In late July 2020 we were approached by previous overseas colleagues and were asked to be the North American arm of their new Direct to Film printer and dryer - at first, we thought, "Well, just transfers," and, were not immediately interested.
Now, they have 20 years in sublimation printer experience, and I thought we would dip our toe into that over-saturated business, but DTF is much better, with more upside.
THEN we saw the videos, received the samples and WOW, here we are 18 months later - an authorized EPSON dealer, having Pitney Bowes as our service team and the self-proclaimed leader in DTF sales in the United States and Canada - we've even sold 2 printers to Trinidad!
So, what have we learned?
1. People are smart and resilient. While others may mock their "home-made" converted printers, Color Drop watches what they are doing and we see those people as future customers
2. We have competitors, and we believe that our competitors printers work - hey, they are just digital printers and digital printers have been around for many years
Then why Color Drop - we take EVERYTHING to the next level - our head boards are the best available, we have ink filters and circulation systems and ink stirring systems and the BEST ICC profiles available. You can control the output and the density of the ink at any time and on any image.
3. Versus DTF - we have solved the polyester problem 100% - we have yet to print on a product that we couldn't get to work - even hard goods such as wood and coffee mugs - though we sell DTF for those applications
4. Versus vinyl - simple: no more weeding
5. Versus screen printing - print and apply nearly immediately, less set up, less people, less mess
ALL IN ALL - DTF costs less to get into, costs less to produce and is much easier
We have been quite fortunate at Color Drop Digital
Our initial product, the DTF M1, has outsold production for the month of March - yes, we sold more in one month than the factory can produce. Early adopters will receive their systems the first week of April, the others will receive their systems late in April.
As part of our strategic plan, the price of the DTF M1 system will be increasing after the Labor Day weekend. We were never a low-priced provider, we consider ourselves a value-oriented provider. We offer a great solution at a fair price.
Price often reflects the value of items, and consumers tend to associate price points with quality perception. If you want to market your company and its offerings as top quality, it makes strategic sense to raise prices to match.
Print resolution is the ability of a printing system to reproduce image detail.
There are two major factors that influence print resolution:
1. DPI - Dots Per Inch of a print system
2. The level of sharpness or contrast, a component of the drop size.
Many factors contribute to the overall performance of a printhead: Drop size, Nozzles per inch, Drop volume consistency, Accuracy of drop placement, and the systems overall integration.
Printing directly to garments reduces the resolution and contrast of the image.
Printing directly to film and transferring the image to a garment allows for the best resolution.
Inkjet printheads are distinguished by their nozzles per inch (NPI) or the rectangular grid of possible printable dots defined by the nozzle distance along the axis of the printhead, and by the speed and frequency along the axis of the media motion.
Many people still believe that DPI is the ideal measure for digital printing, it simply is not. DPI does not simply or seamlessly transfer to digital media. Resolution, identified by NPI of the print head, should be used to analyze the image quality.
DPI and resolution are both elements that make up a high-quality image, and are often used side by side to produce print media, but resolution is all that matters when it comes to digital media.
The Color Drop DTF M1 now has 4 Epson I3200 printheads
This is a continuation from the Epson 4720 printheads, but there are more and they are faster.
What took us 6.5 hours to print through a roll of 100m film, now takes nearly 4 hours.
That increase in speed now allows you to print 400-600 images before lunch, and apply them to your garments before dinner time.
We recommend the Hotronix Dual Air Fusion automatic twin 16"x20" pallet heat press. If two pieces of machinery were ever meant for each other, these two won't fool you.
All this production and no mess, huge staff, clogged pretreat nozzles, wash out tanks, reclaiming mess, macro and micro registration - keeping it in registration - color matching, and so-on, and so-on, and so-on ..
DTF technology may be new, but it is fresh and ready to rock !!
OK VooDoo Child, what does a print cost you on the Color Drop DTF system?
Here is the skinny -
We measure things in SQUARE METERS, there is just shy of 11 square feet in one square meter - this tells me I can produce about 11 full front designs in one square meter.
We know the following, we call them constants:
Usage for one square meter
White 30 mL / $2.10
CMYK combined 12 mL / 60 cents
Film one square meter / $5.00
Adhesive 66 grams (.15 lbs) / $2.24
*The total cost per square meter: $9.94
The costs listed above come from another constant, the retail price from our website
cost per image for the following you can obtain from a square meter at 75% coverage
12 / 62 cents
14 / 53 cents
16 / 47 cents
18 / 41 cents
cost per image for the following you can obtain from a square meter at 50% coverage
12 / 31 cents
14 / 27 cents
16 / 23 cents
18 / 21 cents
You can print 8 - 10 square meters per hour and finish one 330' roll in just under 6 hours
DOWNLOAD OUR IMAGE CALCULATOR HERE
Ten different customers may give you ten different answers on how they look at their return on investment when they purchase machinery - the Color Drop DTF customer is no different.
