The Real Story Behind Garment Printer Ink Prices

The Real Story Behind Garment Printer Ink Prices

Dean Armando

Have you ever wondered why direct-to-garment (DTG) ink, especially white ink, comes with such a hefty price tag? In this article, we aim to shed light on the factors that contribute to the seemingly exorbitant cost of DTG ink.

Dupont GPI liter ALL ink

Understanding the Price Disparity

Comparing screen printing ink prices to DTG ink prices can be misleading. These two processes belong to different stages in their respective product cycles. Screen printing, a well-established decorating process, benefits from a mature market with numerous quality ink manufacturers and equipment suppliers. In contrast, DTG printing is relatively new, with only a handful of companies capable of producing high-quality DTG printers and inks. The science behind applying plastisol ink used in screen printing is far less complex than the nuances of DTG printing.

Continuous R&D Expenses

The cost of DTG ink and hardware components remains high because research and development (R&D) are ongoing. Ink formulations and hardware components continue to evolve. Companies like Dupont have revised ink formulas, and Kornit transitioned from solvent-based to water-based ink. Ink chemistry for DTG printers is in constant flux to accommodate changing garment materials and dyes. Manufacturers using Epson-based printers must update firmware to match new Epson models.

Mass Production vs. Limited Production

Comparing the costs of DTG printers to mass-produced items like plasma TVs offers insight into the pricing gap. Plasma TVs benefited from mass production, which reduced costs significantly. However, there are currently fewer than 20,000 DTG printers in circulation, far from mass production levels. Mass production would likely require simplifying the application of white ink pretreat fluid.

In conclusion, understanding the costs associated with DTG printing requires considering its unique position in the product cycle and the ongoing R&D expenses. DTG ink prices may evolve over time as the market matures.

Mark E. Bagley, Esq., Digital Marketing Solutions LLC

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