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Can DTG grow and boost your screen Printing Business?

You have mastered the art of screen printing, your customers are happy and your business is secure. Keeping an eye on costs and print production will allow you to maintain businesses growth and ensure you continue to meet the needs of  your customers.

You will be pleased to know that there are no set-up costs with our DTG printers. Our range of printers have low volume runs and faster turnaround, so it’s no surprise that many screen printing businesses have incorporated Direct to Garment printing into their workflow. DTG printing is the obvious addition to your existing printing business and is something that shouldn’t be ignored in 2018.

New HD Technology has reduced the cost per print up to 46% compared to just two years ago which is covered in more detail later in this blog.

What is DTG?

 Direct to garment printing has been around for almost 20 years and has evolved considerably over this time with faster print speed, print quality and colour gamut. Although the actual process remains the same, system reliability has changed dramatically in recent years.

The process primarily consists of printing graphics directly onto garments using inkjet technology. This technology uses digital print heads that rapidly fires ink through small nozzles directly onto the fabric, with precision and accuracy.

Entry level printers range from approximately 92 nozzles through to the high end Kornit machines that use as many as 24 Spectra heads, each containing 256 nozzles.  Although the Kornit machines have more nozzles it allows for the lowest ink utilisation per print (lowest cost per print, also assuring that the image is crisp and precise.

Kornit also uses linear motors, which work on magnetic fields for all the movements within the machine, and are considered to be the most accurate motors in the industry.

When the printing has finished the garment would then be dried either with a heat press or a hot air dryer depending on the system chosen. Please note that on a dark garment a pre-treater is needed prior to printing, this can be done in a special pre-treatment machine, which is sprayed on by hand. The Kornit printer range has this process built into the printing machine to save time and labour during the printing process.

Without any additional set up cost, the print can be changed to any size, shape, design or colour that the customer requires. This allows flexibility with the size of the print run and has taken the e-commerce world by storm allowing each individual customer to have their own designs printed as a one off.

This has also opened the way for artists, graphic designers, schools, clubs etc to print their own designs and to venture into the apparel ecommerce sector.  Using larger companies with DTG machinery to print for them. Or to invest in their own DTG machinery.

Direct to garment printing like most processes can be improved with practise, technique or trial and error.  With changeables such as pre-treatment and white under base, the finished results can be dramatically improved with staff training.

Both have a place: 

With cheap ink costs, ease of use and speeds on modern day automatics – screen printing is perfect for the larger runs, offering a fast turnaround and added special colour finishes.

DTG is bridging the gap and is now a viable option for lower run lengths from screen print. It can also pick up the sampling for runs that are still better justified as Screen Print.

DTG is now comparatively cheaper than that of screen prints for smaller runs.

Technology in the DTG market has advanced a lot in the last few years, and there are direct to garment printers that not only have the CMYK ink pallet but also additional Red & Green colours that improve the digital colour gamut. Due to the printer’s ink recirculation technology and built-in pre-treatment processes, ink costs have been significantly reduced.

The latest technology advances include:

  • Additional red and Green colours to the standard CMYK to expand the colour gamut
  • Re-circulating print heads …..
  • Kornit have released a HD series of printer for 2018, which further reduces print cost by:
    • reducing the droplet size
    • introducing a colorgate RIP software to hit specific pantone colours
    • drop size reduction and new ink formulation provides softer hand feel and reduction of your print cost by as much as 46%

Staffing requirements are greatly reduced compared to that of screen printing.  A lot of companies have discovered that with little training, your existing technical staff will be able to master the new machinery and print process with ease.

Initial Outlay

If you are already conquering the screen printing market, you will find that you already have some of the machinery you need to cure the DTG ink. Your existing hot air conveyor dryers could be suitable for the DTG water based inks.

Although the initial outlay of the DTG machine can be costly, you could save money on having to purchase a dryer. There are also many grants available throughout the UK that could help cover some of the upfront costs. Have a look at the Business Growth hub in your area for more information.

Companies who don’t take advantage of these grants could be losing out from business growth opportunities. These grants can give you up to 15% of the capital outlay, which would significantly reduce the cost of the machinery. Don’t forget that your new DTG machine is a valuable asset on your balance sheet and with excellent ROI (Return on Investment), they hold their value for years to come.

Hopefully this article allows you to see the potential benefits of direct to garment printing and the costs and finance involved. The next step would be researching the DTG machines that are available. There is a broad range currently on the market and the benefits vary according to your budget. If you are starting out in direct to garment printing then going down the second-hand route might be more viable.

What Direct to Garment printer would suit my needs?

As mentioned there are printers to suit all budgets but (as with all things) you get what you pay for. I have taken the bestselling printers from each price range to give an idea of what is out there.

Go into explanation of how it can integrate with screen prints. If a business owner is going to make an informed decision they need to know how DTG could fit into their current screen printing work flow.


Entry Level


Starting with the Epson Surecolor, this is a great entry level printer at under £10k, small enough to fit in anywhere, with high quality prints.  Although this is slow with high print costs.




In the Mid-price range, the Brother have just launched the GTX.  This is but still has high print and pre-treatment costs.





