Things You Need To Know About Buying A Direct To Garment Printer

The following information is provided as a guide to help you decide on the make and specifications of the machine that best suits your needs.

Purchase price - is only what you pay on the day
Cost of ownership - is far more important
A low priced machine will often end up having a much higher cost of ownership either because it is less productive, less reliable or has higher running costs.

Ink delivery system
Does the machine have a bulk ink delivery system or sealed ink cartridges?

Some suppliers will tell you that sealed ink cartridges are absolutely necessary in order to prevent the ink from exposure to air and other contaminants. There are alternative white ink delivery systems that work extremely well using bulk ink delivery methods.

Ink sold in cartridges is generally more expensiven than ink for bulk ink systems . . . up to to 200% more. Ink costs are are of course important to all of us but higher ink cost does not necessarily mean that you will make less money. Some machines have high ink cost but they also have production rates that may be up to 3 times more. This massive boost in production rates results in much higher profits per day/week/month/year than the machines with lower ink costs.

White ink capability
In this market it is very important that you are able to print onto any colour of garment. Without white ink you will not be able to do this. So you must make sure that any machine you are considering, has white ink printing capability.

White ink maintenance
White ink is made with Titanium dioxide pigment which settles out quite quickly. If a machine does not have a white ink management system you will very likely have some major white ink maintenance issues OR high waste ink costs. Maintenance problems will include blocked nozzles, reduced white ink brightness, high ink wastage, increased frequency of print head replacement and reduced production time - not to mention stress.

The best system for white ink maintenance is one that keeps the ink moving in the bulk ink tank and in the ink delivery tubes and dampers. This is exactly what the DTG WIMS system does. Ink is stirred inside the tank and it is pumped from the tank, through a micro filter to the dampers and back again to the tank continuously. This not only prevents settling of the pigment but it also filters the white ink over and over again to make absolutely sure that no contaminants reach the dampers and/or print head. Maintenance, nozzle blockages and ink wastage are reduced to a fraction.

Note: Some machines use an automatic ink flushing system to flush out the ink that has settled in the delivery tubes and dampers. This certainly helps but does not prevent the ink from settling in the cartridges. It also takes time and wastes a large amount of ink.

If you are considering a cartridge based machine, make sure that you ask:

  • How does the machine prevent pigment settling
  • If it uses purging, how often does it happen?
  • How long does it take?
  • How much ink gets wasted each time?
  • What is real cost in wasted ink every time this happens?

  • Ink pressure
    Most printers deliver ink to the print head using suction. As ink is expelled from the print nozzles a vaccuum is created in the print head which sucks more ink into the print head from the bulk ink bottles or cartridges. This is adequate when printing onto paper or other fine media that require only a small volume of ink.

    When printing cotton fabric and especially when using white ink, much higher volumes of ink are necessary. This is where the potential for problems arises. The vaccuum method of ink delivery is not always sufficient to deliver enough ink and so ink starvation can occur and colour intensity is reduced part-way through a print.

    DTG's WIMS system pumps white and coloured inks to the print head under a slightly increased pressure eliminating ink starvation problems.

    It's not hard to make a machine print well for one or two prints during a demonstration.
    What really counts is how well and how reliably it prints every day once you have it running in your shop.

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