By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Direct to garment (DTG) printing is popular for a variety of reasons. Ease of use allows nearly any print shop of any size or expertise to work a device. The quality of inks and ability to print on a number of materials also strengthens the technology’s position. Wide format print service providers (PSPs) take advantage of DTG by complementing wide format services with customized apparel and fabric.
Complementing Wide Format
Headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, Custom Graphix Signworks, LLC (CGS) started in a 450 square foot workspace with one employee. Using a 24-inch vinyl cutter, the shop originally produced vehicle graphics for local customers.
After some research, CGS purchased a Roland DGA Corporation VersaCAMM SP-540 printer to broaden its services. With this new technology, the PSP’s signage offering expanded to aluminum signs, custom banners and signs, business cards, decals, flags, floor graphics, flyers, table throws, and wall and window graphics. Today, CGS ships nationwide including international sales to Canada and France. It operates in a 2,000 square foot workspace with five employees.
Shortly after purchasing the Roland VersaCAMM SP-540, the shop invested in an additional Roland printer—the SOLJET Pro III XJ-740. According to Mladen Mirkovic, owner, CGS, the Roland devices help the shop maintain fast turnaround time, offer limitless color options, and keep up with increasing orders.
The PSP recently experienced a surge in demand for customized t-shirts. After attending a trade show in Las Vegas, NV, it decided to invest in DTG printing technology. In 2019, CGS selected the RICOH Ri 1000 from AnaJet, a Ricoh Company. ”That gave us an opportunity to print directly to t-shirts for our existing and new customers,” shares Mirkovic.
The RICOH Ri 1000 is designed for new businesses and print shops looking to expand their offerings with mid-volume production. It is a DTG press with a 16×19.6-inch printing width. The device uses four Ricoh printheads and produces light garments in less than 28 seconds.
“This printer gives us an opportunity for no setup charges and no limit on colors,” offers Mirkovic. With its RICOH Ri 1000, the PSP uses AnaJet’s AnaRIP software and Adobe Illustrator for design.
One of the main benefits of investing in DTG printing services is that it complements CGS’ wide format offering. Currently, a majority of the PSP’s existing clients are small- and medium-sized business owners looking for a one-stop shop. “Since we are known for printing with no limit on color and fast production, DTG gives us an opportunity to satisfy our clients and continue to expand,” shares Mirkovic.
Currently the shop experiences little challenges with DTG printing. Its only bottleneck is in production speed, however, Mirkovic says that isn’t a problem for the number of t-shirts the company prints. As orders and quantity increases, he anticipates the need for faster DTG printing.
CGS serves a variety of repeat customers with demands for both signage and t-shirts. One of its most frequent customers of 2019—Cuties Lemonade—is an expanding food truck business that serves a variety of real fruit-flavored lemonades in Phoenix, AZ.
The food truck continues to place orders for signs, banners, and t-shirts as part of its marketing strategy. Recently, Cuties Lemonade requested over 50 t-shirts for promotional items such as customer giveaways as well employee uniforms.
The PSP designs Cuties Lemonade’s t-shirt graphics with Adobe Illustrator followed by printing on the RICOH Ri 1000 using RICOH Garment ink.
For all of its t-shirts, CGS typically selects Gildan or Next Level Apparel cotton shirts. According to Mirkovic, 100 percent preshrunk cotton is the best apparel for printing quality graphics.
Cuties Lemonade t-shirt orders are typically completed 24 to 48 hours after job submittal. Mirkovic says the completed t-shirts looked incredible and Cuties Lemonade was pleased as usual. “Cuties Lemonade is extremely happy with DTG printing and with the many different signs and banners they have ordered in the past,” he shares.
The t-shirt order was completed without any challenges.
Since investing in the RICOH Ri 1000 for DTG printing, CGS completed three t-shirt orders for Cuties Lemonade. “We are pleased and happy with the AnaJet printer. It is an excellent product. Whoever is in the t-shirt business should invest in this device. For my company it was a great investment,” concludes Mirkovic.
Part two of this series profiles a print shop that improved turnaround time and costs with a DTG printer.
Sep2019, Digital Output