5 Best Practices of a Good Direct-to-Garment Decorator

jerid hill

Throughout the years, Jerid Hill has written articles, blog and forum postings, created informative videos and taken the time to speak to many direct-to-garment (D2) users to assist in moving the D2 industry forward. Hill has been a thought leader in the D2 industry pursuing new technologies for better quality and output. In 2018, BelQuette merged with the ColDesi group of companies in Tampa and Jerid now serves at DTG Product Manager for ColDesi Inc. You can rely on Jerid’s unique perspective in the garment industry, focusing on the end user’s experience. He has extensive technical knowledge of D2 printing as well as details and tips for preparing artwork, pre-treating garments, expert level tips, and best overall practices for the garment printing realm.

D2 has come a long way in its approximate 15 years in the market. While this is a new industry consistently improving at every turn, there are some basic principles and practices to follow for not only successful printing but also company growth. Although this is not an exhaustive list and some can crossover to different industries, here are five practices that should be converted to habits.

  1. Maintenance: Regardless of which printer you own, there will always be necessary maintenance to keep your system operating. Be sure to follow the recommended guidelines. It’s been our experience that the successful operators are consistent in performing regular maintenance, even on busy days and nights.
  2. Test, test, test: Depending what you are printing on, the chemicals used when printing white ink will yield different results. Consistently test your final product for quality assurance. This usually includes a minimum of three to five wash tests. Garment manufacturers sometimes change the manufacturing process, affecting your final result. If you have employees, they're likely not trained to see this, so be sure to pull shirts every so often to perform quality control testing.
  3. Refine your final product: This has partly to do with consistent testing, but working with artwork as well as different types of fabric weaves or even various settings in your output software will achieve different results. Most people like a soft hand on the final print and with the right combinations, the hand would be almost non-existent. 
  4. Print samples: Acquire new customers by handing out samples to potential clients. A great way to do this is to print their logo on a shirt and send it to them with a price list. D2 is great for these one-off prints because printing one sample doesn't require traditional time-consuming setup and costs.
  5. Shop competition: An easy way to determine your quality in the market is to shop the competition. Successful companies consistently purchase products from competitors to verify their quality from order entry, packaging, shipping, and the final product itself. What you like from your competition, try to improve your results and of course what you don’t like, avoid. Too many people try to compete on pricing but forget how to maintain customer retention. Often it’s the little things overlooked.