If you’ve been paying attention to some of this year’s new DTG printer launches, you may have noticed that the traditional gap between commercial and industrial printers appears to be closing. Today’s DTG devices are delivering faster printing speeds, better print accuracy, and more advanced technologies—all with a smaller footprint and a lower price tag. This article will give you a quick overview of some devices that blur the lines between industrial and commercial printers.
- Brother’s GTX600industrial direct to garment printer was launched at the start of this year.
- Brother is a frontrunner in promoting the “pod” concept, which combines multiple DTG printers, automatic pretreatment, and a
- Aeoon Technologies has classified its MAIKURO DTG industrial printer. However, the hourly production rate is misleading. The MAIKURO can produce 65 dark garments per an hour at 65 dpi, making it more of a high-end industrial printer.
- While there are improvements across all DTG segments of the market, recent developments point towards more advanced/robust commercial DTG printing systems and smaller but still powerful industrial DTG printing systems.
Many apparel decorators have witnessed the direct-to–garment (DTG), portion of their business grow over the past few years. These same companies may now need additional printers to meet demand. While commercial printer owners might complain about slower print speeds and production delays, industrial printer owners may be more concerned with the lack of redundancy and production stops caused by machine problems. Historically, DTG devices were divided according to their maximum print speeds.
Table 1. Table 1.
If you’ve been paying attention to some of this year’s new DTG printer launches, you may have noticed that the traditional gap between commercial and industrial printers appears to be closing. Today’s DTG devices are delivering faster printing speeds, better print accuracy, and more advanced technologies—all with a smaller footprint and a lower price tag. These new devices blur the lines between industrial and commercial printers.
New introductions are closing the gap
In January 2022, Brother International launched its GTX600 industrial direct-to-garment printer. The new features include a projector system that projects the design to print onto the intended position. This allows the user to see how the design will look on the garment before printing. Brother’s Digital Line all-in-one pretreatment system can be paired with one or more GTX600 printers and conveyor dryers to maximize workflow efficiency. Two options are available for the system:
- A Synergy pretreatment unit that consists of a FireFly conveyor dryer manufactured Brown Digital and a heat presse.
- The Schulze Pretreatmaker LINE machine can pretreat upto 300 garments per an hour.
Both options combine pretreatment, drying and prepressing into one machine. The system can produce 182 garments an hour using three GTX600 printers and a digital line pretreatment method. Brother is a frontrunner in promoting the “pod” concept, which combines multiple DTG printers, automatic pretreatment, and a dryer.
Brother’s GTX600 Industrial DTG Printer
Aeoon Technologies’ MAIKURO device was launched in April 2022. It is a two-platen DTG machine with a maximum print speed of 65 garments per hour. The printer has eight Ricoh Gen5 printheads, which can produce images at 600 DPI with maximum dimensions of 40cm by 45cm (16 inches). 18. MAIKURO has a single gantry printer. This video shows that each platen is printed first with the white underbase, then with the color pass. The MAIKURO produces slower print speeds than other products, but Aeoon has classified it as an industrial DTG printer. This classification is somewhat misleading given the hourly production rate—at 65 dark garments per hour, the MAIKURO is really more of a high-end commercial or entry-level industrial printer.
DTG Digital, a subsidiary Pigment, Inc., has spent the last two years developing its Q2 DTG Printer. The device can print directly onto finished garments as well as direct to film transfers from one platform. The Q2 can produce 100 light and 150 dark garments per hour at industrial production speeds. It measures only 1,006 x 1,400 x 1,931 mm (42 in). x 55-in. x 76 in. It also features robust features such as a linear motion carriage guide for platens with auto height adjustment and two-stage ink-mist extraction. The Q2 can simultaneously print both platesns, which is a unique feature.
Ser. Tec. SRL
Ser. Tec. SRL offers the Eagle TX S, which can print up to 120 garments per hour. This device can be configured with two, three, or four printheads and features printhead position control that automatically adjusts the printhead’s height based on garment thickness to avoid head strikes. The Eagle TX S is capable of printing materials up to 15cm thick. This printer has a unique dual-platen configuration. The circular workflow, as seen in the video, allows for continuous printing and loading simultaneously.
The Bottom Line
There are improvements in all segments of DTG printing, but recent developments indicate that there will be both more powerful and less expensive commercial DTG printers. The lines between these segments are certainly blurring, so today’s businesses have a broader range of options than ever before. The requirement for “high productivity” no longer means investing $250,000 or more for an industrial-grade DTG printer. Using the “pod” concept that companies like Brother are championing, multiple printers can be grouped together to produce volumes that have historically been associated with higher-priced industrial DTG printers. Companies might not have been able to afford to spend so much money on one printer that could shut down due to unforeseen circumstances in the past. This is precisely why the pod concept is so appealing.
Johnny Shell is the Director of Keypoint Intelligence’s Functional & Industrial Printing Consulting Service. He is a respected leader and printing expert with more than 35 years of experience in the industry. Johnny is an inductee of Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technologies. It is an international body of specialists that honors distinguished, long-term, and exemplary contributions to screen and digital print and associated imaging technologies.