of 960mm x 810mm x 460-580mm weighing 113kg.
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9. Summit AT Direct to Garment Printer
Price ~ $11,400 to $15,000
- The Summit AT Direct to Garment Printer incorporates one-pass(inline) printing method for blazing-fast printing process instead of the traditional two-pass that takes double the time the previous one. It can print 11×11 inch full-color design with white ink (for dark shirts) prints in 1 minute 34 seconds.
- The advanced printhead technology dispenses variable sized ink
droplets. It gives you the highest resolution to speed ratio as compared to other printers that deliver ink droplets of 4 – 8 picoliters in size.
- The Summit AT prints in ultra-high resolutions, up to 2880 x 2880 dpi, giving you the ability to produce stunning photo-quality prints with millions of colors.
- To print all-sized garments, you get 4-in-1 configurable platen for small, medium, sleeve and large prints.
- You can use DTG water-based ink to print the t-shirt with a maximum image size of 14 x 20 inch. You can also perform uni-directional and bi-directional printing of garments.
- Finally, it comes with a One Year Limited
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10. Anajet RICOH Ri 6000
Price ~ $25,000 to $30,000
- The RICOH Ri 6000 can print full-color 12-inch x 10-inch graphics on light garments in less than 27 seconds in speed print mode and 53 seconds in the fine print.
- CMYK-plus-white technology lets you lay a white base beneath full-color designs to make images jump off of dark garments that get you a vivid and lifelike color output.
- It has 192 nozzles per channel and RICOH Ri 6000 has 12 such channels.
- You get a 600×600 dpi print resolution.
- The print on garments may not be as vibrant as other dtg printers.
- It uses a bit old technology as compared to other dtg printers. However, it enough to make your work done.
- Not suitable for large scale printing.
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Other Notable Printers:
Some of the notable printers mentioned here are legends on their own rights. Some of them may have been discontinued, but you may be able to purchase from other sources or buy a used one for your new DTG venture.
- Brother GT-782 – Price ~60,000
- Freejet 700TX – Price ~30,000
- Anajet MP10i – Price ~20,000
- Brother GT-541 – Price ~20,000
- Anajet F125 – Price ~16,000
- Anajet Sprint – Price ~16,000
- Epson SureColor F2100 – Price ~20,000
- Anajet MP5i – Price ~15,000
* The prices mentioned above are close to its original cost. However, for a used printer, the prices could be 1/3rd of the original price.
4 Steps to Print Your T-shirt Using DTG Printer
Step 1: Preparing Your T-shirt
The first step to your t-shirt printing using DTG is pre-treatment. It’s like adding a primer before printing to help colors adhere better to the fabric. It is also a necessary step when tough fabrics are involved such as canvas and denim. You can pretreat your garment by hand spraying manually.
Usually, the pre-treatment spray comes with the printer itself or you can buy from other stores. Spray the pre-treatment onto the garment evenly in a smooth back and forth motion.
You could also pretreat your t-shirts using automatic pretreatment machines. A machine would obviously spray an even layer of pretreatment on to your garment and also lets you control the amount of pretreatment you can spray. One of the biggest advantages of using a machine is that it saves times, which is paramount if you are running a big store.
Step 2: Creating the Graphics
With DTG printing the artworks have to be clean, and of high resolution. You might have to use professional graphics software such as CorelDRAW, or Adobe Illustrator. The quality of the image will make a big impact on the end result.
You should create your own print quality standards to make sure that the artwork is as vibrant on the t-shirt as it was on the computer screen. Many would print out the artwork on a desktop inkjet printer to decide the quality of the artwork. If it came out well on the paper, it is more likely to come out good on the t-shirt as well.
A big part of printing t-shirt demands to have good quality artwork. There are various ways to get your artwork such as hiring a graphic designer, buying artworks from third-party sources or you could design it yourself. Both hiring designers and buying designs are expensive that designing by yourself.
However, it requires you to have a good understanding and experience with professional software such as Illustrator and Photoshop. If you don’t have any experience, you might have to invest initially in training which has a steep learning curve.
