The reviews of direct-to-garment printers are still mixed. Today I heard about one textile printer who wishes he hadn’t bought his Epson and another who’s awaiting delivery of one.
Also today, I saw a magazine ad for a Mutoh ValueJet 405GT which, for a price tag of USD19,995.00 offered 5-colour prints, a wide print area, a small footprint, and a user-friendly Windows driver. Somewhere else on the page it talked about printing on whites and darks and claimed to be fast, simple, affordable, and easy to operate.
Fine, but how fast?, I wondered. Lack of speed has always been one of the knocks against direct-to-garment printers. I emailed Mutoh for details. An answer came in minutes – their customer service department appears to be on the ball. But, as I should have expected, it wasn’t a simple answer. Speed depends on (among other things): substrate colour; dpi of the artwork; type of curing method; dimensions of the print; and necessity for pre-treatment of the garment.
Not counting loading and unloading time, just printing time once the garment is loaded, the speed apparently ranges from 8 garments to 40 garments an hour, depending upon the variables mentioned above.
So there you have it. Direct-to-garment printers in the $20,000.000 range are still not breaking any speed records. The question still seems to be one of whether you have the low-volume/high-price market to accommodate a direct-to-garment printer.
If you’re considering one of these machines, do what you should do with any other equipment purchase, crunch your numbers carefully and realistically and talk to owners, both happy and disgruntled, before reaching for your cheque book.