2013 D2 Report

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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DO… #1: Have a Plan For those contemplating the purchase of a digital direct machine, it's important to have a clear picture of why you are buying it. Who are your clients going to be? Do you already have the inside track to multiple resources like schools, churches and fire departments? You want to have a plan of attack and know the market before you jump in and make a purchase. When it comes to direct-to-garment printers, it is important to follow a maintenance routine and clean machines as required. (All images courtesy of the author) Get an idea of potential opportunities where you can offer a service. For example, if you are a car enthusiast and spend many weekends at vintage car shows—would some of the people showing and looking at cars buy a shirt with a car they own or like? Are there options to become a vendor at some of these shows? When it comes to thinking about the target markets for T-shirts, you can never go wrong by choosing something people are very passionate about; dogs, cars, boats, horses, motorcycles and so on. Think of all the possibilities and find your way in. Doesn't Vinny down the street host a comic book convention once a month? There's an opportunity. And, doesn't his next door neighbor own a pizza parlor? Do you see where this is going? Another situation where digital direct fits the bill is within traditional screen print shops. We have all noticed there is a high demand for lower quantities, one-off prints or multiple-color prints that aren't economical to produce with screen printing. Instead of referring this type of business out, you can meet customer demands for small orders with a DTG printer. # 2: Maintain the Printer When it comes to direct-to-garment printers, the cleanup involved is close to zero, but it does require some level of maintenance. Follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer and take them very seriously. Digital printers use water-based inks, which dry, and the composition of white ink requires it to move and be agitated on a daily basis. Keeping ink fresh and flowing is vital. Follow the manufacturer's requirements and look for machines that offer different solutions such as recirculation or auto-maintenance features. Plan to spend about 5 to 10 minutes a day on general maintenance. Take this time to follow the maintenance routine and also, clean the machine as required. This will keep print performance at a dependable level and, in the big picture, save time in prepping the machine on a daily basis. # 3: Create the Right Environment The room in which the printer will be used is another element that should not be taken for granted. Because digital printers run water-based ink, which are affected by temperature and humidity, the environment is crucial. The inks can start to freeze or move slower if the room is too cold. Humidity is also important because it can also affect the flow of the ink to the print head. Low humidity will dry out the ink and print head(s) when they are exposed to air. This can cause poor print quality. While you should set up the printing area according to the manufacturer's requirements, there are a few generally accepted standards. Operating temperature needs to be that of an of2013 • The Digital Direct Report • 13 D2_2013.indd 13 8/15/13 2:27 PM

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