ROI calculations can get very complicated when you take into consideration what exactly happens at your business. When calculating a TRUE ROI, you must cosider all areas of your business - the five most important are
You have transfer customers, you're buying 100s, 1000s or 10s of thousands of transfers yearly that are costly and time consuming.
A digital transfer machine like the Color Drop DTF is just the answer - your cost per print is a fraction of what you are buying them for, the colors are limitless and you can make them in hours versus waiting days.
Let's take a look at what owning your own equipment costs you.
Proper maintenance is essential - especially taking care of your print heads. A few drops of cleaning solution in the cap stands each night adds up, but better a few $100 dollars yearly on proper maintenance than failing print heads.
Machines that sit around and do not work regularly typically cost more to own due to more maintenance when you do need to operate it. This really drives up the Total Cost of Ownership.
Take for example the expensive DTG machines I used to sell. The cost of owning ofe of these can be split into three categories: Labor, Operations and Depreciation
For labor, its not just the person running the machine, you must include time allotted for handling the shirts pre and post printing. To understand the total sum of this cost, one must understand how much it costs per hour to pay an operator, how long each part spends on the machine, how long it takes to set up the machine, and how much time the operator spends actually attending the machine. Each of these elements will probably be different for every application and every facility.
Operational costs include electrical (gas if a dryer is needed), maintenance and repairs, consumables, and the like. These costs are incurred only when the machine is in operation.
Depreciation costs take into account the machine’s estimated value at the end of the payment cycle, regardless of whether it was a monthly lease or a purchase over time. These costs occur whether the machine is in operation or not.
DTG units can cost as little as $25,000 anc can run up to $800,000+
The Color Drop DTF is $19,995.
Factor a yearly maintenance cost of about 3-4% of the purchase price.
Maintenance typically increases as the machine ages - over 10 years, that can add up.
Buy quality machines from reputable sales teams and keep the maintenance schedule that is recommended; if you do this, your investment will pay off for you.
RIP software can help in a few different areas of your digital printing business
1. It can create ICC profiles
2. Allows you to simplify workflow
3. Reduce waste of media
4. Need to color match previously printed images
5. Increase productivity
RIP Software is used in the digital printing industry to ensure that printers deliver consistent, color correct, high quality output. While the name mainly refers to the image rastering process, i.e. processing an image file through a color management routine and then sending it on to the printer, modern RIP Software solutions deliver a host of other functions and features to increase productivity and quality in digital printing applications such as textile printing, wide format printing, fine art reproduction, etc.
Generally, RIP Software can be thought of as production assistants that automate and control many areas of the printing workflow to ensure the best print output in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.
Here at Color Drop DTF, we have the best RIP solution for your digital transfer business.
We sell a complete package so you don't have to work your way to a finished product.
Color Drop DTF has been a long time coming, with its roots established well back in 1976 with offset printing. Then it added screen printing, and embroidery, and patch making and digitizing and direct to garment (DTG) and now we are SOLD on DTF - DIRECT TO FILM.
I'll be short about this - screen printing with plastisol and water-based inks is a fantastic art form that offers a high quality that people are accustomed to, I believe it is the base of where we are going and what we can accomplish, but there are serious pitfalls with screen printing - high initial start up costs, limited color ranges (yes, you can mix ink, but are you a garment decorator or scientist?), customization, variable data, many employees, for the most part it is not a clean environment - these are just a few negatives.
Direct to Garment was our first steps and introduction into digital printing. When we were working with a CMYK only printer and others laughing at us saying we were getting into something that would never take off, we stuck with it. DTG is great for one-offs and small quantities with multi-colors. The initial cost is low and you can literally print anything that is on your computer screen. However, with DTG you cannot print as many fabric types as you can with screen printing, the print is not as crisp since you are printing onto a porous media and there is a fixed price of about $1-3 per print.
DIRECT TO FILM - transfers! Yes, I said it - transfers. When printing direct to film, you get a great digital image printed on a stable media that is then transferred by heat to the garment. You can print on any material - 100% cotton, tri-blends and 100% polyester - this is great for any company. Though DTF is not fully breathable, there are tricks you can do to make it so, however, it is durable and quite stretchy for performance gear. In my opinion, DTF is much faster, with a better quality image and costs far less than DTG - at around 37 cents per full t-shirt front, its hard to argue that.