Step 3: Printing Using a DTG Printer
To print on the garment you would need a RIP (Raster Image Processor) software. This software is a printing utility that translates the image you feed into the type of image that your DTG printer can process.
Some modern DTG printers do come with their own RIP software and for some, you can have to purchase from third-party companies. The software gives you more control and generates other essentials such as white ink under base for dark garments, amount of white color, color matching, ink cost calculation, image placement, etc.
Therefore, a RIP software also doubles up as a color management software, job management software and a cost estimator.
Step 4: Finishing Your DTG Print
Now that your print is done, you will need to cure the t-shirt to bond the ink with the fabric. It also ensures maximum washability. Typically cure time ranges between 2 to 3 minutes at 160 degrees C. That said, it’s not an easy job to cure your garment as various garments have various curing temperature and time. For some, you will need higher temperatures and shorter time and for some, you need a lower temperature and longer time. The only way to ensure is to have a few tests run in the beginning and curing them to get the right curing temp and time you need for your garment.
You various finishes you can use various curing sheets such as Teflon, embroidery backing, parchment, etc. However, you have to select a good heat press machine for your curing.
DIY DTG Printers at Under $1000:
(Not recommended, only for information)
Although highly, highly unrecommended, I cannot resist but to include this as we got many requests on the topic. A professional DTG printer can cost more than $10,000 just for a basic setup for a hobbyist. On the other hand, for professional DTG printers, they would not have any problem coughing out over $50,000 to set-up a store. But, for a hobbyist, a $10,000 printer makes little sense. Therefore, we have tried to discover a way to use our regular printers and turn it into a t-shirt printing machine.
Equipment You Need:
- A printer (Epson)
- Scrap aluminum
- Drawer track
- 3 Plywoods (3/4 inches, ½ inches, ¼ inches)
Tools You Need:
- Drill press
- Measuring tape
- Table saw
- Sand Paper
6 Steps To Building Your DIY T-Shirt Hobby Printer:
- First off, you will have to take apart a printer of your choice, preferably Epson and take out just the print head and its carriage. You will also need paper feed motor, shaft, power supply.
- Next, you have to cut the plywoods into pieces which will act as the structure and platen for your DTG printer. At first, you will need 3 pieces, one will go at the base and two to the sides. We recommend cut out a piece of plywood of 11×25 inches and two 5×25 inches.
- Next, you have to cut the plywoods for the drawer. Cut one piece of 10×25 inch and two pieces of 1×25 inches. Here the side plywoods are mounted on top of the bottom.
- Next, you have to create a “T” shaped material holder for which you have to cut out one piece of 13×9 inches plywood and another 13×3 inches plywood.
- Now drill two holes of 13/32 inch into the shell for the shaft to roll the drawer. Make sure that the shaft rolls are straight.
- Now mount the printer on the drawer and put the belt on the shaft. Next, put your t-shirt holder and you are ready to go.
Some DTG Printer Maintenance Tips
Keeping the Environment Suitable for Printing
To keep the printer functioning the way it should function, you will have to give it a suitable environment to work with the t-shirt. You will regularly keep a check on the humidity levels, heat, and dust. It is wise to keep your printer in an environment that doesn’t get dramatic temperature changes.
Regular Maintenance of Nozzle
Perform a nozzle check every day before printing your t-shirt. This helps to keep your printing and your business in its best performance. If the nozzle is not at its best, it has to be taken care of immediately. Clogs left unattended will become a permanent blockage making your printer unusable.
Smooth Flow of Ink
If your printer has an agitator, it will keep stirring the ink to prevent it from settling down. However, if it is not present, you could shake the cartridges periodically and definitely before starting the day. It is wise to do it every day even if you are not using your printer every day. To keep the ink flowing smoothly, you could print a few samples of t-shirts every day or at least once every 3 days.
Keeping Capping Station Clean
The capping station produces a vacuum near the nozzle plate so that the ink is pumped inside the station. The pressure clears out the nozzles thereby preventing inks to dry out. It should be cleaned with demineralized water or other cleaning fluids.
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