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If you’re thinking about opening your own business line which caters to personalized items, then what better way to do it than with apparel that’s easily worn by everyone? T-shirt lines with easily customized designs have always been popular in markets around the globe.
With a vast array of choices – both in how such apparel is manufactured and styled – the decision-making process involved in starting your apparel line is not always easy.
In printing apparel designs, the most popular printing methods include screen printing, sublimation, direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, heat press printing, and vinyl cutting, among others. At best, customers have become technology-literate. That is, they know the technology that contributes to the creation of the products they purchase. This directly affects the sales of businesses in the apparel industry.
The Thing with DTG
At present, the Direct-to-Garment Printing process has been gaining followers not only because of its excellent financial impacts on clothing creators but also due to the environmentally-friendly nature of its process.
DTG is quickly becoming the most convenient methods of garment production, especially for those who are just entering the industry. But what exactly is direct-to-garment printing?
In the simplest terms, DTG printing is very similar to printing on paper. In this method, inkjet technology prints using water-based specialty inks directly to the garment, which are in turn absorbed by the fibers of the garment.
This is the reason why DTG printing produces higher-quality fabrics at a lower cost. In an article by the GJS Group Australia, they have highlighted that digital garment printing is not just limited to shirts but is also applicable to “caps, bags, pillowcases, home furnishings, and promotional items.”
In starting a garment business, weighing in the pros and cons of each process and mechanism is a must. While DTG is highly reliable for printing complex hue schemes and color designs, it is not the best method for large volumes of garment printing. Besides, it is no longer cost-effective for huge batches and can only hold a limited design placement.
DTG printing is more economical and cleaner than the traditional silk-screen printing methods. Putting up a DTG business also requires less space for operations and start-up costs.
While the method has its disadvantages, the London Printing Company (2015) has listed down five benefits of direct-to-garment printing: (1) quick turnaround; (2) designs with complex color schemes can be printed; (3) short print runs are possible; (4) most color garments can be printed onto and; (5) accurate, high-quality results.
In addition, DTG printing is believed to be more environmentally-friendly as it uses water-based ink rather than synthetic plastisol-based inks which are harmful to both our health and to the environment.
Planning your entry to the garment industry is totally doable! Here’s how:
Step 1: Know more about the DTG manufacturing industry
The European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX) reports and estimates in 2017 that “the overall size of the Textile & Clothing industry in the EU-28 represents a turnover of €181 billion and investments of €4.9 billion” and 1.7 million workers.
This shows the rapid growth of the textile sector in Europe. The industry is quickly catching up with the speedy pace of development for clothing manufacturers, especially when it comes to meeting the deadlines and demands of their consumers. This fast fashion culture has also resulted in the need to have faster, more personalized, and shorter runs, which created a gap in the market.
Now, this gap is filled by DTG. The mechanism is still widely popular at present despite being introduced a decade ago in 2004. The relatively new form of technology allows makers to print in short runs, with various colors, as well as to produce personalized pieces. DTG printing allows greater flexibility than any other printing method.
While the initial costs for engaging in a DTG business is small, one should still consider seeking professional assistance while learning the ropes of the industry.
Step 2: Understand the risks, costs, potential gains, and losses.
Understanding both the gains and the losses of entering any business is a prerogative. While the growth of the textiles production business is undeniable, the fact that many other companies are entering the market means more competition. On the other hand, this also means that there is a potential to expand the methods of production and printing capabilities.
Just like anything, recognizing the growth of the industry is one thing, but being able to survive in it as a business organization is another. This step also includes the creation of a plan involving all stakeholders who will be involved in the production and execution of essential steps in setting up the business.
Step 3: Set your goals, be creative!
To ensure the success of your own direct-to-garment printing business, it should be understood that a lot can be done with the DTG technology. It prints in a more precise and more detailed quality than screen printing without providing limits in color.
Because of the printer’s ability to print any image, the success of a DTG business would depend on its brand marketing. This includes the manner in which it is introduced and made available to your target market.
Step 4: Know the people who will be involved in the process – from your suppliers to your customers!
Putting up a DTG business may not require a big group of people especially in terms of its operations. Unlike screen printing which requires manual pushing of ink into a fabric, DTG only uses a printer to customize designs.
In addition, DTG will not require a mass-production of the same design. This is a problem in the traditional method of screen printing, for example, where the suppliers require a minimum number of prints per production to maximize the capital spent on one design.
DTG is the ideal choice for those with a small capital who cannot shell out massive amounts for larger amounts of garment production since you can print one shirt for one design only.