At the top of the tree you will find the Kornit range, which is the most expensive outlay. Despite the high price tag, you benefit by having the lowest print costs, built-in pre-treatment and faster throughput.

If you have the work, Kornit machines can provide a greater return and profitability than the entry and mid-range printers and are more profitable on production requirements as little as 600 pieces per week.

Don’t get left behind!
With many established screen printers expanding into Direct to Garment printing, now isn’t the time to hold back. Screen printers who have diversified into the DTG market are overall experiencing major benefits. The work from smaller run lengths, e-commerce, and supporting events has made the investment pay off.

If you have the order volumes and are wanting to invest or expand your business then Direct to Garment Printing is the obvious choice. ­

For further details or a demonstration call us now on 01420 488388 or e-mail


New install at Dayfields Print

A smooth and successful  Kornit DTG Breeze & Adelco drawer dryer install for Dayfields Print – 👕

Jim McQuaid from Dayfield commented  “The purchase was handled by Lottie and Luke in a friendly efficient manner and the Breeze and Dryer was installed by Rob who explained the workings and software of both machines in easy to understand language.  We have just completed our first job of 50 full colour tee shirts 3 hours after Rob left (slow but we will get quicker) Very pleased with the service from Adelco.”

We all wish Dayfield Print many happy and succesful digital printing, its a pleasure to work with you guys.

Blog: Barcodes & Automated DTG workflows

Check out this blog on barcodes and automated DTG.

Written by Mark Smith – Managing Director

First published in Images Magazine – Feb 18:

The digital garment printing market has rapidly expanded over the last five years and continues to be a high growth area in the UK. In fact, the UK has now become a leader within Europe for digital print output in the garment sector. Our largest client has increased its number of Kornit Avalanche 1000 printers to 16 machines, and many of our other customers are continuing to expand as well.

It is well reported and generally understood that system maintenance and environmental conditions are important factors for a successful digital garment printing facility, but the importance of workflow is often overlooked.

Automated workflow

The majority of digital garment print output is based on short run, multicolour print work and a high percentage of this work is based on e-commerce retail and e-commerce fulfilment. This often means that average run lengths are as low as one or two pieces, with each job having a different garment, colour and graphic file. The production requirements for any single customer are growing rapidly and figures of over 1,000 such jobs a day are becoming more common.

Many digital print shops start with a manual workflow system that involves printing out an order form, picking the garment from warehouse stock and sending in piles to the print department. The file is then manually opened from the relevant storage folder and sent to print. This is labour-intensive and time-consuming to the point where this manual system restricts the production output on some of today’s high production printing machines.

There is nothing wrong in starting off with a manual workflow such as this, but it is best to avoid becoming stuck in the rut of ‘don’t change it when it is working’, especially when your business is expanding.

To achieve the throughput expectations on Kornit high production industrial DTG printers, it is often necessary to automate the workflow and reduce the labour and time constraints for each print job from receipt though to picking, pretreatment, print, dry, pack and dispatch.

There are several suppliers, such as Custom Gateway, that are active in providing automated workflow systems that specialise in affordable automation and control of the print throughput. These systems enable files to be processed automatically from orders placed online and downloaded to a hot folder with coding that matches the print output system. With Kornit printers, this coding includes the pre-treatment level, colour management, preview, job description, print size, position and quantity.

 Barcode reading

Increasing production throughput means that the garment picking area can also become labour intensive and a bottleneck waiting to happen. The automation of workflow should include linking to barcodes, where a barcode is produced for each job with all the aforementioned coding parameters linked to it. The barcode can then be printed on a label and attached to the garment at the picking stage.

Once the bulk orders arrive at the print department, the barcode is read at the machine and the graphic preview with all print parameters is pulled from the hot folder and entered into the print queue on the machine. Automated feedback from the reading of the barcode can be sent to the client to confirm that their order is being printed.

The barcode can remain on the garment throughout the drying and packing process, providing ‘print complete’ and dispatch notices to the customer when read at each stage.

I have seen various automated workflow systems that operate with some honed areas that suit individual requirements for workload, throughput, garment and job variants. One aspect that often changes is the way the jobs are handled after the print and dry process is complete. Some will dispatch straight from the end of the dryer and others will stack garments after drying in job batches. This way, orders that have multiple garment types can be gathered in a final job completion area and dispatched together as one order.

In addition to job workflow, these automated systems will also handle stock re-ordering and enable remote access to follow and manage order intake, progress and completion to provide total control over your production even when you are away.

When deciding to operate an automated workflow system there is always involvement required to ensure the system operates according to your specific needs, whether you have opted for a bespoke system or a more generic one. It is undoubtedly worth the effort in the long run, as the rewards from efficiency and resulting reduction in unit costs are significant.

DTG helpdesk: Barcodes and automated DTG workflows


Visible Art feeling the cold

Visible Art in Cardiff, are now feeling the cold, having just installed the Ecotex+, the most efficient conveyor dryer on the market. The factory will have to think of new ways to heat the building.  The picture taken is of the Production Manager Tom Whitehead with his new machine.

We hope you have many happy years of curing, and hope you enjoy the savings.