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Budget DTG Printer Buying Guide 2019

The is buying guide will do a deep dive on budget DTG Printers with characteristic as follow:

Price1,000 – 8000 USD
  • Katana DTG
  • Fast Jet
  • Textile JET
  • Free Jet
  • OmniPrint
  • Coldesi

These are usually Epson Consumer Printers converted to DTG Printers – Repurposed DTG Printer. The manufacturer buys these printers off Amazon and turns them to DTG Printer. To get the printer to emulate one-pass/two-pass white, they use third-party RIP software to trick the printer into printing white on specific print head channels.

That’s why brand such as Fast Jet/Text Jet DTG printers are ridiculously cheap compared to Brother/Epson DTG printers. They do not have to invest heavily on expensive tooling to manufacture a printer from the ground up.

The major problem with these printers is parts sourcing. For instance, Katana DTG P400 built from Epson SureColor P400 Printer, which is getting retired from the market. The consumer printer product cycle changes every 2-5 years. If you have any issues, sourcing parts will be quite a headache, when the printer is no longer available.

There are Chinese/Taiwan manufacturers that built budget DTG from the ground up just like any big corporate Brother/Epson, and they do offer customer different printhead options to equip the printer. However, there are only two brands, Spectra (got acquired) and Ricoh that sell OEM Printheads to these smaller guys, and a Ricoh Printhead is about (1,000 USD – that’s wholesale price). Hence, most budget DTG will equip their DTG with salvaged Epson consumer printheads.

Hence, in this guide, we are not going to look into a specific brand for these DTG printers, since their running cost and cost of ownership are all about the same.

The Positive Sides

Budget friendly
Suitable for starting an apparel decoration business on a budget

Cheap Ink Cost
You can use any Dupont ink, third-party ink, and it will print just fine. Don’t let their marketing fool you, they all use the same print head, it’s Epson DX5/DX7 or Precision Core TP Print heads.

Self-Repair is easy. Parts are cheap.
You can always buy an extra Epson P400 Printer off amazon for 530 USD and swap out the parts yourselves. Parts will be an issue when the original print engine is no longer available. It’s always better to check when the original printer was released. If it’s a new model, you are golden.

The Down Sides

Most repurposed DTG Printer will always try to build their DTG off the latest consumer printer due to the parts issue I mentioned earlier in the article. This will result in reliability issues in the printer due to a lack of testing and understanding of the new printer.

Self-Repair Headache
In the heyday, we were having two of every repurposed DTG Printers that we bought on our shop floor. Surprisingly, we were managing just fine with remote support on how to change parts and all, but it also made us realize one thing.

The maintenance took away a lot of our time in maintaining the machine, while we could have used the time to grow our print shop business.

Printer Hardware/Software Unexpected Gotchas
The Epson software ink software resets, the Print count resets…etc…etc. These are the common DRM issues that you will face, as Epson is trying to prevent people from modifying their machine.

These printers are suitable for whom?

  • If you are testing the water with DTG, and this is your first garment apparel business.
  • If you have enough technical skills, time, and willingness to maintain the machines by yourself. Yes, you can use these printers to undercut your competitor big time.
  • If your print shop is not on the European/North American continent, where the price is everything to your customer and quality is secondary.

In short, if you are looking to grow your business fast, and eventually do contract printing with brands. Or, run your printer consecutively non-stop for 12 hours. I suggest that you do not buy any repurposed DTG printer.


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