Take a look at these price-worthy Ricoh printers which make promotional printing on different items easy peasy!
Step 5: Execution of your plans must be carried out with care.
This is a general step which encompasses several processes that will ensure the success of every business start-up. On top of it all, keep in mind that you should: be aware of your market demographics, know your competition, and be optimistic!
Step 6: Strengthen your brand.
The creation of a brand is not enough. In most cases, most organizations even those which are not businesses, have plans that would allow the sustainability of their operations in the long run. In going about DTG sales and marketing, one way of pop-ups and brand collaborations always gives a brand an added value.
Textile printing is highly prevalent in different institutions, including schools and offices, especially when it comes to organizing activities that are of prime importance to them. This is where personalized products become very popular.
In an interview with Cision PR Newswire, John Funela, Vice President for Commercial and Industrial Printing Business Group of Ricoh USA, says “As Ricoh continues to invest in the industrial print market, we do so with one goal in mind – to make it easier for our customers to grow their businesses.”
While physical presence is important, maintaining a good online presence is a big part of e-commerce investment. Businesses either sell directly online or use websites and popular social media sites to gain attention and popularity, often engaging with online consumers. Of course, in putting up an online store, marketing, and branding are also very important. So, do not forget to provide useful links and contact details on your business site!
What will I need?
Aside from being business savvy, putting up a DTG business also requires actual skills in running a DTG printer! Here is a summary of how it is done, according to GJS Group Australia:
You should be able to design your artwork on a computer using image processors such as Adobe PhotoShop or Adobe Illustrator. This is a fundamental skill needed in producing excellent images and prints. Of course, such skill sets are not new, therefore making it easy to have someone who knows how to do these things.
Either use a spray system or a pre-treatment machine to apply a layer of pre-layer treatment chemicals to the print area of the garment. This is necessary only when printing on dark-colored materials.
Use a heat press to bond the solution to the pre-treated textile. Again, this is only necessary if you are printing onto dark textiles.
Using a DTG printer, print the artwork or the image directly to the textile.
As a final stage of the printing production, a heat press or a tunnel dryer should be used to fix the print in place. A tunnel dryer will lead to a softer texture of the print textile.
Integrating your own business to the current DTG printing market and making it appealing to consumers might sound time-consuming and a little intimidating. While the above-summary of the process shows the least hassle, neglect of a small and important process will easily lead to more costs and damages. Still, a mix of grit, passion, and technicality will easily overshadow such feelings of doubt. Watch the simplicity of the DTG printer workflow using the Ricoh Ri100 and Ri3000 here!
Cision PR Newswire. (2018, January 8). Ricoh unveils newest Direct-to-Garment printer to help businesses thrive in today's digital, on-demand world. Retrieved February 4, 2019 from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ricoh-unveils-newest-direct-to-garment-printer-to-help-businesses-thrive-in-todays-digital-on-demand-world-300578986.html
The European Apparel and Textile Corporation. (2018, August 6). Key figures 2017 - The EU-28 textile and clothing industry in the year 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from http://euratex.eu/library/statistics/key-data/key-data-details/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=5964&cHash=6dee9b9ed7e8c87de9e87c3afc6a6713
GJS Group Australia. (n.d.). Introduction to Screen Printing. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://gjs.co/courses/e42/introduction-to-screen-printing
GJS Group Australia. (n.d.). Learn the secrets of successful sublimation. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://gjs.co/courses/e23/learn-the-secrets-of-successful-sublimation
GJS Group Australia. (n.d.). What is Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing?. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://gjs.co/equipment/methods/direct_to_garment_printing
Hamlin, J. (2010, February 2). Direct to garment (DTG) printing – An eco-friendly printing alternative [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.greenbenefits.org/post/2010/02/02/Direct-to-Garment-(DTG)-Printing-e28093-An-Eco-friendly-Printing-Alternative.aspx
The London Printing Company. (2017, March 9). Five benefits of direct to garment printing. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://thelondonprintingcompany.com/five-benefits-of-direct-to-garment-printing/
Printful. (2013, November). DTG vs. Screen Printing. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://www.printful.com/blog/dtg-vs-screen-printing/
Ricoh. (n.d.). Direct to garment printers. Retrieved February 4, 2019, from https://www.ricoh-europe.com/products/direct-to-garment-printers/index.html
Ricoh Australia. (2018, June 21). Ricoh Demo - Direct to Garment Ri 100 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOy5yaucVrc
T-shirt Professional. (2018, April 5). What is vinyl cutter machine and how does it work? Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://tshirtprofessional.com/all-about-vinyl-cutter-machine