Direct-to-garment (D2) printing might not be for you if…
- You don’t have a business and marketing plan. This may sound obvious, but it is by far the most important thing. The first time you see a D2 printer in action, it can be a very eye-opening experience. Your brain will explode with ideas of starting your own brand, printing shirts for your yoga class, becoming a T-shirt printer, etc. On top of that, a sales rep is going to want you to buy the machine while the iron is hot. If you do not have a solid business plan, things can start in the wrong direction.
- You don’t know your numbers. Many people turn to D2 as a side hustle or way to expand. You may have a business plan, but you are not quite sure how much business you can acquire in the beginning. Keep in mind that a D2 printer is usually around the same price as a decent car. Along with that, you may also have a monthly payment you will need to cover. If you are not sure of how much business you can generate, this may become a very stressful beginning.
- You have limited support and training. Having a team behind you is always a winning factor. Although D2 is a simple process, you will require some education on operating the machine. The more training, the better. In most cases, training should take around one day and is usually best done in person, on location. The first month and moving forward, you should also have the ability to call someone for support. No matter what, you are going to have many small questions and “I think I broke it” moments. If minimal to no help is available, you could be heading for disaster. Walk away.
- You can’t keep a maintenance routine. With some of the latest D2 printers, maintenance has become very minimal, but do some research before your purchase. The difference in maintenance routines from printer to printer can be massive. Some machines may be very minimal if you follow directions. On the other hand, some printers may need constant maintenance and attention. A controlled environment may be a crucial factor as well. Keep in mind that no matter what, D2 printers are not like a desktop printer. Take the time to understand the different requirements. There are many Facebook groups and online forums out there, so you should talk with people that have experience using each printer. You may really like a specific printer for its price, print quality, etc. but if the actual requirements are questionable to you, reconsider.
- You can’t compete with cost. The entire point of getting a D2 printer is to make money, right? You will need to understand the competition and what you are offering. The primary key here is having conviction in your product and service. For example, screen printing and D2 work off completely different margins and production requirements. If you get into a price war with a screen printer, you will more than likely lose.
To find out when D2 makes sense for your business, check out the Paul Green's full-length article 'To D2 or Not' in the most recent issue of Printwear.