We have recently added a new tool to our arsenal. A Brother GTX direct to garment printer which is essentially a computer printer that you can load t-shirts into. So far I am impressed with the results. This frees up our art department to try new techniques that would be extremely difficult to replicate by screen-printing. The speed and consistency makes our old four color process printing technique (CMYK) seem archaic and obsolete. Now creating a one off shirt design is a simple thing regardless of how many colors are being printed. Small jobs that would have complex registration when screen-printing have suddenly disappeared.
I must say this is a huge step into the future. I can see a large chunk of the industry moving toward this type of printing. Ease of use, cost and quality being the most important benefits of direct to garment printing. Although, in some ways this printer does fall short, for example you are limited in the fabrics that it can print on. Cotton of course being the best and cotton blends following, the lower the percentage the less the ink will stay on. We are still running some tests but to my understanding 100% polyester will not work. Which is a little disappointing because we do print large quantities of technical fabrics. Of course there are other options for that kind of stuff, but we are just getting into the game so lets start small and build on that.
Another potential problem could be the amount of steps in the process when working on a large order. The process is as follows for a dark shirt, a pre-treat solution is sprayed onto the shirt for the white ink to adhere to. Then it is dried on a heat press, after it can be loaded into the printer and finally heat pressed again to set the ink. I'm sure with an efficient operator the system will flow beautifully, but there is a potential for some hiccups. Screen-printing has its own series of steps so this whole game isn't really anything new, we just need to find what works for us.
It is only day one but I am optimistic that this machine will open some new doors and let us explore different kinds of designs that we previously found difficult. Feel free to contact us with any crazy designs we are always trying to expand our horizons and learn new things.