By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
In today’s world of social media and online shopping, it’s common to meet individuals with personal branding needs including personalized apparel and accessories. Direct to garment (DTG) printing offers a solution that allows operators from all experiences and backgrounds to work the device, from small businesses to at-home shops.
Godfather of Print
Established in 2014 in Orlando, FL, Godfather of Print began with one employee in a spare room in a two-bedroom apartment. The shop originally offered screenprinting services to local clients until moving into a 1,400 square foot commercial space. Today, the printer employs two and specializes in polyester DTG printing and embroidery.
“Our goal is simple, print high-quality merchandise, build brands, and make our customers and yours happy,” says Chris Bright, owner, Godfather of Print.
With DTG printing, the shop produces personalized foam flip flops, footwear, hats, hoodies, leotards, onesies, socks, sweat shorts, swimwear, t-shirts, totes, towels, and track pants. Nearly 100 percent of the shop’s work is DTG printing.
Prior to DTG printing, Bright says he was very knowledgeable about the technology. Originally a subcontractor, Bright began screenprinting as a part time job and often had customers request a large number of printed shirts. While looking into cost-effectively producing personalized shirts for his own hobbies, Bright discovered digital print technology.
In 2015, Bright purchased an AnaJet, a Ricoh Company mPower 5. The mPower 5 features a 14×18-inch print table with CMYK and white printheads. In addition to apparel it offers 3D, art, metal foil, and photo printing abilities.
“It’s a reliable machine, easy to learn and maintain,” says Bright. Using social media platforms and business-to-business marketing, Bright paid the AnaJet mPower 5 off in nine months.
Godfather of Print also uses an AnaJet mPower 10. The shop prints with it daily and is currently looking to acquire another Anajet press to add to the front of the store. The mPower 10 prints 12×14-inch graphics in 16 seconds and handles black and dark garments in less than two minutes. Its closed-loop ink delivery system is designed to reduce banding, evaporation, and wasted ink.
Bright says he chose the AnaJet mPower equipment due to the Ricoh printheads. “Knowing mPower was a Ricoh-driven machine helped me make the decision. Ricoh puts out brilliant products and on top of AnaJet’s communications and services, it was a simple decision,” he explains.
In addition to doing his own research for DTG printing, Bright says Anajet offers helpful instruction videos. “When I received the machine I was ready to work and I knew what to expect. Within the first hour of getting the machine I had jobs lined up,” he adds.
However, one challenge Bright wasn’t prepared for was maintenance. He suggests print providers take care of digital print technology exactly how the manual instructs—paying particular attention to humidity. As a FL-based shop, Godfather of Print quickly resolved humidity and other challenges by research and adjusting the settings.
The shop resources its apparel for DTG printing from alphabroder daily. Godfather of Print’s most popular alphabroder fabrics are the Anvil 980 and Bella + Canvas 3001c ready to print apparel—both cotton t-shirts.
A large percentage of the design files the shop receives are print-ready from customers, allowing Godfather of Print to use AnaJet’s built-in RIP system. However, if the files are not print-ready the shop sends the graphics to its graphic designer who uses a combination of products from Adobe Systems Incorporated and Corel Corporation.
In general, Bright sees DTG printing becoming more popular because it’s now common for individuals to have personal branding. “DTG is becoming more known as people request personalized products for events, organizations, and clothing lines. Two or three years ago I had to explain what DTG printing was but now people understand because the technology is advancing,” he offers.
As it becomes a high demand market, clients have easier access to personalized products. According to Bright, there’s a ton of DTG business, the challenge is meeting the demands to maintain consistency.
Recently, Godfather of Print completed a job for Mastercard. The credit card company requested 600 printed shirts for two pride parades in MO and NY for its employees. It was the shop’s largest job, which Bright describes as time consuming.
“We got through it really well, but it taught me the benefit of DTG—by being able to just jump into the job,” he explains. By having a second machine, the shop could immediately begin processing the large order on short notice, without having to stop its day-to-day production.
The biggest challenge experienced during the project included the growing pains of a smaller business—managing time in between the everyday orders.
Godfather of Print printed the shirts on the AnaJet mPower 10 using alphabroder’s Anvil 980 apparel. According to Bright, it’s a fair quality garment that isn’t too heavy or thin.
The job was completed in ten business days from job submittal to shipment. Bright says the client was extremely pleased with the t-shirt. “They were really excited and gave us positive feedback. The coordinator gave us high praises on the ability to turnaround on short notice. We feel confident that when the occasion occurs again, we’ll be the vendor they call,” he offers.
The success of the pride t-shirt job has led Godfather of Print to receive other opportunities from Mastercard.
The market for DTG printing is growing as demands for personalized apparel multiply. Shops like Godfather of Print take advantage of these demands by operating multiple DTG printers capable of handling a variety of apparel.
Part two of this series continues our discussion of DTG printing.
Oct2017, Digital Output