Let’s start with what it takes to produce a garment on an Epson F2000 DTG Printer.
You will need:
F2000 Printer and all the accessories: platens, inks, computer, etc.
Most startup DTG operations acquire the basics laid out above, and this set up can be highly effective and efficient. I want to talk about the next step in efficiency; the place where your shop is expanding and you want to increase production but are unsure where to invest.
There is a volume sweet spot for you in your unique environment. Is your sweet spot 20 shirts per day, 40, 150? As you grow beyond your sweet spot you will need to grow your production capability.
In DTG production there are 3 main bottlenecks: pretreat, print time, and curing time. Out of the 3, I advocate investing in printed shirt curing efficiency; here’s why.
- Print time is often fixed with a single printer set up. You can adjust some settings in Garment Creator to increase print time or you can reduce artwork size, but for the most part once your print settings are set for a specific job, you must run that job with the same settings until the job is complete. You can acquire another printer, this will help print time, and I do believe this is a smart increase in efficiency if you are dramatically bypassing your sweet spot. However, before you invest in a 2nd printer I would still encourage increasing curing efficiency.
- The process of curing shirts on a heat press it time consuming, and potentially jeopardizes the integrity or quality of the print. Sure you can replicate a consistent cured garment but the heat press is often needed for two tasks, curing pretreated shirts and curing printed shirts. Curing times can vary from 45 Seconds to a minute and a half and if there is any overlap in curing pretreated shirts and printed shirts you have a traffic jam. If the heat press is being used for one task it cannot be used for another, it is fixed and stationary. Eliminate this traffic jam by adding a conveyor dryer.
A forced air convection conveyor dryer is dynamic and versatile. You can cure printed shirts with higher quality, exponentially faster. A conveyor dryer can also be used to cure pretreated shirts, though you would still want to press the shirt after dry to smash down the fabric fibers. Melco sells top of the line conveyor dryers at ShopMelco.com.
A second economical option for increasing curing time could be a 2nd heat press or a Digi-Dri Box vertical dryer. Both available on shopmelco.com
I believe automating pretreatment should come 2nd in increasing production efficiency. Manual pretreating, once mastered, can be fast and effective. Manual pretreating also has the added benefit of precision and consistency with little maintenance and set up time. Melco sells the Epson recommended manual pretreat accessories at shopmelco.com. We also have a guide on how to pretreat manually, where to buy the recommended accessories on the open market, and how to build a simple and effective pretreat station.
My recommendation for increasing production efficiency would go in this order.
- Master your basic set up.
- Increase curing capability with a conveyor dryer.
- Automate pretreat.
- Add additional printer or printers.
Email me with questions.
John R. LeDrew • DTG Director • Melco International