There are endless choices of direct-to-garment printers available in the market. On one end, you have machines such as Kornit Avalanche HD6, Brother GTX. On the budget end, you have DTG printers such as KatanaDTG, TexJet, or DIY DTG.
This guide aims to help you in identifying which DTG printer is suitable for your business model. Unlike buying a screen printing manual/auto, a wrong DTG buy will kill your business model. The DTG machines are not as universal and modular as a screen printing manual, and you cannot repurpose a DTG easily without spending another round of investment.
By investing in the correct DTG, you already won 70% of the battle. That is why we have compiled a guide to help you identify the most suitable DTG printer for your business model.
Entry-Level DTG Printer
These are usually Epson Consumer Printers that have been converted to DTG Printers. Budget DTG manufacturers buy these printers off Amazon and convert 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.
There are many brands that you can choose from for budget DTG printers. Usually people would go for:
- Fast T-Jet
If you are just starting out and want to test the DTG waters, then this range is an affordable choice. When used correctly, you can undercut your competitors and grow your print business fast with these entry-level printers. However, without good technical skills, your expanding business can quickly outgrow your entry-level printers because it is built to print up to hundreds of shirts, not thousands. If your business is taking off well, you might want to get yourself the next category of printers.
Read more on our entry-level DTG Printer Guide and find out if it is right for you.
Mid-Scale Level DTG Printer
These DTG Printers are printers built from the ground up by the respective companies. They are not the cheapest, and each manufacturer targets the market differently, and this reflects on the proprietary inks used in their printer.
Entry-level printers are a sample of how the DTG business works. The mid-scale level DTG printers are what you really need to get your DTG business going.
This is because this range of printers are built by DTG manufacturers from the ground up with specific target markets in mind. When you buy an Epson F2100, you cannot run it on the same order as a Brother GTX. Otherwise the printed shirts will not have matching colors. This is why most print shops buy from one particular DTG brand, you cannot mix and match your inks and printer.
Choices for this range are quite limited:
- Epson F2100
- Brother GTX
- Kornit Breeze (retired)
- Epson F3070 (2020 launched)
Other than differences in print speed, ease of self maintenance and ink cost, all these printers are equally reliable.
If you are wondering which DTG printer is suitable for your business model, we have an Mid-Scale Level DTG Buying Guide that you can check out.
Industrial DTG Printer
These are the big guns of the direct-to-garment industry. If you engage contract printers with brands who expect nothing less than a consistent, fast turnaround service, then you might want to get yourself one of these.
Getting the right industrial printer is highly dependent on your business model and the location of your factory. For instance, if you engage in print-on-demand in the U.S., then getting the Kornit Avalanche HD6 is a no brainer. Alternatively, Aeoon is a good recommendation for European factories that print on demand. However, if you are doing short-run contract production for Zara, the Kornit Vulcan/similar-in-line DTG Printer will be a great choice. If cost is a concern, there’s Kornit Vulcan Chinese Clone (it uses Spectra Print head) made for China-based factories.
Before you purchase any printer, it is best to test out extensively the software and hardware for consistent performance. For example, it is undeniable that Chinese industrial machines are powerful, but it is known that their software has minor glitches that could hinder production rate.
To sum it all up:
- Entry-level printers are great for test-running your DTG business model when you possess the required technical skills, and there is a wide range of affordable brands to choose from
- Mid-scale level printers are a step up from entry-level printers in terms of production performance and price
- Industrial printers are highly specialized to their respective businesses and cost a lot, but they can take your DTG business to the next level with higher production rate.