Five Considerations for Direct to Garment Printing By Nikolaos Vardakastanis, DTG product manager at Epson Europe

While some print production sectors have seen volumes dramatically impacted in the past 12 months, demand for direct to garment (DTG) printing has remained strong.

Printing and reproduction dropped by about 30% in April 2020 compared to pre virus levels according to Eurostat’s monthly production index. January 2021 figures showed the values had recovered to around 9% below the pre-pandemic levels.

Office related, promotional, and catalogue printing were among the sectors hardest hit, but the pandemic created many new opportunities too. Signage applications for social distancing and other changing business requirements, as well as traditional sectors such as book printing, saw growth in volumes.

So, too, did DTG production. We saw strong performance as existing businesses, in particular those with online ordering capabilities, explored ways to add new solutions or capacity to their portfolio. These companies addressed the lift in orders with additional systems to handle the extra demand. Some German customers saw online orders and demand for printed cotton garments dramatically pick up and in the UK, clients took the opportunity of government loan schemes to make a relatively low investment to expand their offerings.

These investments, along with others, were boosted by the high printing quality, enhanced performance, and increased usability capabilities that DTG printers can now deliver.

So, what the five key areas that should be considered when investing in a new DTG technology?

1 Ease of use

When introducing a new solution or enhancing existing offerings, the ability to be up and running immediately and consistently is crucial. DTG systems that are ready in seconds and allow jobs to be set up quickly and smoothly can make all the difference to optimising efficiency and reducing errors. User friendly touch screen prompts enable faster set up times and reduced print problems. They can even allow the operator to push the start button while print data is still being processed.

2 Performance

High and consistent performance is paramount in all production environments. As such it is important that printhead technology delivers fine detail and dot precision consistently and accurately on a wide range of garment types. Some printheads can instantly self diagnose their own health, too, reducing costly production issues. Print results can be further enhanced by the right inks that enable sharp, bright images with superior washability on dark and light garments. On top of that, the new ink droplet placement technology ensures more accurate dot alignment even at high print speeds.

3 Productivity

Productivity can be elevated by cloud based software solutions, accessible via smart devices and PCs. They allow end users to efficiently manage their production, monitor their ongoing printers’ status, access detailed and comprehensive reports, remotely check their product line performance and take immediate action when and where it is required. Other benefits include a bulk ink solution making reloading and resetting ink a quick and easy job and new technological features such as those that automatically monitor the condition of nozzles. With the latter, if a nozzle is clogged, print quality can be adjusted to ensure consistent printing. It also works constantly behind the scenes to maximise reliability and reduce downtime.

4 Intuitive design

Platen designs can significantly reduce the production cycle time. For example, a hanger platen assists the operator with fast loading and minimises mispositioning errors. Features such as auto platen gap adjustment detects the height of the garment automatically and moves the printhead up and down to maintain the optimum gap for high quality results. These improve performance on different clothing types, making it simple to switch between items such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, and cotton bags. The optimised gap between the surface of the garment and the printhead ensures stable print quality and eliminates the need for manual operation for platen height adjustment.

5 Certification

To be in the mix to win work operations will need to adhere to Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certifications.

To learn more about how to create or enhance your DTG capabilities visit www.epson.co.uk